With each turn of a new year, it can be a helpful exercise to both reflect on the year that was and ponder the time ahead. I’ve never been a huge fan of the resolution thing and hopefully most of us have figured out that approach doesn’t really work anyway. Most resolutions fail principally because they start from a place of deficiency; the idea that something is inherently wrong with us and we just need to buckle down and fix it.
What if instead we simply reflected on our strengths and sought to set our positive intention on what is truly important to us? What might happen if we honestly reflected on the key themes of the previous year and examined whether or not they lined up with where we seek to set our intention? This exercise takes us out of the good/bad version of ourselves and replaces it with one rooted in acceptance. The funny thing is that it’s only when we accept ourselves fully, that we can start truly making positive changes in our life.
...it’s only when we accept ourselves fully, that we can start truly making positive changes in our life.
For me personally this exercise touched on three key themes this New Year. As I reflected on the year that was, and pondered my intentions for the upcoming year, these themes kept arising: presence, simplicity, and vulnerability.
Living a mindful life simply begins and ends with presence and means that we set our intention to be here for the unfiltered, raw immediacy of what is happening in our lives, and in the world around us. We can try to fool ourselves and come up with all sorts of strategies to get around it, but at the end of the day now doesn’t go anywhere… it’s right there waiting for us to return.
Over this past year my personal avoidance strategies reared their ugly heads multiple times. Fatigue and exhaustion will wear anyone down over time, and staying present and connected can feel akin to climbing a mountain in a blizzard. But when the winds die down and the snows abate, we can take a deep breath and reconnect. We simply start anew. This is the gift that returning with non-judgmental awareness to the present moment affords us.
Setting our intention towards simplicity can also be most helpful. When things get out of hand at any given time, it can usually be traced back to loading our plate too full. Some years just seem to throw more of life’s difficult truths our way and this past year had that in spades for my family and I. All of a sudden my already quite full plate began to feel overloaded. This is where making the choice towards simplicity steps in.
When things get out of hand at any given time, it can usually be traced back to loading our plate too full.
When life deals us a full house, it can be really wise to pause, step back, and evaluate our loads. We can all too easily find ourselves stuck in the habit of busyness and by adding those inevitable difficult life truths (death of a friend or family member, illness, or financial hardship) we realize that “just one more thing” can be the tipping point. When our plates are piled sky high, unfortunately the only realistic outcome is a plate shattering crash.
By identifying what is essential in our lives, we can work to eliminate all of the extraneous stuff getting in the way. Removing things and doing less can feel like a cop out in this age of constant busyness, but in the end the space we create will allow for a better quality of life.
Removing things and doing less can feel like a cop out in this age of constant busyness, but in the end the space we create will allow for a better quality of life.
During this past year I had to step back on more than one occasion and honestly look at my personal plate. Long story short, I had gotten off-message in a fairly substantial way and it forced me into the uncomfortable position of taking inventory and choosing to step away from a number of personal commitments. And believe me when I say it was really difficult for me to do this. I am not well versed in the art of saying “no”. I am also not particularly good at accepting the brutally obvious facts when they are right before my eyes. My loved ones helped me to see the detrimental effects my choices were having on both myself and those around me. In time, the need to let some things go became glaringly obvious to me. I gently gave myself the space to put my stubbornness aside, reflect on the choices I was making and decide to return to some positive lifestyle choices. I am happy to say that things are much better for my willingness to do so.
Creating a new relationship with vulnerability takes a great deal of courage. Laying ourselves bare and sharing our baggage with those who matter can seem quite daunting, especially in the male-centric turf industry. Vulnerability can sound more like a pest we believe needs to be defeated than a friend we should welcome to the table. But when we open to vulnerability, a funny thing happens… we suddenly realize that we are all the same. We are not individual green keepers struggling against the elements, alone in the wilderness; we are human beings. Our collective humanity binds us together and ties us all to the same moment. When we can step out of our self-protective cocoons and realize this shared nature of our lives, it all becomes more bearable, even relatable. When we open to the ever changing world around us and choose to connect on a deeper level we can better face the inevitable ups and downs of life, together.
...when we open to vulnerability, a funny thing happens… we suddenly realize that we are all the same.
So as this moment turns into the next, let's take some time to reflect on all that is important in our lives. Make a point to set aside some quality time to quietly think about creating some new intentions. May we honestly examine our values and what we consider most important in our lives as a whole and approach this exercise with openness, compassion and non-judging. And may we remember to always apply a liberal dose of kindness; both to ourselves and others.