For the past five years or so, I have taken time to list the highlights of my year in my journal. I have only to rummage through the box where I keep all my old journals, and I can see where I’ve been, what I celebrated, what I struggled with.
I’ll tell you the truth: I don’t like digging too deep in that box of journals. When I first started doing my New Years entries in my journals, no matter how hard I tried to grant myself some measure of grace and forgiveness, no matter what value I tried to mine from my experiences, I recorded only trouble and grief. Those older journals are filled with angst, yes, but they’re also full of struggle. It was during those times that I was trying to figure out who I was – or rather, how to accept who I am – and those were dark times.
I accept and acknowledge the validity of the struggles I went through. But for me, it is enough to know they are there, in my past and inked onto the pages of a few journals. I don’t need to go back through them. Not now.
But in the past year or so, a shift happened in the journal pages. The clouds lifted. I turned away from staring into the abyss and I started paying attention to what was going on around me. I took control of my life.
Last year, when I wrote my New Years entry, I wrote the following as I began my list.
This time every year, good or bad, easy or difficult, I reflect back on the year, the happy times and sad ones. In this way, I honor the collective experience. It’s easy to regret things; the challenge is to peel back the cover on events and see the value.
I’m happy and gratified this year to look back at the entry I wrote on January 1, 2012, and see the significant events of 2011, to see what my goals and hopes and intentions were for 2012, and to see how many things I made good on. I wanted to write more fiction, and I did. I wanted to publish, and I did. I wanted to pay off my Visa card, and I did. I wanted to become more active and manage my time better and blog at least once a week. Check. Check. Check.
I think the major difference between the journal entries of recent years, and the ones from further back, is forgiveness and acceptance. One of my good blogger friends, The Outlaw Mama, wrote an amazing year-end post about forgiveness, and I hope she won’t mind that she helped me gain the insight I needed for this post of mine: forgiveness is crucial.
I spend a lot of time wishing I weren’t so clumsy, or goofy, that I wrote more and read more and said eloquent things. I wish that I had more to show for my career than I do. I wish I didn’t shy from confrontation. I wish I knew the right words to say at all times. I wish all the dishes I cooked came out perfectly. I wish I didn’t cry so easily over sad things on television. I wish I could easily run a mile, I wish I knew the answers to life’s little problems like where we’ll live in California and where I’ll go grocery shopping and how I’ll make friends and avoid feeling lonely without Amanda. I wish I knew how to be a better fiancée – a better wife – to Amanda, a better daughter, a better sister, a better friend.
The difference between the Dana of five or six years ago, and the Dana now, is forgiveness. I’m not those things. I can’t yet do those things. I don’t know the answers. And I forgive myself for that. Instead of feeling bad about it, I recognize that my clumsy moments usually make someone laugh. I recognize that though I haven’t finished writing a book and I don’t have more publications, I have some, and that’s good. By shying from confrontation, I buy myself time to think and gain perspective and grant myself the time and distance to act out of love. Running takes practice, just like writing and reading and cooking; they will come. My tears reflect the heart that beats in me, and that heart is soft and easily touched; thank goodness.
So as I take the time to reflect on my year, I first wanted to share with you the thoughts I have as I look back. I have so much to celebrate and look forward to, and looking back isn’t as painful as it once was. And for that, I am grateful.
Last year, I made a short list of hopes (things I would like to happen but that were sort of outside of my control), goals (things I would like to happen that were within my control), and intentions (principles and ideas to guide me). I have to smile when I read the intentions I set for 2012:
Intentions: to love fiercely, live confidently, embrace silly and whimsy; to cook with love, to forgive myself readily, and to exercise resilience whenever I can. To be protective of the precious things in life – art, people, time, sanity, my body – and to detach myself from bad elements.
Happy New Year to you, everybody!
And for those who keep finding this blog because they do a Google search for “rachael ray hot” and “rachael ray naked,” I’m sorry. You must be terribly disappointed.
Wait…. No Food?
AltDaily.com let me publish a Top Ten Recipes from Whisks & Words this year! Check it out for my favorite recipes that I prepared (and blogged about) this year.