I started the practice of embracing one-word or one-phrase for the new year, about 3 years ago. It was something that I had never heard of before, but the idea drew me in because I love the concept of a small spark of direction into the new mentality of a fresh year…As if a candle has been lit into unknown territory and a flickering glow dances forward.
The first year, 2015, I meditated on the word: TRANSCEND … For me the meaning behind that word was to transcend beyond my personal fears.
For 2016 my word for the year was: WONDER. It was a word asking me to draw into the core of childlike wonder, to adventure, to exploration, to embrace the beauty that is around us in every moment. The wonderment of on earth as it is in heaven. The admiration of the little things.
For 2017 my one word was: LISTEN — And ironically it was also the year that I began writing publicly with more vigor. As I listened and lent my ears; tuning into opinions and perspectives and other people’s stories outside of my familiar realm, I began to hear and learn and I found that the direct result inspired me to write with more transparency through my own stories. I hope that this was felt through my words last year.
However, during the last quarter of 2017 something broke within me, it was a realization that I had been opening my ears to everyone else yet ignoring the promptings from within. I had been so focused on listening on the outside to others and to the noise, that I had forgotten to also practice listening on the inside.
Realizing how much of a “people-pleaser” I tend to incline to be. Easily loyal to other people’s wants, needs, opinions, and even other people’s directions for me, that I dismissed the need to pause and listen to myself and ask myself if I am OK.
I assumed that the word Listen was for me, to deepen my practice of listening better to others, and yes of course, I think that is part of it. However, I discounted the importance of leaning into my own depth and actually listening to my own needs. Taking the time to listen to my self, my body, my soul, The Spirit, my whole, is an act of loving myself and I have found too often that I put my own being aside.
This whole concept of redirecting my “one-word” to Listen inwards felt conflicting at first. I have been raised in a culture of spirituality that says, “If you want to be great in God’s Kingdom, learn to be a servant of all…” Whilst that is true, yes we all need one another…yes, we all create the branches of one tree. Volunteerism and activism and servanthood-ism, and community-ism is all very beautiful, honorable, necessary and part of the picture. I also think though that the practice of putting others first has become such a dominant mantra in my faith that in my personal experience, I too often discount my own important needs of worth and value and healthy survival.
I have been learning and practicing a life-faith, based so much on others that I have forgotten to listen to myself and be there for me. I think it is a common syndrome in my faith and it appears too often to lead to physical or spiritual burn out.
Last year, I had so many strange health issues. Emergency level allergic reactions that put me in the ER and received strong medications to bring the reaction down. Then I got strep throat, which I have never had as an adult. I hyper-extended my thumb and it still aches to this day. My immunity was low and I seemed to catch everything despite all of the herbal tonics and vitamins and pro-biotics I took … I even caught conjunctivitis. I had low energy, inflammatory infections, pain in my chest out of nowhere that put me on my back and caused difficulty in breathing and then as of recent, an aggressive form of eczema attacked my fingers and has caused sores and nail deformations. So as you can see my body has been literally screaming at me to pause and LISTEN to my own being.
My body is screaming: LOVE ME!
What am I able to give and how much can I love, if I cannot even pause to love myself enough… if my energy, my health, and my sense of peace isn’t well within my soul.
So for 2018, I have known quite clearly, that my word for this year is HEALTH | The Year of Health. I know, it is the most cliche’ new years goal for so many people, but being directed on a path to health for me is not just about a gym membership and health food. For me, I see my journey this year as something deeper than that. For me it is about the kind of health that equates to loving myself… pausing to care for my body, the temple, both physically and spiritually. To care enough about my value as a whole person and by embracing a healthier perspective of my worth.
For the first time as an adult, I have obtained regular health insurance. I haven’t seen a normal primary care doctor since I gave birth to my son 10 1/2 years ago. Crazy, I know!!? This is the year that I am going to give myself the generosity of self-care. I am going to get all the check ups, I am going to see the chiropractor, the acupuncturist, the nutritionist, and the therapist. You bet I am going to get my money’s worth out of this insurance… it is expensive!!! Holy Moly!
My body has been talking to me for a long time, and I finally started to listen and pay attention once it began to literally yell at me at the top of it’s lungs. The realization of this is that it takes a whole lot of internal yelling for me to pause and say, “OK, how can I take care of me?” I only hope that I will actually learn to listen before my body begins to scream again.
I know that what we see on the outside of our body and how we react to life is a direct result of what is happening on the inside. Healing begins on the inside, both physically and spiritually. God knew what God was doing when we were created. Body whole-healing begins right in the core…and in the gut of things.
My journey this year is to learn to deposit worth and value into my temple; nourishment to my body. To live with a purpose that says:
Body I love you.
Body I am thankful for you.
Body you are worthy.
Body you are valuable.
I want my actions to show my body value for the beauty that I am. For if we really really believe that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, wouldn’t we care a lot more about our own fearfully and wonderfully created selves?
My journey this year will be to learn to say yes to the things that I need to say yes to and to say no to the things that I need to say no to. Because caring enough for my own body and caring enough for my own value is also caring enough to give myself the gift of time. Which essentially leads to loving those I love so dearly a whole lot healthier and loving those that are in my world a whole lot warmer.
As with any word for the year, I don’t think the story stops at years end. To Transcend, To Wonder, To Listen, To Choose Health… those are all good practices, life quests. It is just that sometimes we need those light flares of reawakening to bring us back into balance.
What are your words both present and past. What is your body telling you? Your heart and your mind? What are you hearing that you might be ignoring?
May we, care enough for ourselves to listen in to the whispers of our bodies before they become big screaming declarations. May we, reach into this year with progressive steps forward, always growing, always learning, always becoming whole.
For you are made of stars and earth and beautiful things. You rise each day as a God-breathed creature. Uniquely designed and created.
You are made of life and love and joy and all things pure. You are made fresh and without blemish. You are perfectly and wonderfully conceived.
Much love, – Jenny Rose Foster