For me, for most of my friends, for the country at large, the year 2007 was the pits. I couldn't get out of that cesspool fast enough, into a fresh new year (and don't let the screen door hit ya on the way out).
Somehow, I just know things are going to get better this year, that I'll feel better, that life will get sweeter and easier, that the world will get better, too. So when I sat down on January 1, as I inevitably do, to make my list of resolutions, I tried hard to think about what I want. What I really, really want. Really.
On the surface of it, I want what I always want: To lose some weight. To eat better. To get organized. To give up my bad habits and adopt some good ones.
But instead of making a laundry list of to-dos oriented around those goals, which has always proven a recipe for failure (and, by mid-February, abandonment), I decided to go fishing for deeper meaning. WHY do I want to lose weight? Because I want to feel better in my body. WHY do I want to eat better? So I can feel healthier. WHY do I want to get organized? So I can spend less time feeling frustrated and flustered. WHY do I want to give up bad habits and adopt good ones? So I have less anxiety and guilt.
Mining down another level, a common thread starts to emerge. WHY do I want to feel better in my body? Because I want a little more peace in my life. WHY do I want to feel healthier? Because I want a little more peace in my life. WHY do I want to spend less time feeling frustrated and flustered? Because I want a little more peace in my life. WHY do I want less anxiety and guilt? Because I want a little more peace in my life.
So I'm saying to hell with the tactics this year and going straight for the underlying intention: I'm going for peace. I'm going to try, in all of my decision-making, to consider: Will this decision lead to more peace in my life, or less? My resolution, then, is to make the decision that will bring the greatest peace.
I think this approach to 2008 has the potential to make me a better mom. Faced with a screaming toddler, you need all the peace-oriented decisions you have presence of mind to make, I think. It also has some nice implications for my relationships with friends and family, and my husband, Coury (with whom I've been running a peace deficit for the last year or so, bless his heart).
And though it's not quite so obvious, I think this peaceable approach to life will also have some positive benefits for my diet and exercise regimen, too. When I skip the gym, blow off my yoga routine, or find that I'm inactive for too long, I am not at peace in my own skin. Everyone knows the bliss that follows a good, sweaty workout. Who doesn't want more of that in their lives?
Food, especially, is an invitation to awaken to peace. Eating is something we are guaranteed to do at least three times to day, and it's an act that can be as unconscious or conscious as we are willing to make it. I've been unconscious for a while, and have the body and health state to prove it. To feel more peace, I think, I have to shake myself awake. Here's what I know: When I eat bad food, greasy food, fast food, or meat that's been inhumanely raised, I know it's bad for me and bad for the planet, and I can feel the dissonance inside myself as I "feed" myself a substance that's literally non-nurturing.
But when I eat food that's fresh and organic and local and vegetarian, when I feel I'm not contributing so much (at least overtly) to the slow death of the environment and of my self, I feel peace grow inside. And I'm modeling peace for my son, too.
Hopefully, my body will begin to reflect on the outside the feeling on the inside—being peace will turn into seeing peace. But even if it doesn't, that's okay. If the turmoil of 2007 has taught me anything, it's that life's too short to stick with the old ways of trying to power through everything with fear and anxiety, and that waking up to a new way of being in the world might be scary, but it's not as scary as staying asleep and stuck in the same old rut.
I hope 2008 is a great year for me, and for you, too. And, oh year, enjoy the picture of Truman as Baby New Year. Who doesn't love a naked baby? Peace out.
Hillari Dowdle is living and working in Knoxville, Tennessee.