Here is the prompt that popped up in my five-year journal today: “Write a phrase to describe your year so far.” And just like that. The words in my brain went completely dry. What I thought would be an easy and fun and insightful entry turned out to be a complete stumper. I had no idea what to write.
I was hoping that some profound catch phrase might bubble to the surface or come to me as some sort of divine vision. Maybe something profound or philosophical or even witty. Something that I could tie into an affirmation that would be meaningful and easy for me to remember and repeat in times of challenge or struggle. Something that would neatly sum up all the many memorable events that have marked the calendar these past months . . . which didn’t lead me to a phrase but to remembering some stand-out experiences that now serve as fence posts upon which I have strung the minutes, hours, and days.
My Top Nine Fence Posts of This Year So Far:
- Long and Short: I have learned that life is not always as short as others write about it being . . . that life can also be long, especially so when it is marked by sadness, sorrow, and overwhelm.
- Beginnings and Endings: Realizing a dream is not an endpoint unto itself . . . it is just the beginning of newly discovered passions, interests, and even a little dissatisfaction that fuel a new dream.
- The expense of poverty: Observing, living, and understanding the truth behind James Baldwin’s words: “Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.” Not fun. Just saying.
- Simplicity and Complexity: Teasing apart the complexity of a simple life and the simplicity of a complex life and recognizing the differences and knowing that they are one and the same during my fence post moments.
- Grieving and Celebrating: Again, on certain days, the co-existence of these two puzzles me. On other days, the co-existence makes perfect sense. It is possible to feel what are thought to be two contradictory emotions at the same time. Like there is this mélange of real and true emotions that thickens up like a stew and threatens to burn the bottom of the pot if I don’t keep my awareness active and stirring.
- Thoughts, Feelings, and Things: [a continuation of #5] . . .Which leads me to wonder about the practice of intentional living . . . and how feelings become thoughts and then how thoughts become things . . . and how I now know why my life feels so conflicted at times [see #5]. Or wait a second. Do I have this backward? Do our thoughts become feelings which become things? Or do the things in life dictate how we think and how we feel [See #3]? Dr. Wayne Dyer once said, “What I think doesn’t become things; who I am is what becomes things.”
- Confusion and Clarity: [See #5.] Thank you, Dr. Dyer. Advice to self: Be who you are. Give it your best shot.
- Moving and Standing Still: The fact that I have moved three times in the last year does not mean that I still don’t experience feelings of stuck-ness.
- Success and Failure: Many have written and spoke on this subject of success and failure in life. We are bombarded with ideas and quick fixes about how to jump start our motivation, our drive, and our perception of success. We also read of the power in turning failure into success. But I keep wondering? Where is the measuring stick that tells me that I have arrived at a place of success? I do believe that there is an internal sense of reward that tells us we have just driven in another fence post of “accomplishment” through the hardpan of our memory’s land bank . . . but then what? Is feeling “successful” enough? Is it all just a big myth? Just wondering. See #2 and #4.
- Giving up and Persevering and Granting a Degree of Self-Permission: I know that lists like this shouldn’t end with nine items (the norm being “The Top Three” or multiples of five) but I can’t think of anything else right now. I give myself permission to stop at #9. [See #9]
Looking Both Ways
“Looking Both Ways” . . . This is the phrase that I eventually wrote in my journal in large letters at the bottom of my free-flow scribbling. It’s the first thing that came to mind and now, after re-reading my list of Top Nine Fence Posts, it makes sense. “Looking Both Ways” implies some commonsense caution for life, like what our parents tell us before crossing a street: Look both ways!
Answering this prompt has given me time to pause and to reflect. To exercise some counter-intuitive caution . . . not with where I am now heading but with where I have been. It’s okay to look back but it’s also important that I don’t get stuck.
More advice to self:
The second half of this year is just across the road. I have Looked Both Ways, and I feel ready for the uncharted territory over yonder. Maybe I’ll leave my work gloves, shovel, and fence posts on this side of the road and let my tracks leave a trail . . . which makes me wonder what my Phrase will be for the second half of the year.
So, how about you? What phrase best describes your year so far?
You are an interesting person. Take some quiet time to re-discover who you are. Life is a lively event that keeps our minds and hearts active. Think Good Thoughts! And write your new phrase for the coming second half of the year with your Higher Self as author.
Kennedy Farr is a daily writer and blogger, a lifelong learner, and a true believer that something wonderful is happening right now in this very moment. Her passion for writing first caught light at the age of four when she learned how to write her dog’s name on a sheet of lined tablet paper. Kennedy lives high on the mountainside of a tranquil island in the Pacific Northwest. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of Trent Szmolnik.