Shortly before 2015 began I came across the concept of choosing a word to center your year around as opposed to making a resolution. As I listened to the woman talk about her word and how it weaved throughout her year, I was sold on the concept. Listening to her gave me the sense that her year had been fulfilled in the way that she wanted, and not simply by making an empty promise to herself, but by thinking on, reflecting on, and applying her word throughout every aspect of her life.
Right then, I had my word. Aware. I had noticed a pattern in myself that I didn’t like. I used to have SUCH a good memory. I would remember everyone I met, I’d remember everything we talked about, I’d remember where they were from and how many siblings they had and what school they graduated from and what their major was and so on and so on. But, for some reason, I wasn’t able to do that anymore. I couldn’t remember what I had talked about with anyone and had to be constantly reminded. It made me feel awful - especially when it happened with people I was so close with. I hated that I wasn’t paying attention to them. I was hearing, but I wasn’t listening. As I approached the word aware, I wanted to make it my word for the year so I would be more aware of the people in my life and more aware of my environment and what was going on around me. I didn’t like that my head was distracted - causing me to only think of myself.
Then 2015 started. I started a business, I quit my old job, I took on an internship, I started a new job, I took on a leadership role at church, and more. It’s as if my subconscious knew before I did, just exactly what making ‘Aware’ my word for the year meant, and as a way of not having to deal with it - it started taking on EVEN MORE. The more I took on, the more disconnected I felt. I was surrounded by amazing people and amazing opportunities every which way I looked and yet I didn’t feel more connected with them, I felt distanced.
I cried out to God a lot during that time - funny how we always do that when we hit a low - and I felt like I wasn’t hearing from Him. Because of my faith, I knew He was there, but I wasn’t hearing anything - I felt COMPLETELY overwhelmed and lost and as a result started heading into a season of depression. My anxiety had overcome me. I spent a lot of time crying and a lot of time feeling alone. I didn’t want to reach out to anyone because I felt like that would be completely defeating the purpose of what I had set out to do in the first place. I had chosen the word aware because I wanted to be less self-absorbed. I wanted to be able to focus on others and not myself and in the irony of all ironies I was experiencing the lowest time I had ever experienced and felt like I couldn’t talk about it. I didn’t want to burden anyone and yet again monopolize conversations about me. I didn’t want to make ANYTHING about me.
So I closed up. I stopped sharing as much in my eGroup at church. I stopped showing up for people when they counted on me. I stopped. In the very lowest of moments, when I couldn’t take it anymore, I cried out to God one more time - “Why is this happening to me?!? I have absolutely no reason to feel what I’m feeling and yet I cannot make it stop. I cannot feel better. When will this end?!” In that moment I received such clarity. In that moment I realized that even though I did not understand why I was feeling this way - I did understand that it would end. I had hope - the hope that only comes from God. I realized in that moment what it must feel like for people who are in that low and that do not have hope. My heart broke for them. My heart broke because I understood that for so many of them - it meant taking their life.
I’m grateful to God that I never reached that extreme - I’m grateful for that every single day. That moment was significant for me. I don’t recall the exact time but I will never forget what it meant to me. After that, I was able to focus on a lot of my internal issues of anxiety, stress, approval from others, wanting to be great, overcommitting and more. If it wasn’t for that season of deep pain, I never would have done the work I needed to do to become the person I now know that God created me to be.
I’d like to say that I instantly felt happy after that moment, but I didn’t. My season of depression lasted for months, and that moment happened about 2/3 of the way through it. I didn’t start coming out of it until probably late July/ early August. From then, I began to dive deeper into dealing with my anxiety. I took a solo trip to New York, I began simplifying my possessions, I continued with acupuncture, and began devouring everything I could on living the life you really want, slowing down, dealing with stress, managing anxiety, etc. This journey lead me to Minimalism.
I feel weird calling myself a minimalist because I’ve got SO far to go still, but I am. I’ve started the journey and that’s all it takes. Like a lot of things in life, it’s a journey and a process. Minimalism comes in all shapes and sizes and various degrees. I think that if you’ve made the decision to focus on what matters most in life - then you’re a minimalist. You only grow more and more towards that by following your own path to what matters. You have to make that choice for yourself.
I learned SO much in 2015 - more than I ever have in my entire life. I learned about who I am, I learned about what is important to me, I learned about my flaws and my strengths, but most importantly I learned that you absolutely cannot give to others in a meaningful, consistent and significant way if you have not dealt with yourself first. You can only give from overflow. If you are running on empty - you have nothing left to give. So, even though my initial intent with ‘aware’ had good intentions behind it, I was not able to carry it out in the way I had intended without becoming aware of myself first.
That being said, I look forward to sharing more ways that I’ve been able to manage and alleviate my anxiety over the course of 2016. I’m also excited to announce my word for this year is ‘Elevate!’ Now that I’ve done the inner work I had to do first - I look forward to being able to elevate others this year by encouraging them and bringing value to them. I also look forward to elevating my own spiritual, mental, and physical health through a project I’ve been experimenting with over the last couple of months - more to come on that.
Whooo - that is a BIG sigh of relief. I’ve wanted to share that for so long but haven’t had the strength. Thank you to my amazing husband, Carl for always being there for me and for supporting me through this last year. It wasn’t easy and I will forever be grateful for you. Thank you to my loved ones - the many that I have, for continuing to love me through my mess! Here’s to 2016 - our best year yet!
Love & Blessings,