Wednesday, January 01, 2014
My Word for 2014
My blog title reflects how I've learned to live my life: by accident. I've tried the planning thing, but usually my plans turn into something I could never have anticipated, so I learned to take life as God sent it--planned by Someone other than me. In the past three years I have focused on appreciating that approach to life. I learned to be content. Oh sure, I'd love to win the lottery, but since I don't buy tickets, that's not likely. I've worked to be connected. For an introvert like myself, that's not so easy. Making that even more challenging is my tendency to "fix" things--even when my input is not requested. It's hard to connect to people when you forget to just listen before offering solutions--no matter how good those solutions may be. I haven't mastered that balance, but it's not for lack of trying. Can I help it if my quiet studio is my happy place? 2013 was a year of perspective. Had I known what the year would hold, I may have chosen a different word. But again, living by accident, I know that I chose that word for a reason I couldn't possibly understand until the year was over and I had time to reflect. I'm still processing the perspective gained in losing my job, a debilitating injury, weight gain (because of the injury), and more illness than in many years.
Starting over, as I have to do in 2014, will certainly test my perspective on who I am and my purpose in this life. As an athlete, I am starting over from a place I haven't been in years: overweight, short of breath, and weak. Intellectually I know that I will rebound, but knowing where I was a year ago, it's hard to persevere. It's remarkable how important the rotator cuff is. Losing it, first through wear, then the tear, then surgery for repair, brought my workouts to a halt. Use it or lose it--and I lost everything except weight. My immune system suffered the lack of conditioning and I've had cold after cold after cold since August. So, as my shoulder heals, I will slowly begin to regain my strength and stamina. But I am starting over.
Losing the teaching contract was a surprise. It gave me a chance to pick up my photography and learn how to photograph food at a local bakery. (I got that job back in May when school let out. Mostly it is about service, but I've added food photography and website maintenance to my repertoire. Life by accident.) It also gave me time to reconsider graduate school. As it turns out, a Master of Arts in Teaching is pretty much starting over--even to student teaching again. Really? I've been teaching for 25 years and I have to do another two semesters as a student teacher? Perspective. The classes I'm glad to take; things have changed in the last two decades. I'm hoping the program will allow me to do at least some of the "practicum" at the university, but we shall see. Living by accident sometimes has detours that don't seem to make sense until later in the journey. Perspective--a middle aged woman surrounded by fresh faced collegiates. Experience amid enthusiasm. Starting over.
2014 is also the year of the empty nest and empty wallet. Two children in college (plus me) and no children at home. It could be interesting. It could be lonely. It could be fun. It could be any number of things. It will be a new beginning for me and Brian, starting over as a couple.
In all these "startings over" I will have to live a little less my accident and a little more by design. My word for 2014, then reflects that idea:
Intentional means to do things on purpose, by design. Starting over does offer the opportunity to set new goals and work toward them, knowing that if the path diverts I am well practiced in living by accident as well. I am adaptable; the last couple of years have taught me that. Since I'm starting over in so many areas, I can be intentional with how I approach new things. For my health, I can be intentional in my training and my eating. I can drink enough water and avoid too much sugar. I can pay attention to strength training and not rely on the treadmill for a complete workout. For school, I can be intentional in how I respond to new ideas. I can focus on what goals I set for myself (ultimately a PhD), and worry less about being the oldest one in the class. I can intentionally write and research and produce with a view to those PhD studies.
Spiritually, too, I must be intentional. I must look for God's hand in the detours. I must seek His perspective when things don't go according to my plan. I must connect to those who come alongside me as I travel the path, intentionally listening and nothing more. And I must continue to be content with whatever circumstances I find myself in, knowing that, instead of living by accident, I intentionally choose to live in a design that I may or may not yet understand.