So my friends Damon and Jaime have posted on Facebook, in the last couple of weeks, their intentions for 2012. I was struck by the fact that they framed their overarching personal goals as intentions as opposed to resolutions. Intentions are long term achievements towards which progress can be made even if it takes longer than an arbitrary year's time to realize the place you intend to end up. Intentions also leaves space for learning and growth and for the trajectory of your intentions to change in relationship to yourself as you change.
Resolutions are just that...clear cut commitments, finite (usually) in nature (though they sometimes have long term impacts), and there is no, as Yoda would say, "Try. There is only do or do not," when it comes to New Year's Resolutions. Resolutions require perfection. I will lose 20 pounds. I will write the great American novel this year. I will never drink too much. I won't relapse. I will walk on water.
See...the problem with resolutions are that if they are truly things that are important and impactful to you spiritually, mentally, and physically...then when you fail...when you gain the weight back...when you relapse...when you have a hangover...when you fall into the East River....then not only all that matters is that you failed...it's a resolution...not an intention. An intention (with firm goals, benchmarks, and measurable outcomes) is a growth tool. It allows you to set for yourself the place that you would like to be but it also allows you the space to celebrate the progress you made EVEN if you ultimately did not reach your end goal within the time frame originally specified aka the year 2012. Maybe I relapsed but only for three days instead of two months as in the previous year? Perhaps I wanted to lose 20 pounds and lost 15 instead, and maybe the water was just being bitchy and jumped out of the way whenever I showed up.
In this life, and in this country, there is this idea that in order to be loved, accepted, worthy, valued (besides being white, male, rich and able bodied) is to be perfect. We are given the image of what a perfect child is and how she behaves, the perfect church goer, the perfect student, the perfect wife, the perfect lover, etc. For those of us that grew up with some level of privation (or lots of it), the one sure way to stand out, without ending up in juvie, was to excel in school/sports/arts. And our school system and the broader society whose values it props up, teaches us that we are only as good as our last A, our last novel, our last game, our last recital, our last whatever. As soon as we slip up or mess up grandly, even when the folks around us remind us constantly that a mistake doesn't discount all of the complicated awesome each person is, the culture of perfectionism dictates that until you are perfect again, despite any progress especially over larger arcs of time, that progress and your value and worthiness are attached and defined only by the next new big wow.
So when we mess up, the majority of us try to hide it, minimize it, or do advanced damage control. Instead of seeing our mistakes, owning them and figuring out a strategy to reach the goals we've set, instead, and I will use an I statement here, I internalize every failure and instead of being able to see, learn, grow and move on...I/we either shut down completely or take our already fevered pitch attempts at perfect to whole new levels of crazy town.
So this year, I have decided to set my intentions. I am sharing them with you, my community, because these intentions are important to me, and I am asking for your active help in providing support in reaching the benchmarks and measure that I set out for this year with each intention. And, also, if we can't model with each other what it looks like to see where we are ( and love it no matter what) and then dream where we need to be (and ask for help getting there) then we all stay stuck....falling off of the treadmill after only three weeks...just when you are able to get through your daily workout without considering having a defibrillator implanted in your chest.
I have decided that 2012 is going to be the year of self-love. I love so many people so very deeply. In fact, there are people in this world that I love more than anything else...including myself. I am surrounded by love in so many ways and in so many forms but somehow, somewhere I was taught or learned or accepted that love was not for me....love was something you gave to others but not to yourself. But, in fact, unless you can love yourself openly, honestly, and gently, you will never be able to be open to the massive love that is all around all of us. For me this means:
1. Therapy: I intend to find and engage on a weekly basis an amazing therapist. While I do not believe that therapy is actually doing the work needed to heal, I do believe that therapy is the place where you go to lay out your treatment plan, its the spot where you identify possible complications that might occur along the way, and it's the place you show up to consult with the experts on how to best move forward.
2. Learning to respect, value, and honor the fullness of the body in which I walk including the flaws (BACKFAT!), the disease (HIV!), and the skin color (not-white)..all of which in tandem with the messages we receive day in and out about who/what/how we should be create a foundation for self-loathing that is inimical to self-love.
3. Loving myself enough to expect that I deserve true love in a partner...I intend to write out, fully, what I want from a romantic life partner. If you can dream it, you can have it.
4. Sex!!! Part of loving myself better will be to acknowledge, feel and explore my sex life and embrace, without shame, the things that make me feel good and feel GOOD about feeling good! If this means that I discover that dipping myself in Play-Doh and having unprotected sex with a Muppet on Grants Tomb is my ultimate aphrodisiac then I will welcome it. This also means that I will not engage in sex that is escapism or that devalues me, my body, or my spirit.
5. Friends/Family: I will prioritize spending real time with friends and family and continuing to build meaningful relationships. It is also my intention to be sure that no one in my life that I love ever has to wonder or question my love or their inherent worthiness to be loved. And for those of you (ahem Carter Klenk) that I haven't seen in over a year...be prepared to offer up your husbands butt as my pillow.
6. Exercise: I will continue to exercise, build a strong body, and create a healthy corpus. I will continue to challenge my body, push it, and build the body I want and not the one the media or anyone else says that I should have. My goal here is to compete in the Mr. Fire Island contest this summer.
1. I intend to finish revising Eden Lost and getting that to my publisher by the middle of March (March 15th....WARE THE IDES!).
2. I intend to have made significant progress (40,000+ words) written of the second book in the series that begins with Eden Lost by the end of 2012.
3. I intend to write and have published at least three articles for the Huffington Post.
4. I intend to reach out and secure at least one writing contract this year with the Advocate building on my successful November 2011 article.
5. I intend to continue to publish my blogs and look at ways to continue to increase the readership of My Feet Only Walk Forward.
6. I intend to honor my love of writing and the role it has held in my survival.
To continue to be the best possible staff person at QEJ that I can be and to offer myself in service to the work of social justice in the way that makes the best sense with the greatest impact.
I have a lot of intentions this year, but in the end, I want to love more, live better, be healthier, serve my community, and open myself to the real joy that is out there in this universe. My faith in God has always been strong, but now I need to have stronger faith in myself.