Every January I take the opportunity to re-focus and to claim the next 12 months, like a potter claims her clay. I look ahead and ask myself what will I make of this year? What shape will I create ? What impact will I make? Where will I devote my energy? Of course there will be unpredictable, crazy winds of change. There will be births and deaths. There will be re-structures and amalgamations. Things will end and things will appear, as if from nowhere. But in all of this where will my attention be?
I have a ritual every new year where I choose a word. A word that captures a value or characteristic that I most want to grow in the following 12 months. I've been doing this for a lot of years now. Let me give you an example. One year I chose the word gratitude. I chose this word because I wanted to explore how gratitude works for me. I wanted to feel a greater sense of appreciation and wonder at the abundance in my life. I started out taking a moment to feel grateful each day. I started to notice things that I hadn't seen before and I felt a little bubble of something rise up inside my chest. I realised it was gratitude. As I got the hang of it I started to notice times when I didn't feel gratitude, I felt the complete opposite. I would quietly move in closer at those times and look more carefully. To be completely honest I loved exploring gratitude so much I chose it two years in a row.
Malleable; doorway; careful; brave; river; mountain; grace; tender; muscular; kind; rested ...
We are all hyphenated beings. Not one thing or another. An amalgamation of all the things we create, all the things we are in contact with, all the plants and animals and insects. All the delights and longings and fears that we carry. Nothing separate about us. In the spirit of shapeshifting I've started asking the awesome humans who come to my workshops to choose a word to show up with. I spread across the tables rows of adorned luggage tags - each inscribed with a word.
Then I invite them to think of themselves as joined, for the moment, to this word. Hyphenated, if you will.
Last week in Queensland a man became Ben-Captain and in Melbourne someone else became Isha-Enough. Today I'm Mary-Rhythm. Already, even as I write this, I am feeling the beat slow down and the breath sink deeper. This little 'word game', identity stretching exercise allows us to step into more flexible ways of responding. This is how I make words shimmer.
We can adopt a question instead of a word. One year I chose the question What would love do? I would ask myself that question many times throughout the week as I made decisions. You'd be surprised how useful and revealing that question is. I mistakenly guessed that I would quickly tire of loves repertoire of ways to show up in the world. I hadn't reckoned on all the ways love shapes things. It was powerful and enticing to learn more about the wisdom of love.
I invite you to join me and find a hyphenation for today. I'd love to hear how it goes.