This is my traditional New Years Eve collage for the year. 2018!!! I have been so excited and ready for a refresh. There is something about a new year that just feels good to me – like turning the first page of a new book, as cliche as that sounds. You know that feeling? When you don’t know the story yet, but you’re filled with anticipation and can’t wait to just GET into it. And I know that you can always set goals, and that January is just a month… but come on. It’s the BEST, okay?
(My mom also introduced us to bullet journals this year, and I have never had more fun setting goals/figuring out how to record and commemorate the year. Have you ever made a bullet journal??)
My Aunt Sheral, who also had a wild 2017, labeled 2018 the bounce-back year. I love that. After (finally) finishing Rising Strong by Brene Brown, I feel like I could also label this year the year of Rising Strong. In Rising Strong, Brene Brown repeatedly references the man in the arena quote by Theodore Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
She talks a lot about those moments facedown in the arena, about the empathy it takes to look around at others who are also facedown with us, about the courage it takes to rise up again after failure and to live fully.
After a year with a lot of face-down moments (and a lot of rising up!) I wanted to be really specific about my intention for this year. My word for last year was reclaim. Reclaiming proved to be a scarier process than I thought, and brought a lot of fear to me – which looking the ugly stuff in the face or putting in the work on the stuff that matters can definitely do. I don’t imagine 2018 will be totally free of hardships, but I believe I can choose to experience them with far less fear. Learning comes regardless, but I’m learning that fear is optional. So with that in mind my word for this year, is LOVE.
Every year, I pick a scripture to go with my intention word, and this year it’s from 1 John 4:
“16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:”
So perfect love to counter that natural fear, right? I’m not about our culture’s definition of perfect, but I do believe in the gospel definition of perfect love, or complete love. So as I thought about what I hope to accomplish and become this year, I thought about some words that embody complete love to me. These are the four that I chose to focus on:
My goals inside of that are these:
-Graduate with my Bachelor’s Degree
-Finish my capstone
-Finish yoga teacher training and become E-RYT 200 certified (a fancy way of saying I’ll have my 200 hour certification)
-Move my body 6x weekly
-Nourish my body
-Meditate and seek the Spirit daily
-More time outside, meaning more camping, hiking, and more exploring all the corners of Utah we’ve never seen
-Read 30 books before 2019 (After finishing four already, I think I might up this goal! Too many good books out there)
-LESS PHONE TIME. (i.e. phone away an hour before bed, phone away when riding in the car with Cody, phone away when visiting family and friends)
-Read the Book of Mormon together daily (We bought the updated study version where narrators and locations and events are specified, and I LOVE it!!!! I have never enjoyed reading the Book of Mormon more, or felt like I’ve had better comprehension)
-Attend all temples in Utah before 2019
-Prepare for the next stage of life (babies) financially, spiritually, emotionally, etc.
What I love most so far this year, is the feeling of gratitude, love, and respect I have for the straight-up RUMBLE a year of reclaiming took to bring me to here, to these goals and this person. So many twists and turns! For example, if you had told me a year ago that I would be getting certified to become a yoga teacher, or that I’d have found a capstone project – a SCHOOL PROJECT – that I feel passionately about and LAY AWAKE planning for, I would have absolutely laughed in your face in TOTAL disbelief.
I finished my first weekend of yoga teacher training last weekend, and it was so grounding, and so connecting and so JOYFUL. I walked home feeling so much love for my life and myself. Just the best way to start 2018. It’s so crazy to me that yoga, something I’ve never really done before in my life, brings me back to myself. I was talking to Cody about it in wonder, and he said something so insightful.
He talked about a picture from eight years ago, one I’d totally forgotten. In the picture, I’m standing with my feet in my favorite Southern Utah reservoir, arms slightly outstretched in the sun and palms forward. It was simply the instinctual physical expression of the joy that ground, that sun, that sky brought to me. It’s also a yoga pose called mountain pose.
He reminded me that in that picture, I am rooting down, fully present where I am, connected to the light within me and the love of God around me. That’s how yoga makes me feel. And while I never imagined yoga when I wrote the word “reclaim” last year, I am grateful for the testimony it has given me that God knows and will lead us to exactly what we need to become our purest selves.
Except, the more I learn, the more I think becoming is less about adding and more about subtracting. Purifying. My scripture last year for the word reclaim was 3 Nephi 11:38: “And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.”
I never read this as God trying to keep people out, because I think the kingdom of God refers not only to the afterlife, but to this life, right now, and the joy and connection and learning that are available all around us. I also don’t always read repentance as just forgiveness from sins. To repent means to turn from, or to change. And speaking for myself, I think as we move through mortality, the more armored and jaded we can become against the inheritance from God all around us.
Because it’s frightening, right? It’s frightening to get hurt. It’s frightening to experience loss. It’s frightening to be rejected, to be misunderstood. It’s frightening to forgive. It’s frightening to love. It’s frightening to disappoint and be disappointed. It’s frightening to be lied to, it’s frightening to tell the truth! It can all be SO scary. But perfect love, complete love, casts out all fear. And we’re born with it! That’s why the scriptures repeatedly tell us to become as little children. Because little children aren’t scared to forgive you. They aren’t scared to share their feelings. They aren’t scared to make friends. They learn that, over time, through experience.
So maybe, a big part of becoming in this life is actually un-learning fear and choosing that childlike love. Maybe part of the path of discipleship is actually just choosing to return to that first and purest state – our best, most honest selves, carrying with us the good things we’ve learned and letting go of the hurts and fears that don’t serve us. Maybe that’s what real courage and Christlike love is. Maybe that is precisely what the enabling and enobling aspect of His Atonement entails. Because when I think about Jesus, I think He knew Himself, and didn’t let His experiences change the love He had for others, Himself, or God. I am certain He felt afraid. I know He felt every painful, heartbreaking piece of mortality that changes us, wounds us, warps us, and makes us want to hide.
But he also chose to continue his mission as Himself, not making Himself smaller, choosing courageously everyday to continue with power and childlike courage loving Himself, His fellow man, and His mission, being everyday exactly who He was born to be.
In 2018, I want more of that. More love, more return to that inner Shelby, more softening to the self and servant I already came to this Earth being. More complete love for God, less fear of mortality. More love for experiences and learning, less fear of the world and being fully what I was born being.
Maybe my favorite part of Rising Strong was this quote:
“Integration is the soul of rising strong. We have to be whole to be wholehearted. To embrace and love who we are, we have to reclaim and reconnect with the parts of ourselves we’ve orphaned over the years. We have to call back home all of those parts of ourselves that we have abandoned.
…On the complexity of our many diverse and sometimes contradictory parts, Walt Whitman wrote, ‘I am large… I contain multitudes.’ On the importance of understanding ourselves, Carl Jung wrote, ‘Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.’”
That’s my intent for 2018. To unleash the multitudes within me. To love God and to look inside at His light at that already lives in me, and to let that – rather than fear – guide me forward. However that looks, I am committing to doing my best to listen to my heart and His.
2018, I LOVE YOU! Let’s do this thing.