Learning to be Still – 5 Ways to Calm Your Soul

Book / Life Balance / Susan

Learning to be Still – 5 Ways to Calm Your Soul

It’s mid-January 2019, and I’m curious, how are the New Year’s resolutions going? Are you still at the gym or has your attendance wavered? For those doing dry January, how are you faring? Has sparkling water in your wine glass curbed your craving or are you sneaking sips here and there?

Our New Year’s resolutions are usually made with the best of intentions.

Plans are put in place, the resolution(s) have been announced to the world and the first week of January is met with enthusiasm for success, and we feel good about ourselves. Then the momentum begins to wear off, the zest for change seems to get lost amidst Netflix series, invitations are accepted to after work drinks to ‘kick off the start of a new year’ and before long, our activewear lay crumpled at the bottom of the laundry basket and our grocery lists include bottles of wine plus tonic for that sunset sip and as we gaze into tomorrow.

Our journals are missing blocks where we had promised to write, and our meditation apps are begging for us to return to log another 20 minute time of peace. It’s through all or some of these that we realise we’ve fallen off the resolution wagon. So, I have come up with an alternative to resolutions (that never get resolved) and started a new habit that was choosing a word for the year.

It all started in 2015 when life seemed like it was all too much.

We had moved back to Australia from Canada at the end of 2013, so I had spent much of 2014/15 settling the kids into new schools, routines and life on the coast. (For anyone wondering if relocating is easy the simple answer is no, but we’ll leave that for another day!) I didn’t realise I was making this shift from resolution to a word, but it just happened as the new year came closer. I, like most, was thinking about the changes I would make for the year.

As usual, there were many things that needed to change. Jobs that required my attention and focus on improving. None of it was going to be easy, and I felt like I was looking at my Everest and asking it to move. Strangely as January 1st approached, I was less engaged with the idea of a resolution and more enchanted with the sense of a word. I wondered if a word could be something that covered my year. One word. Could it have the power to change and to move my Everest?

In 2015, my word was QUIET.

What? Quiet, where has that come from? How could I possibly be quiet when so much needed my attention. What did quiet even mean? This word was so clear. It was one of those ‘you know that you know’ situations, so I listened, and I became quiet. Fast forward through that year and to my amazement, 2015 was the quietest year for me (personally) but it was the loudest concerning things that happened, doors that opened, opportunities that presented themselves. 2015 was incredible, and it will stand out as a defining year for me. A year where I chose to listen rather than speak. To hear and from a place of quiet, I saw Everest move and my life changed in ways that were transformational.

In 2016, my word was SILENCE.

Ha, I thought after a year of being quiet it would be my time to return to my former self. To be the one with opinions, never at a loss for words but alas SILENCE was my word. Having seen the power of the previous year, I chose to do precisely that. I listened and stayed silent. The silence was different to last year. Quiet seemed to be something I was told to do, whereas silence was this gentle stillness allowing for clarity. It had a beauty about it that seemed timeless and effortless.

In 2017, my word was SURRENDER.

For those who know me, you’ll think that quiet and silence were hard for me. Well, surrender was an entirely different experience. Was it hard? NO. Hard to believe that it wasn’t hard? The only way I can describe it is like building blocks. Allowing one word to sift through my life throughout the years had been so freeing. Unlike failed resolutions in years past that have left me feeling discouraged and frustrated, one word gracefully flowing through my life was not a challenge, a burden to bare instead it was this light touch that drew me in, that called deeply that challenged me from the core but it a beautiful way in a transformational way.

In 2018, my word was ME.

This was one of the hardest words for me to accept. Me. How did this fit with the flow I was experiencing over the past years? Wasn’t it selfish to be so focused on self? I came to accept the word through conversations with others. I always find it interesting how our connection with each other can help us in ways we don’t expect it. My friends soon discovered my word for the year experience, and they were interested to learn about the word I had been given for 2018. At first, I was uncomfortable talking about this year’s word, but as I did, I began to understand it in a more profound way.

Me taking time to have conversations with friends about how this word made sense for the year was breathtaking.

In one particular conversation with our friend Mark (I always love talking to him) we were talking about my year ahead and the amount of travel I would be doing. I shared with him about the previous year and how for one particular client I was up at 3:45 am in the morning to catch a 6 am flight to be in the clients office by 8 am. I shared with him how this year I was going to do it differently and fly in the night before, creating some space and being kind to myself. He looked at me and said, ‘Me.’ It’s your word, you’re kind to you, it’s self-care, and it’s something you’re doing for me.

It is funny how that conversation sticks out to me and how it was one of those convos that helped me embrace my word for the year. I lived my word me out, and I loved it. It helped me say yes to things, and it helped me say no. Me helped me find boundaries and so much more. I love me.

In 2019, my word is EXPAND.

I have no idea what this looks like. I only hope it’s not my waistline. Like the other words, it too will become.