Setting My Intention For The New Year

Pepper having a cat nap.

Here we are at the end of another year.  It has been a rich one filled with insights, lessons and lots of love.  Instead of making New Years resolutions at year’s end, I like to choose a word that I will carry with me through the next twelve months.  In 2010 it was the word “open” as a way to allow newness into my life.  It’s easy to dismiss different ways of doing something or trying something you’ve never done before because it might be frightening. But new ideas give me a much broader perspective of everything around me. It makes life that much more interesting, turning it into a wonderous adventure.  In 2011 I chose “slowly” as my word.  As a result of these two special words, I’m much more open to trying new ideas, tastes, and listening to what others have to say. I refuse to be rushed, take my time making decisions and have slowed my daily pace to include more spaciousness. The knock-down-drag-out battle I’ve always waged with “the clock”  has become a mere discussion.  And should the discussion get too loud it’s easy to remind myself to slow down by simply repeating the word “slowly” to myself.

Now it’s time to choose another word. This is the year that so many have said will be BIG in so many ways.  The Mayan calendar runs out and big changes are predicted.  Some say the world as we know it will end. There are numerous conspiracy theories floating about and I’ve read that people selling survival gear will make a bloody fortune during the coming months.  At best, it sounds like it could be a difficult time, especially when it comes to the economy.

But I am not a fortune-teller.  I cannot predict how I will be feeling twenty minutes from now, much less what 2012 will bring.  How to deal with such dire predictions?

I’ve been thinking long and hard about what word to choose for this next year and couldn’t come up with much of anything that seemed suitable to me.  I thought “courage,” was a good one, but heard a little whisper that said there is another more important word  just waiting for me to discover it. A few days before Christmas it came to me like a shooting star out of a dark, moonless night.

I’ve always been a worrier.  Since losing Molly, a month ago, I’ve been worried about my cat, Peppermint, who has some brain inflammation that the Vet says can be managed if we can figure out which medicine to use and how much of it she’ll need.  Her perfect, little, round head has always tilted to the left and she’s always had trouble finding her balance and judging distances.  But the last few months have found her unable to walk at times, falling over on her left side when she tries to move.  She has difficulty eating and often hides on her bad days away from inquiring eyes. But when she feels good, she’s a happy, devil kitty who gathers pens and pencils from the tops of tables and desks scattering them around the house. She loves nothing more than to lie curled up next to me or in my lap as I read or write in my journal, making the furniture vibrate with her purr.  Just before leaving to spend the Christmas holiday in North Carolina with my family, she was having one of those difficult periods.

Since my usual house sitter was unavailable to take care of the cats, I had arranged to leave them at a kennel.  It’s difficult for me to do that because I HATE caging them for any length of time. They are all rescues and have already spent too much time behind bars.  And to leave a sick cat was not something I wanted to do.

On our way to the vet a few days before I had to leave, I asked Peppermint to tell me what she wanted.  Was she ready to throw in the towel and head for the Rainbow Bridge or did she want us to keep trying to help her?  She’d been feeling pretty ghastly for a few days and I was ready to let her go if that is what would be best for her.

In the exam room, Pepper tottered around, like a drunk but then began purring and rubbing up against my husband’s leg. He had come along  just in case there was a terrible, heart breaking decision to be made.  She purred for Richard, her doctor, and flipped her tail about in anger when he did something that made her feel uncomfortable.  We discussed what our options were and since she’d virtually come to life on the exam table I took it to mean that she wanted to keep trying.  So we upped her dose of prednisone and decided to give us all more time to see how it goes.  Two days later, she was feeling better and I dropped her off for her little “vacation” at the kennel.  I simply decided to “trust” that she would be fine at least until I returned.

All the worrying in the world will not change what the future will bring. If the world ends next year or if Pepper gets sicker and there is nothing we can do for her, it is the way it’s going to be.  I can change none of that. What I can do is live in this moment, the only one I have.  It’s more valuable to live out in the big world even when it seems to be falling down around us than to stay cooped up in a cave, waiting for the worst to happen.

I won’t sit here waiting to see what will happen.  I’ll try my best to live in each and every moment.  I’ll stay out in the sunshine and in the storm. I’ll make decisions and  choose my direction based on what I know and feel in my gut, trusting my instincts.  And I’ll work every day on the memoir I’m writing.  I’ve not been great at doing that, but I’m about to spend the next year working on my intention to believe in myself and to trust that all will unfold as it is supposed to.  It will take courage, but if my new word “TRUST” works out as well as the others have,  it will be a winner.

This entry was posted in Animals I Love, Christmas, Navigating Through Life, Travels. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Setting My Intention For The New Year

  1. Patricia says:

    Joan, this is beautiful, as a cat lover also it is heart vibrating and loving. Thanks

  2. Lynne Duke Conboy says:

    I met you on the Julian Bond tour last year and just received the holiday letter from Bill. I was so excited to be reminded of your blog. I think we discussed it on the trip but I had not been following it. Anyway, I have loved reading it and wanted to let you know. I particularly loved the most recent post about finding a “word” for the next year. I have been working on “letting go” and this made me realize that “letting go” is so much about “trust”. . . I am living in New York for at least a year – maybe two after renting my home in Charlottesville. Would love to stay in touch and see you when I get back to Charlottesville or if you get to New York. The UVA trip was amazing and I still feel like I haven’t properly processed all of it!
    Peace and joy for the New Year!

    • jzrart says:

      I remember you, Lynne, and though the times have been overwhelmingly busy, I’ve thought of you and our trip together often.

      Trust is about letting go of all the things in our life that we no longer need or want to carry along with us. Like resentment, difficult people and all the stories we tell ourselves about why we can’t do this or that. It’s a life saver to let go and oh, so powerful when we discover we’re still alive and thriving after we’ve done it.

      Would love to see you and when you get back to good ole C’ville give me a call. Also when in NYC I’ll let you know!

      To you a New Year filled with light,

  3. Susan says:

    Oh, Pepper! Give her a scratch on both ears for me. You’ve inspired me to take some time this weekend to contemplate the passing year and dream up a word (or maybe a theme song) for the coming year. Wishing you Big Trust in the coming months, dear one!

  4. jzrart says:

    Her ears have been scratched and she is doing great! Thanks, Susan! Glad to hear you had great holidays!

  5. Becca says:

    Joan, this post touched my heart in so many ways – in fact, it felt as if I could have written every word myself.

    I have been thinking about my word for next year, and all your words would be appropriate for me. I am a worrier, I need to slow down in everything I do, and I want to be more open to new ideas. I’ve had a word in mind for a while (mine came to me on a airplane a few weeks ago!), and will be writing about it on Monday 🙂

    I wish you Godspeed in your journey through 2012!

    • jzrart says:

      Thanks so much Becca. I’ve noticed we have a few things in common, like worry (: I’m looking forward to reading about your word next week. Godspeed to you as well, my friend.

  6. Patti says:

    Thank you, Joan, that was a VERY helpful story for me – My world, as I know it, seems to be getting more mysterious to me as I get older – so many of your posts have been right on – We w all continue to do our best in 2012 – Love, to you and Bill –


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