Saturday, January 4, 2014

Brave beginnings

I chose the word brave in 2013. One little word to be my muse and mantra through the year, to guide me in matters large and small. I chose wisely, and brave served me well. The most visible evidence of brave is that in the month of June I opened my private counseling practice, part-time, on the side, as I continued to work at my full-time, salaried counseling position; but come December I left that full-time, salaried position in order to grow my private practice. This was and is an exciting move. And a scary one. But one that is right for me for now. Of that I am sure. In 2013 I also moved to embrace parts of my identity that feel complex and at times uncertain, despite the strength and depth of their roots. Stemming from a barely audible and oh-so-tentative, “I think I might be an artist,” to the louder and more insistent, “I am an artist,” each utterance was an act of bravery. I am grateful to have been affirmed and supported each time, welcomed to come as I am—heart-centered, butterfly wings, and all (more on these themes later). Such support helped me to put my work and, I suppose, myself into the world in new ways, accessible to people who matter to me. Lastly, the year saw me take risks in relationships, in some instances putting words to thoughts I more typically keep to myself and taking initiative to make known more of my experience in sitting with another. Nearly every time, I was met with greater compassion, energy, depth, and connection, and for that I am immensely grateful. In all, 2013 was a good year for me.

The advent of January brings the arrival of a new year, and to go with it I have chosen a new word as muse and mantra for 2014: begin. Other contenders included action, move, go, and start, but none of those feel as poetic as begin. I much prefer the look and sound of this word. I like that the associated actions seem realistic in size. I like how begin connects with other sayings I use and find helpful: Don’t think, just go. Or: Take one small step. Or: Say one true thing. I like how it connects with last years’ word—beginning often requires bravery, at least when things matter. I know that in many ways I have already been experiencing what it means to begin—in my work as a counselor and an artist, and in relationships. Continuing this trajectory means a daily effort to begin, to take small, concrete steps in the direction I want to go. The coming days are an invitation, a series of ordinary opportunities to begin something new or in progress, taking first one step and then another and another. Drawing, reading, writing, singing, playing, painting, selling, cooking, juicing, running, counseling, coaching, connecting, listening, laughing, talking, sleeping, growing, being. In these ways and a myriad of others, I will continue to build my life, following the purposeful call to begin.