I Choose Devotion

Sparkling clarity. Simplicity. Beauty.

This is the last day of the year 2012. A year I am happy to usher to its end, because in my heart I truly believe as this year comes to a close, so, too will I be closing the cycle of loss I’ve been living for three years.

I exit this year feeling beaten and tired, and painfully aware of my own fragility. But I also end this year newly connected to my faith in the world, in this life, in the inherent meaning of every single day we live.

Turns out my luxury of days revealed… the ordinary. I felt no dramatic letdown, no cleaving of the heavens. I did not feel called to change my life from bottom up. I did not feel punished by my thoughts of what I wish I could have changed sooner. The end of my relationship seemed merely inevitable (which it was). My continued inability to lose any of the weight I’ve gained just a side effect of another hard year (which it is).

What I felt was totally earthbound thoughts such as these: My son is amazing. I am a perfectly good parent. Video games will not kill him. For me, aiming for being perfect at eating or not drinking is not really useful. I am lucky. I feel better when I do a little yoga. I feel better when my head is full of books and music and movies and thoughts other than my own. I love who I am. I loved discovering Pandora! I love my new Roku! I love my new beading project! I am fine. There is nothing to solve. Repeat: There is nothing to solve.

I work too hard at life. I’ve been told this before, by therapists, friends, psychics (whom I don’t generally seek out, but when I meet one, something in my emotional intensity leads them to take my hand and tell me to lay down my burden and carry the gift of being a healer out in front of me, and to let the beacon I carry shine for me as well. Woah).

And undertaking the task of changing how I approach life is more work still, isn’t it? The hardest work of all.

No wonder I’m exhausted. Or I was exhausted, when I started my luxury of days. Now I am well-rested, and I have the opportunity to review what made this year so hard, and I see that the story of 2012 was this: I was working SO HARD AT EVERYTHING. Trying to save my relationship, learning my very new-to-me job (in a breathtakingly unstable industry, with new rules, or no rules), getting my household and finances in order after supporting myself on savings for so long, and trying to fix my broken relationship to my body and my health. I’m not saying that the hard work was wrong-headed; it just was. And so my tank-on-empty feeling was justified, something I’d earned, not something I’d defaulted into because of my mistakes, my weakness, my ego, my ego, my ego!

So the beginning of this new year does feel like a blank slate for me. I am going to gently fold the pain and challenges of these past three years into a paper boat, and place it on a river and light it aflame, and let drift downriver away from me as its ashes float toward the heavens.

And instead of making resolutions (which I never do, because I can damn well do what I need to do without making a proclamation about it), I’m going to choose to do something else instead: devotion.

Devotion
1. Love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause.
2. Religious worship or observance.

Because my life doesn’t need more work, more effort; but it does need more faith and love and peace. That suddenly seemed so obvious to me, up here on my mountaintop retreat with my son, surrounded by cold, blustery winter and warmed by our nightly fires and our easy company together. And I keep waiting for work to be less demanding, for parenting to be less tiring, for self-care to seem less burdensome. And then expecting I’ll be able to turn that spare hour for myself at the end of the day into some kind of meaningful laboratory for self-improvement and self-acceptance.

I have it backwards! I need to flip my days, and start them with devotion, my prayer to myself and to the universe, and let the day flow from there. Then at days’ end, the accumulated failings or successes of the day will be more lightly tallied, and I can go to bed knowing I will greet myself with love first thing in the morning.

And so I greet the new year with love, and with hope, and with faith. And above all with devotion, daily. That moment in the morning to bow my head and open my heart and say I am ready to accept all that comes my way. And that I believe that in the final balance, it will be good. It is good. I am good.

Happy New Year, to all of you. And thank you for being the witnesses and the chorus and the cheerleaders. And for being my friends.

Namaste.

About stacy

I am a writer, author, mother, former magazine editor (last at Redbook), optimist, and, above all, a searcher. I'm still searching for whom I'm really meant to be, after a series of very jarring losses: a divorce and house disaster that led to a book (Falling Apart In One Piece); a week after the book came out, my parents suddenly fell gravely ill, I resigned from my job (and, apparently, my career), my son went into crisis, my parents then rapidly died four weeks apart, and my boyfriend (who had moved in with me and my son just weeks before the book came out) began the painful journey of realizing we couldn't make our relationship work (that story unfolded on this blog). Since then I've been trying to figure out what's next. Or, in other words, how to fill in the blanks.
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34 Responses to I Choose Devotion

  1. Vikki says:

    This I truly beautiful and there is so much peace and wisdom in it. I need some of that. I wish you the best in 2013.

  2. Lindsey says:

    Amen. I love the image of the paper boat, floating down the river. And of you, setting your intention, practicing your devotion. Lovely, lovely. xox

  3. Shannon says:

    “There is nothing to solve.” I may have to make that my mantra. I don’t have to solve the puzzle that is me. Sometimes there is nothing to figure out. Sometimes things just are the way that they are, right?

    • stacy says:

      Yes. Often things are “just the way that they are.” But we need to be gentle with ourselves in that we wish that weren’t true! Thank you for stopping by.

  4. naomi says:

    Flip your days, babe! @gemgem76 from Twitter. Let’s do this thing called “early to bed” because I think it will have a PROFOUND effect/affect on our 2013 !!

    • stacy says:

      Indeed it will! If I am up to the challenge! It’s so hard at the end of a hard day to just give over to going to bed. But I’ll try if you try and we can publicly humiliate — I mean, SUPPORT each other through the efforts!

  5. Jill Salahub says:

    I am running out of ways to say “yes, me too” and “I adore you.”

  6. Ann says:

    Twwwwwannnnnng.

    (Resonance, from this to me. Thank you.)

  7. Liz @ PeaceLoveGuac says:

    Beautiful and inspiring. My days can use some flipping too.

  8. Alexandra says:

    I am so lucky to know you, to really really know you.
    I’ve been thinking along these very same lines: to leave myself alone, and just love me.
    Your post says it all.

    How I wish I had a collective of your meditations on my night stand table.

    Happy New Year, you gem of a person, I love knowing you.

    xo

    • stacy says:

      “To leave myself alone.” That captures the BULLYING aspect of our self-talk sometimes. Well put, my friend. As for a collection of my meditations…. hmm…. I’ll have to ask my agent what she thinks of that idea. Thanks for the appreciation~!

  9. Amanda says:

    It really is about not running so hard into the wind, maybe pausing now and again to just listen and enjoy the rhythms we create.

    Here is to love greeting you back each morning.

    • stacy says:

      That’s a beautiful way to put it, yes. Both points. I love the idea of love greeting me back. Here’s hoping that’s what I hear. It was indeed what I felt this morning! (i.e. so far so good~)

  10. I work too hard at life, too. Time to listen to you and this breathtaking post.

    Happy New Year!

  11. Rita says:

    I woke up earlier this morning, thinking about the idea of a word for the year. (Not an original idea; one floating around the internet right now.) When I thought about it consciously yesterday, none resonated. When I came up from sleep, one rang clearly: intentional.

    I appreciate your words because they remind me not to work so damn hard at being intentional. That it doesn’t have to be work, another thing to add to my list of to-dos. That it’s something I can just be.

    Wishing you peace as you enter back into your workaday life, into this new year. I am so glad I found you in the past year.

    • stacy says:

      Right, “intention” can rise to the surface and simply be felt, rather than having to come dug up from deep within, the effort to be present creasing your brow. I’m so happy to have met you, too, this year. It’s nice to have company in the searching for being gentle with oneself.

  12. Breathtaking. Beautiful.

    Daily Devotion & Trusing God….

    yes, this is what has kept me alive & sane this last two tears/years

    Happy 2013.

  13. anymommy says:

    Committing to something that takes us out of ourselves. That’s what I hear here and I needed to hear it. Peace and joy for you in 2013!

    • stacy says:

      Yes, I desperately need to shed myself sometimes….. And since I’ve lost my running legs (though I do hope to get them back in 2013), I have had no way to be away from ME. Very best to you, too~~

  14. “Nothing to solve.” That’s a good, solid, strong state of mind.

    Devotion. Such a precious word.

    Here’s another for you. Eudaimonia. Though the obstacles may seem numerous, it’s a journey many of us might wish for ourselves. I know it’s one I would like to take.

    Wishing you all good things in the new year, Stacy.

  15. Rita Arens says:

    What a beautiful realization. I have been reading The Willpower Instinct this break for BlogHer Book Club, and it says basically the same thing you are saying. I will send you my copy when I’m done. I’m with you: there are no safe places, no unsafe places, only places. The world won’t better when, when, it must be better now. There is no can’t, only won’t. These are the words I live by now, ever since my evolutionary psychologist helped me understand feelings aren’t right or wrong, they’re human, they’re there, like toes. It helped me to stop feeling guilty for my coveting or my anger when I experienced them. They are just feelings, like toes. They come and go and with meditation, we can learn to watch them like television. I don’t always practice this as well as I’d like, but it’s my intention when I wake up in the morning.

    I am a tryer-too-harder, too, so I completely understand what you are saying, as well. It’s something I’ve fought against my entire life, because trying too hard only got me an anxiety disorder and an eating disorder. Not trying so damn hard got me what I wanted in life, because I was easier to be around while I was looking for it.

    • stacy says:

      There are “only places.” Well said. But oh! I SO don’t want to give up the search for the “safe place” even if I end up discovering it only in myself. I’d like to be my own safe harbor, you know? xxx

  16. Jill says:

    Stacy,
    Your message is the one I needed to hear. Most of my year was wonderfully ordinary, but the fall brought me to my knees a few times. I’m building the strength to take on my challenges again, because they have not left with 2012. This line, “Because my life doesn’t need more work, more effort; but it does need more faith and love and peace” had me shouting “Amen sister!” Really loudly. Inside my head.

    You are enough. I am enough. Peace.

  17. Molly says:

    I returned to your blog after more than a year away and am once again blown away by the power of your writing. Thank you for sharing your gift with the world. I’m sorry, so sorry, for your losses. I cried as I read about your dark days; they reminded me of my own. I haven’t cried in a long time — mostly I am a numb warrior, soldiering on alone, walking over the pain, crushing it. But … you have a way of articulating yourself that gets to the heart of what it means to be alive. I wish you JOY in 2013. And, on a lighter note, my “theme” for 2013: WWJD? (What would JACKIE do?). lol. 😉

  18. Holly says:

    Wow, how cathartic, thank you. I am very, very hard on myself and beat myself up constantly and live in regret. I hope to see the light this year and make the most of what I have.

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