When I’m editing photos from a recent session, I can tell which ones will likely be the client’s favorites and which ones will not. However, those in the “not” category are often the ones I’m inclined to keep for myself. While they may not be the photos anyone else would frame or share, I might. Those pictures inspire my thoughts, which then inspire my Instagram posts. And, those Instagram posts inspire these articles–and I love to write. The above shot I took of these siblings holding hands and walking away is one such picture. The thought or question it spurred in me was this: what are you saying goodbye to this year? Or–how about the opposite of that: what are you welcoming in this year? Saying “hello” to, if you will? Have you thought about it? Here’s some ideas I have for you based on my own experiences and reflections.
Do you ever catch yourself thinking that one day you’ll do that thing or be in that profession or live in that place you’ve talked about since you were 17 years old? Maybe you’ve found yourself daydreaming that one day those things will all be a part of your daily life and existence? The truth is, though, some of them will never materialize. While you may think me harsh to say that, it’s the truth. With the new year approaching, it’s time to say goodbye to the list of things you’re never actually going to do as well as to release your mental hold on others you’re unlikely to ever have.
Before I accepted this truth myself, I was home-schooling my boys and working part-time as an English professor. I felt stifled but didn’t understand why. Until one day–a revelation. That revelation came to me after reading a chapter in The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie O’Martian https://www.stormieomartian.com/product/the-power-of-the-praying-woman-paperback/. The gist was that I was holding onto my dreams so tightly that I couldn’t see what God had for my future. I finally understood that a lofty list of goals was not only cluttering me mentally, but also impeding me, literally. And, worst of all, that mental list of what I saw as “un-dones” was preventing me from enjoying the life I had. It was time to confront that list. And, first on the chopping block was my dream of being a writer.
Ever since I was 8 years old, I’ve said I was a writer. As did everyone else–my family and friends, my teachers. Yet, . . . back in 2008, I had stopped writing. So, I had to ask myself if I really was a writer or if I ever would be and what that even looked like in my life. After crying and praying and journaling, the answer was clear. Yes, I was a writer, but one who didn’t know what she wanted to write. Next, I addressed the types of literature I could tackle (novels, poems, short stories, etc.) and crossed most of them off the list. It wasn’t looking good for me and that scattered, chaotic feeling was taking over again, but then . . . .
. . . it came to me! I actually had been writing a type of genre–a genre I really enjoyed writing but hadn’t considered it as an option for me. I was writing short plays for the kids in our home-school co-op because there was a need in the drama classes. Yet, I was the one who filled that need, with no questions or qualms. None of the other moms even considered trying. It came so naturally to me, and I had finished two already.
So, I started writing more plays and producing them. My calling as a creative writer was as a playwright. This acceptance of myself was monumental in propelling me forward. I no longer felt confused when asked if I was writing a novel or a children’s book or entering a short story competition. “I’m not that kind of writer,” I would say proudly. I said goodbye to my old ideas of what being writer meant for me and said hello to what being a writer actually meant for me.
As the new year approaches, it’s time take a hard look at what you’re holding onto that may be weighing you down and keeping you from living well. The first step is to make a list of the goals you’ve kept hidden in your heart. Then, spend some time contemplating each one and ask yourself these questions:
1. How long has this been on my list?
2. Have I made any progress towards this one?
3. Is keeping this dream on my list making me feel bad about myself? Or about my life in general?
Spend some time reflecting on your answers. You may cry a little and even be angry for a bit, but it’s worth being honest with yourself. Next, decide what you’re saying goodbye to this year and make room for what you can welcome.
Let the picture below remind you that you’re welcoming in a new year and possibly a new future because you’re willing to walk away from what no longer serves you. Here’s to the life you were always meant to have! Happy New Year, my friends!