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A pathway to curious fearlessness. Happy 2013!

winterWe’re taking down the lights, recycling the tree and noticing how tight our clothes have gotten since the eating holidays began (which you have to admit start at Hallows Eve).     Another year flashed by and here, in my very clean and reorganized office, I’m ready for 2013.   It’s been a hell of a year.  One fraught with challenges, but I really did learn that what doesn’t kill you does make you stronger, so thanks 2012 – it’s been interesting knowing you, but I’m kind of glad you are over.  You were full of diversions, excursions and exclamations but we ended the year healthier, happier and very much the wiser for it all.

I use this time of year for a few weeks off from the daily work load to spend time with family and friends, to focus on cleaning, organizing and regrouping my creative focus for the year ahead, and setting myself some goals and new dreams.  It often doesn’t unfold as I think it should as each year has proven, but it does help me create a space for all things new and getting rid of that which doesn’t work or is old and no longer relevant in my life.

I traditionally start this process coming into the studio over the week between the end of year holidays and dusting, filing, throwing out and cleaning my space completely.  This takes a few days since I’m a lazy cleaner, and I let the dust bunnies build up for months prior.   I move furniture, rearrange the flow and clear the clutter, put away the projects that I thought I wanted to do but didn’t, file the paperwork that is no longer needed (mostly in the recycle bin) and start the year with just those last few projects I want to get done that didn’t quite get finished in December.   It’s a cathartic time of renewal.  I love New Year for this.

While I make lists of what I want to get done over the year ahead, and focus in on specific achievable goals, I realize the list is way too long and I edit it down to the changes I need to make both at work and for the house.   Instead of feeling overwhelmed by all the dreams and wishes, I try to put it into an organized collection so that it can be really accomplished and not just another resolution unfulfilled, and its inevitable feeling of dashed expectation.

My list includes things such as painting the garden walls, replacing the truly horrible electric stove top at the house with a fully working gas stove (try cooking for 15 people on a two ring electric burner that won’t regulate its temperature), tiling the kitchen,  all pretty easy if you can keep the eye on the prize.

It’s the work list that becomes more the challenge, thinking about what it is I want to achieve this year for the long term, let alone the next 3 months.  What goals I need to set to make those happen.  It’s so easy for most of us to float along in life, with the ‘one day’ attitude, but I have a slight aversion to this approach these days.  As I’ve been a floater most of my life and at long last I’ve realized that without a plan these dreams will never come into fruition.  It’s like I need a business plan for my life.   It’s pretty easy to put into place but it’s incredibly difficult to stay on task and the one way to really achieve success at resolution is to have a structure to refer to along the way.    I have several ways to do this, but the initial planning is crucial to the process.

I hear you groan, I know you read this all before, but without an action plan, life just keeps giving me the same because I just keep doing the same.   If I really want to make it happen I have to take action and I’ve realized this is the only way to reach whatever goals I have.     Now I find joy in my planning and feeling a sense of accomplishment when it is achieved (although implementation can be very hard along the way).

So I’m setting up my 2013 calendar, making lists for my clients and what I need to do for them and for myself.  Yes, I am also thinking about my financial goals, my child’s educational goals (like getting into a new school for Middle School), about that trip I would love to take with my family this summer and how I’m going to get there from here, and thinking of abundance instead of worrying about how I’m going to do it all.

Yesterday, we got a chance to slip out of town to the incredible wild terrain of Madera Canyon to find a sparkling land of snow and ice – something so different from our everyday blue sky bliss here in Tucson  – and hike some of the trails in the backwoods.    It was packed with likeminded thinking city dwellers, and the car park was bursting with sleds and slickers in their new snow boots and rangers handing out tickets.

First we took the high trail up towards the silence of the frozen mountains – the visitors fell behind us as we climbed until we were all alone – just us caught in the magic of silence and snow – the trail was rocky and icy and difficult, and we were really ill equipped with our city style shoes (here’s a great example of lack of planning), one bottle of water and pack of chips, so we finally turned around and slid carefully down the trail as the boys jumped into the snow banks and made angels along the way.  We decided to take another path by a creek further down the mountain where the snow pack was melted, and it was cold and in the shadows of the climb where no mountain visitors went.

The boys chattered and ran ahead and our blind Landseer stumbled and bumped along the pathway into rocks and trees (even on a leash).   My job was to make sure he didn’t fall over the edge of a bank or walk straight into a boulder or tree.  At the end of the segment of this trail, I decided to walk back to get the car so that the rest didn’t have to walk the steep rocky terrain again and I would just pick them up at the end of the trailhead – the sun was setting and it was frigid and that time just before dark.    It was about 15 minutes into my solo hike through the silent trail, with just the sound of falling ice from the trees- and I heard a ruckus suddenly.  I know this is bear country so I hurried along and scanned the woods just hoping that a bear wasn’t about to appear.

As I turned to my left just 10 feet from my path was a large pack of about twenty very tall Goulds wild turkeys squawking and hollering as they watched two males  in their pack fight.   It was astounding because it was so unexpected, and I held tight to my lunging mass of 90lbs of acutely aware dog and dragged him along the pathway out of the way.  A safe distance further along the path, I turned back to watch the chaos of the scene unfolding among these amazing birds. None had taken any notice of us.  These turkeys looked huge – and nothing to mess with when fighting over a female.  They are the equivalent size of my dog, if not larger, and I recently learned a lot about the wild turkey in an amazing documentary on PBS telling the story of John Hutto who lived amongst them in the backwoods for a year.   If you haven’t seen it – its should be on your list.

My PBS moment just paid handsomely – (and yes it was indeed a Big Bird).    It was an astounding vision in that dark cold canyon under the shadows of the oaks alone, and it reminded me of a fearlessness we must carry in our hearts along the paths of our lives.  That a  continual state of curious fearlessness is really a good tool.

I hurried to the car, anxious to tell my family what had happened, and to realize just what I had seen only a few feet away from me and to be reminded (once again) that the key in life is not in the outcome,  but in the living it every day fully.  In the knowing that you can work to shape the path you walk, that unknown things will come along to shift it, but you will stand stronger if you are curious and not fearful.   It was a clearl vision for a New Year’s Day and for my state of mind.

Happy New Year to you!  Plan a pathway, and if you encounter some squawking fighting big birds, or anything just a little or extremely dangerous,  just get out of the way and stand back.  Prepare to be amazed.  The pathway continues ahead.  Now back to my lists.

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