It is the first day of December and it seems to me as if 2023 went by with a flash. I have felt deep despair about the growing division between people and the devastating impact it has had on human beings, all life in fact, including our planet. And, I have also experienced many moments of joy and satisfaction this year.
Michael Brown, who wrote The Presence Process: A Journey into Present Moment Awareness says…(and I paraphrase) Some people think that feeling joy is feeling happy, but I think that feeling joy is feeling everything. I return to this simple but profound statement over and over again because it so aptly expresses how I try to live my life.
I want to be as awake and present as possible. To avoid temptations to shut down my feelings or to try and minimize mine or someone else’s experience. To continue to uncover my blind spots that create division between myself and others. To be willing and even cherish opportunities to grow and evolve even when it is painful in the moment.
I do not expect nor even want constant happiness. I want to be aware of and to give attention to my feelings no matter how embarrassed I may be of them, knowing that my emotions direct me to my deeper needs. Marshall Rosenberg referred to needs as Divine messages and I agree with this. For me, this means that if I can be attuned to my feelings and needs, I am more receptive to my own Divinity.
So, with my eye on being transparent with you and sharing a bit of myself, I offer the following few things that have stimulated pain or fear in me, and those that brought me joy:
What inspired pain or fear:
- Every single mass shooting that I am aware of (there are many more than the media covers in the USA). I grieve for everyone involved, the people shooting the guns, the people who were injured or died as a result, all families involved – literally everyone – and the layer upon layer of unmet needs and inability in our society to help people find more effective ways to meet their needs.
- The many major catastrophes that people across the world are experiencing due to global warming, especially believing that there are many more to come.
- The wars across our world that increasingly involve devastation for civilians and all life in the countries affected. I long for peace, dignity, autonomy, and self-actualization for all people.
- The political divisions at all levels in the USA have reached a level that is truly despairing and I hope for some kind of intervention that will help us remember that we share the same needs for safety, security, freedom and decency.
What inspired joy:
- The NVC Academy team did a major assessment of our work and purpose and have rewritten our vision and mission. This represents a major shift for us in re-establishing our relevance in a post-pandemic world. The result has been invigorating for us all!
- Our dear grandson, River, turned two and it is hard to overstate the depth of joy he brings into our lives by his mere existence!
- I took a Spanish speaking class, which has been on my “bucket list” for two decades! My skills are rudimentary at this point, but it is a start and I’m cherishing every new word or sentence structure learned! Finally making space for this meets needs for accomplishment, learning, friendship, and integrity.
- Midway through 2023, I realized that I love to cook as a result of taking two cooking classes and have begun to use cooking as one of the many ways that I nurture myself. For me, cooking supports me in creativity, focus, learning, love and self-care.
- I co-authored my first children’s book, Giraffe and Jackal Are Friends (Again!). I have thought about writing a children’s book since I was in my early 30’s, so this accomplishment represents fun, unexpected opportunity, and JOY!
What have been (or are) your despairs or joys from 2023?
In my January letter, I will elaborate on what qualities I want to bring from 2023 into 2024, and what qualities I would like to leave in 2023. One thing for sure I would like to leave in 2023 is self-doubt. Sigh. Such a big thing to let go of and that I have grappled with for so many years. Sometimes, our goals are too big to let go of entirely, but we can celebrate our small steps and remind ourselves that our timeline can be a lifetime! Stay tuned for more on this.
In the meantime, many blessings to you as you finish out 2023. May you find ways to greet whatever comes your way with openness and hopefulness.