First edition originally published January 3, 2015
The start of January naturally symbolizes new beginnings to most people as they take down last year’s calendar and pin up a fresh one, but the New Year’s Resolution is an often dreaded thing. Of those who do not scoff but earnestly attempt to shift habits, most try to take on too much in one way or another when they make such grand proclamations of change.
“New Year’s Day now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” – Mark Twain
Others talk of reasons why resolutions often fail. Perhaps someone has listed way too many things they want to change about their life, thus he or she becomes easily overwhelmed and discouraged. Maybe others give up because the change seems too vast, too deep, and too high; instead of taking small stepping stones to eventually reach the goal, these people try to leap to the top of the tall building in a single bound, so they give up.
“A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one Year and out the other.” – Anonymous
I offer an additional reason why you may have given up on a resolution in the past — it may have been something you tried because it was something you thought you should do — something that someone else thought you needed to change, but it wasn’t an earnest desire stemming from within you.
My Kundalini Yoga teacher reminded me last week that there are no “shoulds” — only your personal truth regarding what you want to do or not. Practitioners of Kundalini Yoga address each other by saying “Sat Nam” in the way that other yogic traditions say “Namaste.” The mantra Sat Nam means “Truth is my identity.” In that spirit, I offer a potential resolution for you to consider.
My suggestion for a New Year’s Resolution is a one-size-fits-all goal that will fit every person according to individual need. It is a message I have been seeing in a variety of ways for the past month or two, popping up in quotes and other forms like dandelions in my organic yard. It is a simple yet profound thing:
To be your authentic self.
You may have read of another way to say this in my previous blog post, A Relaxed Mind is a Creative Mind. One of my favorite inspirational tea tag quotes I mentioned in that post is by Traditional Medicinals:
Be yourself 1
This can mean whatever it needs to according to each individual. What would this mean for you? It can be general or specific, and could pertain to the spiritual inner aspect of your life as well as the outer physical.
For example, are you in a job you dislike because it is a path that someone else dictated for you, or are you following your dreams? Even if you are walking your chosen road to prosperity, are you being true to yourself?
If you are a fellow artist — are you creating from your heart, then finding the matching target market, or are you only trying to paint, sculpt, or photograph what you think will sell?
Being your true self — listening to your own inner voice of guidance each day and not worrying about what the Peanut Gallery thinks — is a concept beautifully encapsulated by Rumi in a quote I came across recently:
I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.
This quote seems particularly important for artists. We put our heart and soul into our work, and then we display these tangible symbols of our innermost secrets and insights to the public in hopes that someone will like our expressions enough to purchase the product. Artists can feel vulnerable when their unproven new work is on display.
This is a good time to remember how subjective art is, and that doing your best and speaking your truth are all you can do. Art is a “visual opinion,” and there is someone out there somewhere who will agree with that point of view. It is merely a question of finding the right fit of audience to artwork.
For a solo show in 2012, my creative team and I built The Wishing Tree installation. Visitors tied their paper wishes to the removable oak branches. After the exhibit was over, I cataloged all the open wishes before burning them, and am now creating drawings from the wish categories using the resulting ash and charcoal. One thing that some participants wished for was “To be my true self.” A powerful wish.
My most memorable and best New Year’s Resolution was one I made over ten years ago: to start practicing yoga. Always the last picked for teams in gym class, the non-competitive, spiritual, and holistic nature of yoga appealed to me, so it was a perfect fit.
The practice was something that had been calling to me for some time. I was fueled by the desire to do it, and I did not try to overload myself with a lengthy resolution list. I think these are two reasons why I bought the beginners’ DVD and my first purple mat. Since the day I made those purchases, I haven’t looked back — unless the asana I am practicing is a twist that calls for it.
I chose a photograph of the Carolina Wren to accompany this post. They are songsters, but I consider them to be curious, spunky birds that constantly delight us with their vast array of loud, wacky noises. Wren seem to be a bird who makes the precise sound it wants to make at any given time without a care in the world what anyone else thinks.
What is your New Year’s Resolution? Does it fall under the heading of being your authentic self? I look forward to seeing your own Resolutions in the comments.
Happy New Year, and all the best,
1 “Be Yourself” is a tea tag quote from Traditional Medicinals, www.traditionalmedicinals.com . Used with permission.