I feel like sharing my thoughts and plans for this year, and what better place to do it than this blog, which really doesn't get enough use.
First off, for those of you who don't know (actually, I think none of you know this... I don't tell it to many people)... I have a habit of naming every single year. I usually name it sometime in December, and I officially christen the new year with its name on New Years Eve. Sometimes I do it during the first week of the year. But the point is - the year gets its name before it has done anything spectacular (similar to people, really)... and what disturbs me is that every single year, it LIVES UP to its name! Usually in ways I hadn't antitipcated. AT ALL.
The first year I named was 2005. I named it after like... 17 hours into it, when during that time, I had had awesome conversations with two friends, got shot in the eye with an airsoft gun (I find this to be more awesome than bad, since nothing horrible happened except it swelled up for a few days, and it made for a fricking awesome story), and had this long ordeal with a dog... the dog showed up at our house on New Years Eve and wouldn't go away. It was just hanging out on our front porch. o.O Weird. So we fed it (bad idea but oh well) and mom dragged the dog pen we kept for our dog sometimes out onto the driveway so the dog would have a place to sleep. At like 6 am I decided to walk to Price Chopper and buy donuts (I hadn't slept that night at all - woot). When I went outside, the dog was still there. I don't particularly like dogs. They scare the crap out of me, and this one was this huge dog, like part lab part husky part horse I dunno, and he came up to my waist with a tail that could knock me over. Anyway. I walked to Price Chopper and the stupid dog FOLLOWED ME all the way there. At first I was creeped out, then I was amused, and then I was happy and I talked to it the whole way there, thinking about how cool it was that I found my own Lassie. Well I went into the store and bought the dog some treats, as well as my donuts... came out and the dog was waiting for me. I fed him the treats and we started walking back to my house. We get halfway there (walking on the sidewalk next to a street) and this white truck SCREECHES to a halt on the street, puts it in reverse, and backs up to where we are. I'm freaked, with images of being raped and murdered going through my head, when he yells "Gracie! Come here, girl!" and the dog hops up into the truck, all happy as can be. The guy yells "Hey, thanks for finding my dog!" and then drives off. o.O;;;;;;; The entire way home I decided that 2005 HAD to be the best year of my life. It had to be. Not even 24 hours into it and awesome things were already happening.
And it actually DID turn out to be the best year of my life so far... the entire thing just rocked, especially coming after 2004, which I retroactively deemed the WORST year of my life, because, well, it was.
Anyway. After that, the names continued... :P And each time, the name kind of predicted what would happen that year.
For example, 2009 was "The Year of New Beginnings." I choose this mainly because in October of 2008 I had broken up with the only boyfriend I had ever had, and by December of 2008 I was dating another guy. I felt like I was coming out of that relationship and that phase of life, and starting out on a new adventure with a new guy and a new outlook on life and blah blah blah. In an ironic twist of events, in 2009 I dumped said new guy (he was an asshole) and got back together with said previous boyfriend... and me and HIM began a new relationship with each other that is so much better than our old relationship... everything is different, and we are both different people. 2009 truly became a year of new beginnings for us, in different ways than I had expected. :)
Well, back to 2010.
I have named 2010: THE YEAR OF NO EXCUSES.
Let me explain why. I was lying in my bed, probably on Jan. 2nd or 3rd... and I was drifting off to sleep, and I remembered I hadn't exactly named 2010. I had thought of several options, like "The Year of Awesome and Win" (yeah not kidding) or "The Year of Growing Up" and stuff like that... but it was weird and cool. The SECOND I thought "Hmm what should I name 2010," God said: "The year of no excuses."
Instantly, I knew what he meant, of course. I have a talent for getting out of stuff. No, really, I can get out of ANYTHING. I can talk my way out of getting in trouble, can bluff well, can make things come off as waaaay better than they actually are... I'm good at being manipulative without TEEEECHNICALLY lying (or while lying through my teeth but you'll never know). It's bad. Well, I mean... it's good, if needed, but I mean... I use it too much. I have like zero integrity to stuff that I do because I just weedle my way out of half the consequences. I don't think I've ever been decently punished in my life. I'll screw up majorly and then just dance my way out of the punishment, either due to lenient parents, or teachers who think "oh but she's just such a good kid" or college faculty who are too nice for their own good. I recently talked my way out of having to take 3 extra classes that every other person graduating with an English concentration has to complete. I get to graduate without them. I also recently talked my way out of being on "behavioral probation" at school for missing chapel too many times because I sent in my required papers with a very long pleading email begging them not to get me into trouble. I got off scot-free. Woot!
I also make excuses for putting things off, for treating people unfairly, for just about everything. I convince MYSELF that I'm doing things right, even when I "know" I'm not. Bleh. I hate it, but it's the only way I've lived for 20 years, so what am I gonna do? Start actually doing stuff I need to do? o.O That's crazy talk.
All of Christmas break, though, I had been talking to God about the upcoming semester, and how it's going to be super hard and stressful and I'm not sure how I'm gonna pull it off. The last two months of my fall semester were HELL ON EARTH because I took on too many projects, got too behind, messed up too much, and had teachers who felt it necessary to screw their classes over for fun. He told me that the only way I would survive was if I made sure to take it day by day, not getting too stressed out or looking too far ahead, but taking it one day at a time, and devoting it to him in the morning and praying to him at night - truly relying on him (which, all during August/September, was my constant prayer - that he would teach me to rely on him) for my strength and sanity for every single day. This coincided with something I was already planning on doing, so I agreed. However, with this new challenge for 2010, he has pointed out another thing I will need to survive this semester: STOP MAKING EXCUSES. Do what I need to do. Live with integrity. Don't convince myself I can just get by, but do what is necessary and then more.
So... in accordance with that, let me share some of my plans for 2010 that I will do - NO EXCUSES involved. :D
First off... and this is the thing that coincided with what God told me... somehow, halfway through last semester, I went from growing closer and closer to God, to growing more cynical and more annoyed with God/Christiantiy/etc. Over the summer, when I was at a secular university, I was exploring his and my relationship, working out the stuff we needed to work on, praying for FUN sometimes, and I thought that things were finally going to STAY on a positive track... but of course they didn't. When I went to my Christian college (oh the irony), my relationship with God started to spiral downwards. Bleh! I honestly don't know what is to blame. I'm sure it's a combination of a lot of factors... the first is that I had a stressful and difficult semester overall, which put a strain on all areas of my life, including spirituality. The second is chapel. Ugh. Chapel. Nobody at my school understands why I hate it so much... ~I~ don't even understand it... but something about attending those stupid services just drags my soul down. I. HATE. chapel. Not just annoyed by, not just dislike - HATE. Everytime I go - LITERALLY - every single time I go - I am significantly more depressed for that day. I could scientifically chart this. It makes me disgusted with God, with his people, and with religion in general. But anyway... over the course of the semster, I got more and more cynical and hard-hearted towards God and his people and everything, that I was starting to get to the point where I want to throw my hands in the air and become Buddhist (something I say all the time when I'm at my breaking point, which ~I~ find amusing, but I'm sure God thinks is annoying), and, like always, right before I hit that point, God swoops in and makes everything better. He calmed me down over Christmas break, and he and I came up with an idea... spawned from the concept that either I came up with or read somewhere, which is this: If God is really the most awesome being in the universe, if he REALLY is the God he says he is, then he can withstand any challenge you throw at him (as long as you're not being retarded, like "hey, make me grow two more arms and I'll believe in you"). So test him out, challenge him, because he can take it. So. I was annoyed and fed up with Christianity and God and all that crap, and was thinking that none of it is worth doing and etc. So the idea is this: For one month, do all the spiritual things that I used to do at some point, or that someone had encouraged me to do, or that I had "always wanted to try," or whatever... and see what the result is. Do a study. Test it. See if it's true. I couldn't do it over Christmas break, because everyone knows that the easy life of school vacation is VERY not like reality, and a spirituality that works during the easy days might not stand the test during the hard days. I was waiting for school to start, and when it does, here is my plan:
Every day, I am going to start with intensive prayer, worship, meditation, Bible reading, getting in tune with my creativity and the soul/mind that when I'm cynical and hardhearted I shut up and shut down. I'm going to remind myself of these things throughout the day, so I don't slip back into the excuses and the cynicism and the unkindness I have towards people a lot of the time. Then at the end of the day, I'm going to journal a bit, think about what happened during the day, thank God for the good things and the bad that I got to learn from, and think about how I could have done things differently if I messed up. Every week, I'm going to try and take time out for a spiritual time with Chris (the boyfriend), and will try to make other people's lives better. I'm also going to try to donate some money (or time/resources, if I don't have any to spare that week) to a charity organization. I'm going to take time each week for an extended spiritual exercise, such as taking a nature/prayer walk, doing a meditative exercise, or taking time to get emotional and deal with an issue of unforgiveness or self-doubt or something in my life. I'm also going to try to get adequate sleep, which is honestly one of the most spiritual things that so many people overlook.
At no point in my life have I really done ALL of those things for an extended period of time. I might do it for a few days, or sporadically... but never for an entire month. I want to test and see if it's true that the only reason God doesn't show up in people's lives is because they're not offering their lives for him to show up in. When I'm not consistent in my efforts, it's easy to be unsure about where the gas in my spirituality are coming from - me or God. However, with an entire month set aside to being open, being honest, being ready to receive, and ready to give, I will be able to say whether or not it was me or God that failed that month. Ever since I've had this idea (it has been forming for a while), I get this electric feeling underneath my skin, this bubbling, percolating feeling, like God is just WAITING for me to start so he can dig his fingers into my life and start doing cool stuff. I love that feeling... :D It usually doesn't last for long. But this time I will have no excuses, and neither will God. :) We'll see what happens.
I share all that to say that I'm thinking about blogging about this experiment and seeing what happens with it. It will probably be really personal, but I think that's okay.
I think I'll call it.... Operation Month of Openness. :) OPO! Haha. Since basically that's what it is - a month of doing everything in my power to be spiritually open. So we'll see how it goes. :)
If anyone has any suggestions for spiritual exercises I could do, books to read during this time, or whatever, please let me know! They don't have to be "Christian", since I don't really think I am either.
Other goals I'm going to try and work on in 2010 are the things I listed in my 101/1001 list, especially reading 28,000 pages this year, and reading at least 50 of the 300+ books that are on my massive TBR pile that I've had since high school. I would also like to work on a newsletter. I'm thinking it would be an email newsletter about happiness and changing the world through simple things... with my definition of changing the world, which is less about organic, save the earth, global warming what have you... and not even about stopping the evils of the world (which I feel are so big that all a person like me can do is scratch the surface), but about spreading happiness, goodness, positivity, education, art, beauty, love, joy, inspiration, etc. to the people around us, as WELL as trying to conquer those big evils and save our trees. :) Even well-fed and breathing clean air, I think our lives would suck if it if the content wasn't awesome as well. But anwyay, it would be a weekly email newsletter and possibly have a monthly print component that would cost $1 (it costs between 88 cents and $1.05 just for shipping... not to mention printing it up and buying envelopes, maybe it will have to be $1.50). I'm thinking of using my previous idea for a spiritual thinking newsletter and combining it with this... it was going to be called ECHO, which means both soul and butterfly in Greek, and also in Greek mythology, it was what Psyche turned into when she died. I believe we are all, in a way, Echoes of God's soul, that we are smaller versions, made to be like the bigger version of God's soul. We are an imprint, an echo. :) So yes. :D It would have a LOT of reader content in it, as well as contests and all sorts of other things... it would be incredibly lo-tech and lots of fun. I will keep you updated on it. ^_^
For now, this post is HUGE. I'll shut up now. :D