Did I succeed in getting any of you to identify (and maybe even work on) your own fatal flaw? If I did, or even if I didn’t, perhaps, like me, as we edge further into the NEW YEAR of 2021, do you at the very least have Curiosity about what kinds of changes, goals, or adventures you might find yourself enjoying or being challenged by or kicking ass?
At the start of the last three years, I have completed an activity called One Word. There are various ways that you can discover your one word for the year and each year, I have done it a bit differently. I love it because instead of resolutions, which may or may not matter in a month or two months down the road, the word can morph to inspire whatever does matter at that moment.
My first word was Balance and this wonderful word wove its way into all aspects of my life and really challenged me to be better Balanced with everything from work related commitments to food varieties that best fuel the body to diverse exercises to help avoid injury and make me my strongest self. The next year my word was Becoming, which so appropriately challenged me to try new things and Become more creative. This year, I have been blessed with Curiosity. I want to be Curious about things, rather than judgmental. I want to be Curious about new foods, new places, new people, and new situations instead of afraid or nervous or doubtful. I am using Curiosity to slay my flaws.
I am so Curious about your word. Share it in the comments, if you have one!
Curious Like George
Seek the Truth
Curiosity Ignites Light and Vision
Curiously, I have been working my way through a book called Walk Your Way to Better: 99 Walks That Will Change Your Life, by Joyce Shulman. Another flaw slayer, you know? The prologue outlines the process of how walking gets us thinking about a topic in a deeper way. Shulman discovered this productive walking/thinking/writing process accidentally, then made it habit, then decided to share it with the world. So each subsequent chapter comprises of a prompt, a question or thinking point, and an accompanying experience. They are truly inspiring and thought provoking. The productive process of reading then thinking, while walking, reminds me of being in the car with our children, spouse/partner, or parents. We share more because the car is moving and we are all looking straight ahead and we are, for all intents and purposes, stuck there. Similarly, while walking, we become drunk on fresh air so our guard is down, and we can have the courageous conversations with ourselves.
We give ourselves the time, Shulman gives us the topic, and the great outdoors gives us the Curiosity that buzzes with inspiration. I highly recommend it.
Walk this way. Talk this way.
Just give me a kiss.
Aerosmith was on to something, similar to Joyce Shulman. Do yourself a favor, give yourself a kiss, and try it. Now, I will say that she talks about moms and kids more than I think some will be comfortable with, if you aren’t a female, a mom, or both. But let’s just say that women have spent plenty of time reading he/him heavy literature. Suspend reality and let yourself believe and imagine. Do it for you. Be Curious.
I began the journey with the book back in September and thought for sure that I would be done by now, 99 walks. But I am not. Many months later, I just reached the 50% mark. I was Curious about why. So I did some digging…on a walk, of course.
Why am I not done yet? Well, because sometimes I want to to just walk and not think. That’s one really important reason. Remember, I spent entire year focusing on balance. I don’t want to just toss that out like a perfectly good, once used, face mask. I want to keep that comb in the back pocket of my 1980’s Jordache Jean’s to pull out when my hair gets all tussled in the wind. Another, even more relevant reason, is because I have begun letting each walk and write session simmer. I recognized that my fast pace was only allowing me time to brainstorm great ideas but not time to practice new habits. So with Curiosity, I have been taking time to reread what I wrote about each prompt. Then I walk with Curiosity as my companion.
But I am ahead of myself. The first two walks were amazing and I had all sorts of things to think about and return to write about. I was excited and just knew that this was a life changing activity for me. I was killing it, enjoying fresh air, exercise, and personal growth. Whenever I feel boastful, I can count on some major humbling event to follow.
So, then came walk three. The prompt encourages us to own responsibility for over scheduling ourselves and then motivates us to find time in each day to walk, no excuses. Well I already walk most days. I used to feel overscheduled and limited when my kids were little but not anymore. I can leave them to walk whenever I want and I do. So I set out a bit disappointed with the prompt but set out none the less because I wanted to walk. I pat myself on the back for being so generous as to always make time to walk. Go me.
Uh oh, here comes the humbling. How did I not see it? As I walked, I was trying to enjoy the brisk air and take deep breaths when I realized that since school had started back up, this was September 2, I had not formulated a new workout schedule for myself. I had been winging it and most days went by with just a walk, no gym class scheduled, no run mapped out, no hiking adventure planned, none of these things that really amp me up, get me ready to conquer the world. No Balance. So I designed an adrenalin AND endorphin inducing plan instead. I engineered a weekly schedule that afforded flexibility yet accountability, rigor yet enjoyment and variety. Looks like that year of Balance as my One Word really paid off! This invigorated me and gave me renewed faith. The walking really does work. I dug deep and thought outside of the box and gave myself time to find myself time. For exercise. Win! Warning…
The very next day, I was posed with yet another daunting challenge: what is a skill that I want to master that will help me achieve my dreams? Well, wouldn’t one need to be in tune with their dreams first? Don’t worry, a walk before this helped you narrow just a few for focus. Dream Big it tasked me, so I did. I want a book, a bay, and a boat. I want to write a book (or two). I want to have a place by the bay (or any type of water really, I just like the alliteration of the B’s) where I have all time access to my boat, which will likely be a canoe or kayak, any time of the day. That would be fantastic. So as I walked, instead of isolating the trait that I need to get the book, bay, and boat, I thought about all of the technological challenges I was facing as a virtual teacher. While I wanted to be dreaming big and figuring out the exact skill that would fuel that, I was reminded that we can’t really control our thoughts as we may desire. My mind demanded to ponder this challenge. I am an old dog who just doesn’t feel like learning new tricks, but I don’t have a choice. (my word choice of Curiosity beginning to make more sense???) But overcoming technological issues won’t help me write my book that will get me by the bay on my boat now will it? But mastering the virtual world will offer me more peace in my day and it will allow me to keep my job for now and maybe that will lead me to my big dreams, who knows? Even if the success story is just me proving to myself that I can learn new tricks and do difficult things, such as writing a book. Once I had this epiphany, I could have headed home. I was 20 minutes into the walk and really had solved the daily puzzle. But the sun was shining for the first time in many days, and I wanted to soak it up like a hunk of bread in olive oil, so I walked on.
This extension forced me to see that my technological deficiencies were only level 1 of the puzzle. A narrative that is not completely true. The critical skill that I really need to hone in on is truthfulness. I write false narratives (about myself) to fit my agenda. A fatal flaw of mine is that I am not always loyal to what I know to be true. Mostly about myself. I am Curious about why…more walking gifted me with an answer: either to prove that I am correct and/or to avoid facing my real fear(s).
Moving forward, I plan to acknowledge when I know I am about the speak an untruth (especially to myself). I am going to better honor my gut feelings. The gut that guides me to big REALLY dream: for peace. I attempted to write a narrative of how that peace looks: a book, a bay, a boat. But really none of those things bring peace. Gratitude does. The truth does. I plan to keep my story extraordinarily true, my heart eternally grateful, and my mind constantly Curious.
Dammit, I still do want that boat on a bay. Perhaps as I explore my truths, delight in the gifts that I do have, and remain curious about what is next for me, the book, bay, and boat will come, in its own way, on its own time.
Walking, thinking, and writing is changing me from being a person waiting for the next big dream to come true to being a curious, autonomous, and confident person of action, present in the here and now. One who knows her truths to be self evident. One who uses curiosity to stop defining her self-worth though the acquisition of a new house, a man, a book deal, or a boat on a bay. One who can navigate, with balance, that fine line between dreaming big and waiting for the next thing. The line is faint and fine. But I am curious enough to find it.