2018: A Clean Slate

You know that feeling you get when you need a change? That unsettling feeling brewing inside of you, pushing against the walls you put up, causing your head to ache. You may be able to ignore it for days, months, even years. But then the day comes when you just can’t put it off any longer, you open yourself up and admit what it is that needs to change, and a tremendous lightness hits your chest.

Why are we so afraid of change? What is it inside of us that screams at any little disturbance in our “perfect” worlds — because let’s be honest, none of our worlds are perfect. We could all do with improvement, with change, but to stand up and declare war against comfortable routine is sacrilege.

Well…I am ready to go into war.

The one time of year change is all around acceptable is New Year’s Day. Goals, resolutions, job changes, risks…they are welcomed with open arms…but not often a permanent resident.

So, how can we take our desires, whether they be hidden deep within our hearts or pinned onto the wall as a daily reminder, and nurture them for more than one month?

For me, the first step is to start with a clean slate.

You know how on old blackboards when you wipe off the chalk, there is still a white residue clinging to the slate? Even if you give it a good scrub, you have to wait a while before writing on it or else the chalk will dry and become difficult to wipe clean again.

You cannot simply say, “I’m going to begin the new year with a clean slate!” and go about your new year’s resolutions. If you want a clean slate you have to work for it and exercise patience.

It’s a bit of a process, but that shiny, bold black slate is a marvelous thing to behold.

Patience is not my forte. When I get something into my brain, I want to act on it and take very little time to consider the consequences. I had several moments like this in 2017, from starting this blog to purchasing a proofreading course online that turned out to be a bit of a scam. I had been thinking of creating a new blog for over a year, but I hadn’t done any work on the idea until the end of December 2016. I hadn’t thought much about a career in editing, but when I saw the proofreading course “on sale,” I made a last-minute decision that cost me a lot of money and a bit of embarrassment.

I have something mulling around in my mind at the moment, and I desperately want to jump the gun and get started on this “project.” But I’ve decided to do my best to give the idea a year (no promises, but good intentions). If I’m still passionate about it at the end of 2018, then I will act on it. If my desire has dwindled, I’ll know for certain if it was a passing phase.

This “clean slate” is not only for 2018. 2018 is just the starting point, the cleaning step. I want to be making decisions today, January 1, 2018, that will produce good effects on the rest of my life.

You may have noticed one change I already made — the blog looks a bit different. I didn’t hate my old blog theme, in fact, I loved it. But I knew from the moment I created it that it wasn’t “me.” I prefer a minimalist style, clean-looking, white… I’m not 100% satisfied with the new look, but it’s what I could do at the moment, and I already feel that much more confident. In a sense, I had to change the look of the blog so I could start being me again.

I gave it a year…and change was needed.

In my last post about speaking honestly and my desire to stick true to who I am and what I want to write about, I revealed I wanted to do more than just write about books I’m reading and stories I’m writing. I’ve stuck to one subject, one interest for so long that I’m at a crossroads: does “this and that” really interest me, or am I just conforming to the image others have created for/expect of me? For so long my one constant, my one automatic reply, my easy-out,  has been Books. Words. Writer. Anything revolving around those three ideas. I haven’t grown sick of them, but I am tired of being the same.

In 2017, I didn’t have a specific theme chosen for the year (though I was all about accomplishing different set goals),  but if I were to choose one word to describe my ambition for this new year, it would have to be GROWTH.

I learned a lot this past year, but I don’t feel as though it all came together until just the past couple of months. I want to continue cultivating what I’ve learned and start applying it to life.

I discovered this poem at 12:10AM and thought it put to words perfectly how I want to face this new year and many more to come:

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Rumi

 

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