A friend emailed a week ago with a challenge. Pick a word and sent an intention to focus on that word in 2017.
Two words immediately sprung to mind: play & forgive.
Educators know that play…well…plays a significant role in human development and in human social endeavors. As an educator, I try (or rather USED to try) to incorporate play into my classes. Students completed simulation games to learn about technical report writing or journal and freewrite in creative writing classes to come up with a kernel of an idea.
Play involves both winning and losing. Failure opens the portal to success by building neural structures. Closing off avenues to play harms humans and leads to emotional and social disorders.
Over the course of the last few years as I earned tenure at one school, promptly resigned that position and moved from Oregon to Arkansas, had an unexpected (and WONDERFUL) pregnancy at 38, started a new job, worked to earn tenure AGAIN, and moved into new residences three additional times, I didn’t always have (or MAKE) time for play.
But even now, I have other work to do mentally before I really dedicate myself to a year of play. Some of that work revolves around forgiveness. Forgiving myself for less than stellar performance (the perfect is the enemy of the good) and forgiving others for a variety of slights. For the last few decades, I have been living in a constant Festivus Airing of Grievances.
While I need to center on both play and forgiveness, the more I dwelled on those terms, the less I felt ready for them. What I need to do first is simplify.
A few years ago, I subscribed to Real Simple in an effort to declutter, destress, and clarify. I never made time to read it, and the issues that I didn’t read gathered cluttered and stressed my life.
What I need now is that decluttering and destressing, but first, I need to clean out my head. So, I have decided to ask, when I am charged up, angry, or depressed, “What is the most simple choice I can make right now?”
I am a professional at worrying over the possibilities of damn near every decision I have to make. When I put on a shirt in the morning, I mentally picture myself going through the day…considering what possible scenarios I might face in said shirt. Would that shirt be comfortable if I sat at my desk? If I walked to the copier? In various meetings? Sprinting across campus in case of a….you get the picture.
Instead of what I call “running the plays,” I need to work on simplicity. So, instead of asking myself the barrage of questions above, I need to just say, “What is the most simple decision I can make right now?” If the simple decision is to put on a shirt that is comfortable RIGHT NOW, then I assume that the shirt will be sufficiently comfortable the remainder of the day. Done.
My new simplify my mind (and live in simple mindfulness) motto can be found at the Word Porn website:
I have in this first 10 days of January not been so successful at this. Last night, I spent a good two hours running the plays on various imagined scenarios instead of simply being present.
The good news? I have 355 more days (and hopefully many years after that) to get it right(er).