Permission Granted

Starting in November or December for the last several years, I start to take stock of the year wrapping up, the lessons learned, the wins and celebrations. It’s become a meditation of sorts to count my blessings every chance I get.

This past year wasn’t just any old year, however. It was the close of a whole decade, a chance to think through how far I’ve come over all that time.

And you know what? I had zero desire to reflect on the last year let alone the last ten. It was a tough year for me emotionally, and they seem to be getting tougher. I discovered I am an empath, one who absorbs the energy of people around me 24×7. And considering that I’ve also become somewhat of a news junkie – and well, just LOOK at the headlines – you get an idea of the energy that I’ve absorbed.

Case in point, I didn’t write that much this past year. Part of me didn’t feel so compelled to share what’s been on my mind, and a huge part of me just wanted to come home and simply hug my dog, just to feel better inside. It was a different kind of therapy and it worked in a sense.

So this year? I’ve given myself permission to just move forward. I know exactly what I need to do. No need to dwell on lessons learned. Just LIVE in a manner that propels me forward toward the people and experiences I love.

Come to think of it, this “move forward” approach to the new year is certainly one way to cultivate a practice of mindfulness in the here and now.

What about you? Does the thought of examining the past to plan your future weigh you down? Then don’t do it. Leave the past where you left it. You have permission to go forth into the new year totally unencumbered.

Enjoy the freedom. Happy new year, indeed.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Word of the Year 2019

Happy new year!

It’s become a thing for many people to choose a single word that will be their focus or mantra for the new year. This hasn’t always been a habit of mine. I guess I became aware of the practice a few years ago but didn’t apply it to my own life until recently.

Although I didn’t choose a word for 2017, one quickly revealed itself to me early on: travel. That was the year I turned 50, and I decided that it was time I started visiting people and places that had been on my wish list for too long.

I had originally wanted to travel to Iceland as part of a big birthday trip that year, but I ended up making several mini-trips instead, and it was just as glorious if not more so. It was so much fun, I really kept the trend going well into 2018 with several more trips. Between work and play, I’ll bet I had a dozen or so trips under my belt. The nomad, the wanderer, in me can’t sit still.

Not all those who wander are lost. – J. R. R. Tolkien

Last year, I tried to choose a single word, but in true Silonda style, I chose three: breathe, connect, and nest (see My Intention for 2018)! I really need to work on that following instructions/simplification thing… 🤣

Cue 2019. Somehow January snuck up on me. I don’t know how! For two, solid months I knew I wanted to devote some time to planning and dreaming for the upcoming year, two of my absolute favorite things to do, but I just wasn’t settled enough to pull it off.

Planning and dreaming is important stuff, but I had the overwhelming urge to purge things out of my house instead. What do they say? “Outer order invokes inner calm”? So I’m just telling myself that the physical purging of stuff was needed to proceed on to the inner task of meditation.

Still, the task of choosing a single word to focus on was daunting, which is crazy: it ought to be pure fun!

Through an online friend I came across the Dayspring quiz for your 2019 word of the year, so figured I’d give it a whirl.  The questions were Biblically-based, but low and behold (cue the angels on trumpets), they revealed an excellent word for me for 2019: courage.

courageCourage might be worth 10 Scrabble points but it’s priceless in the game of life, eh?

Why courage, you might ask? I never really thought of myself as a skittish, fraidy-cat type. I’m not meek and never have been but yes, I can be a quiet observer. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to experience the slow building of confidence that comes from sticking your neck out, trying new things, honing a skill, and getting recognition for excellence. Basically, I’m not a confidence newbie.

But like any muscle, it gets weak if you don’t exercise it. That said, I will –

  • Catch myself whenever I say, “I can’t do that!” to describe something I’m afraid to do and change it to, “I will do that!”
  • Take the time to warmly welcome anyone new in my social or professional circle and help them connect to others, even if I am not the official “host” or MC of that circle. I will summon up the courage to play the role anyway and not concern myself with how that might appear to others.
  • Ask myself, “What would courage look like?” in times of uncertainty and then act on it.
  • Step up and speak out whenever I see injustice, like racism, sexism, or bullying.
  • Lead efforts I feel should be made.
  • Share what’s in my heart, in person and this blog.
  • Dare to dream bigger than I have before.
  • Breathe deeply and remember that I’m batting 1.000 in my ability to get this far in life.

What about you? Have you chosen a word for 2018? What does it mean to you? How did you discover it? And most importantly, how will you use it to influence the year ahead?

Sending you my very best wishes for the seasons ahead. Peace, health, and happiness to you all. ✌🏻❤️





My Intention for 2018

It seems like the thing is to have a one word intention to set the course for the year ahead. Author Gretchen Rubin talks about this on her Happier podcast. Also I keep seeing ads for this company called where you can make a bracelet or necklace with your one word for the year. This is the coolest idea! I really like the idea of the bracelet: something I would wear daily to constantly remind me of where I want my focus to be. I’m going to suggest this to my family so maybe we can all get bracelets and cheer one another on as the year advances. Seriously, how cool would it be if our entire family wore “matching” bracelets? I mean, everyone would have their own word but the fact that we did it together? Priceless.

One word! It’s harder than it should be to come up with one word. Maybe that’s because when I think through my goals for the new year, I look at several different angles of my life and while definite themes arise, I can’t find one word that does justice. Plus a year is a long time, and as humans, we are infinitely capable of far more if we put our minds to it.

You need only look at the ten resolutions I made for 2017 to know that I’m ambitious but I do want to pare down my focus a bit this upcoming year and significantly advance on a couple of things. Master them, if you will.

After careful thought I’ve whittled my intention for 2018 down to three words: very fitting for me as three is my favorite number. They are breathe, connect, and nest.

Breathe – My daily reminder to pray, meditate, set my intention for the day, and journal. To choose food that will nourish and heal me. To think before talking. To think before ariel-lustre-242326spending. (God help me if I spend one more dollar on a piece of clothing for myself.) To walk 10,000 steps daily and stand instead of sit for half of my workday. To stretch and strengthen this body, be very mindful of the state of my physical, spiritual, and mental health and work to keep all three vibrating positively.

Connect – To celebrate the big birthdays in my family this year. We have a child going into double digits (woo hoo!) and a new octogenarian mother-in-law. My husband turns 50 and two nieces turn 30. These milestones are very big deals and we should celebrate them.

My oldest and I had such a wonderful time last year on a special, long weekend trip to Seattle, I’ve decided we will make it our thing each year he is in high school. It was an amazing way to connect with him and there is just no way I will limit our time to just one trip. He wants to go to Chicago this year. I’m down with that. We’ll get our picture taken at the “bean” and catch an MLS game. Maybe Taste of Chicago will be going on while we’re there. Whatever he wants to do. He loves his mom and I love him. It will be amazing…isaac-benhesed-70642

I want to give more to charity – sure we give to our church and to the United Way, and I often contribute to the Red Cross during times of crisis and support other people in their various causes, but this year I want to think deliberately about the causes I personally want to support and I will give to them. I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to figure that out!

Connecting also means making more of an effort to resurrect old friendships and strengthen new ones. If you saw one of my last posts, you know how much I need a community. It’s scary to open myself up to new people so I tend to gravitate toward the ones I already know even though none of them live by me. But open ourselves up we will and host brunch every now and then…opening up our house like we used to do when my husband was in the Air Force and 30-some people would descend upon the house, or like I used to do when I was single and hosted parties with 70-some people. It feels like a lifetime ago how I used to be a connector for others, even a matchmaker for a couple of marriages, and I do nothing of the sort now.

But that’s not all. Connecting means reading even more books, blogging routinely here and on LinkedIn, and even learning a new language, starting with Spanish. The Coffee Break Spanish is a fun podcast for that!  Connecting also means grounding myself with nature by hiking more, and sketching…trying something altogether creatively new.

Nest – And this is where I let the floodgates open to some additional home improvement. I consider the home a sanctuary, but we’ve put so many changes on hold forever. It’s time to make our house as cozy as possible. Every thing in it beautiful and functional. Not too much, and not too little. In this context, nesting is not mutually exclusive of connecting. They go together, actually.logan-nolin-347104

Do you have an intention for 2018? Are you a believer in the “one word” approach? What works for you? I’d love to hear from you on this topic so we can support one another.

Happy new year. I am definitely ready to flip the page to something new.


Photo credits in order of appearance, all courtesy of Ariel Lustre, Isaac Benhesed, and Logan Nolin
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