As a custom, I take time during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve to do some reflection. For several years, I have used Susannah Conway’s Unravel Your Year. I love this workbook. It allows me to remember the year that has passed and to look forward to the year that is coming.
As I review, I am generally surprised by things that I have forgotten. I find that I remember a meal I had shared with a friend, or I recall a quiet spot in the desert where I took the time to write in my journal. This year, sadly, my observations and remembrances are grief-filled and loss-focused. This year changed my life. It changed me. It changed the world I thought I knew.
And I bet I am not alone.
I mean, really, how many times do you review the past year and think about the vacations you did not take, the people you did not see, or the freedoms you did not have? And that is not even looking at the year’s sociopolitical conversation or the impact of the pandemic on health, relationships, families, and economies. Oh, and don’t even get me started about the climate.
I know that I have not yet begun to fully understand the implications of the changes of 2020. It is going to take some time for me to ponder all of that. So, when it came to picking a word to guide me through 2021, I decided to choose the word intention.
Picking a word for the year is a suggestion made by Susannah. Back in the “olden days,” that is, twelve months ago, I was thinking about what wanted to be inspired by throughout the new year. Want to know what word I picked for 2020? Desire. I was planning a trip to Prague with my mom in April. I was working on a marketing plan with my co-workers for Stillpoint Healing and we were planning to implement it in the summer. I was planning for the future. I was full of hopes and desires.
That seems so innocent now.
The word intention comes from a Latin word, intendere, meaning to stretch, or to purpose. It is a word that encourages and inspires attention to each day’s needs. I do not know what the weeks or the months will hold as the days of 2021 unfold, so I challenge myself to stretch and to create purpose to meet each day’s needs.
Believe me when I say, that is a hard thing for me to do! I would rather be planning for great tasks in the future than attending to the mundane tasks of the moment, but I no longer have the certainty of knowing what each day, each week, and each month will bring. Or, maybe better stated, I no longer can pretend that I do.
So, in the absence of certainty, I want to have intention. I want to plan, but still have the flexibility to respond to what is actually happening. I want to have purpose, but also have empathy for myself and others when what actually happens isn’t what we had originally intended. I want to have the grace to give attention to others in the moments of my day.
About Elizabeth M. Johnson, LCSW, LMFT
Therapist and Clinical Director
Beth has been practicing individual, relationship and family therapies in the Indianapolis and Greenwood communities for more than 30 years. She completed her studies through Indiana University, including 13 years of supervision specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy.
Beth also is an artist and writer and has a passion for creating art and offering creative opportunities for women.