The Year of Ease

Although I’ve always identified more as “book smart” than “street wise”– by a long shot– periodically, I rise to the occasion and learn important life lessons through doing. Most of what I know is largely theoretical in nature (bless you, Communication Studies degrees), but 2013 definitely proved to be the Year of Doing Things… The Hard Way.

This might as well have been the Official Logo of 2013, too.

This might as well have been the Official Logo of 2013, too. Dinosaur mauling seems about right.

I invested most of my energy into “making things happen”, “figuring things out”, bumping against self-imposed rules and limitations, striving, straining, reaching, yearning, and basically mastering the art of swimming upstream in 2013. Midway through the year, I was completely and utterly exhausted– which, when you think about it, is pretty remarkable, considering I had been on holidays for three full months to ring in 2013. Way to excel at pain and suffering on the fast track, Dana! Kudos to you for being the star student in the ‘Making Things More Complicated Than They Need To Be’ Class! (Once on the Honor Roll, always on the Honor Roll, right?)

By August, I had already made resolutions for the new year. (Like I say, I’m way ahead of you guys!) These weren’t ordinary resolutions, though– no. These were solemn promises sworn to myself, borne out of necessity and sheer fatigue.

I promised myself that the new year would be different– that I wouldn’t neglect myself to the point of bottomed-out depletion, that I wouldn’t covet an empty energetic cup like I might a shiny trophy, that I’d turn down the competition dial on my behaviour radio (a whole lot), and that I’d try to max out the present moment, rather than always chasing something in the indeterminate future. Tall order, much? Maybe, but in a flash of genius, I also resolved to open myself up to teachers who could show me a different, more ease-filled path to abundance and prosperity. No more “finding the answers all by myself” or “getting a virtual Ph.D. by reading the entire self-help section of the library” for me! (Brilliant, really.)

Being receptive to something different.

Being receptive to something different.

The first Way-Shower* to cross my path was Leonie Dawson. I had heard Leonie’s name for a few years prior but hadn’t really resonated with (what I assumed was) her goddess-heavy, mama-slanted philosophy. I figured that since I was neither a mother nor a sandal-clad, patchouli-scented goddess, Leonie would have nothing of value to offer me. For the record: I was wrong. Super, duper incorrect. She is a true delight to behold! Something** nudged me to sign up for her newsletter late this summer, and when I did, I made the astounding discovery that Life Did Not Have To Be Hard! I had always– mostly subconsciously– equated capital-S ‘Success’ with boatloads of hard work and a great deal of toiling for good measure, but here was Leonie, frolicking on her gorgeous property with her family, making art, and raking in mega-abundance like it was falling naturally from the trees. Leonie taught me, right quick, that not only was my pipe dream of doing things differently possible, but it was also probable– if not absolutely, 100% essential!

And if Leonie can frolic in a field, I can sure as heck frolic in fog-covered Seattle. (IN A PENTHOUSE, AT THAT!)

And if Leonie can frolic, all carefree in a field, I can sure as heck frolic in fog-covered Seattle, right? (IN A PENTHOUSE SUITE, AT THAT!)

Then came Brené Brown. Again, this was a name that I was familiar with– I had even watched her TED Talk on vulnerability back in the day– but I didn’t really know her like any A-student worth her salt should. That all changed when I read her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, and felt like it was written as a personal text book for my life. She even had an entire chapter with the subtitle, “Let Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth”. Ah-mazing! [And cue the Twilight Zone soundtrack, right?] Brené’s book gave me (personal, explicit) permission to stop chasing my own life on a never-ending treadmill of achievements and accomplishments. After reading her book, I felt emboldened to be… less productive. (In a good, non-slacker way– I promise!) Specifically, Brené taught me that we are all so much more than what we do. Sure, it’s great to have goals and to make contributions to the world, but it’s also important to make space for being. (It’s like Ovarian Cyst-er wisdom, all over again!)

Praying Mantis says "Less Doing and More Being Is The Secret To Life!"

Praying Mantis says “Less Doing and More Being Is The Secret To All of Life’s Mysteries!” Seriously. Would I lie to you?

Finally, in waltzed Danielle LaPorte. God, I love Danielle! Danielle is an electric, laser-focused, live-life-the-way-you-really-want-to pioneer. I devoured her Fire Starter Sessions book and promptly chowed down on The Desire Map right afterward. It was a full-on, Danielle LaPorte feast. (And by god, I was a piglet!) Danielle set the goal-setting process straight for me, and by that, I mean she stood it right on its head. No messing around! After reading The Desire Map, I morphed from setting traditional (lame) goals like “I will lose 10lbs!” or “I will buy a house!” to pointing my north star towards what she calls Core Desired Feelings. So now, instead of starting with “goals”, I start with my feelings. What can I do that will help me feel ___________? (In my case: what can I do that will help me feel Radiant, Centered, Magical, Abundant and Free?) I don’t know about you, but that seems pretty revolutionary to me. Life-changing. Soul-Altering. Way-Showing, indeed!

My Core Desired Feelings

My Core Desired Feelings

So. Finally. After a year of energetic toil and spirit-depleting strife, I’ve set a new, one-word intention for 2014: Ease. (Doesn’t that sound enchanting? Ease. Lovely!) I want to feel radiant, yes– but I don’t want to ‘earn’ radiance by laboring up a mountain of discipline and suffering. I want to feel abundant, of course– but if that means shackling myself to a back-breaking work schedule or neglecting my family, friends, or ‘real’ life, then I’m not interested. Ease into The Year of Ease! My life doesn’t have to be easy (at least not all the time), but I will welcome ease with open arms. Enough with imitating the salmon run in my own life– I’m ready to float like a leaf on the river towards my biggest dreams and highest potential. You in?

***

If you want to get concrete about your own Core Desired Feelings, I really recommend reading The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte. This book used to be offered as an audio-visual program through Danielle’s website but it will be released as a regular book on Amazon (and in bookstores everywhere) as of January 1st. I’ve also loved completing Leonie Dawson’s 2014 Create Your Amazing Year Workbook & Planner (Life Edition) for the first time this December. 100% converted to Leonie-ism now! It was through this particular workbook that I set the word Ease as my North Star for the upcoming year, and I can’t wait to see what other dreams of mine manifest and unfold as 2014 progresses. The workbook can either be purchased as an e-book here (less than 10 bucks!***) or bought in hard copy (under $30) via Amazon (.com– not available to us Canucks via amazon.ca, unfortunately). Two words, though: Worth It.

***

*The term “way-shower” was introduced to me by Barbara Stanny in her book, “Secrets of Six Figure Women”.

**And by “something”, I mean it was the knowledge that she runs a $750K business per year working 15 hours a week from her isolated, rainforest home in the middle of nowhere. That got my attention!

*** E-book link is an affiliate link. Like Google Ads… only not at all. I’ve actually used this workbook and actually, personally, cross-my-heart endorse it.    

21 responses

  1. “I wouldn’t covet an empty energetic cup like I might a shiny trophy”. I catch myself wanting to brag about how uber productive and dog-ass tired I am most days and then I’m like “Waittttttttt”. I need to take a cue from you and chill out. Team Ease-y, Fo’ Sheezy!

    • This summer, we worked 65 days IN A ROW. Part of me was like “that’s ridiculous! I’m so done with this.” The other (SPARTAAAAAAA!) side of me was like “Bring it on, summer! I’ll work NINETY DAYS STRAIGHT if it’ll prove how much of a hero I am”. Pfft. Enough of being a struggle star. I’m ready to shine as an easy, breezy kinda girl. I wish the same for you as well, Tori!

  2. Totally brilliant, love! I’ve been playing with Brene (forgive lack of diacritical) since a couple years ago, Danielle since around this time last year, and Leonie since a mere month or so ago and I whole-heartedly agree with you! With CDF’s like Agile, Expansive, Ebullient and Prowess guiding my year, it’s been filled with more opportunity than ever to explore who I am. I am so looking forward to 2014 to be filled with art and writing and ways forward rather than stagnant. For us both!! Hugs!!!

    • YES!! I love your CDFs– so strong and stealthy! (Like a jungle cat!)

      I’m super excited to be following Leonie now, because it’s my default state to slide into overachiever mode whenever I get the chance. It’s nice to know (by shining example) that success doesn’t necessarily have to be won via back-breaking sacrifices. It can be ease-y! Can’t wait to see how 2014 unfolds for you. Stay stealthy! xo

  3. What a fun, engaging post! All of the supporting photos are terrific, but I especially enjoyed the opening photo with you and the dinosaur. May 2014 be filled with simple, slow moments that nourish your soul.

    • Thank you, Laurie. I’m happy you enjoyed my dino photo. It was one of my all-too-rare moments of being silly for posterity, so thanks for noticing and appreciating that.

      I adore your word for 2014 as well: serendipity. I’m really looking forward to seeing that word play out for you next year! Have a safe and warm New Year’s Eve.

  4. Dana, I adore reading *everything* you write. You make me smile, recognizing myself in many of your admissions. First, I must confess, I have been avoiding Brene. I simply won’t read her. I have an internet friend who is *into* his vulnerable phase and it irritates me. Vulnerable, vulnerable, vulnerable. (Wise self says: Kathy, if you’re irritated, there’s probably something to learn, doncha think?) To me it feels like his/her vulnerability has become his ego’s latest way of aggrandizing himself. (I cannot believe I am sharing this with you.)

    However, Danielle LaPorte sounds groovy. Should I read her? (Yes, you already said so.) Lately my spiritual practice has included moving deeper into feelings–OK, including vulnerability–so this could be the Next Step.

    Thank you, Dana and may 2014 be a year of EASE!

    • Kathy,

      I understand where you’re coming from with this irritation over vulnerability. (It took me over ten years of irritation before I ever gave the Harry Potter series a chance. Every die-hard Potter fan made me more and more convinced that I would hate the books. Then, when all the fanfare finally died down, I read the series quietly by myself… and really, truly enjoyed it.)

      I think that this particular person might be over-identifying with their vulnerability and unfortunately tainting Brené’s work in the process. What I enjoyed about her book was that it wasn’t so serious. Yes, it’s based on years and years of academic research, but (in my opinion), she delivers the findings in a way that is fun, accessible, and humorous. (It’s sort of like the Bible in that respect– the book itself isn’t necessarily “good” or “bad”, but when you see how certain people interpret it or put it into practice, it either makes you want to be born again or run the eff away from the book and everything it represents. Aaaand, I just compared Brené’s book to the Bible. You never know what’s going to happen in these corners of the internet!)

      Anyway. Maybe you can read her book years from now, when Irritating Person is finally over their vulnerable phase. In the meantime, Desire Map is awesome in a savvy, actionable way.

      Have you enjoyed great weather on your trip?

      • It was great weather! 55 for a high during the day (12.8 C). Cold at night though. I will keep all your advice in mind. Grinning at the Irritating Person comment. I tell you the oddest things, Dana!

        • It’s my secret superpower: eliciting odd stories from others. (You may think I’m joking, but I have a long-standing, well-documented knack for bringing out the best/worst/silliest/secret stories from people. That’s why I’m so popular at the Harbour– people have an innate sense that I’m the go-to woman for sharing whatever story they’ve never told anyone else before.) 😉

  5. Girl, after your description of riding your bike to work that day…..it already sounds like you’ve come miles. I love that you’re always ‘working on yourself’ it’s really inspiring!

    Salmon run – that’s a perfect description of what we sometimes fall into isn’t it?

    • True dat! I haven’t ugly-cried in a long time, so I should take that as a good sign. Ha. (I guess the true test of ease will be in mid-August, though. It’s not really fair to compare the gentle pace of early Jan with the chaos of August… or is it? Time will tell!)

    • It might have helped to have *both* of my arms up in alarm in the dino pic. Right now, it looks more like I’m giving it a HOLLA vs. panicking over limbs being ripped from my body. Minor details. And next time, I’ll know better. (Or maybe this is just my ease-filled approach to dinosaur mauling? It’s working already!) 😉

  6. I love, love, love this post, Dana, and will soon be clicking to check out the books you’ve mentioned. “Ease” is such a wonderful word, and I think it suits you. Happy New Year, my friend. 🙂

    P.S. I read this post, and wrote a long, involved comment yesterday, but someone (who shall remain the nameless initial M) interrupted me, and it looks like I didn’t save/post the comment. I’m sure it was brilliant, but brilliance escapes me today.

    • Oh, the brilliant comment that got away! I hate it when that happens! 🙂

      Still. I totally appreciate you reading this post and am happy it struck a chord with you. Ease is such a beautiful word– I might have to stick with it for longer than just one year. We’ll see!

      Hope your new year is off to a brilliant start!

  7. How great is that word. Ease. Love it. After the exhausting year I put in I just might steal that. Those references sounds interesting and I’ll being looking into those for sure. May your 2014 be awesome and filled with ease. Cheers.

  8. Pingback: The Year of Trust | zona pellucida

  9. Pingback: Creating a “Year Ahead” Tarot Spread (and Other Ways to Say Hello to 2016)

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