Monday, March 16, 2009

Cultivating Life

fieldsOn New Year’s Day I wrote about my word of the year cultivate. Currently I have been reading Mira Kirshenbaum’s book The Gift of a Year in which she writes about how women who feel lost within their day-to-day lives can reconnect with a missing part of themselves or their deferred dream or honoring themselves on a regular basis through giving themselves the “gift of a year.”

The idea of giving oneself something small on a regular basis for a full year is a mind-blowing concept all by itself. However, I thought it fit exactly right into my focus on cultivate for the year. Reading Kirshenbaum’s thoughts on the unlimited ways that women can creatively incorporate this into their lives and intentions further reinforced the idea that giving myself a year to cultivate myself as an individual is the best thing I can do for my present and my future.

Because I see this as being event and change driven (related to other things going on in the background) I anticipate this may last closer to two years. The actual length of time isn’t important, but I am committed to working on this for the next 12-14 months. I haven’t yet set what the “thing” is I want to “do.” I will be considering all of the items I am focused on cultivating in my original post; still I see the potential for an area that is lying latent to rise up and demand my attention as the year progresses.

Kirshenbaum pointed out several cases where the person started by committing to sit down everyday and as “what do I need” or “what do I want to do” and taking notes. If one pays attention the answer will come and that will begin a sort of phase two of the year. She includes plenty of case studies and personal stories from widely differing individuals with different needs, commitments, and resources; and they all found a way to give themselves a year. She offers tools for planning, overcoming obstacles, and just figuring out what you need to get clear about to make you year happen.

The book is a fast read for those who want to explore her ideas now and chew on them later. It can also be used as a companion workbook and pocket mentor while moving through the decision process and the gift year.

Have you taken a year for yourself? What prompted you to do it? What did you work on, and how did it turn out? If this has made a connection with you, would you give yourself a year?

6 comments:

Daisy said...

Tempting, it is. I'd actually like to take a year for myself and family, perhaps hit the road together and record the journey.

Deb said...

Oh, I like that idea. However, for the near-term I can't undertake anything that ambitious.

Presently I make myself sit down after supper and ask "self, what would you like to do for the next 30 minutes?" It is already making a difference in my outlook because my days are so crammed with stuff I have to do.

chelle said...

wow. I may have to check out the book at the library. Sounds intriguing although being these are the years I have young children it may have to wait till they are older.

Mrs_Scotsman said...

The year I gave myself was based on your advice to live on my own. Though I was dating G and engaged during that year I had that time of living on my own without a roommate. I had a list of things that I wanted to do before getting married. I accomplished them all.

Deb said...

@chelle - I think you could look at your commitment to swim as a kind of gift to yourself. And I realize that it has been interrupted by the pregnancy and pneumonia. But when you do get to go you get Chelle time without the kids, and you're doing something you enjoy and is good for you, too; and if you could clear your brain of real life for that time and just be present I think it soulds like a terrific gift.

@mrs_scotsman - I think you are right about that. I also see your gym commitment (even though it is time and not frequency driven) is a gift to yourself; so don't sell that short.

Melissa Donovan said...

I'd love to take a year, but there just isn't time. I did take a month, however, and completed my NaNo last November. I'll probably need to take six months to revise it ;) I'll be looking forward to what you choose to focus on Deb.