Did you make a resolution this year?
I don't generally make "resolutions" but rather promises to myself for the coming year. Often these promises are so simple I forget what they are by the middle of the year and cannot for the life of me remember what they were by the following New Year's Eve.
I do remember exactly what I promised myself at the very end of 2003, however.
It was the beginning of my second year at University. I was struggling with the demands of a highly intensive course. Often people believe University students have a great time, but in my first year at uni I studied Russian from scratch, reaching A Level standard at the end of 9 months, and in the second year my first term was filled with an essay a week! As a "high achiever" I felt the pressure to keep getting those high marks, and this is something I still struggle with today. But in those first few months of my second year the pressure filled me with dread.
I came very close to giving up that year, until I found something to hold on to. And that was my faith.
The simple faith I had relied on as a child had been destroyed by an overly strict and critical group I had joined. I lost myself in a whirl of questions without answers, the feelings in my heart overshadowed by the arguments of "religion". But my heart didn't let up...
At the very end of 2003 I bought myself my first angel oracle deck. Simply having this made me feel like I was making a choice to follow my heart rather than my confused mind. And my heart began to open. That New Year's Eve I promised myself that I would "let go of the old, and let in the new".
Within weeks I was a happier, healthier and more positive version of who I had become. In essence, I had regained the faith of my childhood and I was thirsty for more. I let go of my old fears, even facing my exams with a newfound positivity, knowing that "at the end of the day" an exam was only an exam and in the "grand scheme of things" there were far more important things.
And do you know what? I passed my exams, with the same high scores as before. Well, a few of them dropped, but they were still high, just not quite as high as before. I could accept a drop like that when it meant I could feel so positive and free.
I read book after book after book that year. I joined an online spiritual forum that became like a second family (and still is). And I learnt how to live the life I wanted, peaceful and happy despite the demands on my time and energy.
I lost quite a bit of this when I went abroad at the end of that year, closing myself off through fear. It wasn't quite the same as before, and the experience taught me that "religion" wasn't all the same. It was a hard lesson to learn, and it started yet another stage in my search for faith. I never did regain that same level of intense peace, as one thing led to another and life took over once more.
But here I am, at the beginning of 2011, seven years after that first promise I made to myself, and I feel the same stirrings within me as I felt back at the 2003/2004 turnover. Seven is a powerful number, mentioned in many different spiritual teachings, so it feels very apt to be here again seven years later. Tim and I have had to face some real hardships in our time together, but this year feels full of promise.
So my New Year's Resolution for 2011 is this: to have peace of mind and heart, no matter what the year brings. If I can keep that peace, then the whole world becomes exciting once more.