Back in January I decided to choose a word of the year. Have you ever done this?
I always get caught up in the New Years goal setting rush, but I also know myself and I know my goals are constantly shifting and evolving so I wanted one specific word or mantra to come back to and ground myself through the unknown months of adventure to come.
I decided to choose the word OPEN-HEARTED.
It felt like a way to release all the pressure I’d been placing on myself over the last few years as I launched and grew my businesses and evolved into Anna 2.0 -- this new confident, self-assured, happy version of myself that I'm still getting used to!
When Ben and I were joining our church a couple of years ago, we took a new members class and learned that one definition of sin is a closing off of oneself, or turning away from God and inward to our own agenda.
God’s grace and love is constantly pouring into us, and when we feel anxious, overwhelmed, or alone it’s not because we aren’t worthy of love. It’s because we’re literally blocking ourselves from receiving all these good vibes.
As a highly sensitive introvert, it’s easy for me to close myself off to the world and go into hermit mode, especially since I work from home. But when I get too caught up in my head and my own agenda, I start to feel stressed, lonely, and let fear and anxiety take over. No bueno!
“The presence of fear is a sure sign that you are trusting in your own strength.”
A Course in Miracles
By practicing open-heartedness, I originally wanted to open myself up to new experiences, opportunities, and adventures this year. The older I get, the less intense and serious I feel about life. I want to have more fun, take myself less seriously, take pressure off, learn how to embrace the journey instead of constantly racing towards some destination and feeling like a constant failure if I'm not there yet.
I thought being "open-hearted" was an active verb - something I would practice or do.
Instead it’s become something much deeper, a way of being.
I'm learning how to open myself up to RECEIVE as well as give. To be vulnerable. It's not just about having adventures and exploring the world. It's about relaxing, slowing down, standing still. Experiencing life right now, as it's happening around me, instead of rushing off to find it.
Live with more pleasure, more joy, more fun…even in the mundane.
Finding beauty everywhere, in everything.
In the two energetic/sparkly pre-teens next to me at Starbucks drinking sugary smoothies, stalking their friends on Instagram, and discussing babysitting techniques.
In the winter sunset peeking out above the rooftops of my city.
In the sound of birds singing as cold rain pours down.
In the flowers that drip off the trees in April.
Sitting in my parents' backyard on a warm 70* afternoon watching the sun glow through the tulips and new leaves.
Turning 30 with open arms and a fresh perspective, leaving this emotional rollercoaster of a decade behind.
Taking stuff off my plate. Saying no, even to volunteer activities that would leave me feeling drained and resentful.
Taking ownership of my time, my energy, the way I talk to myself.
Learning how to follow through on the commitments I make to myself, lean in to do the work when it's uncomfortable, but also to lean back when I need to work from a place of rest.
Learning how to experience the FULL range of emotion, instead of numbing the extremes with alcohol or mindless snacking.
Knowing that I'll always have far to go, and room to grow, but being content where I'm at anyways.
Learning how to embrace the messy process of life.
Removing the timeline from my dreams.
Giving myself more white space to think, dream, process, integrate, create, daydream.
Following my curiosity instead of listening to the critical voice in my head.
Receiving support, love, and being vulnerable. Asking for help instead of pretending that I have it all together.
Learning how I operate and why, so I can give myself permission to own my strengths and weaknesses. Personality tests, strengths tests, natal charts, human design, chakras, energy, I am fascinated by it all.
Writing and sharing and speaking from my heart instead of passively consuming information.
Spending less time scrolling through social media and more time building relationships and connections with the women I stalk.
Reconnecting with old friends who knew me before I knew myself.
Discovering that yes, I actually can meditate and do yoga. And it feels amazing.
I’ve realized that over the past couple of rollercoaster years, I’ve been in a season of becoming.
Growing, learning, evolving, shifting.
It’s been exciting, but also terrifying and exhausting. I’m finally starting to feel that I’ve arrived. Not at a final destination, but at a place where I can just be me. Allow myself to be happy and grateful for the simple fact that I’m alive and healthy and breathing.
Something is shifting deep inside of me, unlocking a source of energy that feels grounded and free.
Faith, surrender, trust.
When I finally release my control-freak grip on external goals and growth and live AS IF I am already where I want to be, it’s like all the fear and stress and anxiety goes poof.
And once you start to slow down and pay attention, synchronicities start to appear. You wanna hear something funny? After writing the rough draft of this post, I took a break to go to a midday yoga class and the instructor Alex’s theme for us was heart opening. She led us through a beautiful series of heart opening poses and shared her own reflections on what it means to live with an open heart and open mind. I almost started crying!
We are always supported, you guys. We just have to get out of our own heads and recognize the love and support that’s constantly flowing into our lives.
After I came home to eat and shower I opened my Google doc to add some of her thoughts to this post and realized that I’d already written them.
Vulnerability. Accepting what comes, what is, what is happening.
Trust that whatever is coming into your life is happening for the highest good of you and everyone involved.
We live in a crazy scary and challenging world, but there's so much love surrounding us if we're brave enough to keep our hearts open.