Be Free and Live Wholeheartedly: Intentions for my 27th Year

This first week in site has been interesting to say the least. To go from such a structured, fast-paced, and outcome-oriented three months in pre-service training to having two whole months with our sole focus of integration. We’ve waffled from enjoying a little time to breathe to feeling completely overwhelmed by the “free time.” Yet today is my birthday and when Andrew asked me what intention I want to set for my 27th year, I responded with, “to be more free.” I know what you’re thinking…I just said we’re overwhelmed by the free-ness of our lives in this first part of our Peace Corps service. Why would I want more? The difference lies in the intention.

Our first few days here we struggled with what to do. We didn’t know anyone. We’re still learning the language. We know we have jobs to do, but the school year doesn’t start up again until February. This concept of “free” really translates to our brain as “we-have-nothing-to-do-that-is-of-worth-and-so-we-must-not-be-of-worth.” It’s a pretty common Peace Corps syndrome during the first few months of service. I think you can even find it in the medical handbook 😉 As I’ve mentioned before, I have a tendency to define my success by that very U.S. American trait, by how much I accomplish in a given day, week, month, or year.

I want to set a different intention for my 27th year:

I want to live into each moment a bit more deeply. I want to care a little less about what I accomplish and instead focus a little bit more on how I accomplished it, or who I accomplished it with. I want to not be afraid to dance. (Usually I laugh, turn red, and try to get out of doing it in some way!) I want to continue to talk to lots of people in Spanish, even after I make lots of mistakes and people don’t understand me.

To be able to do these things though, I’ve got to also let go of some things:

I want to spend some time this year thinking, processing, and letting go of past hurts. I want to care a little less about what other people think of me. I constantly act based on how I perceive others to be feeling.

While I still want to be conscious of how others feel, as I value being an empathic and sensitive person, often this desire to comply or “people-please” ends with me being a bit more timid, a little more afraid. And I’ve definitely got some fears to let go of. I’ve started reading Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly and I attribute some of my hopes above to her ideas. Brené Brown is a researcher who is most famous for her TED Talk on vulnerability.   In this book she outlines ten guideposts to wholehearted living:

  1. Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think

  2. Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting go of Perfectionism

  3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness

  4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark

  5. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty

  6. Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison

  7. Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth

  8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle

  9. Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed To”

  10. Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control.”

These guideposts resonate so deeply with me. Living wholeheartedly, living free. These are where I want to extend my energy and focus personally over the coming year. Each month over the next year, I plan to choose one of these guideposts as a focus – to live into it as much as I can and share my experiences with you.

I challenge you to not only follow my stories here, but to journey with me.

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8 thoughts on “Be Free and Live Wholeheartedly: Intentions for my 27th Year”

  1. We so enjoy your posts! Much of it we relate to so completely and some we wish we had thought of or had done. All of it confirms our love for PC and makes us treasure even more deeply our own experience. Your reflections and goals confirm what valuable and dedicated volunteers you both are! We salute you and wish for you the experience you deserve and certainly will earn as the people of Nicaragua (and fellow volunteers) benefit from your personality, talents and and service! Sure wish we had had the benefit of Internet and email to keep in contact. What a blessing!

    1. It is an incredible blessing – to be able to share so rapidly with home. We want to take advantage of it for our own hearts and comfort, but also it’s a terrific way to share our stories and experience with people like you who we otherwise wouldn’t get to share so closely with during our service. Thank you for the compliments, too. We really hope to be able to do something of worth here, and in time, and through relationships, we know we will. We fell so lucky to be a part of the Peace Corps family and are trying to treasure our experience as well. Take care, and keep in touch.

  2. Happy Birthday Emily. We are so proved of you and Andrew and we see you grow and mature at every posting. We love you and we will make up in celebration when you get home. Grandmamma and Bestefar.

    1. Thank you for the birthday wishes and the compliment. We hope to continue growing through this entire experience. And we’ll definitely have some celebrations to make up for when we get home!

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