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January 12, 2010

Dedications, Intentions & Why-Nots For the New Year. ~ Lasara Allen

Have you made any resolutions for 2010?

Many of us make resolutions – and then fail. Though I have almost always met with success in my new year’s resolutions, I think resolutions come from a somewhat limited, and limiting, perspective. So instead of resolutions this year, I’ve choosen to make lists of Dedications, Intentions and WHY NOTs.

But always with any new year commitment I make, I include one cautionary caveat, which I encourage you to adopt as well; remember that while any marker – new year’s day, new moon, an anniversary, or your birthday – can serve as an activator for a commitment, every breath is a chance for a new choice.

When you “fall short” of a commitment, offer yourself compassion instead of self-denigration. Gratitude instead of blame.

It helps me to think of my dedications, intentions, and wishes – my WHY NOT list, as practices. For me, practice means; though I’m not perfect at it (that’s why it’s called practice, right?), I am growing more committed and successful in it everyday.

I find this a great phrase, prayer, or mantra to remember as needed.

In the list structure I’ve used this year, each list has a higher level of commitment. 1: Dedications; 2: Intentions; 3; My “WHY NOT?” List.

Here’s a quick, easy guide on how to build these lists, and a few examples of my own per category.

List One- Dedications:

The Mirriam-Webster Dictionary offers four definitions for the word dedication.

1 : an act or rite of dedicating to a divine being or to a sacred use,

2 : a devoting or setting aside for a particular purpose,

3 : a name and often a message prefixed to a literary, musical, or artistic production in tribute to a person or cause,

4 : self-sacrificing devotion <her dedication to the cause>,

5 : a ceremony to mark the official completion or opening of something…

I think all of them have relevance here. For me, dedications are like vows that I’m making with God, my family, my community, the flow of life in general. And my life in specific. Of the three lists, as you might guess, this is the highest level of commitment.

In building this list, think of the things you truly are committed to enacting in your everyday life. Consider the ways you want your life to shift, the relationships you will reconfigure, the people you are responsible for or to.

Then set pen to paper (or finger to key board, as case may be), and get writing. You can write out as many or as few as feels right. If your list gets to long, you can number each item by level of importance or resonance, and then cut the ones that rank lowest.

Here are a few items from my Dedications for 2010 list:

* To recognize that every area of practice towards my own health is an act of dedication to the liberation of all sentient beings pervading time and space.

* To recognize that serving my husband, my children, my family and my friends are part of my spiritual practice, and to treat it as such. And, to remeber that this also serve the liberation of all beings.

* To continue following the path that my gratitude practice opens for me.

* To build a circle of similarly minded friends here in the area, and to actively commitment to this as a practice of faith, desire, and love.

* To continue trusting that God has a plan for me that is greater than I can see, and that every day I’m fulfilling that plan by living my life in as much consciousness as I can achieve.

List Two- Intentions

Mirriam-Webster has six definitions of the word intention. Of the six, I feel that the following five are all interestingly relevant in this case.

1 : a determination to act in a certain way : resolve,

2 : import, significance,

3 a : what one intends to do or bring about b : the object for which a prayer, mass, or pious act is offered,

4 : a process or manner of healing of incised wounds,

5 : concept; especially : a concept considered as the product of attention directed to an object of knowledge…

And here’s the etymology, thanks to etymonline.com; intend c.1300, “direct one’s attention to,” from O.Fr. intendre “to direct one’s attention,” from L. intenderein- “toward” + tendere “to stretch” (see tenet). Sense of “have as a plan” (1390) was present in Latin. A Gmc. word for this was ettle, from O.N. ætla “to think, conjecture, propose,” from P.Gmc. *ahta “consideration, attention” (cf. O.E. eaht, Ger. acht). …

In my mind, intentions are thoughts, experiences and occurrences that you are casting forward into your future. Intetnions may not take as much day-to-day attention, or may not be as interactive with others in your life. Whatever they are, for me they often have a lot to do with feeling-states and the outcomes of them.

Some things off my Intentions for 2010 list:

* To allow financial, desired, perfect abundance to enter and flow in my life, and have less attachment about how that flow occurs. To trust that God knows best how to deliver this abundance.

* To follow the attraction and direction of my heart with grace, trust, and joy.

* To invest in and develop forgiveness for myself and and the harm that occurred in my past.

* More and more, to allow the support I so deeply desire.

* To take what I have learned of trust, honesty, and openness from my husband and begin generalizing it to the rest of the world.

List Three- My “WHY NOT?” List (this year and beyond):

I got the idea for a WHY NOT list from Self Magazine actually. I thought it sounded like a great idea – to give myself the chance to dream big, and think outside the daily details of family, plans, life, family, service, love, did I mention family?

WHY NOT take a few minutes and get very self-focused?If you could do anything, what would it be? And remember, anything you desire, you probably actually can pull off.

In my life, and lately in training for my half-marathon (one of my WHY NOTs, as you’ll see below), I have found so much inspiration from people who have come up against challenges and beat the odss; a man with a prosthetic leg finishing a marathon in just over five hours. People being diagnosed with cancer, and instead of succumbing, actually choosing to live for the first time in their lives. My sister, an amzing woman who is mentoring me on my marathon experience, summited Mount Everest four years ago in her mid-40s.

If you’re willing to reach for your WHY NOTs, there’s no way you’ll fail in having a great 2010, and beyond.

Some of my WHY NOTs, for 2010 and beyond:

* Run a half marathon – and then a full!

* Work toward my best comprehensive health in my life.

* Explore new religions. (Catholicism, traditional Tantra, deeper into Tibetan Buddhism and Tantric teachings and ritual.)

* Explore excavation of darkness and shadow, in the light.

* Go dancing.

* Take a dance class (again after all these years).

* Take a voice class (again after all these years).

* Visit different churches just to see what part of me the services sing to.

And, my final commitment is to view these lists at least once every three months, and mark off the things that actually have a completion point, and put stars next to the things I’m doing well with that are paths without destinations.

What are your commitments, intentions, or WHY NOTs? With wishes of joy, abundance, and greatest gratitude, a very heartfelt prayer for a 2010 that is beyond your sweetest dreams, from my heart to yours.

In GRATITUDE!

Author Bio: Lasára Allen is an author, an educator, advocate, ad the creator of Gratitude Games. Her articles cover a range of topics including gratitude, parenting, relationships, fitness, yoga, health & holistic well-being, compassion, and spiritual practice. As an advocate, Lasára writes and speaks about living, parenting and working with bipolar disorder. In 2008, she designed Gratigories and her other Gratitude Games. Over the years, Lasára has helped clients and students find balance in their lives, and alignment with personal and family-held values. She has taught, spoken, and coached internationally. Lasára is mom to two amazing daughters, and wife to Robert Allen, an outstanding man.

Find more of Lasára’s writing, updates, and tons of health and fitness focus, – including an interactive “co-accountability” focused area – at http://www.LasaraAllen.com, and more about Lasára’s gratitude projects at http://www.TheGratitudePlace.com.

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