Where did the days go? It is the second day of February. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m still getting my head around 2021. I am still processing what happened in 2020. I have written several lists of my goals and intentions for 2021. I have learned not to make resolutions, instead focus on a Sankalpa (Sanskrit for intention). In yoga, we are taught that from intention come as action. By focusing on my intention, action follows. I’ve also learned in 2020, that from action comes clarity. I am one person who lives on the grey. Things aren’t black and white in my world. I don’t fit in boxes. I never have. And it would make me miserable to force myself to do so. I thrive on the edges of possibility.
A brand, new year is so exciting. It gives me the thrill of starting a brand, notebook or planner. As you open it for the very first time, you see empty pages. The possibilities are endless. It is a blank canvas ready for you to paint on. For this writer, a blank notebook means a new beginning for a writing project. Don’t ask how many notebooks I have with still a few pages waiting to be filled. I will admit I had written several lists of my Sankalpa, feeling in my body and heart what felt just right. After several lists, I challenge myself to limit to 21 intentions for 21. What I came up with is 27 for 21. Take some time to write your own 21 Intentions for 2021.
Each year, I also try to come up with a one-word theme for the year. The most memorable one-word theme was Brave in 2014. It was returning home from the gym, that I heard Sara Barellis sing Brave. I heard the same song a few days earlier played in the CNN Heroes awards night. It hit all the right notes. The lyrics became my anthem. And it truly became a year of being brave, facing some personal struggles as my father got very sick that year. It pushed me to take certain responsibilities for my parents I had never done before. I found my “Brave.”
This year, I searched high and low for my word. But it’s not something you can research or copy from other people. I heard Elizabeth Craft in the Happier podcast say her word for the year to be Butterly. I loved Butterflies and it seemed apt. But it didn’t feel right. In my search, I found myself taking the word finder quiz. After spending nearly seven months alone in lockdown in Melbourne, Australia in 2020, my spirit desired to find joy. For someone who was limited for many months to a 5km radius from home, I had no grand delusions of travel. I had only been in Melbourne for a few months when lockdown started. My expectations for an adventure simply meant experiencing something new. Visiting new parks, restaurants, and even a trip to IKEA would feel like holidays in my books for this travel writer. You should have seen my face when I got on the train to go to Ballarat in November after the 111-day lockdown. As I did quiz, joy didn’t really feel quite accurate for my intentions for 2021. Then hit me 2021 is the year of SPARK.
It means bringing back that bright glimmer of spark back in my eye. I will admit 2020 was challenging to my mental health. I give myself a big pat on the back for surviving it. As Jacinda Adern said in one interview, her theme song for 2020 is “I’m still standing.” That’s how I feel about 2020. It wasn’t my best year as a writer. But I am still standing and I learned a few things along the way like teaching online, learned to make podcasts, creating online community and even learned that penguins don’t have knees (yes, I watch penguin livestreams when they head home). I started writing for new publications I haven’t written for before.
What does the Year of Spark look like for me:
- Getting my dog SPARK here to Melbourne, Australia and finally be reunited with him (I can’t wait)
A piece of me has been missing since we parted in October 2019, I miss him every single day. We will be together this year. Hopefully by my birthday or a few days after.
- Feeling at home in my body again. While I did well with eating clean during the first lockdown, the second lockdown was a whole other story. I didn’t make mindful food choices and didn’t move as much as I can. My body was functioning less than it is capable of. And I feel it. So I started 2021, getting back to my healthier lifestyle. I got back to my usual 10,000 step daily requirement. I stopped comforting my emotions with carbs. A bad habit that I started in lockdown. I started the #movewithmaida challenge, where people in my community Find Your Spark, started hitting their daily 10,000 steps for one week. It was fun to watch people hit 10,000 steps each day. It was something they didn’t do before. Or to hear participants find their Fitbit and get moving more. I also revived “Fit2FortyandBeyond” helping people jumpstart their own fitness journey.
- It means helping other people find their spark. And I have to say, it is so fulfilling to help others do things they think cannot do. It is so rewarding to witness transformation. I had seen it in 2020 when I first offered, “Coming Up for Air program, Self-Care for the Overwhelmed” (I am rebranding to call it Find Your Spark). Leading my participants to do the work, I was thrilled to see them shift to become excited with life again. It was a joy see them find meaning and yes, that spark back in their lives. Or even to just see them thrive during lockdown and celebrate 2020 with much gratitude. What a blessing. I am committed to help more people find their spark in 2021. Seeing my participants in Fit2FortyandBeyond, transform before my very eyes is a huge honor.
- It means having choosing to have more joy in my life. Life is short. I want my life to be filled with more joy. I know I delight in new experiences and engaging with me people. The first 31 days of 2021 has been just that. I am happy to say I have done so many things I haven’t done before: I played board games, I went to a dog beach, I indulged in a four-course Middle Eastern feast I haven’t done before even drinking Lebanese wine to go with it, I met new people and shared meals, with them, I offered 1:1 coaching calls online, I went to the Yarra Valley for the first time, and I went on a picnic. When my best friend asked me yesterday how I am, for the first time in a long time I told her, “I am choosing to be happy.” Then, I smiled. Being friends for 37 years now, she knows me very well. Seeing my face on the Viber video call, she said, “I’m so happy you are happy. You deserve nothing less.”
- It means being open to love and happiness, and not expecting it to arrive in a certain way. Sometimes, we miss out on love and happiness because we expect it come in a certain package. It is an odd expectation coming from someone who doesn’t fit in the box. So I am being more open and allowing the God and the universe to surprise me each day.
- It means loving myself more and all aspects of my life more: my home, how I live my life, what I do, and what I create. I am a recovering people-pleaser. For many years, I have put the value of who I am to be in what I do. or what I can accomplish. I have become an achiever all my life, thinking people will only love me because of what I can do. But whenI had anxiety, I learned I had to put myself first. I had to learn to love myself, and make myself a priority. I had to love myself a bit more than my parents. I had to go through the scary experience of being loved even I can’t do anything amazing or anything for those I loved. And you know what? The world didn’t end. The people who matter still loved me, even if I couldn’t do anything for them or give them anything. Love yourself and the world will adjust!
I am feeling good about 2021. I feel it in my body. For months, I had become so attracted to the color yellow. I’ve long wanted a yellow dress. I still don’t have one and am still looking. The color yellow has been making me feel good. I’ve chosen yellow for Find Your Spark and Maida’s Touch. It reminds me of sunshine and smiles. I even bought myself a yellow Uniqlo jacket, even if it’s one size too small. Just because I loved the color. Coincidentally, yellow is one of the Pantone colors of the year.
So, I ask you, what is your Sankalpa for 2021? More importantly, what is your word for 2021? Would you like to feel more spark in your life in 2021? Yes please! Come join me and the Find Your Spark Community on Facebook. I’m cooking up more activities to make us feel warm, sunny, and yellow all over. Let me know how I can help you find your spark.
Thanks for reading.