So, #sachat has encouraged me to think about one word to represent focus and vision for the New Year.
As I have thought about this over the last few days, I have to admit the word that I keep coming back bleeds over from December 2011 and my experience at the Social Justice Training Institute (SJTI). My word…
When we first arrived at SJTI we were asked to write down a phrase or quote that represented social justice to us- not just write it down, but write it on our name tag, under our name, that would be worn for the next 4 days. I was nervous about the experience and what I knew was before me. I had trouble recalling a quote (so much pressure!), and the only thing I could think of was what I had being pumping myself up to do as I approached the experience- to be mindful. I knew that SJTI would bring up a lot of emotions, thoughts, feelings- you name it- as 40 people of various backgrounds, from all across the country came together to discuss race and social justice.
I wanted to be myself and to be mindful at SJTI- to explore the thoughts and feelings that might come up for me and not just push them aside to move forward. I found in my adult life, that I often do just that. I have not spent appropriate time reflecting, alone with my thoughts, exploring what they might mean. In fact, more often than not, I find myself pushing them aside in an effort for efficiency or to move to the next task- or maybe even to minimize or discount them.
It was an amazing exercise- something that will obviously take practice for me, as I fumbled around with it a bit. However, I found that I talked less and listened more. Listening for me was powerful and it allowed me to be mindful- to pay attention to my feelings and thoughts in the moment and beyond. I didn’t pressure myself to have an immediate answer, dismiss my thought, or ignore myself to move forward. So, I’d like to continue the practice in 2012 of being mindful.
It means a few things to me now as I look into the New Year (and likely more will come):
- It does connect to social justice, as being mindful allows me to think about how others are affected by a situation or to observe the response of others. I believe it is important for me to see and think about my agency and have a sense of social responsibility- that won’t happen if I am not being mindful.
- It requires me to listen more and talk less (especially at work). It might require me to talk more in other settings…we will see.
- Another important piece of this if learning to reflect more and to document that reflection- perhaps through a medium like this. The documentation piece is a struggle.
- I imagine it will help me feel more grounded and congruent. Congruence was a big word for me in 2011, and I still look to find congruence in my life- with better integration of the various parts of my identity. Specifically I have need to find ways to integrate “Angie the Student Affairs professional” and “Angie the Christian”- two things I have tried to keep quite separate, prior to the last 6 months.
So, that’s my one word for 2012: MINDFUL. What is yours?