My 2014 Theme: Staying Open

Laura Purdie Salas started me on this a few years ago–each year, she sets a theme for her year, rather than making a list of resolutions. I love this, possibly because I hate resolutions, but also because I think it makes a nice turning of the calendar page. Not what do I want to DO this year, but how do I want to be. And I think that picking a theme kind of gives a nod to the past year, maybe things I learned about myself or about life in general.

This year, I think that’s true. I have certainly spent more time meditating this past year than ever before and more time trying to be okay with the fact that I can’t control all the things I would like to control. Maybe even thinking that, actually, I wouldn’t like to control them–because controlling, even when you manage it, takes up so much energy and creates so much stress. So I could make this year about letting go. Or I could, as I’ve been thinking the past few days, make it about embracing and welcoming change.

Because here’s the thing about 2014: Lots of change coming. Assuming multiple creeks don’t rise, here’s what’s in the forecast for us.

  • The boy will choose and start attending some college.
  • The husband and I, starting in Autumn, will essentially be a twosome again. Well, okay, a twosome plus a cat and a bird. While I think we’ll be more than okay, and we’ve always enjoyed being a twosome before, there’s no question things will be…different than the last time.
  • I will get a new job somewhere and work full-time again.
  • I will try to avoid/balance the conflict that sometimes arises between the writing I want to do and the writing I want to have done.
  • I will start exercising a body that, while it seems to be less injured than it was a month ago, will no doubt take continued attention and gentleness.

This past week, I’ve been feeling pretty good about all these things, even the college part, because the boy seems to be ready to take this next step. So, yes, I could go with Embrace Change or Welcome Change. But even those themes feel a bit…controlling.

So I’m going with Staying Open. I mean, look at that list. Every single item on it could go so many different ways. Obviously, I’m hoping for happy ways and I certainly don’t want to think too much about negatives. But if I were even to start writing all the good things that could happen to the boy in terms of college, I’d be writing down a huge range of possibilities. And while I’m excited about all this change today, I’m sure there will be days when it feels like it’s happening too fast, or turning a corner I wouldn’t have chosen. I’m not sure whether I’m not ready to actively embrace all that, or whether it might actually be a mistake to turn away from feelings that don’t necessarily meet happy-dancing standards.

So this year, I’ll be trying to observe what happens and how I respond to it and how my responses fade and change. And choosing to allow all the events and feelings and try not to cling too strongly to them or push them away with too much anger. I don’t expect to get even close to perfection. But the theme, as I understand it from Laura’s posts, is about how we’d like to be, a way we’d like to live. And this seems like a year of changes to which I’d like to stay open.

Are you picking a theme for this year? I’d love to hear about it? Or, if you really love resolutions, pop those into the comments, too.


  1. Excellent theme for this year, Becky!

    Mine is “looking forward, moving forward.” When I did that year-end summary thing on Facebook, I realized that nearly all my popular posts in 2013 were nostalgic, or looking backward in some way. I decided then that in 2014 I want to move forward, not to wallow in past thoughts, griefs, could’ves, would’ves or should’ves.

    I appreciate that you pointed out that the theme reflects how we’d *like* to live. I suspect I’ll have to remind myself of this theme over and over this year, and consciously make the choice to look forward.

    Best of everything in your year of staying open!


    • beckylevine says:

      Oh, Beth, I love this. Not just the theme itself–which is wonderful–but that you saw that nostalgic element in your FB summary. And that you decided to do things differently this year.

      And, oh, yes, I’ll be reminding myself, too. Sometimes, at the start of a yoga class, a teacher will have us each set an “intention” just for that session. And then, at the end, they’ll have us restate it to ourselves. And, believe me, those are often the only two times I think of it during the whole class. I still think, though, that it’s a good thing to do and that–if I NEED to remember it partway through, it’ll be there!


  2. Kelly Ramsdell Fineman says:

    This is a really good theme/goal for the year, Becky. There are lots of times when we think we know the right path, only to have the Universe send us a different way. It can be frustrating, but often it’s better than the path we’d have picked for ourselves.

    I wish you and your husband an easy transition. Oddly, it’s not something I had to deal with, since the girls’ father was already an ex-husband and I ended up divorcing my second husband as well. But finding a new way together seems like something worth doing, and finding new ways to reach back to one another in a different way without your son there will be interesting, if possibly a bit challenging (even if it’s in a good way).

    I am doing an 8-week happiness thing at, and part of what they said for the first week is that making happiness your primary goal, rather than the indirect goal, is an effective thing to do. Happy people tend to find other successes, but people who rely on success to make them happy seldom keep their happiness for long. Something I’ve been pondering all day, and that resonates. Funny, too, since it’s because of the meditation that I’ve been doing that I’m open to thinking of things in new ways – the “old” me would’ve dismissed it as mumbo jumbo!


    • beckylevine says:

      Kelly, I’m trying to get to the point when, even when it’s not BETTER than the path I’d have chosen, that I can at least acknowledge it’s what I’ve got to work with. 🙂

      I think the time after our son leaves will be challenging, but I also think we’re both committed to working at drifting back to a closer place, not drifting further away. It’s happening a little bit already, with our son driving and doing his thing and being so close to moving out–this reassures me!

      I’ve been taking a dharma class once a week, with a sitting meditation, and, yes, I would have dismissed it at an earlier stage of my life. Honestly, that is one of the best things about getting older, to me, learning how nice it can be NOT to dismiss stuff!


  3. Lorettajo Kapinos says:

    I prefer themes, too. Yours sounds sort of like mine. I want to “Be Ready”. By that, I mean I want to sush that voice of self doubt that halts me from taking the next step in whatever it is I desire. Currently, I get ready or- in some cases, START to get ready. As I have learned from my writing, that is passive. I seek to no longer be passive. Instead, I will be ready.


    • beckylevine says:

      Lorettajo, I really like this. One of my favorite things about themes is that they leave room for us to interpret/explain them–and I love your distinction between “getting” ready and “being” ready. I especially love that you want to go BEYOND “starting” to get ready. Here’s to a NON-passive year. 🙂


  4. Reading the comments on this post is so enlightening!


  5. Robyn LaRue says:

    “Be Open” works well for me this year also. I’ve had my beautiful grandson for five months, but now custody is in court between the parents, and changes are coming. Being open allows me to focus on possibilities instead of negatives. I really like that. Thank you so much!


    • beckylevine says:

      Robyn, good luck! That must be so hard. It helps us focus on possibilities, yes, AND I think deal with the ones that actually come to pass. Wishing you and your family the best.


  6. praw27 says:

    I love the idea of picking a theme! I am not big on making resolutions, as I find I am constantly “judging” myself a “failure” after a week or two! Although, I have started a blog, which was actually last year’s resolution! LOL However, my theme for this year is to “BE,” not to control, not to look backward or forward–just to be. Thanks for the idea!


    • beckylevine says:

      Congrats on last year’s success! And I love the “BE” theme for this year…a wonderful way to live. 🙂


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