Mary Oliver

Creating Intentions vs. Resolutions

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to accomplish in 2017. It’s probably something most of us have been doing, making those tricky resolutions, hoping against hope, that this will be the year we finally “get it together.” But if I’ve learned anything in my years on earth, it’s to know when it’s time to reflect, and when it’s time to jump in.

My little dog, Charlotte, is a good example of this strategy. She’s had a challenging life. I don’t know how old she is. I only know how many years it’s been since someone dropped her off at the bottom of my hill, scared, hungry, and most likely wondering where her puppies were as she appeared to have recently had a litter. She’s still timid, hates men in pick-up trucks, and approaches each offering with a look around to see what might be sneaking up behind her, but when she feels safe and happy, she runs! Great loops around the house, jumping over obstacles, a flash of furred joy.

I’ve had some troubling times too. We all have, but that shouldn’t shut us down. Pause, learn, be patient with yourself. As Mary Oliver says in her poem, Wild Geese,

“You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”

I love words, and nature. I love being alone, and making connections. I love sharing what I find along the way, what I learn to be true. One thing I’ve learned is about the power of intentions as opposed to resolutions. When I hear the word resolved, my mind spins to the movie National Treasure and Nicholas Cage’s character, Ben Gates, making the leap from colonial clues found on a pipe stem in a frozen ship to a treasure map hidden on the back of the Declaration of Independence. “It was firm. It was adamant. It was resolved.”

My leaps of faith tend not to be quite that grand, or dangerous. Nor are my resolutions, my intentions, nation-building worthy, yet that doesn’t mean they don’t matter. To me, who I want to be, and what I want to achieve, means the world.

So for 2017, I set these intentions. Not resolutions. Intentions. Though I will put effort and time in to following through with these intentions, I am not adamant. I am not firm. My intentions may change as I change and grow this year. That’s okay. If I need to reflect, and set new intentions I will. But for now, these are my guide. I like the idea of a guide, much better than ¬†boulders of resolution hanging over my head ready to fall with the next storm. And we all know there will be storms in 2017.

My intentions:

  • Write one poem per day or five per week
  • Write one blog post per month
  • Submit my work two times per month
  • Meditate five times a week
  • Exercise two times a week

What are your intentions for 2017?

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