Intent On It

I’ve been avoiding thinking about setting my intention for 2009. I realized recently that part of my mild depression I have been experiencing for the past few months now has a lot to do with judging myself too harshly AND disassociating with my own life.

Let me try to explain.

Shit has been hitting the fan this year but a lot of it is shit that isn’t MY shit. Being the overly empathetic, control freak, “helper” that I am, situations that impact me in a peripheral way have negatively impacted my outlook on life. I know I sound vague and I’m sorry but since these aren’t my situations, I’m not at liberty to discuss them in a public forum.

Let’s just say that I am learning some valuable lessons about my own limitations. I’ve spent most of my life trying to go higher and higher, to achieve more, to BE more. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a certain kind of person. My obsession with doing the “right” thing and not fucking up is so fundamentally detrimental to my own health that I have to lay it down.I have to stop. I don’t want to be this way anymore.

Let me tell you a story.

I used to be a smoker. I smoked off and on for years. This was AFTER my father died of lung cancer. Yeah, I know. Brilliant! I hid the fact that I smoked. Or at least, I tried to hide it. I would only smoke outside or in my car on the way home from work. If I was going to meet up with people, I would be sure to shower and brush my teeth and change my clothes between smoking and meeting up with them. I was fanatical about the cover up.

(Interestingly enough, the covering up totally smacks of how my dad hid his alcoholism but that’s just an aside I felt compelled to share as the correlation literally just came to me.)

I blamed the fact that I smoked on certain boyfriends who smoked like chimneys. Since I spent a lot of time with them, I ended up smoking with them as a shared activity. Did they force me to smoke? No. But for a long time I didn’t take responsibility that it was ME who was choosing to hurt MYSELF. I knew all the scary facts about smoking. I knew and I consciously chose to hurt myself (and others around me).

(Gee, that sounds a lot like my dad and his drinking too.)

I thought I was doing a great job hiding my habit which is such a joke, really. Cigarette smoke is a stinky habit. A lot of my memories have faded where my father is concerned but one that I distinctly remember is the smell of his smoking hand. His hands were worn, wrinkled and tanned with elegant long fingers. His pointer and middle fingers were embedded with the scent of cigarettes. When I used to smoke, there was something about it that made me feel tied to my dad. And since I lived in the grief of losing him, in some fucked up way, it comforted me.

When I turned 30 I gave myself a gift: I quit smoking. I thought about what I wanted my future to look like and realized that in my expectant dream I wanted to live a long time and be a parent and, you know, have full lung capacity. I had tried to stop before but this time, because I set my intention, it stuck. I haven’t smoked in almost six years.

The point being to this random post is that in the past when I’ve made a “resolution” to stop or start doing something, I’ve failed miserably. Something about calling it a resolution automatically jinxes me. So I don’t “resolve” to do things. I set intentions. That way it’s more like a trajectory path instead of a MUST DO THIS OR YOU FAIL kind of thing. Besides, I’ve never responded well to being bossed around.

Hopefully between now and tomorrow, I’ll have an epiphany as to what my 2009 intention should be.

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41 thoughts on “Intent On It

  1. I love how you set intentions. That’s a beautiful way to express how much you WANT to do these things.

    Mine: stop failing life in 2009. ’08 can kiss my mocha-colored ass. I hadn’t intended on it sucking that much so my expectations will be raised in ’09.

  2. Oooh, intentions rather than resolutions – I’m totally stealing that idea.

    ’09 is the year I intend to re-lose those 25 pounds I lost in ’07. Buggers just crept back on, darn them all to heck.

  3. I like Intentions a lot and proclaim here and now that I am borowing it from you because I don’t like Resolutions, they never get fuckin’ resolved.

    One of my intentions for 2009 is to stop going to Starbucks and nickel and diming myself into the poor house. I have no goddamn will power! Maybe I’ll make that another intention; get back my will power!

    Happy New Year to you, Sizzle! With respect and appreciation,

    – Jaz

  4. Brilliant post. I am going to sit down and really think about my intentions for the coming year. 2008 was a busy year and anything I said on Dec. 31st of last year went to the wayside very early on when I was hit with the pregnancy of doom. This year I have every intent of making some positive changes in my life. Thanks for putting this in a new light for me.

  5. Well said. I hate resolutions too. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t fail at keeping one.

    So, I will also make ‘intentions’. Thanks!

  6. You always have a way of wording your posts that just make sense and never seem like mindless ramblings. Bravo on that. 🙂

    My intention is to intentionally enjoy life more. Stick with the habit of looking for the little things and the silver linings to situations and not dwelling on the irrevocably bad. I intend to do more smiling.

  7. I’m with Tiff- this year I intend to lose the 25 pounds I gained back after losing them in 2005. Love the setting intentions instead of making resolutions!

  8. Intentions. I like that quite a bit better. I set goals myself. I dislike the whole bossy resolution thing too. It really makes me want to avoid the whole list all together.

    Good luck coming up with yours for the new year. 🙂

  9. Intention. I like it! It sounds so much more achievable than resolution. That’s what I’m going to do. I never make New Year’s resolutions because I don’t stick to them. Maybe I’ll stick to my intention.

    You rock.

  10. Intention does sound better. Though I have to say for myself I don’t set any resolutions for the New Year. Mainly because I never stick to them and tend to forget them on day two of the New Year.

  11. Yeah, I don’t do resolutions. Because I’m not big into failing and me and resolutions just can’t seem to get along.

    BTW, what you wrote about blaming your smoking habit on boyfriends … I see that to the nth degree with my aunt. Her father (my grandfather) died of lung cancer. She tries and tries to quit smoking. But, since my uncle smoke like a chimney and is totally manipulative (leaves her cigarettes on the counter), she fails every time. It kills me to watch. Damn him. Damn her.

    Go you!

  12. I think this is a great distinction. I think this is why Weight Watchers worked for me. I set my intention. I looked at the asterisk that said the results weren’t typical, I did a lot of research into why, and I set my intention to be committed enough to it that I would achieve those atypical results. And I am.

    I look forward to hearing what your intention for 2009 will be.

  13. Congratulations on being a non-smoker for the past six years. That can’t have been easy. 2009 is the first year in which I’m avoiding resolutions like the plague. I’ve never ever kept a single resolution in the history of resolution making so for a pleasant stress free change, this year I won’t be making any.

  14. First, I think this is a great post. Second, I hear ya. I love the idea of resolutions, but if I pressure the hell out of myself to follow through, what’s the point? We’re supposed to feel better having made the resolution, right? I think an intention is a great idea, and we can have as many or few as we’d like throughout the year. I love flexibility.

  15. ILY Sizzle. You say things in such a way sometimes, that it expresses maybe some of my own reasonings, inside. You do so with alot of personal grace, and I admire that alot about you. Even when you are being “real”, you show poise.

    I have been working on Acceptance. This year, of what-was, of what-happened, of what-I-can’t control,and mostly? Letting myself just be at some peace about things as they have stacked up in life. It helps in letting me just be honest, and stop trying to please (and therefore let myself and others down). Life has a cumulative effect, and I think it takes awhile before we realize that, and make a peace with it. You are already on your way, with this post today. 🙂
    Happy New Year! May it be blest.

  16. A HA! You are a feng shui person, even if you don’t know it. Intention is a crucial part of the power of feng shui. You have to place things with INTENTION, or it doesn’t work.

    Funny that, as firmly as I believe in feng shui, I never thought to apply the intention principle to resolutions for the new year. Thank you for suggesting it! I’m totally going to do this.

    First one: I INTEND to attend TequilaCon ’09, no matter when/where it happens.

  17. I do goals, but, ahem, I have just *started* writing them out.
    Can my goals just be to rest and hide in my house for 2009?

  18. I agree with regan- be as nice to yrself as you are to others…I loved this post. loved it. I am thankful for knowing you this year. xo

  19. What a wonderful post! I love the notion of living intentionally, so I’m on board the annual intentions train with you 🙂 I’m sure you will think of something great. This story you shared about quitting smoking (GO YOU!) reveals so much about you — I hope you’re every bit as proud of that amazing accomplishment as you should be. And I second whoever said that your intention ought to be being as nice to yourself as you are to others. There should be a huge herd of women resolving or intending or declaring that that will be their most serious goal for the new year. Screw weight loss!

  20. I hope you find out what your intentions are! 😉 I never set resolutions at the beginning of a year. I do, at times, set small personal goals for myself, but whenever I don’t have to, I don’t run my life by the calendar. I’m such a rebel. LOL.

  21. The description of how you hid your smoking and it’s connection to your Dad was truly moving. And I’m with you on being the helper until the point it destroys your health. I was literally giving myself high blood pressure and panic attacks because I was trying to do everything for everyone. This year, I intend to take up yoga and find a balance between helping others and being good to myself.

  22. My advice is this, “Don’t take it in.” I have told myself this a thousand times this year and it finally seems to be getting through. Your life is yours, their lives are theirs. You can worry, you can help, you can be loving, but don’t take it in. Release it to the universe and the universe will take care of it.

    My intention this year is to stop giving unsolicited advice. How’m I doing?

  23. I used to smoke but not on a particularly regular basis, mainly when I was drinking, but sometimes when I was stressed, and then smoked more often when I started going out with jason and he smoked. I didn’t even enjoy it past the first puff and I hate the smell. I knew it was very very bad for me, yet smoked anyway. I was never addicted, though, so it was easy to stop. After I quit forever, I made Jason stop too. He still smokes occasionally when he’s drunk, and in the past he’s smoked behind my back but I think he’s stopped doing that now. Either way, I told him if he gets a smoking related illness I won’t be wiping his bum for him, I’ll send him to a home! I think that made him snap out of the habit the last time.

  24. This is so exactly me (not the smoking thing, the resolve vs set intention thing, and the need-to-be-“right” thing) … WOW. Just, wow. Because, yes, so me.

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