Intentions for the New Year and for future generations: Part 1

I love the New Year. After the busy holiday season, with all its wonderful and challenging parts, I pause to reflect on the past year and look forward. This pondering feels luxurious and critical at the same time. I embrace my Norwegian family’s practice of hygge during this time, getting cozy with peaceful thoughts to heal from the challenges of the past, and fortify myself for the work to be done.

Over the years, I’ve learned some skills that help: a bullet journal to keep me on track and an accountability system, in which I set an intention for the year with monthly to-dos. If you are unfamiliar with intentions, here’s an overview from Deepak Chopra. I like his definition: “Intention is the starting point of every dream.” That feels true for me. Intention feels like a drumbeat I choose to listen to throughout the year, keeping me moving in the direction of my dream.

This year, my intention has to do with Courage and Power. I intend to advocate for the climate, earth, and all its inhabitants with courage and by leveraging all the sources of power available to me. My embrace of power is different from the dominating type of power, which is a power over another. I think of power in terms of collective power, empowerment, or power with another. But power and courage are difficult for me, since I’ve been conditioned most of my life to be quieter, be more feminine, don’t show anger, and stay in my place.

This year feels pivotal and critical, and this is my year to step strongly into this space. Perhaps it’s because my children will leave for college this year; this is the final year for them to see me advocating for their future. Perhaps it’s that we have only 8 years to make significant strides towards global emissions reductions. Whatever it is about 2022, it is pulling me to step into a space I’ve been dancing around for over a decade. So I’m putting my private intention out there for all to see and to keep me accountable.

In 2022, I will be courageous in advocating for a just and livable future for our children and the generations to follow. I will put aside my fears, and instead focus on what is necessary for the kids. I will fight the materialistic temptations of capitalism and the forces of patriarchy and white supremacy that subtly encourage me to get back in line, relax and enjoy stuff, and stop acting up. I will use my voice to amplify the voices of the marginalized and advocate for the voiceless.

When I make an intention, I select one word and a symbol to hold on to during the year. I write that word and symbol at the top of each month’s calendar page so I see and remember it all year long. Usually I find a physical item that I put where I will see it every day. I’m partial to winged creatures and have symbols of past years all around: a bee, a butterfly, and a phoenix. I do this so I don’t get distracted by new (more fun! easier!) pastimes like watching the newest season of Succession. In 2022 my phrase is Courageous Power, and my symbol is the Blue Heron. I chose the blue heron since it’s common along Sacramento rivers, adaptable, and the males and females are highly collaborative in caring for the young. I look forward to seeing them on my runs along the American River Parkway. They are beautiful, silent, and observant, but when bothered they erupt with a power that halts me mid-stride every time.

So where will this year take me, with this intention? Hopefully into a space of greater courage and collaborative power, benefitting future generations, Sacramento, and beyond. I feel vulnerable as I write this – now you know – and I’m afraid to fail. But what scares me even more than that, and why I chose to publicly write this, is my fear of not trying at all, and failing my children. Even more than that, I’m terrified that we have failed already, and that my efforts are too little too late. But, regardless, I must do all I possibly can.

Do you make intentions for the new year? Would you be willing to share? Can we – the 350 Sacramento community – hold each other accountable for our intentions in 2022? And in doing so, can we collectively build more power to address the climate crisis (and all its interconnected justice components) with fierce courage?

Written by Kristi P. and Laurie L.

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