The hours are ticking down on the year and snow is blanketing the roads, sticking in clumps on branches and bistro lights. The inside thermometer reads a number as ridiculously high as the outside number is low, and I am still chilled to the bone. My husband and I are reviewing the year and finishing up a conversation we’ve avoided.
“It’s decided, then?” I ask.
I check the box on our long list of things to discuss and note that it’s not the first albatross I’m tossing, but one of many decisions I made this year more in line with my own desire than prudence, popular opinion, or pride.
A blanket covers my lap as daylight turns to dusk by early afternoon, sky darkened by the winter storm. We are making lists upon lists: celebrating, marking, remembering. So quickly we forget!
“Did we create anything new this year, though?” I wonder.
Moments later when the list is too long for one large white pad to contain, we break into uproarious laughter.
Creating new things is not our struggle; taking things off the list is.
Except for this year. This year something new arose in me. I think I came home to myself.
I am eight years into something that I hold onto for “one day.” One day I might need or want this again, like an outdated or too small outfit. I stay peripherally involved, even financially committed, for a “one day” that has no goal, no shape. It takes me way too long to realize: my “one day” lacks desire, and so I start to play with that thought.
What would it mean to accept that desire is gone? What would it change in my life to not muddle the “one day” possibility with the burden it is to maintain? The thought grows. It takes shape. Soon, it feels more tangible than “one day,” more alluring. I realize I actually want this “one day” off my list. I want to be free, and when I make the decision and cancel the payment and tell a few people, that is exactly what I am – free.
For a year, I dread this thing I’ve committed to. Because I’m loyal and consistent and thorough, I prepare for hours and faithfully show up, leaving things early and missing out on others, even though I’m pretty sure it’s not what I should be doing. Prudence tells me to take the long view. Popular opinion tells me to think of the big picture, the optics. Pride reminds me that it’s a failure to quit. But by now, I’ve tasted desire. I’ve tasted the freedom that comes from making decisions that aren’t ruled by everything but my own heart. I say goodbye, and it feels sweetly, sadly, good.
And then there’s that decision we avoid for years. The one that feels so big it is easier to pretend it doesn’t need to be made. The thing we keep on the list because it feels too undefined to remove. But, in my newfound courage, I ask myself what I stand to lose if I keep avoiding and what if it’s greater than the fear and pain and unknown of deciding? And so, on the blustery cold last day of the year, we transfer it from one list to another: a new list of Things Removed.
A woman unbound from the parameters of her title, the expectations of her position, or the definitions of culture is a free woman: free from being defined by what she does, what she produces, or to what and to whom she belongs. In our exploration of female archetypes, this is the huntress. She is the one who speaks her mind, goes after what she wants, and lives a fully integrated life. She is not solely who I am or want to become, but she has invited me to pay attention to what my desire has to say.
Last year, I welcomed her home.
Beth Bruno lives in Colorado where she and her husband lead a team of ReStory™ experts at Restoration Counseling Center. Additionally, as a podcaster, author, and content strategist, Beth guides women to raise fierce and lovely teen girls. When she’s not creating something new, she and her family enjoy the mountains, traveling, and good food.