The Prompt: Beyond Avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

Avoidance came early and easily to me. As a kid, when my siblings fought or some other drama broke out, I’d climb up onto the roof or some other strategic spot where I could fall into a book world or a quiet reverie.  This didn’t fix anything, of course, but I wasn’t going for a strategic fix.

At the other end of the spectrum, when I sink my teeth into something I can become obsessed and obnoxious. Like a snapping turtle that won’t let go of the stick — no matter what — this isn’t healthy for me either.

Balance in all things, Tam.

The world is often a caustic place. People are not gentle with themselves or each other.  This year I decided to concentrate on being present and appropriately engaged in my life, including during episodes of conflict and strife. I’m learning to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy avoidance, and how to be centered amidst the turmoil of life.

Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.              ~Unknown

  • Some conversations aren’t worth listening to. Sometimes the record doesn’t need to be set straight by my account.  The Christ once said “let the dead bury their dead,” and I’m learning to apply that when appropriate.
  • It”s unhealthy for me to accept disrespect. I’ve learned that sometimes the only action I can take is to make a statement like “I deserve better treatment than that,” even if it has no effect on the other person. Because it’s important that I honor myself, I’ll say this even if the other person isn’t around to hear it.
  • When that snapping-turtle response wells up, I reach out to someone with a cool head and ask them to “talk me off the ledge.”  That said, I had one instance this year where someone refused to pay me and I took his company to court.  I’m learning to apply justice and mercy appropriately.
  • When I feel “missionary zeal”* welling up about a political issue, the state of the world, or how my children are conducting their lives,  I remind myself to ask questions instead of lecture.  Sure, sometimes I let ‘er rip, but those episodes are fewer and I’m a better person for my efforts.

As for next year, there are some relationships that I’ve kept at what I considered a “safe distance” to protect myself. I’m going to focus on one of them, since it’s a family member, and let them draw closer while trusting myself to keep appropriate boundaries. Instead of shutting them out when their behavior hurts or they’re asking more of me than I feel comfortable giving, I’ll be up front about my feelings and let the chips fall where they may. Sincere relationships require tempered candor. 2011 will be my year for tempered candor.

To thine own self be true, Tam.

*the desire to convert someone to my point of view