2011: Four Words

Jan 1, 2011 by

Over the last several weeks, I have been “given” these four words to contemplate.  They have shifted and changed slightly (for examples, mindfulness was originally patience, but I shifted that during meditation this morning).  I believe they are the theme for the year for me, or at least here, now at the beginning of the year.

I write this sitting at my desk at work.  I had come in intentionally to complete my Vision Board for the year.  However, unexpectedly the color printer is out of commission.  Which leads me to believe that it wasn’t the exact right time to do the board. Instead, I am writing.

Instead of recapping the year next December 31st with 4 words, I decided to be proactive and live those words from the beginning.


To me, compassion means “loving in spite of”.  It implies an understanding that I or someone else is truly doing the best they can, even though it might not meet my expectations.  If I live each day with compassion for myself, and also for all others, I will be able to live in a semblance of peace.

In The Essence of the Heart Sutra, His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote,

“According to Buddhism, compassion is an aspiration, a state of mind, wanting others to be free from suffering. It’s not passive — it’s not empathy alone — but rather an empathetic altruism that actively strives to free others from suffering. Genuine compassion must have both wisdom and lovingkindness. That is to say, one must understand the nature of the suffering from which we wish to free others (this is wisdom), and one must experience deep intimacy and empathy with other sentient beings (this is lovingkindness).”

I know that if I walk each day with compassion for myself and others, I will be able to live with less pain and suffering.  I also know that my heart will expand, and I will indeed radiate loving-kindness.


To me, service means “giving without expectation of return.” I can serve in a million different ways.  I can serve at work, without expecting praise or acknowledgement.  I can give to others, simply or extravagantly, and thereby open myself and them to receiving more.

Service and compassion are so interconnected.  Service is the action arm of compassion.  I know there is so much I can do, and I want to do it.

What holds me back? Fear.  Fear that I don’t have enough to give, fear that I will look stupid or wrong.  What is it that someone posted the other day, “What if we changed the word fear to awareness?”  Yeah, I will hold the awareness of how I feel, but move through it.

So I go now in service.  Service to others, service to the Divine, service to myself.  Which leads me to my next word.


I believe one of my God-given gifts is that of having vision.  I have spent my life seeing the vision in others’ dreams and I have thrown my heart and soul into making their vision come to pass.

I don’t want to stop believing in other’s visions, however, this is the year I create my own vision and work to make that come to pass.  In other words, I’m gonna get really clear about who I am and what I am supposed to be up to on this planet.

That sounds like I have no idea… but I do, of course.  I get that I have talents and skills.  I get that I have gifts and abilities.  I know how to use them in my present place, but what is the bigger picture?  That is what I hope to see this year.

A visionary is one who can see the end as they begin.  They can see possibilities, outcomes, and the magic it will take to get there.

I choose to be a visionary… however, so as not to be disappointed I also have the next word.


The Buddhists believe that mindfulness is a kind of nonelaborative, nonjudgmental, present-centered awareness in which each thought, feeling, or sensation that arises in the attentional field is acknowledged and accepted as it is.

It is what it is.

For me, mindfulness is about being in the present, choosing to live consciously, rather than just being tossed to and fro by my monkey mind.  Mindfulness comes in the quiet moments of meditation, prayer, or just unplugging from our very technology-driven lives.

I am beginning a practice of meditation as part of this new year.  Is it a resolution? Don’t be silly!  I’m almost 55 years old; I’m so over resolutions.  I am practicing meditation, which means, like practicing the piano or the flute, there will be wrong notes and miscounted measures.  I am practicing.

But I see how mindfulness is so interconnected with vision, service, and compassion.  It’s kind of a complete package, at least to me in this moment.

The Year’s Mantra:

My daughter has employed this saying, and I watch her as she gracefully moves through her life.  She does indeed get what she wants.  Not necessarily material things, but her life flows.  I watched this unfold as she planned her wedding last year.  Things just plopped into place, effortlessly. Why?  Because that’s what she wanted.

Now, do I believe that I will become a millionaire, buy a new car, win the lottery, or acquire all kinds of things? Not necessarily, but I’m not closing the door on that possibility.  With mindfulness and vision, I can balance the “wanting” with the “not having”.  (All the Buddhists out there are just shaking their heads that I’m even using the word “want”)

And actually, with mindfulness and vision, I can manifest more clearly and sanely the things I do want to show up in my life.

1 Comment

  1. Wow! This is so great!I have been in a Quiet place today feeling all the things that I would like to see and feel for 2011.The shift has come, I feel it…we all need to put these 4 words into action, It is time! Thank you for sharing!

Leave a Comment