Help! Isolation is Impeding my Intentions!

Devil’s Paintbrush
Hieracium aurantiacum
(A highly visible and extremely pesky weed.)

Is there a de facto leader in your circle of friends? That gal who is always planning, organizing, delegating? Yup, we have one and she’s a veritable champion of micromanagement leadership – we’re always being pushed in one direction or another. Mostly, that’s okay with the rest of us. So as not to embarrass her (‘though I know this group never reads my blog), I’m going to refer to her as DT (not her initials) because she truly can be extremely pesky just like her namesake!

In December, over Christmas lunch at The Mill, she presented us with a mammoth New Year’s project: 2020 Intention Boxes. This all began with an earlier discussion about purpose…

Even at our age, many women remain unsure of their purpose in life, and most feel the need to find that meaning for themselves. I sassed back that I’d be happy knowing my purpose for right now, never mind through the entirety of my life. Everyone giggled, as I’d intended. Except DT. At that Christmas lunch we discovered that my throw-away comment was a bit of an “aha” moment for her. DT suggested to us that defining and understanding our purpose right now might help with the bigger question and that to begin we were going to create intention boxes for the coming year.  

Disclaimer: I did not participate. For a number of reasons, chief amongst which was that “box maintenance” was not how I wanted to spend my time this year. Deeper, though, a resolution by any other name… Resolutions (as the year draws to a close or at any other time) smack of regret, blame and failure to me. Too many are based upon perceived failures – in the preceding year or life itself. It’s a little too self-bashing for my liking. Plus, in this case, box management? Really? Nope! (And yes, I do know I am a crusty old crone!)  As to those boxes…

Box strategy, stage one: We were to begin with two lists; the first, our strengths – those abilities we wished to expand upon, enhance, further develop; the second, those areas requiring improvement – needing more focus/effort/strength/intensity. She lost me at effort, I’m afraid. From these two lists we were to define our vision or focus for 2020, identifying the building blocks (fresh behaviours, additional reading sources, classes, etc.) needed to effect the positive changes we’d conceived.   

Box strategy, stage two: Collect artifacts to support our aspirations. Go on-line and find pictures of the people and places we want to visit, pictures of book jackets, hobbies we wish to take up, sports we want to try, course materials, etc. Print them and anything else you might find inspirational or motivational. Search for items that are representative of our ambitions like, for instance, a camera or lens to represent a different focus/viewpoint or a wallet to represent financial stability or a wooden spoon to represent healthy cooking/eating or a piece of chalk to represent education.  

Box strategy, stage three: Get a box or board. Though clearly (???) a box is ideal, a storyboard would also work. The exterior of the box was to be decorated with the sourced pictures so that when looking at the box one might be inspired. Inside the box were to be the collected artifacts, a notepad and pen. Finally, the box was to be situated in pride of place so that it would be seen and used frequently.

Instruction: This much was to be finished and pictures posted on Facebook prior to midnight, 31st December. Pesky, non?

Box strategy, stage four: DT initially told the group that weekly progress journaling (on that pad and paper in the box) were required but, as I wrote earlier, DT’s management is only mostly okay and in this case the group would only commit to a monthly journal entry.

Happy as clams (or so they all claimed), off they went to their Christmas preparations and celebrations and their box construction. I expected to hear no more about it (me of the Scroogean “Bah Humbug” outburst and all). This week, though, I’ve had e-mails and messages galore from anxious friends who are unable to continue with the pursuit of their box ambitions due to physical distancing and staying home. Anxious! These women are clever, sane, rational, highly educated souls who are falling apart because of their inability to keep their commitment to a damned box. (See! Proof!!! No good comes from resolutions. No good could ever come from self-bashing.) 

“The main purpose of life is to live rightly, think rightly, act rightly.”
[Mahatma Gandhi]

This month the trajectory of everyone’s life line changed drastically. Plans have been cancelled or deferred. But change doesn’t mean failure. Truly! Not all change is bad.  

The things we learn about ourselves and those we live with during isolation will inform all future decisions we will make. Things like resourcefulness, coping strategies, rationing supplies, helping others, being helped by others – all bedrocks for future events. This knowingness will connect our minds to this moment many times over in the weeks, months and years to come.

A valuable life lesson I’ve learned (repeatedly – slow learner) is to savour every season life brings my way. Good or bad, each one has an impact on my life line, each one changes my vector. Neither the triumphs nor the frustrations vaporize once passed, they inform every reaction, every decision I make thereafter.  

Finding our purpose is not a direct flight. I think, maybe, our purpose is the journey itself. I think, maybe, we ought to take comfort is in knowing that none of us have yet reached our final destination. Whether we are on a short-hop or long-haul flight, none of us has arrived. The purpose for each one of us is still unfolding, revealing itself little by little. 

The only predictability in life is change. That makes plans ephemeral at best. Committing ourselves to this very moment, to discovering what there is to learn about ourselves here in isolation, and finding ways to make this time meaningful may be our purpose right now.

Or maybe I’m simply too crusty to appreciate the complexities of finding purpose and the lure of those 2020 Intention Boxes.  

‘Til next time, y’all…

This afternoon’s visitors: 

↓Chip Gaines and the despicable Grackle.↑
PP5_0138-30-1The ever shameless Fargo:
Best for last:  Richie
Richie is short for Richelieu (please don’t judge).
Richie is the reason for my feeder.  Until we had hung it in our garden, I’d never once been able to capture a decent shot of a male Cardinal.
Males were the bane of my photographic life!
Now, though, Richie and his wife are regulars.  Isn’t he splendid?  Quite my fav!!!


2 thoughts on “Help! Isolation is Impeding my Intentions!

  1. This is very funny…and also thoughtful. I have always struggled with the idea of “vision boards” because I don’t really understand how I am supposed to envision my life from magazine advertisements. I would aspire to be more original than that…

    • PamelaPerraultPhotography says:

      Thank you, Kerry. Sure, you’re giggling but I earned a black mark against my name in the process (DT still hasn’t forgiven me). Seriously, I couldn’t agree more. xxxx

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