2011: The Year of Love

by Leah McClellan

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sprouting tulip bulb in soil

Sleep, little ones, sleep. Rest and let the earth take care of you. Grow strong, deep roots, and I’ll see you in the Spring.

Just as snowflakes started to swirl on the day after Christmas, I gently pressed the last of my tulip bulbs into soft beds of carefully-prepared soil. It’s a tradition I started years ago, when I found all sorts of gorgeous bulbs—hyacinth, tulip, daffodil, crocus, iris, and others—on sale at a garden center while shopping for evergreen wreathes. Sometimes I plant on the solstice, other times on Christmas eve, but this year I was busy and I put it off. When I heard a big snowstorm was coming, I had to hurry.

This is how I celebrate the closing of one year and the beginning of the next.

It’s a time to plant intentions, a time of rebirth and hope and rejuvenation, even in the darkness. It’s a time to reflect over the previous year and dream of what’s to come in the next.

Since I’m always setting goals and trying new ways to do things or improve myself and my life situation, I don’t draw up a list of New Year’s resolutions.

I do like to have a theme, though. For 2010, my theme revolved around courage, confidence, and determination, mostly because I quit my job in January with only vague plans to restart business as a freelance writer and editor. As the year closes, I’m not gloating over an expanding savings account yet (what savings account?), but I did it. 2010 was tough, but I’m right where I need to be. I’ve planted lots of seeds (and bulbs), improved the soil, grew a lot, and I’m really excited about my business in 2011 (and putting some money in my savings account!).

So it’s on to other stuff. What’s the theme for 2011?

2011 is The Year of Love. Want to join me?

It was going to be the year of “How can I help you?” but that felt too narrow and too business-focused. “Love” covers everything.

What would happen if love is the theme for 365 days? 8760 hours? 525,600 minutes?

Let’s imagine what our days are like, for a moment. Everyone is different, of course (I work in a home office, for example), but I’m imagining an “average” scenario here. Add your own details and ignore others to think about your typical day.

In the morning, before work and school, we say “good morning” to our spouses, children, and pets (or do we?). We share bathrooms and a kitchen. We shower, dress, eat, and rush off into the world or start our daily routines at home. If you could watch a video of it, what would your morning look like? How are we caring for ourselves and others as we start the day? How can we be more loving?

Love impacts how we speak with one another, act toward one another, and how we care for each other and even ourselves.

On our way to work, we might have long, potentially-stressful commutes. Maybe you drop off the kids at school or daycare or make sure they’re on the bus. You might have an elderly parent to look in on or take somewhere. Even if you work at home, you’re also starting your day. Are those few hours filled with love? If not, what’s the current theme?

At work, most of us interact with many other people in one way or another. What guides you or motivates your interactions? Try breaking up the day into smaller bits and see whether love is present in meetings, phone calls, email, or lunch. What’s the dominant force?

I don’t mean gushy, smooshy, lovey-dovey-huggy stuff. Love can mean compassion, respect, empathy, kindness, and consideration.

Thoughtfulness. Gentleness. Thinking of others before self. Silence so others can speak. Listening. Smiling at someone.

After work, there might be another commute. Errands, dinner, family, friends. What are evenings like in your world? Of the many things you do, which ones are filled with love and which aren’t? How can love make a difference while driving, on a train, at the gas station or grocery store, at a restaurant? Dinner with the family, cleaning up afterward. Before-bedtime activities, homework, relaxation. Is love present?

If love is not present, what is the driving force, dominant emotion, or spirit in each of your daily activities?

Most of us—whether we make New Year’s resolution lists or not—have areas in our lives that we want to improve: quit smoking, eat better, or exercise more are at the top of many lists. And adopting better habits can require hard work or practical solutions. I’m working on time management and eating better—just because I’m a vegetarian doesn’t mean I always eat lots of veggies! I could easily live on pizza and spaghetti for days right here at my desk. But that’s not love. Loving myself means taking good care of myself, and when I do that I’m much more prepared to love others.

2010 is over. It’s done. Whatever happened last year no longer exists. Why not live a different way or build on what you’re already living?

Try adding love to all your daily routines and activities—or identifying areas that could use a little more—and see what a difference love makes.

My tulip, hyacinth, daffodil, and muscari bulbs are in the cold earth, patted down with loving hands and covered with mulch. They’ve braved cold temperatures already and a foot of snow, but they were planted carefully, and love is already at work. The weather is warming up, and roots are growing. In March, little leaves will emerge, and in late April and May, love will blossom.

What are you planting in 2011? What can love grow? What will our harvest be?

Comments are always welcome, and I wish you a wonderful, love-filled new year.

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{ 14 comments }

Rosemary

Hey Leah, I LOVE this post. I LOVE the way that you are thinking about living your life, and I LOVE the way you share those thoughts. I really do love the idea of living a life of love and peace and I really do believe it is possible. Most of all I LOVE that I met up with you and other wonderfully loving blogging friends since I first teetered nervously into the Blogosphere last August. Wishing you tons of joy, peace, adventure and love that you could possibly wish for. Much Love, Rosemary
Rosemary´s last blog post ..Are You Afraid of Your Authentic Self

Leah McClellan

Thanks Rosemary,

It’s all about choices. I didn’t always know that, but I’ve had so many lessons. We can live any way we want to, though we have all our previous learning to deal with too. Love that I’ve met you and wish all the best for you and lots of love in 2011!

Katie

Love the analogy to planting and harvesting, love this post, love your intention for the new year, love you. Yes, love can grow many things from friendship to fierce resolve to a simple, peaceful blog. Thank you for growing your blog and your world with wise intent and compassion. Happy New Year, Leah. Wishing you more love in the years to come.
xo Katie
Katie´s last blog post ..A Simple Guide to Imperfection

Leah McClellan

Hi Katie, Thanks so much. When we’re motivated–no, momentimized–by love there’s no stopping what we can accomplish. Love you too, and I wish you all the best in 2011 and onward. We have so much work to do! It’s wonderful :)

Lauren

This year I began weeding out the beliefs that were limiting me. This in turn flourished in the soil of my heart into flowers(love). I am going to continue to encourage the flowers to grow by continuing tilling the soil of my authentic self. This year I especially am going learn the craft of writing fantasy novels and also to become better at writing poetry. By re-discovering my authentic self, I can share with the world compassion, love, and understanding. By continuing this process, I can give what I do have.
Love and Light to everyone in 2011!!
Lauren

Leah McClellan

Hi Lauren! I think we all have beliefs that hold us back, and it takes some time to figure out what they are and weed through them. Wonderful to hear that you’re working on novels and poetry–creative writing and especially poetry is so great for expressing things that we feel very deeply and might not even understand though the words come out anyway. It definitely comes from our authentic selves. Keep at it! And yeah, that’s where the love comes from too :)

Happy New Year and many blessings to come.

Arvind Devalia

Leah, what a wonderful idea!

Firstly, happy New Year to you.

Wishing you and yours all the best for 2011 – and that includes all the bulbs you have planted. May they thrive too this year:-)

Love, love and more love this year. For love is all that matters.

I am shortly launching my new site to promote this concept that love is all that matters – and I mean exactly the sort of “love” you talk about here.

Let’s make 2011 the year that love thrives and the world begins to wake up to the healing power of love.

Thanks Leah for a timely and wonderful reminder of what’s really important in our lives.
Arvind Devalia´s last blog post ..One Thing You Must Learn from Scrooge this Christmas Day

Leah McClellan

Hi Arvind! Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for your wishes for my tulips and etc–I’m so looking forward to seeing them pop out of the ground in the spring :)

Love is definitely what it’s all about, and glad you know what I mean. Cool that you’re launching a new blog on it–I’ll be watching for it!

Keep spreading the word–we CAN be the change, and the more we spread the word, the more love there will be in the world. Lovers of love unite! :)

Happy New Year Arvind!

Annika Thomas

What an inspiring metaphor with those bulbs, intention and rebirth… I just love it! Thanks Leah, for a great and inspiring post! And yes, I will be happy to join you on this great LOVE venture for 2011…
Annika Thomas´s last blog post ..A Vital Feminine Mould

Leah McClellan

Hi Annika, So glad you’re inspired and that you’ll be a part of LOVE in 2011 and onward! I have so many great ideas for getting Peaceful Planet involved in other peace efforts in 2011, and I’m glad you’re a part of it.

Happy New Year!

Stuart

Love is definitely the theme here! Thanks for sharing Leah, I think you’ve got a beautiful set of ideals to spread, and I really enjoy hearing them.

525,600 minutes does seem like a long time! But if we just focus on being more loving for one minute, then rinse and repeat for each new minute, those 525,600 minutes will melt together :-)
Stuart´s last blog post ..4 Ways To Bring In 2011

Leah McClellan

Hey Stuart,

Awesome that you got my meaning with the minutes–when we look at an entire year or life of being more loving or different in any way, it seems like a huge thing. But when we look at it in terms of minutes or hours or times of the day or different situations, it’s much more manageable.

Rinse and repeat–love it :)

Happy New Year :)

Aileen

Leah, I like your idea of having a theme for the year. Courage for 2010 – what a powerful choice! I may adopt that one :) I love that LOVE is your theme for 2011 another powerful theme. I love the imagery of planting bulbs and intentions and the idea of experiencing the flowers grow and life grow.

I hope this year blesses you beyond measure :)

Leah McClellan

Thanks Aileen, Courage is a wonderful thing to have, and I’m always working on that one! The ol’ fear the fear and do it anyway thing….it’s not easy sometimes. Glad you love the love theme–we all could use a little more, give a little more, share a little more.

I wish the best of everything for you this year and beyond :)

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