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Everyone goes through stages in life. The terrible twos, the angsty tween years, the tumultuous teens. I call that my black phase because they were dark, dark years. As I’ve gotten older, those phases have decreased in frequency but quadrupled in intensity. I am an introvert. My first reaction is always to go within myself. It is where I am safe and warm and comfortable. Some of the hallways may be dark and some of the rooms are dusty and cluttered, but I know my way around my soul the same way you know the fastest, shortest route through your house.

For years I have kept an electronic journal. It’s where I go when I need to sort things out, vent, or just put things on the page. It is what keeps me relatively sane. If I have written anything on my blog that made you think, that seemed a little more serious than most of the tripe I post, it probably came straight out of my journal. So you can imagine my surprise when I opened the journal labeled 2012 and found I had written nothing. Not one thought. Not one rant. No sorting out, no introverted inspections of my emotional navel. Just white space.

I guess 2012 was my blank stage.

Usually I only work from home two days a week, but over the holidays, the company allowed us to telecommute full time. By the time January 7th rolled around, I could not wait to go back to the office to work. Because I know myself very, very well, I knew that too much time at home means I stop showering. Then I stop getting dressed. Eventually, I just stop getting out of bed. And so it was that, in the second week at home, I started to get a little squirrely. I started talking to myself and the cats started to avoid me.

Since my moods are so heavily influenced by my surroundings – which in this case, was just my own head – I try to influence my surroundings. It means listening to different music and talking to different people, whatever I can do to interrupt that cycle.  But I was home with no one to talk to.

Then I remembered that a few weeks ago, I caught part of a Joel Osteen sermon as I was walking by my television. Whatever he said caught my attention, I turned it up, sat down and watched the whole thing. Then I turned it off and went on about my business. The few people I told about that incident seemed a little surprised that I would listen to a sermon. I don’t know why that is surprising – it actually offends me a little that people are surprised by that. Anyway, I remembered that television thing, so I looked it up on youtube, found some of his sermons, hit play and went back to work. I listened to his sermons the rest of the week while I was working.

If you are thinking of mocking me, I will only say this:  He may be a snake oil salesman just like all the rest. He may not believe one thing he says. He may participate in all kinds of debauchery once he is off the air. I know all of that and I do not care. Because, for those few days, his words took the edge off and made me believe again that good things are not only still possible, but likely. It reminded me that while it is important to go to the edge and look over the side into the pit, that isn’t the goal. The goal is to come back and use what you learned. That’s good to know, don’t you think?

And that put me on another quest. I remembered a PBS special by Wayne Dyer called The Power of Intention. I found that on youtube and watched/listened to it again. Twice. I found another special of his called Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life which is based on Tao Te Ching. That one fascinated me and I am planning on buying Tao Te Ching. It seems, just based on the special and from what I have read about it, that it is about balance and grace and focus, all of which I need in my life.  My therapist gave me a cd of a talk her colleague gave about the proverbial ‘inner child’ – or … your deepest feelings. I didn’t take it the first time she offered it. When she offered it the second time, I kept it for two weeks before I listened to it. Surprisingly enough, it was not metaphysical, new-age horseshit. It is practical and useful. Maybe she knows me after all.

All of those things, all together, all have one message which is simply that your thoughts control your feelings and not the other way around. I know it’s true. I lived that way for a long time and it worked. Confidence, happiness, satisfaction and joy all come from our head, just like sadness, insecurity, self-consciousness and misery.

That’s where I’ve been and that’s why I haven’t been very talkative lately. We all regroup and recharge – most of us do it at the beginning of a new year. It has always been a time of reflection for me but what I found this time was unexpected and quite pleasant. Lots of chapters have closed in my life lately but I feel happy and relaxed about it.

So this year, I will be filling my head with things that are useful, things that are fun, things that make me happy. I quit smoking and gained the weight, so I will be trying new recipes as I will my body into a size 6. I have an exercise bike and a pedometer and … a yoga mat.

I have some things planned with friends over the next month or so. Feel free to fill up the rest of my calendar. Old friends stuck around through my pain-in-the-ass stage and I made a couple new friends.

2013 will not be blank.