I never end up doing that thing where people choose a theme for the year.

It makes sense, sure. I see how it can be useful to name an intention or invoke a quality. Kind of like my OOD practice.

But for whatever reason, that word theme — for me! — seems more loaded, somehow. How am I supposed to know the theme before it’s happened?

And then every year at about oh…. maybe mid-December-ish, the themes all become pretty obvious. I recognize them. They find me.

So, fine. This year has been all about that crazy, wonderful, bizarre, ever-changing thing that is trusting my instincts.

Oh, right. The same thing, just in different shapes and forms.

1. Putting my body in charge of the company, and letting it make the executive decisions.

2. Playing more enthusiastically with sovereignty, and getting to know some of the qualities related to sovereignty:

Autonomy. Presence. Curiosity. Permission. Courage. Delight. Experimentation. Trust.

3. The advanced practice of wanting what I want.

(Not having to necessarily do anything related to getting it, just having permission to want it.)

4. Also things like….

Taking joyful responsibility. Setting loving expectations. Running Enthusiastics.

So now I’m in the awkward position of having to practice it.

I have trusted my instincts and they have taken me somewhere. To today. To the place where I get to make a very big decision.

My instincts are all: YES YES YES YES THIS IS THE ENTIRE POINT OF WHAT YOU’VE BEEN DOING ALL YEAR! DO IT! YAY!

And here I am, second-guessing them.

Because of grown-up considerations and because of not yet knowing how.

So I am going to talk to Slightly Future Me who has already been through this, and see what she knows.

And I’m doing it here because I need company.

And we begin.

Me: Hey, version-of-me-who-knows-what’s-good! I could really use some help here.

She: You’re asking me to validate trusting your instincts? Because you don’t trust yourself to trust them?

Me: Okay. You’re right. That is a little problematic. And at the same time, you know my history because we share it. So you know how scary this is for me. Can you help me see what happens as a result of this new way of trusting?

She: You know what will happen.

Me: How could I possibly know what will happen? You’re the one who is there.

She: Come on. Use your whole body. Stay with me. Be fully here. What happens when you say yes to the thing that you have already internally said yes to but are afraid to say out loud?

Everything is quieter.

Me: Everything is quieter. And sturdier. The building hums. Wow. Really? So the building where the Playground lives can take me to the humming castle? Interesting. Anyway, there is a happy buzzing of activity, but it’s all really grounded. There is so much stability. The building IS stability. It’s steady. It radiates this deeply supportive warmth, and it holds things.

She: That is exactly what happens! It’s even cooler than it sounds. What else do you know about what will happen when you trust your instincts and we do this?

Me: The back stairs are important. There is this beating heart there. I have to be where the heart is.

She: Which means?

Me: I’ve been thinking that this is about the money and how to raise the money. But it’s about how to be at the heart. If I commit to that, the financial part comes from that commitment.

Ahahahahaaaaaaa. That is a SERIOUSLY CRAZY thing to say. That is not the kind of thing I can just bring to my accountant, you know? There are grown-ups involved in this. I need to be able to justify things to them!

Stay with the heart.

She: Stay with me, sweetie. We’ll figure that part out too. What happens when you and the heart of the building are playing together in joyful collaboration?

Me: Oh, wow. Joyful collaboration is such an unlikely and perfect phrase. That is exactly what it feels like. We’re working together and that connection generates all sorts of astonishing things.

I thought that the Playground Cooperative was the next piece, with the Floating Playground as its counterpart. But all this is really just the first piece.

Everything I have been doing for the last seven years has prepared me to be the person who can go into the heart of this and be at the wheel.

She: Exactly.

Now?

Me: Now can we talk about how to deal with the grown-ups who want numbers and projections and stuff?

She: You’re the pirate queen. You steer. You know. You hold the map and you remember the stars. You get to set the course and you get to set the expectations for discussing that course.

Me: Soooo…..?

She: Convene an Enthusiastic. Trust your instincts. Rinse. Repeat.

Me: Rinse-Repeat? That doesn’t sound like you.

She: No. Literally. Rinse and repeat. Your instincts always know that the answer is found in immersion in water and warmth. So do it.

Me: Do it?

She: Bath. Shower. Pool. Use the water.

What’s next?

Me: Got it. Water. Instincts. Enthuse. Is there a theme for next year or do I have to discover that at the end too?

She: It would spoil all the fun of discovery if I gave it to you now. Anyway, all themes are cousins. But the point is: you have just spent a year learning how to do this so that you can do the thing you are about to do. All of this blah-blah-practical-blah is taking you away from what you know. It’s not your practical knowing. Your practical knowing says that there are countless ways to make it work, and you will choose the one that is right for you. And if it isn’t fun, you’ll choose the next one.

Me: Right. Why do I keep forgetting that?

She: Because there is an entire world out there of people who cannot see the things you see. They need you to trust your instincts so that all those sheets of ice can be broken.

Me: I don’t see the sheets of ice…

She: Don’t worry about it. Take care of yourself and give yourself what you need.

Me: What’s next?

This is next.

I’m going back to the practice.

I don’t have to know what’s next.

I just need to keep learning about what keeps me safe. About what I want and need. To get better at navigating these internal worlds by paying attention. And of course, as soon as this stops being PLAY and becomes work, I have to pause (paws!) and re-enter.

Play with me. And the commenting blanket fort.

We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff.

We make room for people to have their own experience, and we make this a safe place for that by not giving each other unsolicited advice.

What is welcome: Excited murmuring for the new adventure that I am apparently embarking on. Happy hopeful hand-on-heart sighs. Alliteration!

If you’d like to identify themes that have come up for you in the past year, that’s welcome too.

I am blowing a kiss to all the commenter mice, the Beloved Lurkers and everyone who reads.