I Promise

It finally came. My word of the year.

How do you rarefy the pulpy essence of your intentions into one ripe word?

Last year my word was “SHIFT” and I thought it meant I needed to shift things around. You know, do more yoga, drink more water, work less, be more grateful, connect with spirit, yadda yadda. I stamped it on a feather and put it on my desk.

What it ended up meaning was that things would shift underneath me, entirely out of my control, and I would have to apparently just hang on for dear life while the foundation careened underfoot. Shifting continents, shifting jobs, shifting internal organs, shifting intimate relationships.

Shit gets real when you put it on a feather.

I was messaging with my friend Suki back east about the sometimes overly indulgent navel-gazing in the [mostly white, middle class] “personal development” scene around New Year’s and we were wanting to…uh, shift that orientation a bit. We started talking about “Work of the year.” How to be more engaged artists. And then doing some work in a women’s group run by the effective-yet-hilarious Meg Worden, I got to a place of realizing I had stopped keeping some promises to myself. And it was affecting the relationship I have with myself and how I wanted to be in the world.

Because the way we build esteem in others is by keeping our promises to them. The way we build self-esteem is by keeping promises to ourselves.

And so. Here are my promises.


I promise to enjoy having a body.

I promise to work on making my outsides match my insides. And vice versa.

I promise to enjoy my life, because not having joy when you have nearly every conceivable and imaginable convenience and privilege is an insult to those who don’t.

I promise to orient myself such that I may support the joy of as many others as possible in whatever time we may all have left together.

I promise to make my closest connections a reflection of the work I want to embody in the world. (Being an activist doesn’t mean shit if your personal life is a mess. Being a feminist doesn’t mean shit if you can’t maintain relationships with women. Etc. Again, outsides and insides.)

I promise to be aware and speak out when I or my friends retreat into our privilege, and to seek the discomfort integrity and justice requires of us.

I promise to continue to indigenize myself: to support those who work to protect the water and the land. To know the language of trees. To stay wild.

I promise to reject out of hand all tepid, half-assed, uninspired, neglectful and snoozeworthy interactions, overtures, endeavors, offers and communications in favor of either those who call my name like a moonlit hungry wolf or just being the fuck alone.

I promise not to chase anyone or anything that isn’t chasing me. I promise to be with those who match my effort.

I promise not to waste one more fucking minute in a pointless conversation that should have ended seven minutes ago.

I promise to make my life mean something. Not just to myself and my immediate circle, but to others whose experience of life is different from mine.

I promise to forgive myself and everyone else.

I promise not to give up.

I promise to keep my promises.