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  • Janyne McConnaughey, PhD


Could there be anything anymore intentional than a chair placed in the middle of a field? The storyteller in me wants to create a narrative about how it got there, but the truth is, it could not have gotten there by happenstance--and look that pristine.

Five years ago, when I published BRAVE: A Personal Story of Healing Childhood Trauma, I was living a quiet retirement life devoted to healing. I had all the time in the world to be disorganized, needed as little pressure on me as possible, and enjoyed the randomness of my life.

Then the pandemic descended, which actually allowed me to continue to enjoy the randomness of my life. I managed to publish three more books and fulfill my duties as Board President for the Attachment & Trauma Network. I also was honored by the position of Distinguished Visiting Professor for Tabor College's MEd in Neuroscience and Trauma.

Then came 2022 and the publication of Trauma in the Pews: The Impact on Faith and Spiritual Practices. 2022 was the antithesis of the preceding slower-paced years. It also held many personal challenges including moving. And suddenly my enjoyment of my semi-retired random life dissolved into chaos. Alongside the chaos was the remarkable reception of the book, including winning an award: 2022 Best Indie Book Award for Non-Fiction, Psychology. While the award was primarily based on my skill as an author, the growing feedback from readers involved descriptors like "game-changer," "healing catalyst" and "must read" for both ministry leaders and lay people.

The juxtaposition of my clear success as an author and the random chaos of my personal "ways of being and doing" required some serious soul-searching. I had followed the path set in front of me when I got off the therapy couch, began publishing books, and accepted leadership roles in the trauma-informed movement. This did not involve much thought as to where all of it would eventually lead. I also did not consider how disciplined I would need to become to fulfill my emerging mission. I was flying by the seat of my pants, and they were ripping out at the seam. Awkward.

While the mission is important, it is not the priority. I have worked since I was a senior in high school. I don't want retirement to feel like I am still working. Writing is not working. Mentoring is not working. Being involved with organizations that are making a difference is not working. Having conversations, podcast interviews, speaking, book studies and networking do not feel like work; those are all things I enjoy. Working for me meant dealing with minutia and details; not being able to access the support that would enable me to do what I believed was important; and not being in control of my own life and schedule--especially when it drowned out doing the things I enjoy.

And that is why my word for this year is INTENTIONAL. I am going to take that chair and set it down in the middle of my chaotic life and make choices that bring back the joy of being handed a life for which I have always dreamed. One of those choices is to be more intentional with my musings by capturing them in blogs instead of random Facebook posts. I will also intentionally find those random posts and turn them into blogs.

A little over five years ago, I posted a blog, "A Line of Sorts in the Sands of Time." It seems it is time to do that again. It is time to be INTENTIONAL.

"When you are intentional, you choose to make decisions and take action on what's important to you. Being intentional means getting clear upfront about what you want to achieve. You intentionally set an intention to achieve a specific outcome or result in the future that is important to you." -Mark Pettitt

Image Credit: Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

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