As A Year Ends… A New Year Begins


Today is the last day of 2017 with 2018 only hours away. Do you celebrate New Year’s Eve? Do you party with friends? Do you do anything to acknowledge one year ending and another beginning?

I have my personal ritual that I do each year beginning with the Solstice — I place two pieces of poster sized paper out in plain sight. One piece is titled, “What I did in 2017”; the other is titled, “What I want to do in 2018”. For the couple of weeks before New Year’s I create a list on each piece of poster paper. For the last year, I reflect on what I did. As I began creating my list this year the image of filling a jar with stones became my metaphor.

At first, I am almost always certain that what I did will be a short list because I only focus on the big things that immediately come to mind — the accomplishments, crises, those events that occupied a lot of emotional and mental real estate and are easy to remember. I am aware that some of these events were unplanned and, yet, important because they required my attention. These big things are the big rocks I place in my jar first. Oh how quickly they fill the jar!

As I walk by the list day after day, however, the list grows (when I thought it wouldn’t). No longer the big rocks, but smaller stones that filled my months — the routines of work, hikes in the woods, day trips to new places, memorable conversations, etc. I am aware that what I thought was full with the big rocks became even more full with smaller stones filling in between the large rocks.

Each day, I continue to add to my list until I am adding what I’ve done day to day — these become sand added to my jar. These are my daily practices that have carried me through. Daily practices fill in the spaces between the stones giving my days substance and meaning, a quiet support for the larger stones.

This image of filling a jar beginning with rocks and continuing to fill the jar with smaller stones and then sand led me to how I want to begin my list for this next year (I don’t do sure to fail or be forgotten resolutions). After the sand is added and it seems that the jar is full once again until… I add water. I can see that full was an illusion. There is plenty of room for water and I watch as the water touches everything and is as important as the big rocks I can barely see. Water to the top of the rim and the jar is now truly full.

What does the water represent? The water, for me, represents how I have shown up in my life that truly shapes what I do and how I do anything. My intention is to always be true to myself, honest, and be (mostly) positive. This last year, I showed up in a variety of ways — some I liked, some I didn’t. Mostly, I was positive, open, kind, hopeful, and loving. I was also frustrated, angry, sad, and (at times) felt hopeless.

Also on my list of what I’ve done are the books I’ve read. Throughout this year I have been inspired by a list of writers such as Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Terry Tempest Williams, Mary Oliver, Amy Cuddy, Robin Wall Kimmerer, John O’Donanhue, Dan Buettner, Adam Grant, and so many more (can you tell I am an avid reader?). From each of them, I’ve learned (especially when reading a book for the second time) and been inspired to show up as my best self — full of integrity, truth, and a willingness to be my Self in strength and resilience. Each of these authors have become my teachers and mentors for living life fully on purpose. They have inspired me to follow my “Yes”. Most importantly, they have laid a foundation for next years list that sits next to my reflections list.

For this next year, at the top of my list is my focus on how I wish to show up each and every day. I know that mindful attention on how I am showing up will shape my year in positive ways no matter where life actually leads. Mindful attention will also set the stage to navigate the challenges that come along — they always do. Then, I also have my bucket list of what I’d like to do and experience. I will finish this year tonight with a meditation — saying good-bye to 2017 and welcoming 2018.

How will you show up next year? How can I support you to be your best self? Let’s plan on supporting one another.

Have a blessed and happy New Year!

‘Tis The Season


Advent has begun and we are deep into the darkness of the season. Even darker with the tumultuous climate we find ourselves in. The fall has been filled with natural disasters, growing violence and hatred, pandora’s box of sexual scandal filling the news, topped off with a government unhinged and seemingly uncaring of the people they represent. It’s too easy to sink into fear, angst, and hopelessness.

I am attempting to become comfortable in the darkness as I consider ways to bring light into the season. I sit outside in the dark, I meditate in the dark, and I am writing into the darkness. I have candles burning around my house at night and in the early morning — these fill the darkness with a comforting light. I wish to believe that the light will come and, with it, hope.

This year, I have no interest in shopping. I am intensely affected by others — there is more stress in the faces of people I see at work, in shopping stores, and on the highways. Instead, I wish to be present this holiday season in a different way, in the most positive and purposeful way I can. I am turning to practices that I regularly do for myself. I need to nurture hope.

The practices I am committing to are:

1. Find and declare the good. What is going well? I can look for benefit and live into that.

2. Simple giving without spending more than I have. A smile, something handmade, a service, or a heartfelt card with a note handwritten to the person.

3. Kindness is such an easy practice and needed now more than ever. Hold the door for someone, pause to extend sincere greetings (even if I don’t know them), make a meal for someone, or take the time to listen when a story needs to be told.

4. Gratitude, my daily practice, is one I can recommit to with even greater awareness. I make gratitude lists at the end of every day. I will write letters of gratitude to those I love and those I know. There is so much to be grateful for, even in darkness.

5. Mindfulness. Consider my actions toward others (also my thoughts), be aware of my own needs (for food, rest, and exercise), and notice beauty when there seems to be little of it. I was invited to a seven day black and white photo practice on Instagram — I am finding such joy in looking for contrasts and, as a result, beauty in the simplest of images.

6. Planning resolutions? I am reframing my intentions for 2018 as my success path. Resolutions can be so boring and, too often, are left by the wayside by the middle of January. Reframing my intentions as my path to success is refreshing and positive. Keep them simple. Go for Kaizen changes — baby steps of change vs. the lofty resolutions I know I won’t keep.

7. Play music that lifts me up. I played music through my Thanksgiving retreat (I hadn’t played music for a long time) and I noticed that it helped me stay focused, invited me to get up and move throughout the day and even sing along. The result? I felt more joyful and could feel my happiness chemicals flowing — oxytocin, dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. Music is a wonderful happiness booster.

8. Daily meditation practice. Simply sitting in silence with my breath as my guide. Some days it may be only minutes while other times it can be as long as an hour. Meditation calms my nervous system, quiets my mind, eases the stress I feel, and reminds me that I am a part of something wondrously and benevolently bigger.

These are all practices I do and have written about. I like to recommit to them so they stay fresh. It’s too easy to allow our practices to become automatic — losing their shine of new. Recommitment is a way to dust off the automatic and bring the practice into my current awareness. Through recommitting to being positive and purposeful I can bring the light into my heart and then share it with others I pass on the way.