Three Rituals for New Year's Eve

Does anyone really like extravagant New Year's Eve parties? Anyone I've spoken with, whether they are 25 or 85, says, "I don't get the hype. I'd rather stay home." I'm sure there are some exceptions but for many of us, the thought of heading out to a big bash isn't all that enticing. At least not as enticing as a good night's sleep!

However you plan to mark the last hours of the year, I suggest taking some time to engage in a year end ritual. It's been a heavy year globally. I don' t need to list all the news stories (fake and real) that have filled our feeds with fear and anxiety over the future of humanity. It's easy to feel despair and hopelessness.

Rituals can help you shift your mind into a place of love, hope and peace as you prepare for any event in your life. - Click to tweet 

And what better time to shift into a more positive mindset than the beginning of the new year? Here's three suggestions for you. I promise that if you spend time with even one of these rituals, you will improve your outlook for 2018!

1. Gratitude - Spend some time, either alone or with your family and friends, reflecting on the experiences you had in 2017 for which you are grateful. Try and go deeper than a vacation or milestone birthday or anniversary. I'm grateful this year for a few friends who took the time to tell me where they think I need to focus in my work. The conversation we had one afternoon was a confirmation of something I was desiring but hesitating to pursue. Their words have given me the courage to move forward. Get out your journal and start a ritual of gratitude. Your outlook on the year will shift and you'll find yourself feeling much more positive about the coming year as well.

2. Labyrinth / Light a Candle / Evening Walk - I have made it a ritual to walk a labyrinth on the last day of the year. On the walk in to the centre I think about all the things I want to let go of from the past year. Once I am in the centre, I pause and reflect on the word that I have chosen for the coming year. I pray for wisdom and guidance. On the walk out, I open myself up to all the things I desire for the coming year. This year, the snow may have buried my local labyrinth. If that is the case, I'll be lighting a candle and using the beautiful finger labyrinth, pictured below, I received as a gift this Christmas. I will go for a walk to spend time in nature and remind myself of the beauty in our world. Walking and candle lighting are intentional actions that can engage your whole being in focused reflection.

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3. Giving - I can't think of a better way to end the year than with a heart of generosity. Who do you know that could benefit from something you can share? Maybe it is visiting someone who could use the company? Or maybe it is making a year-end donation to a charity that is doing work that you want to support? Entering into 2018 with a giving ritual is a great way to remind yourself of how much you have. Many charities depend on the donations they receive this time of year to see them through the leaner winter months.

Thank you so much for your support this past year. I'm looking forward to 2018. I begin the year with a two week trip to Cambodia. Four years ago, my friend and colleague, Karen Petersen and I started a a leadership program that is now fully run by women in Cambodia. We are going back for the third cohort's graduation ceremony and to do an evaluation of the program. I am so thankful for the lessons I've learned about myself, about leadership development and about Cambodia on this journey.

My deepest wish is that 2018 would be a very of living truthfully so that we can heal our world.

This is where a year of being Open has brought me

There are writers who speak truths that transcend time and speak to people across diverse situations. I think T.S. Eliot is such a writer. I've been reading about the Four Quartets and I love what this writer said, "

In this final installment of "Four Quartets," Eliot focuses mostly on how drastically our thinking will have to change if we're going to have any hope of achieving the spiritual rebirth we're supposed to be looking for. Ultimately, he demonstrates that, in order to change the world, we'll first have to change ourselves, and one of the hardest things we'll have to do is move beyond thinking of the world in oppositions like up-down, past-future, self-other, etc. We need to find a new language for talking about experience, because the old language isn't working anymore. Eliot is surprisingly hopeful about our ability to change, though he does keeping admitting that real change can only come with a bit of pain." (Source: Shmoop Editorial Team. "Four Quartets Summary." Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 4 Dec. 2017)

I've always loved this line from the quartets:

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

The end of the year is a fitting time to reflect on that line - at the end of all our exploring, will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time. In the past year, I've been finding myself returning to where I started and knowing it for the first time.  

I want to give you an update on a pivot I am making in my work. Those of you who know me well, will not be surprised.

1. Working with women: In my early twenties, when I first started thinking about call or vocation in my life, I wanted to work specifically with women. And I have done a lot of work with women. I've worked with several women's organizations, women's conferences, women in leadership and individual women over the years. But I've always tried to juggle both corporate work and working with women. I've often felt divided in my efforts. Over the past year, I've become more clear that the work I want to do is primarily with women and/or the environment. (I will still work with corporate clients as requested but I won't be soliciting work from them.)

2. Incorporating a more holistic approach in my work: You can expect more content that addresses all aspects of your life. I just blogged every day for the month of November. Thirty blog posts is a good way to get clear about what is important in your life! There were some threads that emerged for me as I wrote every day. I care very deeply about spirituality, the environment, women's issues, leadership and personal development. The work I do going forward will focus on those areas. I'll be writing more about those areas moving forward.

3. Reframe Your Life - An ongoing focus for me and a place where I personally learn and grow is recording my weekly podcast with Jo-Anne Gibson. If you haven't listened yet, please do! We work hard at bringing you content to help you live and lead your best life. We've been at this for almost two years and we have an archive of over 60 epsiodes to date.

4. Acting - You never know - you may see me on the big screen some day. Read this blog post for more details!

5. Cambodia - I'm returning to Cambodia for the first two weeks of January to wrap up the project I started with my colleague, Karen Petersen four years ago. I didn't think I would ever go back after the last trip but I have a deep desire to end well. You can read more in this blog post. 

As we head into 2018 I want to be clear with you about what I am offering. Take a few minutes to browse my website  and see what programs, courses, resources, etc. that I offer.

And as part of my community, I need your help! Here are some areas you can support me:

1. Speaking: If you are looking for a speaker for a woman's group or event keep me in mind. Or if you know someone who is looking, please make a connection.

2. Stay Tuned: Watch for upcoming courses: I'm going to be developing a course for women I am tentatively calling, Reclaim Your Faith. I'm just in the creation stage of that program. I'll be expanding on it in this newsletter next year.

3. Support: As I refocus my business, I am aware that all of this content creation is going to take time. And as they say, time is money. There is no income generated until such a time as I have these courses ready to launch. I set up a Patreon account today. It's a great way for many people to give a little to help creators fund their work.It is an approach we've been considering with our podcast as well. Technology allows us to create content that was never available before. Thankfully technology also makes it possible for you to support people who are putting out that content! Please visit my Patreon page and if you feel like you are in a position to support me I would greatly appreciate it!

4. Share: If you know a woman who is 'like us' please forward this email to her. I would love to expand my connections.

And finally, thank you so much for being with me on this journey. When I look over my list for this email, I know most of you and I know that you are supportive friends and colleagues. I wish you the very best holiday season with your loved ones. And for all of us, I wish for the outcome that Eliott believed possible - that if we do the deep work of changing ourselves, we can change the world. May 2018 would be a very of living truthfully so that we can heal our world.

What I learned from a month of blogging everyday

Today is November 30th and I've successfully blogged for 30 days! Before I pop the champagne I want to reflect on what this commitment has meant to me.

I've been thinking about the number –30–. It has been traditionally used by journalists to indicate the end of a story. While I don't think my blogging story ends today, I don't anticipate blogging every day any time soon. Still, it was worthwhile and I learned a few things.

1.  Quality suffers when quantity increases.  It's not easy to write a post, proofread it, publish it and promote it well everyday. I'm sure there is a sweet spot in the quantity/quality frequency rate. It's not daily for me. I found myself hitting the publish button before things were polished. I was fortunate that most evenings my daughter would proofread for me and send the edits to me and I would fix it in the morning. It's very difficult to edit your own work, especially when you don't have time to step away from it for a day or two and come back with fresh eyes. I've had enough experience writing to know that 'good writers' are not the same as 'good editors'. I consider myself to be a pretty decent writer but I've always depended on editors for that last step before I publish anything of significance.

(I don't think this just applies to writing. I think it applies to a lot of things. If you know me, you know I feel this way about fast fashion. Cheap clothes are not good quality.) 

2. Writing every day prompts creativity. I'm aware that putting parameters on people when it comes to creativity pushes them to go further faster. If you give someone a blank piece of paper and say ask them to draw anything and to take as long as they need, chances are they will get stuck. But give them a blank piece of paper and instruct them to draw a picture of a tree in 30 minutes and they will get it done. I found that as the days went on I found it easier to come up with topics and ideas.

3. Creating a content plan is a very helpful. I printed a blank calendar and started writing out ideas as they came to me. It made it very helpful to at least have a topic to explore when I sat down to write each day. The easiest days were the days I chose to write about books. It was actually a break knowing what I was going to write about. It's counterintuitive. We often think we should wait for inspiration but I don't think it always works that way. Plan your content and go for it. Your inspiration will follow.

4. Blogging daily is a great way to get clear on what matters to you. It takes courage to put yourself out 'there' the way I did.  I wrote about a lot of things that I wouldn't normally tackle from the dark side of pedicures to sexual abuse in religious organizations. I wrote about books and I wrote about Pinterest algorithms. At the end of the month I can look back and see my values reflected back at me in the topics I chose to write about. 

5. Declaring your intention is a good way to keep it. Someone asked me yesterday why I didn't just write every day for 30 days. I told them that I knew the minute I said publicly I was going to commit to this journey, that my chances of being successful increased. I don't know if that is pride or commitment but I do know that acheiving a goal is more likely when you make it public. 

Speaking of goals, now that I am not blogging every day I am going to focus on a new format for a goals course I published earlier this year. Sign up for my newsletter and you'll get the details when I'm ready to launch it.

If you read most of these posts of the past 30 days, I want to thank you. I got some great feedback and I can see what topics are of most interest to the people who follow me. I've learned a lot in this process.