Updated: May 1
"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." ~ Semisonic
Happy New Year!
I love this time of year... a time to reflect on the year that's just passed, recognize where we are now, and look forward with positive expectancy. It always feels like a fresh start... a clean slate or canvas, on which we are free to create as we choose. My husband and I have a tradition each New Year's Eve. Throughout the year, we jot down things to be grateful for each month and put these notes in a special box. On New Year's Eve, we make a cozy fire and pull out our "gratitude box" then read what we've written month by month and review the year that is coming to a close. Sometimes we are amazed to recognize, in hind sight, all that the year has brought. We are reminded of things that we may have forgotten or taken for granted as the year went on and other things took a more prominent role in our awareness. We get a chance to reflect together on our experiences, seeing how they played out over time, and we often feel a sense of awe at the beautiful unfolding of it all. We remember challenges we faced and how big those may have felt at the time, as well as the silver lining we discovered within them and the opportunities for growth. As we complete this ritual, we are filled with deeper gratitude and a recognition that all is truly well, that we are indeed divinely guided, protected, and provided for - which, admittedly, is often hard to recognize in the midst of a difficult time. After reviewing our year month by month, we throw our little notes into the fire, releasing what has been to make room for what is to come. We then each write privately on a sheet of paper things we are ready to release from our lives. This could be patterns of behaviour, limiting beliefs, or attitudes which we've recognized don't serve our highest intentions; or it might include situations or experiences that used to be a good fit for us but aren't any longer. The important thing to keep in mind is that there should be no sense of "good riddance!" or resistance or judgment about any of these things. As Louise Hay says, it should be like "throwing away yesterday's newspaper." If there's a trigger or a charge around something we want to release, we can be sure we aren't ready to let it go: there's more to learn from the experience first. In this case, asking "What can I learn from this experience/situation?" shifts our mindset to finding value and even appreciation in the experience- with true acceptance, we're better able to set it free. After we write these things down, we throw this paper too into the fire, symbolically letting the fire burn up and transform what we've surrendered.
"When you let go of the past, you open up to unlimited possibilities in the future...miracles can happen now because you've made room for them." ~Ariana Michael
The last part of our New Year's ritual consists of setting intentions for the next leg of our life journey. We write these out privately as well, then seal them in an envelope and save them to read the next New Year's Eve. Personally I steer clear of "New Year's resolutions"- those just don't work for my personality; I tend to be an over-achiever as it is, and I end up feeling pressured and set up for failure rather than inspired! I might note a few things I'd like to make time for, like attending a continuing education course or spending more time with my horses. I've found that if there is something I really want to manifest, writing that down helps focus my energy and bring in the support I need to make that come about; this can be lovely and productive, but doesn't necessarily bring the happiness one might expect would come along with that desired experience. Most importantly, though, I like to focus my intention on how I want to BE... happy and at peace... grateful... more forgiving and patient, less critical... more loving... more Present more of the time. When I put my attention on states of being rather than on form, I am happy NOW - the only moment we truly have anyway - and acknowledge that my inner state is not dependent on outer things being any particular way. When I do this, I'm often amazed at the unimagined blessings I experience, as whatever comes in the way of outer form usually matches our inner state. These blessings throughout the year become fodder for our monthly notes of gratitude, and the cycle continues. Self Care Suggestion: Take a little time to reflect on the year you've just been through: the challenges you navigated, fears you faced and overcame, blessings you've experienced. Having integrated the lessons from those experiences into your being, you can let go of any attachment to them and make space for the new. Next, write out some intentions for the coming year: these might include something you'd like to create or manifest, things you want to give more priority to, or whatever you'd like. It's a clean slate, and you get to fill it however you choose! Be sure to include how you want to BE, how you want to FEEL... Then let this intention be your guiding light, bringing it to mind often, so that more and more of the time you are living in alignment with what you value most.