I have been mulling over this post for several days, both eager to sit down and write, and procrastinate forever. As usual, inspirational thoughts strike at the most inconvenient moments, often in the middle of the night, and usually when no pen and paper, or the desire to get up and sit at the computer, were available.
A new calendar year will begin in a few more days, and we will all have to remember to put a 7 instead of a 6 whenever we write a check. How many of you, in your quiet moments, have found yourselves going over these past twelve months? I have already heard comments from family and friends along the lines of: “2016 was the worst, I can’t wait for it to be over!”, or “Next year I will…..” fill in the blank with whatever good intention you like, from ‘I will stop smoking’ to ‘I will bungee jump’, and anything in between. Except I have heard this many times before. I have even made such statements myself in the past, at least to myself. But not this year.
I honestly do not remember how I felt at this time last year – other than a bit stressed because I was moving. Again. But this year I do not feel stressed, even if I am moving yet one more time. I also feel that my 2016 was pretty good. After all, I have been healthy and felt good about 340 days out of 365 – oops, 366 given that, as my Mum is always reminding me, this is a leap year – leap years apparently having a bad rap. Except I was born in a leap year, so that does not affect me. Anyway, aside from a bit of allergies with Cody, my fluffernut Boyz are healthy and safe, too, as is my family. And isn’t that the main thing!? It is at least what everything else can be built on. For me this year is also ending better than it started, and not so much because of where I am located geographically, or what I am doing day in and day out, but because of where I am in my personal journey.
Earlier this month I participated in a live webinar hosted by a wise woman: a life and business coach named Isabel Parlett. For those of you who might be interested in more, Isabel is the driving force behind The Soundbite Shaman. The focus of this webinar was to wrap up 2016 and call in the new year. I have been following Isabel on Facebook for a while because I really like her content and the way in which she communicates it. What attracted me to this webinar was the difference in her approach. This was not a “toss out 2016 and take 2017 by the horns” kind of event. It was much more gentle, yet more powerful, because it had us looking at things from the inside out.
To prepare for the event, Isabel had us go through our planners and notes for the past twelve months to have a sense of what our 2016 had been about. Then on the day, using a series of questions, she guided us through the digestion of 2016. We looked at what worked, what didn’t, why, and how to learn from both.
I am sharing my answers with you both in an effort to do more of what I have been promising myself I would – show up in full presence – and because you might be inspired to answer these questions yourself. Here goes…
What did I learn this year?
- I learned the true power of gratitude, and how, in order to manifest at this level, mantras have to be repeated for way longer than I thought they should, and new habits formed and grounded through repetition and time, possibly even months.
- I also learned that my old story was boring and redundant, and it does not have to be my new story. I have let go of my dreary old story, and now, each morning when I wake up, I am free to write a new one that is just the way I want it to be. What that requires is easy to state, but not as easy to do. Changing the way one thinks about a situation is a very powerful thing to do, and it is both as easy and as difficult as the difference between knowing something with your head, and knowing it with your heart. Now I know it with my heart.
In what areas did I shift the most?
- In trusting my own ability to return to grace after a fall, and how the falls are shorter and less drastic. Metaphors aside, a fall is when I get snagged in the past and its trap of limited perception. This drops me into automatic-pilot reactions that are old and constrictive and mess with my energy.
- In holding my center, and using the expression of gratitude to return to it when I lose my balance. New tools combined with those I already had have been and are essential in this process.
What made me happiest this year?
- Moments of love, beauty, gratitude and harmony through the puppies, the garden and my creative work.
- Moments when the veil lifted – which have been more frequent than usual this year – and I felt both all powerful and peaceful at the same time, and actually felt that I really can achieve everything I desire.
What did I let go of this year?
- I let go of despair. About a year ago, I realized that, in spite of all the work I had done over many years, I was still swirling around in the same soup, and it was a slop. Nothing had essentially changed around me, which meant I had not essentially changed. Worse than that, I was starting to despair that anything ever would change, or that I would ever reach the life I desired. I may not be where I want to be yet, but I am moving in that direction. The tape loop has stopped. I am out of the soup, and the despair has lifted. And that is huge!
- I also let go of another biggie: food guilt, something that had been ingrained in me from childhood. I no longer eat guilt with my food. Can you imagine? That’s half the calories! As I thought back on this, I realized that this has been true for about three months now, though it only clicked in the past few days. I am stunned and amazed. And very happy.
- Having let go of my old story, or the parts that did not belong to me and I did not like, I no longer carry those rocks in my backpack. I still have moments in which I waver and fall for what is familiar (even if painful), but these moments are more and more infrequent, and last a few hours at the most instead of days. The conscious decision to choose different, to think different, to focus differently has become easier to achieve.
What was challenging, but also a blessing in disguise?
- Having to leave Napa after I had settled there. It was so challenging that, two weeks before I was due to leave, I was blocked in bed for five days with sharp pain running from my left hip down to my left foot. It was so bad that I would cry every time I had to walk a few steps to get to the bathroom, or to take care of my boys, and I had to “sleep” two nights sitting up as that was the only position that would give me some degree of relief. The pain only lifted after I acknowledged what it was about – not wanting to leave, not wanting to move yet again, even to go to a wonderful place like Carmel – combined with one of Rachael’s miraculous more-than-massage therapy sessions. When I returned to the Wine Country two months later I felt so happy and, for the first time in the three years since leaving Hawai’i, I felt that, even though Hawai’i remains the home of my heart, I had found a home away from home, or at least a home base where I felt good. It was a case of leaving to find out I wanted to return.
What can I most give myself credit for?
- Courage. The courage to try yet one more time and not give up. Because I almost gave up.
What nurtured me the most this year?
- My puppies, as always, and the garden in Napa with all the critters that live there. The photos in this post were taken in that garden last January.
What surprised me?
- My ability to keep going.
What could I have not predicted?
- Feeling the Sonoma/Napa wine country as my new home. I thought it would be Carmel, or possibly another place I had yet to explore somewhere.
What spells, illusions or false stories am I operating under that are keeping me from experiencing the fullness and richness of life and work I desire?
- My old story, my aunt’s beliefs and her story (very complicated, too complicated for me to go into it now, or possibly ever, as it is now officially in the past), which she did her best to embed into me since I was born. But I no longer recognize that story as mine.
What unhelpful patterns of behavior am I ready to let go of to achieve something materially different in the coming year?
- Hiding so much. Even though I am an introvert, and thus nurtured by solitude, there is a difference between enjoying alone time and hiding. And I want to stop hiding.
- Not sticking to (my own) plans. I want to make the plans – which are usually fun anyway – and, unless the sky is falling (in which case Cody would let me know) – actually stick to them.
- Being fearful. This is something that has shown up for me in these past couple of years. It has never been a part of me before, and I know it does not belong to me. So I have been making a conscious effort to let that go. As it is, in the past couple of weeks I have felt it beginning to dissolve already.
In what areas do I need to have more compassion for myself and less judgement?
- In my need for rest. I need to give myself official and guilt-free permission to rest and play regularly. That is not easy to do not only because of my imprint from the past (the old story I mentioned before), but also because I love what I do.
In what areas can I let go, relax and not try to improve, so I can concentrate on those areas where I do want to shift?
- The quality of my work. It is automatically high, so I don’t have to worry about that, as it takes care of itself.
What resources and assets do I have available that I am not using to their fullest?
- My own energy, my heart, my full presence and the power that comes with showing up in full force. This ties in with not hiding anymore.
What was the story of my 2016?
- It was running to something, instead of away from something. It was finding the courage to not give up and try just one more time. It was discovering the true power of gratitude, and how my old story does not have to be my new one. It was about learning to write a new story and create a life on my own terms, a little every day, with every choice I make that is different, every new habit, every new thought.
This is when we took a break, so we could have a moment before projecting onto 2017. I have been honest with my 2016 and have not edited my answers for this post, which is a nod to my intention of showing up more. However, I will not be sharing the projection for 2017 for two reasons: one, because, other than the big things, the details are just in draft form at this time; and two, because I believe in not diluting the energies.
I am very happy to acknowledge that, given where I was when I started, and where I am as I type, 2016 has been a good year, a year in which I have made the kind of progress that had been eluding me for so long. I have been on the merry-go-round essentially all my life. I had changed horses, but not stepped off. I had help, of course, as for the first time I took the leap and worked with a life coach for six months, from April till October. The commitment necessary on my part, both in time and finances, and what I learned through that time has made the difference. I am now off the merry-go-round, and each day I feel myself choosing a happier story.
I also feel free to acknowledge the value of all the previous years, and not chuck out the proverbial baby with the bath water, and see that I can build on the strength acquired from them instead of starting from scratch. Not that we could ever really start from scratch – and thank goodness for that, or all those lifetimes of experience would have all been for naught. Ha!
As for the biggest lesson I learned this year that I can offer you, so you can take it and make it your own if you wish… You know that thing everyone tells you about changing your thoughts, thinking positive because you create what you think? That is all good, but it is also easier said than done given the world we live in and the baggage we carry. The only way to really shift that kind of gear is to express gratitude each and every day. I mean it! As you build a practice of gratitude every day, you will by necessity keep focused on the positive until it becomes a habit. But I cannot stress this enough: it has to be every day, ideally first thing in the morning as it will set the tone for the day, because there is enough bad stuff going on out there to make anybody wobble and waver.
A workbook that I have found very helpful in this is Magic, by the author of The Secret, Rhonda Byrne, which I started working on when my time with my coach came to a close. Also full of good practical steps and guidance are the books by Pam Grout: Thank & Grow Rich; E-Squared; E-Cubed, and also – for those of you on the same mission as me – Jumpstart Your Metabolism.
The importance of doing all of this inner work? Well, nothing happens on the outside that does not source on the inside first. Quoting from Pam Grout: ‘… energy transmits itself into whatever structure our consciousness sets up. Without the squaring action of our thoughts and beliefs, the world remains in a timeless, space-less state of ever-changing possibilities.’
Besides, nothing had changed for me using the old method of huff, puff and grunt – aka hard work on the outside. So I chose to go all in.
I hope you had a wonderful Holiday season, whatever you celebrate or do not celebrate, and that your past year was, if not good, at least usable, like mine was. Maybe these questions and my answers are helping you view it under a different light. In any case, my wish for you is to continue into the new year with a lighter heart and less rocks in your back pack, so you can join me in creating a life for yourself that makes you happy to get up every morning.
Thank you for for following me on my wild ride.
May You Be Happy,
May You Be Blessed,
May You Prosper In All Things.
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