Category Archives: New Year’s Resolutions

Resolve

In Colorado, the wind today is fierce, gusting at around 50 miles per hour, knocking down trees and ruining dog walks all over town, even as the sun shines on. I imagine that the wind is the universe blowing away the yuck not invited into 2012, everything we’ve let go, released, and let loose. The wind is clearing out space for something wild and precious to be born.

image by susannah conway

And like the Hopi Elder’s Prophecy says:

“This could be a good time! There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.

And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.

The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word ‘struggle’ from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

In other words: if you have been waiting for something to happen, stop waiting and happen. Jump into the river with me, won’t you?

There are a few guiding principles I adopted this year when completing a “review, reflect, and resolve” practice, (a process I have never undergone before, at least not with such care, mindfulness, and intention).

1. I am already whole. I am enough.

  • “The self-assured strength that grows from knowing that we already have what we need makes us gentle, because we are no longer desperate” ~Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
  • “We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake” ~Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

2. This is not just about New Year’s, this is not limited to a single date or thing: this is my whole life–connected, integrated, embodied, and manifested as complete and enough.

3. Don’t make resolutions, but have resolve and be authentic. This is my life.

2012: Year of the Water Dragon

image by Will Clayton

This will be a year of power and wisdom, but also one of compassion. It will be a year of great possibility, energy, vitality, excitement, unpredictability, exhilaration and intensity. The spirit of the dragon is passionate and brave, generous and fortunate, but must take great care or it can be destructive and dangerous, causing much damage to all involved.

Before class, one of my yoga teachers always asks us to set an intention, something that can focus and guide and center us, through the class and the rest of our day. My resolve and intention for 2012: Retreat is the theme of the year (rest, balance, practice, and transformation), a year in which I will tend to my body, spirit, and heart-mind.
I will do so through:

*Creativity: writing my blog, writing, making art, showing up and being open to what arises, being an expression of kindness and love and wisdom in the present moment, a healing and helpful act, to touch and transform the heart.

*Trust: faith in the worthiness, wholeness, and uniqueness of “me,” practicing and embodying self-love and self-care. Belief that everything is unfolding exactly as it should and I know what to do. “Who you are is infinite; you are a child of The Uni-verse and you have been sent here with a specific gift that is only yours to express. The events that happen, happen to shape us, to mold us and to help us step into who we are supposed to be. You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. You are eternal and a part of a living Uni-verse that supports you. Give us your gift,” (“How to Get Unstuck from Past Trauma” on The Daily Love).

*Health: accept my weak places and parts, my resistance, attachment, and bad habits, (time monsters, shadow comforts, fear, shame, addiction, and self-hate), love what these things have taught me, be grateful, and let go. Ask for help if I need it. Lovingly, gently, kindly connect to my body, embodying attention, awareness, and strength through practice and presence.

My own two feet

My own two feet

I stand here, my two feet planted firmly on the earth, “one foot in the grave and one foot in the shower” (song lyric from “Falling Awake” by Gary Jules), open-hearted and vulnerable, but brave and ready to happen. Jump into the river with me, won’t you?

Good night beautiful year.

What I’ve Learned on this Vacation


Having time off from my paid work, time at home and away, is such a gift. Sinking in to that space allows me to be wholly mindful in a way that I don’t seem to manage otherwise, and I learn so much from it.

I committed myself this week to doing a whole “Review, Reflect, and Resolve” project, but found myself getting irritated, and tired, and frustrated, and anxious–not at all the experience I’d expected. It was taking too long, wasn’t going as smoothly as I had imagined, and I felt scattered and unfocused–until I realized why: I have been blogging about my “life rehab” here, and this has been an ongoing process of reviewing, reflecting, and resolving my life. I have already taken steps, I am already doing the work, and there’s no need to separate that out as a special, isolated practice because it is, all of it, MY LIFE.

And yet, it’s good to be clear and mindful, about who you are, what you value, where your particular strengths are, what you have to offer, how you can help, and what you want your life to look like. And when you are connected directly to that, when you absolutely embody who you are and what you value, there’s no need to make any other special statement about it. Instead you simply sink into it and rest–it’s where you live. As Leo Babauta suggested in his post “Quashing the Self-Improvement Urge,” we can let go of goals and projects and improvement, and “instead…be happy with ourselves,” what he calls a “revolution of contentment.”

I didn’t completely abandon my review, reflect, and resolve, but I have reframed it. I am putting pages into the 2012 weekly planner Eric got me to be able to carry a physical reminder with me, of who I am and what I value and what I hope to manifest. I am so excited for the possibility and transformation of the new year, and think this “book” I am making will remind and inspire me when I need it. What I’ve learned while being on vacation is that to approach a year of “retreat,” I need to remember the qualities of retreat I hope to manifest: practice, balance, rest, and transformation.

I’ve been reminded that I need to make time to tend my body: eat, shower, sleep, exercise, meditate, do yoga, walk with the dogs, spend time with Eric.

I’ve been reminded that I need to make time to tend to my spirit: meditate, do yoga, walk with my dogs, study and read, be creative, write.

I’ve been reminded that I need to make time to tend my heart: served most effectively when there is balance in the way I tend the other two, because in that way/those ways, I am generating and manifesting love and kindness towards myself, but I’m also practicing keeping my heart open, being mindful, vulnerable, present, and brave. I am able to connect my core values (kindness, bravery, silliness, creativity, curiosity, and presence) directly to my actions.

You might wonder where “mind” is on my list of things to tend. I have come to understand that concept (through my study and practice of Buddhist principles) that the brain is an organ of the body, so would be part of what you are referring to when you talk of that physical collective. The “mind” or consciousness is centered with, and directly connected to the heart. Together, they join wisdom (mind) and compassion (heart) in a single, central location. This space is our fundamental nature, our basic goodness–who we “really” are, underneath, before, and beyond anything else. So when I referred to “heart” earlier, I meant heart-mind.

For my year of Retreat, my resolve is to sink into my practices, know and manifest my core values, be open-hearted and brave, have faith in a sacred alignment between what I want and what I have to offer, be mindful of my middle path (the pause and the gap, balance and freedom), rest and restore and rehab. Transformation is one element that has special meaning to me, as I realized the other day that every butterfly is first a pupa in a cocoon–fat, soft, round, vulnerable, and completely still. You simply cannot transform and grow wings without that time in stasis, and therefore, you must retreat if you are looking to transform. Yes, I might feel a bit sad or even embarrassed by my blobby, fat, slow self while the rest of the world is happily crawling around chewing on stuff, or floating in the sky on their beautiful wings, but I have to remember I am exactly where I should be, things are unfolding just as they should. It is right, true, and completely natural.

Just like savasana pose in yoga, this quiet and stillness and surrender is necessary to integrate the body and mind with the practice, to assimilate and process the practice into an embodied whole.  In the same way, off the mat, deep change needs a balance of deep rest and contemplation to allow our innate wisdom to work, for integration to happen.

In between inhalation and exhalation,
In between joy and pain,
In between remembering and forgetting,
In between who we think we are and reality,
There is a pause.
Seek refuge there.
~Goswami Kriyananda

Something Good.

Holy wow, do I have a list for you today!

Cupcakes.

I call these “grown up cupcakes”: dark chocolate with buttercream frosting. I added peppermint chips on top because it was Christmas. Every time I make these, I think of the zenhabits.net post that Leo Babauta wrote, “The Quiet Theory of Influence,” in which he says “Imagine owning a muffin shop. If the muffins are commonplace, you’ll have to advertise and do some ‘guerilla marketing’ to get customers. But if your muffins make people roll their eyes in ecstasy, they will tell the world of your deliciousness, and the world will pound on your muffin-scented door.” Or in this case, cupcake-scented.

Review, Reflect, and Resolve: Being Able to Start Again

Today, I am starting this process. My plan is to go through all the practices and worksheets I mentioned the other day, and distill them into a list that works, specifically for me.  At first, because it’s just how/who I am, I thought I would do all of them: “do all the reviews!” Then I thought maybe I could pick a few of my favorites, but finally decided I like the magic and possibility of reading through them all and selecting the questions and strategies that stood out, spoke to me, sparkled. Some things I know I’ll be doing is reviewing my journals from this past year (skimming, there’s just too much to actually read), coming up with a reading list for 2012, and personalizing the day planner Eric got me for Christmas, in which he wrote “Jill’s guide to the best year ever!”

Great Presents.

For the past few years, my nieces have sent me the cutest mugs.  Here’s this year’s offering:

Eric made me two terrariums. My grandma kept African Violets, and when I did my releasing ceremony on the Winter Solstice, towards the end of the burn, there was part of the fire that was the exact color of the one Eric gave me. I’d never seen fire burn that color.

And Eric really liked the book I made him, “The Story of Us.” He said it reminded him of Post Secret or Found Magazine, two of our favorite projects. Most of it is too personal to post about, but here’s one of the Blackout Poems I “wrote” that I am especially proud of, “Beyond the Horizon.”

belonging
a sense of being rooted
a memory profound, sacred
within space that is desire
a living source of the present.

We live
one to another,
the memory of a horizon that is not closed off.

New Music: Parachute Youth, “Can’t Get Better Than This.”

I plan to listen once, and then I find myself hitting “replay” ten times.

Cool Sites Whose Mission is to Find and Share the Cool Stuff.

Here’s just two of them:

The Cool Hunter,” (where I first saw the above video). On their “about us” page, they explain that their site “celebrates creativity in all of its modern manifestations…what’s cool, thoughtful, innovative and original.”

Kirtsy“: This site’s “about” statement says “Kirtsy is just like that friend who always finds the best stuff. Only better…art, design, products, pins, photos, and projects…curated by some of the most interesting people online.”

100 Ways

100 Ways to Live a Better Life” and “100 Ways to Screw Up Your Life.” Which list looks more like your life?

Deva Cards

This originally came to me from Susannah Conway’s most recent “Something for the Weekend” post, (in fact, lots of things from my “Something Good” posts come from her–she’s amazing). Hiro Boga shares these cards on her website. I tried it, because I love divination: picking a random line from a sacred text, tarot readings, throwing I-Ching coins, dream interpretation, Q-Cards qcasting, or any such oracle through which the universe might send me a message.

So, I typed my intention, “I intend to rest and restore,” shuffled the cards, and got the word “Transformation.”

I had to think a bit about what that might mean for me, and then it came to me, like a lighting bolt: my guiding word for the next year is “retreat.” I was feeling a bit sad the other day, thinking about words other people had selected, things like “brave,” “leap,” “shine,” “manifest,” “adventure,” and even “conquer.” I wanted to have an exciting word too.  Retreat? That’s boring, dull.

But, transformation? This word reminded me why “retreat” is exactly the right word. Every butterfly is first a pupa in a cocoon–fat, soft, round, vulnerable, and completely still. You simply cannot transform and grow wings without that time in stasis, and therefore, you must retreat if you are looking to transform. Yes, I might feel a bit sad or even embarrassed by my blobby, fat, slow self while the rest of the world is happily crawling around chewing on stuff, or floating in the sky on their beautiful wings, but I have to remember I am exactly where I should be, things are unfolding just as they should. It is right, true, and completely natural.

Just like savasana pose in yoga, this quiet and stillness and surrender is necessary to integrate the body and mind with the practice, to assimilate and process the practice into an embodied whole.  In the same way, off the mat, deep change needs a balance of deep rest and contemplation to allow our innate wisdom to work, for integration to happen.

Shit Girls Say

I might be offended by these, if I weren’t laughing so hard.

The Universe Says “Yes,” Again.

Chris Guillebeau, author of “The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World” and organizer the World Domination Summit (which I get to attend this year), mentioned one of my posts in his most recent blog post, “2011 Annual Review: Looking Forward.” Needless to say, my blog has gotten a lot of extra hits today. I write this blog for other reasons, but it’s still nice to be noticed sometimes–really nice.

  • Okay, your turn: tell us something good.

Joy Jam

It’s Friday, and I am full of all kinds of joy. Heart to heart with a friend, I performed the “Mother of All Releasings Ceremony” last night that I mentioned in my post yesterday. At first, as I was putting together my bundle, I was worried that I had so many releasing wishes, they wouldn’t all fit.

But I restacked them and was able to tie the bundle.

I took it outside and burned it, imagining my friend standing next to me in the cold. As I watched, there were moments when the flame would flare up or flicker especially fast, and I wondered what exactly was releasing. I imagined the wings of the crane I had wrapped them in giving them flight, and the Star of Anise being burnt giving me sight, a clear vision no longer obstructed by grief, attachment, anger, obsession, confusion, fear, or even hope.

Because I had used Star of Anise in my bundle, letting go smelled like licorice.

I feel lighter this morning. Clearer. And content. And joyful.

Here are the three-five things that brought me joy this week, my contribution to the Friday Joy Jam, (click the image to see how to enter yourself in the celebration).

A simple Christmas. It started when Eric and I decided to cut back on how much we did, spent, and gave for Christmas. For each other, and our local family and friends, we either did nothing (i.e. spent time with them, told them we loved and appreciated them, laughed with them), or baked, made something crafty, bought second-hand, or regifted something we already owned, (for example, my mom got a whole box of books that I had already read and loved, and who needed a new home–a gift she will love). I am having SO much fun making Eric’s present, I’m almost going to be sad to have to finish and give it to him. Leo Babauta of zenhabits.net wrote a post that inspired me, “The No New Gifts Holiday Challenge.”

Being on vacation. Seriously, I had no idea how badly I really needed this. I guessed it would be good, but it has been heavenly, and this is only day two!

The chance to reflect and resolve. I found so many good ideas and so much support for this practice this year. I am really excited to get started next week, to let go and clear out what I won’t be taking with me into 2012, and to set my intentions for the new year, send out my wishes and invitations to all the good things coming my way, and then let go of even that and just BE.

Dogs eating fruits and vegetables. I know I have mentioned this before, since Sam and I share a banana every morning, and Obi used to do the same, but I have to say again that I can not get enough of this and almost can’t stand how cute it is. Now Dexter is also eating apples, and the joyful crunching, like when they eat carrots, is super cute. This video isn’t one of my dogs, but nicely illustrates my point.

Claire de Lune. This is one of my favorite songs. And I couldn’t decide which of these videos to share, so I’ll give you both. The first pianist isn’t as technically proficient, but she makes up for it in cuteness, (you know she insisted her stuffed kitty be in the video too). I noticed that YouTube has added a feature to all their videos for the holidays, so once you hit play, if you click on the snowflake in the lower right hand toolbar of the video, it will start to snow.

Here’s wishing you more happiness
Than all my words can tell,
Not just alone for Christmas
But for all the year as well.

Wishing you joy not just today, but this holiday season and beyond!

Reflect and Resolve

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” ~Epictetus

image by dan

On this Winter Solstice, and in these last few days of 2011, I am reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to the next. So much has happened, and I feel on the cusp of so much more. I want to honor what I have accomplished, forgive myself, let go of what no longer serves me, and set my intentions for what I want to manifest in the new year.

I don’t typically make New Year’s Resolutions, at least not the kind that work out–for so many years I said this is the year that I’ll get in really good shape, lose weight and eat healthier, or take better care of myself, or get published, and so many times I let myself down–so it seemed better to not commit to anything.

I know better now. I was asking things of myself that denied essential truths, ignored reality, glossed over the things that really needed my attention, and were wished out of a fundamental self-hate and lack of acceptance that needed to be dealt with.

Then last year, I made a wish that I would be a better friend to myself. And slowly, things have shifted. I am in the midst of a life-rehab, and I feel the desire to mindfully and lovingly take stock of the last year, really see where I am, and contemplate what I might do in the next year.

I have already selected my guiding word for next year (retreat), and am considering which of the many strategies available I’ll use to review and plan.  Here are some of the ones I am looking at:

  • Patti Digh, of 37 Days, shared on her blog that at the end of every year, she asks herself two questions: “What do I want/need to let go of as I end this year?” and “What do I want to create in the new year?”
  • Cynthia Morris, of Original Impulse Inc., shared her End of Year Review Worksheet. This is a simple worksheet you can print out that she’s entitled “2011 in Review: Celebrate and Let Go.”
  • The visionary Andrea Scher, of Superhero Journal, Mondo Beyondo, and Superhero Photo fame, shares a link to her “Mondo Beyondo Completion Worksheet” in a post where she also offers a discount for the next session of Mondo Beyondo, (which I highly and wholeheartedly recommend–the class was like an invitation to wake up and live).
  • Another set of reflective questions comes from Reverb 2011, intended to be done one question per day, every day in December, but useful no matter when or how you might get to them. You can find a set here and also here.
  • My most favorite of all, a post that I am utterly in love with, written by the amazing Jennifer Louden: “2012 Predictions for You.” If you read or do nothing else on this list, go read this.

As I was thinking about putting this post together, the Universe sent me a few more things to share.

  • Susan Piver, gentle and brave meditation instructor, originator of the Open Heart Project, shared two posts this week, “New Year’s Resolutions: Part 1” and “Part 2” in which she suggests a slight alteration to the tradition. These were very helpful to me in framing how I would approach the practice, “two suggestions for making new year’s resolutions in such a way that they become a part of your spiritual practice rather than an exercise in wishful thinking and self-aggression.”
  • Courtney Carver, of Be More with Less, wrote “You Can Stop Now” in which she reminds us to “slow down and enjoy the last few days of 2011.”
  • And this: I had seen the video already, made a mental list of the women who’d be in my dream circle, and one of the dear ones on that list emailed me today, saying “Wish we could do this together, maybe next year” and I thought “why not this year?” So, while we can’t be together in the same physical space, as I make my bundle and burn it, our hearts will be together in that moment, adding power to the “Mother of All Releasings Ceremony.” If you’d like to do your own, here’s the directions. I had to make some modifications, use Star of Anise as my offering, and fabric left from when I made a square for the quilt we made for Kelly. It has the image of a crane on it, head down and solemn, instead of being plain black as suggested in the instructions. The Star of Anise is kept whole for luck, and these two have been on my meditation shrine for the past three years. Star of Anise is burnt to increase psychic awareness and power, so it seems like an appropriate substitution.

No matter what you decide to do to honor this transition, even if you choose to ignore it, I wish for you as Susan Piver did for all of us at the end of her New Year’s Resolution: Part 2 post:

May all of your dreams be realized exactly as you imagine, quickly and without obstruction.