When I was a teenager one of the elders at my church explained that with the holiday season most of us add at least 50 things to our to-do list that are above what we normally do. No wonder we get stressed out! It’s a lesson that I remember each year as I feel the holiday season pinch. I usually end the year in a breathless sprint.
In what often feels like a frustrating contradiction, the most meaningful parts of this busy time of year for me are about reflection. I love the process of writing (and receiving) Christmas letters. I spend a lot of time organizing photos from the past year. I like to set intentions for the year to come.
It can be hard to write a thoughtful letter during a busy time. It’s especially hard to set goals for the year to come without perspective on what has been emerging in the past year.
In the past few years I’ve honed in on a process of reflection that both makes meaning of the past year and fits into my life. I’m sharing the first two steps in this blog post.
Beginning a Year in Review
Make a list of all the highlights from your past year. Because it can be hard to remember what happened, you might do some research:
- Go through photos from the year
- Skim through your journals
- Read through your calendar
- Scroll through your social media posts
As you do this, write down anything that feels significant.
I usually end up with a few hand written pages of notes. It’s a jumble and that’s okay. My list will include:
- Significant moments with my family
- Highlights from my work
- Spiritual insights and anything notable about my health
- World events that touched me
Don’t think too hard while you are gathering your highlights. This is similar to brainstorming. I find it helpful to be generous with what I put on the list. Life is made up of little baby steps and small ah-has.
Once you are done you may notice patterns in your list. As I was making my list I realized there were many special moments in nature. Each moment felt fleeting and small, but the repetition makes them significant. Do you see groupings and themes in your list?
What are three moments that felt most alive and connected?
It can be hard to pick three moments and I’m sometimes very surprised by what I choose. For example, I might highlight a dinner I had with my parents and brother this summer. We were hot and tired and couldn’t really hear each other in the noisy restaurant, but it was the capstone for an important day. So even if you think “Really, why am I picking this moment?” here’s the invitation:
Write the moment out as a scene or draw a picture of it. You might want to include:
- What led up to that moment which made it so significant?
- What were the sounds, colors, tastes, and sensations in the moment?
- What came out of it?
While you can repeat this exercise as many times as you wish, three moments will cover a lot of ground.
Moving towards more aliveness and connection
It is so easy to worry about life. Time can feel like a blur. Doing these reflection exercises brings the events of the year back into focus. With perspective, we can see the movement towards more consciousness and connection in our own lives. I always end with a deep feeling of comfort; new life is emerging despite my blundering. These alive moments become like candles that I carry with me through the longest night, helping illuminate my way into the future.
Join me for year end reflections in Minneapolis
Both the Healing Waters Qigong Practice Group and the Wisdom Dances Circle will be dipping into this reflection process as part of our regular meetings all month. Time is tight in December, so here’s an opportunity to both de-stress and take a moment for meaning making. Newcomers, as always, are welcome to drop in any week.
Winter Solstice Celebration
Ready your heart to welcome the return of light with the calm and joy that comes from music and dance. Be embraced by the energy of the dancing circle and let that feeling support you in the New Year. Walk the solstice spiral and tune into your intention for 2020. Cultivate the clarity, grounding, and hope that will help you support the birth of new light in our world. Thursday, December 19, 2019 from 7:00-9:00 at the Danish American Center. Learn more.