It’s A Whole New Year

Okay 2016, I’m ready to get started. You look as clean and fresh as the snowfall I was delighted to wake up to this morning. I have some big plans for you, I’m not afraid to say it. This is going to be the year where my focus pays off, and everyone I hold nearest and dearest will reap the benefits. I’m trying to stay open to exactly what those benefits will be, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a few specific ideas about what I’d like to see.

My son, rocking some new knits from Grandmere.

My son, rocking some new knits from Grandmere.

It’s a little bit ridiculous, how much I was looking forward to getting back to work this week. It wasn’t because I was sick of the kids, quite the opposite in fact. I consciously chose to take real time off work at the end of December and focus on spending quality family time. It meant that I sacrificed a few blog posts. It also meant I completely skipped out on my December attention to my email list. I know you’ll forgive me, because family first right?

That little window of space and time away from technology was something beautiful. I suggest you all try this whenever you can. Even a iPhone screen-smashing incident in a Costco parking lot seemed amusing because I’ve been so happy with this little break from screens and schedules. I learned a lot about the value of my non-working hours, and the things that make me feel more alive and present. We’ve all got those things, don’t we? Over here, I like to call those things PASSIONS.

Welcoming the newest addition to our clan.

Welcoming the newest addition to our clan.

2015 was a year of serious incubation and introspection. My intuition is telling me that 2016 is going to need to be a year of expansion. I learned some humbling lessons this past year about my relationships to my family, and don’t those always turn into lessons about relationship to self? I need to keep working on softening those edges of mine. They don’t often serve me well anymore.

What other gifts did 2015 give me? I understood the deep, sacred necessity of a home to call my own. I would consider this to be even more important than the luxury of a totally flexible schedule, or the ability to shop more frequently. The latter seems inane even as I’m typing it.

I’ve learned that I need to contribute more to my family’s wealth and financial prosperity, but that this doesn’t necessarily mean earning a paycheck. Of course, that continues to be my ultimate goal – earning money through my writing – but there are many other ways I can help. We have bookkeeping to do, and each of my partners have a passion-project or entrepreneurial venture that could benefit from my blogging and social media skills. Here I can make a difference and help their passions come to life too!

2015 showed me how important a community of like-minded people is. I’m still trying to build one out here in my new home, and I desperately miss my Toronto family. I’m working on some volunteer projects to get me out and engaged with others. Making friends when you’re 40 is really, really hard.

I’ve learned how amazing it feels to be doing the work you love. Re-inventing my blog, writing books, even reading other people’s books has ignited a spark that feels so right. It’s opened doors to all kinds of other things I would love to do. I just hope that this momentum will yield more than happy feelings. It has to, right? That’s what all the experts keep telling me.

2015 illuminated the need for a greater connection to my spiritual center. Watching the snow fall outside from the windows of my beautiful bedroom as I work feels exactly like a silent prayer. I get to invent my own church, because that’s really the only way it works for me.

When handsome is genetic.

When handsome is genetic.

2015 taught me that radically grabbing my health in my own hands and making powerful change feels fucking amazing. It’s hard. It’s frustrating. It means reinventing the hamster wheel and spending a fortune on groceries. It means your kids will hate you sometimes. But for any of you who have ever thought “I could do better”, it is so, so worth it. You can do better, you will feel amazing, and you will see results, but nobody can force you until you’re ready.

2015 brought my passion back into the foreground of my life, where it belongs. I had squished it into a little box and stuffed it into a closet for later. Don’t do that, my friends. It’s a dangerous idea. It left me sad, angry, stifled. It snuffed out some of my light. It made me forget what the point is.

Keep your passion in your pocket. You need to have it always at the ready. Click To Tweet

I learned how important my brother is to me, and not just because he’s constantly helping me with the technical stuff I can’t get my head around. He’s awesome, and generous, and fun. I want more opportunities to connect with him and create with him in 2016.

This pile of adorable was the best gift I got this year.

This pile of adorable was the best gift I got this year.

Christmas 2015 was the best I’ve had in years. Nobody fought, I got to see (most of) my cousins who were visiting from far away, and the point where I usually get depressed about all of the people we’ve lost who should be celebrating with us, I was filled with joy. The house was noisy with children again. There was a brand new baby, and news of another new one on the way. It didn’t feel like anyone was missing, because I’m convinced they were all right there, pulled to us by the sounds of our delighted children. I think you can clearly see the joy in these photos I’ve included by my super-talented brother Kyle Andrew.

So, I think this is the secret to getting a new year off to the right start. Reflect on the year you’re leaving behind. Consider the lessons you’ve learned from the previous year. I know there’s a few more than what I’ve listed here, the same is probably true for you. They may not come to mind all at once. You may realize that as you think of them, they begin to trickle in when you least expect them. Write them down. Think of how you can carry forward the good things that began to happen in the previous year. Think of what you need more of (feelings, experiences, not things). Think of what you’re happy to leave behind, or what you might like to shed.

My aunt's beautiful home on Christmas Day.

My aunt’s beautiful home on Christmas Day

Write it all down. Look at it every month or so. I know this helps me keep focused. Sometimes I go months without checking back in, and it seems that all of these reflections have just taken root somewhere in my consciousness and are quietly steering the ship. Sometimes I utterly forget them and need to kick myself in the ass and wake up again.

We can’t forget the past. I think it’s silly to even try. It’s like denying history. It happened, it changed things, and now we get to decide what that change will mean for us. We get that power, to decide how we feel. To decide what we want to feel. Where we want to focus our passion.

So, with that awesome ‘clean slate’ feeling, the year ahead becomes a crisp, white sheet of paper and all of the research from the previous year tumbles forth to inform the poetry and magic of the next chapter of my life.

Happy New Year to you all!

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