“In the end, these things matter most…how well did you love, how fully did you live, how deeply did you let go” -Buddha
We should we have to wait until we are at the end of our life to ask ourselves these questions? As a matter of fact, if we change the lens by which we view life, we come to realize and accept the fact that we are all terminal. I saw a very appropriate quote by Tony Robbins a couple of weeks ago where he says, “There’s something coming for all of us. It’s called death. Rather than fearing it, it can become one of our greatest counselors.” Wow…our greatest counselor!
When people are faced with death, in most cases, that is when they begin to live. Now that is sad! Why should we wait until the end of our life to live? Really live….live with courage, fierceness, passion, creativity, optimism, integrity, wisdom, balance, honor, grace, acceptance, kindness, gratitude, compassion, joy, peace, purpose and love. The list can go on and on. I invite you to pause for a moment. Perhaps inhale deeply and exhale very lengthy a few times. Now, read the following questions, linger between each one, and see what shows up: What would you add to this list? How can you stay connected to these values (or your own) and keep them in check? Do you have any rituals that allow you to move through your life as an expression of those values?
So moving onto the topic of rituals, like many of you, I have a few of my own. As much of an extrovert and social butterfly that I am, I’m also a loner and introvert. I relish my alone time and the silence that surrounds me. As I’ve gotten older, I have become even more sensitive to noise, bright lights, crowds and activities that are devoid of meaning and purpose. And guess what? I would not have it any other way. Been there, done that! I need the quiet time to rebalance, review, regroup, renew, reconnect, recharge. This is a ritual that is one of my non-negotiables. I love the space it holds for me to be able to connect with my creativity, set intentions and create a vision for how I want to proceed with the time I have left here on this earth. I want to be able to move through my life as a full expression of that vision and the values I hold near and dear.
One of the rituals I look forward to the most are the end of year ones….especially New Year’s Eve. The LAST thing I want to be doing is being out anywhere near midnight! However, twenty years ago I did the midnight run in Central Park….operative words….twenty years ago! There have also been times, here and there, that I’ve gone out to an early dinner. And yes, I made sure to be home early as well.
I love the end of year ritual(s) I’ve set up for myself. They bring me joy and peace. When I’m in Florida, I like to be on the beach for sunrise. There’s something magical about the stillness and quietness that time of morning. The beach is a lovely place to meditate and do a little yoga practice as the sun is rising. Oh, the feeling of doing sun salutations when the sun is peaking through the horizon! It’s breathtaking. THAT is when I truly feel the connection to all that is. To feel like a tiny grain of sand in the universe puts a whole lot into perspective.
If I am home in NJ, I still like to arise early and do my daily rituals. The sun rises outside my bedroom window (love this exposure), so I hunker down, go within, connect and listen, and move my body. With either scenario, I make sure I take the time to journal. Lots of questions seem to pop up all over the place this time of year, and I usually pick and choose from here and there and create a list for myself to ponder and write about.
By noon time, I clean. Yes, I clean and do any laundry that may need to be done (and make sure all the garbage is thrown out). Oh, and by the way, I pop the cork on a bottle of champagne to usher in the cleaning and cleansing of my beloved sacred space and the new year that awaits. Add a little music to set the tone, and voila! Devotional music puts me in the head space to perform my cleaning activities like a mediation….an offering up to the Divine. After the cleaning, I then move onto another ritual…the bathing ritual. Oils, candles, music, maybe some herbs and flowers, exfoliation, a few bubbles (and bubbly on the side).
Another activity I like to do, is create a vision board. When I haven’t made one, I’ve written my intentions and visions for the forthcoming year in my journal. Last year, I tweaked my existing vison board – it’s more like a “life visioning board.” It represents the intentions for how I want to be living, serving and being of contribution. It amazes me when I look at it and see how so many things are in alignment with that vision and are coming to fruition! Taking the time to write or create a vision is a very powerful tool. Just the other day, I came across something I had written back in 2008, and I just sat there in amazement, reading and shaking my head at all the things I wrote that I ended up manifesting. Oh, this magical and comical universe of ours surely knows how and when to deliver!
To celebrate my accomplishments, I make myself a nice meal and enjoy it. A new ritual I started a couple of years ago was a Blessings Jar (you can use a big mason jar, bowl, or buy a decorative one in HomeGoods or a place like that). Blessings appear always and in all ways, but I tend to write about random occurrences and synchronicities….ones that may not even appear as a blessing but truly are a blessing for me. Perhaps during my morning practice this year may be a good time to empty my blessings jar, unfold all the little pieces of paper, and read what I have written in the past year. It’s truly humbling to say the least!
There have been many years that I’ve been in bed before the stroke of midnight – cozy, snug like a bug in a rug. Other times, I may do a some more journaling, a little yoga practice and/or a guided mediation. One year, I was just finishing the end of my practice at midnight. That was a beautiful experience in and of itself. It’s a powerful feeling to connect energetically with the millions of people in the world who are ushering in the new year in prayer and meditation, It’s like a spiritual global community coming together with a sense of unity of purpose.
This New Year’s Eve, I am actually going to a yoga class in the early evening with my “Lovelies.” Now, this group is uber-special to me….thats why I call them the Lovelies. Some of them are yoga teachers (either full or part time) and others are educators who also have their YTT certification as well (something I know I will be doing at some point along my journey). These gals are magical light beings, and I am infinitely grateful for their love, energy, inspiration, and generosity of spirit. Who knows? Maybe this will become a new yearly ritual too!
Do you have any end of year rituals? If so, what are some of yours? I’d love to hear about them. Plus, you may give me a few new ideas to add to my list. I’m all about the sharing!
Below are some questions I may be pondering leading up to New Year’s Eve. Feel free to contemplate them, come up with your own, or maybe even share yours with other people as well. Coming up with age appropriate questions for children is also a lovely and meaningful activity. Some of the following questions are my own, some I got from the Chopra Center, and some are a combo of both. I hope they are helpful to you!
- What did you learn this year? (skills, knowledge, awareness, etc.)
- What did you accomplish?
- Is there anything that still feels incomplete to you?
- Is there something you would I have done differently? Why?
- What did you release?
- What else needs to be released?
- Are there people in your life you need to release? (who are they and why)
- What were the most significant events in your life this past year?
- What right choices did you make?
- What do you feel especially good about?
- What really matters most to you?
- What was your greatest contribution this year?
- What were the fun things you did?
- What were the not-so-fun? (and why)
- What were your biggest challenges/roadblocks/difficulties this past year?
- How did you grow from them?
- How are you different this year than last?
- What were some of your significant and/or game changing blessings in 2017?
- What are you particularly grateful for?
- How did you express and show your love?
- How fully did you live this past year?
- How deeply did you let go?
- Are you currently living a life of meaning and purpose?
- Who or what is keeping you from living the fullest expression of who you are?
- What personal strengths and uniqueness can you share that will add value to others?
- How can you share your gifts with the world?
- How do you want to live your life in 2018?
- What do you see yourself doing next year?
In closing, I will also leave you with a short prayer from the book, Change Me Prayers – The Hidden Power of Spiritual Surrender, by Tosha Silver.
Let me release all that is outgrown and align with the Divine for the highest unfolding. The perfect routes are already selected and will unfold naturally and easily. Let me know my true nature as Love. Divine Beloved, change me into One who easily releases all that wishes to go. Let me move with courage and ease. As I stand on the threshold of the new, let me trust that all that needs to happen will happen in the most uplifting and joyous ways. What is needed is already known. I will be guided, shown, and provided for in every way. All is well.
Darlings, may you release 2017 with a sense of grace and gratitude for all that was, and may you fill your 2018 with what matters most- Love and Faith. Happy New Year!
Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC