Category Archives: Soulful living

Intention setting: The impact that one word can have on your year

the power of a word of the yearDecember is a month for reflection – for some quiet contemplation on the year gone by and planning for the year to come. While a lot of people set goals and New Year resolutions, I’ve learnt that this really does not work for me. What does seem to work is desire and intention. But first, we start with…

Contemplating the year gone by
Set aside an afternoon with a hot cup of coffee or tea (or even some mulled wine!) and look back at the year gone by.

Here are some prompts to get you started:

  • What stood out for you this year – positive and negatives both?
  • What did you finally achieve?
  • What made you happy?
  • Where did you trip up, and what did you learn from your failures and struggles?
  • What do you want to work on some more?
  • What do you need to learn from the year gone by?
  • What do you need to release as you move forward into a new year?
  • What are you grateful for?

Or you may just wish to reflect, remember, and give thanks for the year gone by.

Once you’re done, set your journal aside and stretch…go for a walk…dance to some music…do some yoga…basically, use motion as a release for everything that came up.

Mapping out the year ahead

Once you’re finished looking back, it’s time to look forward. There are a number of ways and tools that you can use to plan the year ahead. One that I tried last year that worked really well for me – and that I am doing again this year – is choosing a word of the year. One word that will serve as a guidepost to how you design and plan your year.

 As you think about this concept, you may have a word that pops out for you based on your reflection on the year gone by. Don’t worry if nothing comes to mind – sometimes it needs a little bit of an intervention to find the word that’s calling to you. Here’s a very short list of words that you could choose for yourself – see if any of these resonate for you.


If you don’t know how this works or need some help to choose a word, Susannah Conway has an excellent (free) 5-day email class to help you discover your word.

Now that you have a word, what’s next? 

One word has the power to shape and change your life. It just requires a little effort.

Start by contemplating the following questions in your journal:

  • If you lived and breathed your word in 2016, what would be different for you?
  • Are there any ways in which you’re already living your word?
  • What can you do to bring more of this word’s energy into your life?
  • Think ahead to December 2016. As you reflect on the year gone by, where do you want to be with regards to your work, relationships, spiritual practice, health and fitness, and any other areas that are important to you?
  • As you look at your answers to these questions, do you see a theme emerging? How can you make this theme work for you?

Plan out your year

Now comes the fun part! Download and print out a 2016 weekly calendar and start fleshing out your year. Plot out the things you want to start and when you want to start doing them. Don’t forget to pencil in some holidays and some rest time. And remember, this is just a rough guide to get you started. You can change, add or subtract anything at any time during the course of 2016.

Here’s wishing you a beautiful holiday season!

No, everything does not happen for a reason

On some level, I’ve never quite believed that everything happens for a reason. I’ve never believed that tragedy is necessary for or a precursor to transformation. Tragedy may or may not transform you. But there is never a “reason” for tragedy.

There are a huge number of empty platitudes floating around the interwebs, supposed inspiration that actually is a pill to ignore the grief. To get up and move on, to treat grief and loss like an illness or disease that must be cured.

  But you cannot move on unless you sit with your grief. Unless you allow yourself to feel the spaces and the contours of your loss – no matter how big or small said loss might be. So allow yourself to sit with your loss for as long as it takes. To bear witness. To mourn. To cry.

Personal transformation can certainly occur after a tragedy. It occurs through your choices in how you deal with the aftermath of tragedy. In the daily decisions you take to cope with your grief. But to believe that there was a reason for your tragedy is a fallacy. As is the belief that tragedy is necessary for transformation. But that is a post for another time.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on grief, transformation and things happening for a reason. 

This post is in response to this article

On following your passion and quitting your day job

On creativity and money

I always thought that if you’ve got the talent, creativity should provide. Well, apparently not! And this quote from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic Monday post dovetails very neatly with the realization I’ve come to recently – you DO NOT need to quit your day job to pursue your passions! When you do that, you’re forcing your passion to provide for you, and then you run the risk of making your passion your day job – with all the associated frustrations of a day job!

If, on the other hand, you pursue your passions on the side, when you have the time and the crazy drive, and when (and if) it turns into this huge-ass success, by all means, quit your day job. Because once you’ve achieved crazy-ass fame, or even a steady income stream, chances are that you will be called on to be involved with your passion in multiple ways. Then your passion will also be driven from the outside – through demand for your time, your thoughts, your opinions…

Your fan base, your influencers, your cheerleaders will want more of you…they are likely to give you at least a couple of chances…because they “know” you, love your product, flock to your name…and then even if your passion wanes a bit, the “fame momentum” will be enough to carry you along for a while.

Case in point – J.K. Rowling. Her first “adult” novel Casual Vacancy, published after the Harry Potter series, was panned by almost everyone who read it, but that didn’t stop her mystery novels (published later) from becoming super hits. When she was outed as Robert Galbraith , sales of The Cuckoo’s Calling skyrocketed even though it hadn’t done all that well previously, and even though it wasn’t all that marvelous a novel. And before her “overnight success”? Well, she worked as a research assistant at Amensty International, taught English as a foreign language in Portugal, and even lived on state benefits while pursuing a teacher’s training course. And during all this time, she wrote. In the pockets of time between work, in the spaces between falling in love and raising a child. She wrote. She collected rejection slips aplenty, and still, she wrote. And I believe that even if Harry Potter had never seen light of day (which would have been a crying shame!), she would still be at a cafe, somewhere in England, writing her heart out. Because that is just what she does. She writes.

Which is basically the point that I am trying to make. Your passion is something that you will do no matter what. I believe that it should be something that you nurture, that you support, something that continues to bring you joy day in and day out. And if you become an “overnight success”, sure, quit your day job!

But this whole “leap and the net will appear” thing – well, it can also lead to a hard landing, ya know! So instead of then getting disillusioned with your passion, why not just pursue it when you can? Take a sabbatical, switch to a part time job. But don’t quit your job until you know you’ve arrived!

Where do you stand on the passion vs. job debate? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic Monday post on Facebook.

Returning to a place you’ve never been to before

Have you ever felt an intense longing to return to a place you’ve never been to before? To walk along those roads again. To rest awhile in its embrace once more. To reacquaint yourself with the people and the houses, the nooks and the crannies, the roads and the twisting, winding paths that you’ve never been on before.

Like this beautiful cottage somewhere in the English countryside…


…or walking the road to Santiago…

…grape picking at a vineyard in France…

…or watching the sun rise and fall into the sea…

Sunrise in Kanyakumari  Photo courtesy:  Mehul Antani, via Flickr

Sunrise in Kanyakumari
Photo courtesy: Mehul Antani, via Flickr

From where do these longings arise? This deep desire to return to a city so familiar that it feels like you must have been there…sometime…but you never have. Is it a faded memory of a past life? A desire for a different life? Or an ache for all that you know you will probably never achieve?

Have you ever felt this call? Do you have a theory about it? Do share your thoughts in the comments.

A call to mindfulness

In a world that is in constant motion, with distractions everywhere you look, it’s become increasingly difficult to find some quiet space to just be. To think…to dream…to imagine…


We race through our days, fill them with tasks, with constant phone checking – emails, status updates, tweets – a collection of likes and retweets as our measure of self-worth.

Pond Heron_Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

How often do we stop to collect some wild flowers? To notice the minutiae of daily life? To watch our feline friends as they play, sleep, or mew for attention? To notice the birds, building their nests, catching food, feeding their young?

Iz eatz yurz earz, ok?

How often do we notice the homeless man? The dejected dog? The dead sparrow lying on the sidewalk? The sun as it rises or sets?

A sacred sunset

This is a call to reclaim life – to watch the moonrise, count the stars, observe life as it lives and dies around us. To be present – for our life, for our loved ones, for our furry friends. For strangers. For the birds – dead and alive. For life.

This post was inspired by Sidewalk Flowers on BrainPickings.