New Year's Awakenings
At the end of each year, I like to go within and ask myself what is a key word or theme of something I’d like to focus on for the next year. And then ask myself, “How did I do this year?”
Last year was “joyful movement.” For me, setting up a checklist of all the things I’d like to accomplish often leads me to disappointment if for some reason I was unable to achieve it. Maybe that’s being too hard on myself. Maybe that’s creating too lofty of a checklist. But what I’ve discovered for myself is that if I put an intention on just one word, one theme, or one point of focus, I have a much better chance of fulfilling that intention. Each day is available with an opportunity to check in with my mind and body, see how I feel, and ask myself, “what is one thing I can do today that points me in the direction of my intention?” Some days I’m quite gentle with myself and other days I strive for a challenge.
So how did I do? Well, I feel like I started off with a bang by trying something new in the world of dance. I attempted belly dancing and samba. With each class, I was transported into another world, another culture. My instructor would teach us samba in Portuguese, invite us to play with props and wardrobe, and provide us a cultural or historical context around each modality of dance. I was hooked! I was maybe not the most graceful dancer, but I sure was having fun and feeling like a child. And then a busy work schedule took precedence, and the classes slowly went to the wayside.
Of course, my natural tendency would be to judge this as a failure. But one of my other continuing goals is to let go of self-judgement and invite more self-compassion. So maybe I had to let go of the in-person classes. But I still danced! As I reflect on the past year, I still danced with my colleagues on the road or in the middle of my living room floor.
I also created joyful movement with yoga, Qigong, hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing. I played on the paddleboard with friends, I explored Puerto Rico with my sister and danced and sang by the fire with family at the lake in MN. I hiked around Yosemite and South Lake Tahoe on the way to my Chopra yoga retreat where I also practiced joyful movement of the mind and soul. And I challenged my parents to play with me on the drive back as we explored Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Zion, and Capitol Reef national parks.
How did I do? I think I did a first-rate job of practicing joyful movement! Is there more I can do? Absolutely! The possibilities are endless.
What do I want to continue? The practice of joyful movement. But this year, my word or theme has morphed into “glow.” If I think about why I want to practice joyful movement, it’s because I want to radiate joy. My intention is to “glow.” To shine, to sparkle, to radiate joy. And the practice of being in a state of glow is through joyful movement—of the mind and body. As I continue my studies of yoga and Ayurveda, I understand that moving through thoughts and emotions are just as important as movement of the body.
Another ritual I like to do at the beginning of a new year is to draw a spiritual card from my deck to see what message I receive. The insight card I drew for the new year encompasses this: It is time to slow down, breath, and take time to smell the roses. If you truly want to create things, you have to take time out to play. Joy is the frequency of creation.
So, there you have it! Permission to play. In fact, it’s a requirement in order to create! What better way to awaken to a new year than with an invitation to slow down and live in the moment.
Let this be your invitation as well. What’s your new year’s word or theme? What is one thing you can do today that moves you in that direction? What is something new you’d like to try? And what are you ready to let go of?
As I continue my path toward joyful movement, let me know if you’d like to join me on a hike sometime. Drop me an email and let’s get on the trail.
See you soon sunshine!
Spring is a wonderful time to clean out our drawers and closets and bring a sense of freshness to our immediate environment. It’s also an opportunity to clean up our diets and daily routines as we enter a new season. Read this article I wrote on 5 Ayurvedic Ways to Improve Balance in Your Body and Mind, published in the Spring 2021 issue of ABMP’s digital Body Sense magazine.
Bitten by the Travel Bug
When I was a child, I was the curious kid who would sit in the backyard on her swing and wonder, “What is a child my age in China, Africa, or South America doing right now?” I would try to imagine how their life might be similar or different than mine and wonder how do they feel? What does play time look for them? Are they loved and protected? Do they build things in their sandbox like me?
At age seventeen, an incredible opportunity came along. The little town where I grew up (of just over 900 people) would host a foreign student exchange carnival each year as a fundraiser to send one young person overseas for a summer. It had been years since anyone had taken advantage of this opportunity and I wanted it so badly. My mom consulted with one of the Board members and before I knew it, she was helping me save and plan for this grand adventure. I worked three jobs that year and set off to become the grassroots ambassador I imagined myself to be. My first time ever on a plane, I ventured out into the unknown and embarked on my journey as a Youth For Understanding exchange student to The Netherlands.
That summer experience taught me so much about myself. And it gave me an awareness of how similar we are as human beings. We all need love, laughter, and a sense of community and belonging. On the other hand, it showed me unique cultural approaches to interpreting and navigating the world. Some of which I brought home with me and some of which made me appreciate my own culture in ways I couldn’t have imagined.
That is when I was bitten by the travel bug. That experience fundamentally changed my life and set me on a course (with some detours) where I continue to journey to new places, explore cultures, learn, and exchange in our shared humanity. In this space, I hope to share and explore journeys of the soul (what is our true nature), sol (the Spanish word for sun, representing the culture of South America, but also sharing our light), and sole (hiking journeys and walking meditations).
I invite you on this journey with me and I thank you for joining me here. The world needs healing. And healing begins with us. Let’s walk this journey together my sunshine.
And journeys of the soul, sol, sole. We'll ponder and explore topics about our shared humanity and our true nature--