Yesterday was all about looking back, reflecting, processing. On the last day of 2016, I spent the morning at a poetry retreat at Healing Ground in Summerfield, N.C. and immersed myself in poignant and moving poems. This is my second year attending, and it never fails to move me. My friend, Jacinta White, who facilitates the retreat every year, always selects poems that make my heart ache. This year was no different. The poems, the sacred space, the people, the sharing from their hearts, it was such a gift to carry into the new year.
One particular phrase from Muriel Rukeyser’s poem, “Elegy in Joy,” has stuck with me: “Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings.”
Today is all about looking ahead. This new year is a new beginning, a clean slate. When I woke up this morning, I felt different, lighter, hopeful, joyful. A new journey has begun. As I walked my dog through the woods this morning, I noticed how the sun was trying to push its way through the gauzy clouds from an earlier misty rain. Eventually, there was a crack, and the light shined down.
I’m a lover of rituals, but I don’t make new year’s resolutions anymore. Instead, I set intentions for the year and try not to set the bar too high or too low, or create an extremely long list of things that I already feel defeated by because I’m trying to tackle too much. This year my intention is simple: Choose joy. In all things, I’m going to strive to do the thing that creates joy.
After my yoga class today, I stayed after to create a Do the Work Jar. As my yoga teacher described it, a Do the Work Jar “is a support system to help you move toward what you want. When you get stuck-physically, energetically, emotionally, mentally-pull out a slip from the jar for inspiration and motivation.”
On slips of paper, I wrote down simple actions I can take for when I get stuck this year. The idea is to help you stay focused and get positive traction, according to my teacher. As I type this, my mason jar of actions is sitting next to me on top of my desk where it will be in my view daily. (I spend a lot of time here.) All of the actions tie back to my intention: choose joy. It’s my joy in a jar.
There’s another jar I keep in my bedroom that I call the Good Things Jar. Throughout 2016, I filled the jar with good memories-small and big. I dumped the slips of paper on the living room floor this evening and read through each one. I counted only 17 pieces of paper; 17 good things! There were huge three to five-month gaps in the year where I didn’t write anything. And then there were simple, little memories like warm, homemade blueberry pie on the 4th of July to a hoarse throat from screaming at my first hockey game. In 2017, I intend to fill my Good Things Jar to the brim.
This evening, I opened the windows throughout the house and lit a smudge of white sage to cleanse ourselves and our house of negative energy and welcome in new, fresh air and energy into our lives and home. Out with the old, in with the new. I walked throughout our home carrying the smoking sage into every nook and cranny while I repeatedly asked the universe to bless our home and its inhabitants. I already feel a sense of peace and harmony. There is a lot of power behind intention.
At my poetry retreat, we read some beautiful poems about “letting go” (my familiar theme of 2016) and shared our thoughts and feelings surrounding that phrase. We also contemplated the things we wanted to carry into the new year. We were given a few minutes at the end to write a poem and then share it with our intimate group of 10. This is what I wrote.
Burying the Year
By Carla Kucinski
Bury what was
What could have been
What would have been
What should have been
All of the what ifs.
Unearth what is
Carry it forward.
Wash the residue of the year from your hands
Every last grain of dirt hiding under your finger nails
It’s time to let go of it all, everything that no longer serves you.
Say goodbye to your grief
Thank it for the gifts it’s given you, the lessons it’s taught.
Your sutured heart soon will mend
You know this because it has healed before.
You are stronger now because of it
A changed person.
You can taste hope in your mouth,
Smooth and sweet like a square of milk chocolate.
Take it in, remember how it feels—like your whole body is smiling
Then hold your head high as you walk into the new year with determination
An open heart
An open mind
Don’t worry, everything will be okay.
Thank you for continuing to follow Addison and I on our journeys, and sharing your own insights and journeys with us through your comments and emails. You words mean so much to us. We wish all of you love and light in the new year. Nourish your beginning. Namaste, dear ones.