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Closing One Year, Starting The Next





THE GIFTS WE GIVE OURSELVES


It’s so tempting at the end of a year - especially in a year in which one has turned 50 - to do a thorough accounting of the wins and losses, the lessons learned, and the plans for next year.  


My clients are often asking me what they ‘should’ do to make the most of the end of one year and set the next up well.   I don’t have any single answer for that; I trust a process of trial and error and know that no system counts if we aren't able to stick with it!


The idea of a deep excavation wears me out right now.  I want a gentler way of closing out and starting again. 


This December I’m paying attention to a few things in the past year that have become precious to me, things I notice I am prioritizing and protecting.  I want to understand what these things might tell me about what I figured out in 2023, and what matters for me in 2024 in my work and in my life.


If you're feeling the pull to reflect and also super darn-tired I offer this simpler approach to paying attention. 


Here are two things I’ve discovered so far:


Quiet mornings.


The summer before my sophomore year in college I volunteered at a historic high school in France to help repair and build facilities to support their mission.  Every morning, 18 college kids from all over North America were greeted by our leader, a 27-year old redhead with huge biceps and a booming voice, who’d left Wall Street to devote himself to international peace education. He woke us up every morning at dawn, stomping up and down the dorm halls singing French folk songs, banging a pot and lid, announcing “Ne baillez pas, mes campers (no yawning, campers), there's work to be done!”  I hated this routine. 


Still somehow in my own adult life I developed a comparable habit of hurling myself into the mornings with an “if I gotta be up, I gotta be up” mentality, lights on full force, music or news going, list of to-do’s launched.  


Until I went on a writing retreat this fall.  There, we started the day before dawn by candlelight, with only the sounds of the tea kettle, pens writing or keyboards clicking while we did our early morning writing.  We barely spoke.  


It felt revelatory. I hadn’t realized how much I craved quiet and slowness.  Now when I can, I love starting my mornings with tapered candles, writing or reading.  No news, no music, very little tech. And if the morning gets away from me, I recreate these moments in short gifts of time throughout the day, candles lit, phone off.


The thing that matters is to create some quiet. 


Taking Notes.


After a long gap, I got back to journaling this year.  I had started inexplicably putting pressure on myself to write something profound and discover something meaningful in every daily reflection. I was avoiding it entirely. 


I decided to take it easier.  Now a few times a day - even in the parking lot at school pick up - I jot a few notes, a list, a quick doodle, an observation about the kids, a snippet from a conversation with my mom.  Sometimes the insights are profound, even in just a few sentences.  Often, not. 



From today: 





This journal entry will not win me a book contract or a Pulitzer, but it feels great.   It’s my way of noticing, thinking, documenting, a few notes at a time. 






The thing that matters is presence. 


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There are more signals I have noticed, things capturing my attention.


Finally rediscovering the energy to get back into the kitchen and host again after pandemic cooking burnout (the thing that matters is gathering my people close).  A willingness to invest in personal training and physical therapy to get a handle on persistent pain (the thing that matters is improving how I feel in my body).  


The deep dive of personal exploration certainly has its place, and I’m sure there will be times (as there have been in the past) when it’s the right call for me. This December though, nice and easy. 


Ultimately, however you choose to reflect on the year behind us and the year ahead is a gift you're giving yourself, so I hope you find something that makes you feel fantastic. I’d love to hear about it and I'm rooting for you!


xo,

Nayla



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