I’m not a whole lot of fun when it comes to New Year’s. I don’t like going to big parties. I don’t really even like staying up late or drinking too much champagne as the new year rolls in. I tend to use New Year’s Eve as a time of introspection, quiet reflection, intention setting, gratitude for the previous year’s blessings, releasing what I don’t want to carry with me into the New Year, and quiet communion with the Divine. This year, I’m going to a hot springs resort by myself to do this, so I can enter 2014 from a centered, connected, intentional, mindful place. At least, that’s the plan…

But first, a few reflections on 2013.

A Year of Change: Professional

2013 was a year full of change for me. Many of the changes were thrilling professional dreams come true. Most notably, my book Mind Over Medicine debuted on the New York Times bestseller’s list. My National Public Television special Heal Yourself: Mind Over Medicine was a hit. The Whole Health Medicine Institute MD Training program launched, and we just graduated the inaugural class. Plus, I landed a book deal for The Fear Cure: Cultivating Courage As Medicine For The Body, Mind & Soul, wrote another book The Anatomy of a Calling, launched and completed the second year of Find Your Calling with Martha Beck & Amy Ahlers, and got started with development of my next two programs- Medicine For The Soul with Rachel Naomi Remen in January 2014 and The Surrender Sanctuary with Tosha Silver in February 2014 (more on those two programs soon, so stay tuned!)

A Year of Change: Personal

On a personal level, however, 2013 was exceptionally challenging. Trying to accomplish all of these professional goals while prioritizing my amazing seven year old daughter Siena was hard. She is such a supremely enlightened little individual that I hope she forgives me for the times I wasn’t with her, but I worried a lot about whether or not I was being the kind of mother she deserves. I spent a lot of time reflecting on what it means to define success on my own terms, and one of my definitions of success includes raising a happy, healthy, secure, confident child. So far, that’s exactly what she is, but I’m very aware of how this kind of career can seduce you away from what really matters.

Matt and I also wound up renegotiating the terms of our relationship this past summer. The changes have been good for us both, leaving us feeling relieved and liberated, but change usually comes with growing pains, and we’ve certainly had our share of those. In addition to the changes in my marriage, many of my other close relationships changed form, and sometimes the ways in which those relationships changed form hurt my heart. I shed a lot of tears this year, but underneath the grief was a thread of destiny, as if it was Divinely timed spring cleaning, a sort of clearing out in order to make space for what wants to come next. To be who you must, you must give up who you are- and the letting go feels like a lot of loss.

Like many people, I have long feared failure, but I have also feared success. The story I told myself is that my professional dreams came true, my personal life would fall apart. So I’m spending a lot of time in therapy taking a good look at my life and my priorities to make sure I’m being the person I want to be, not just in my career, but in my relationships with people, the planet, and God. It’s not pretty to do this kind of inner work. Sometimes you find yourself staring smack dab at previously unseen shadow parts of yourself, and it’s tempting to avoid digging around the skeletons in one’s closet. Yet, growth demands this. We can’t fully embody our light without learning to witness and address, as well as love and accept our shadows. I have come face to face with many shadows this year, but I am grateful for the opportunity. I was blind, but now I see. And I’m sure there is still much unblinding to do…

A Welcome Change

While some of this might sound dark, in the midst of the accelerated growth and change, something wonderful has joined me this year. My friend and mentor Martha Beck calls it “stillness.” This stillness is new to me. I go in and out of it, and surprisingly, sometimes it even finds me in the most unlikely of places, like on a live television set or when I’m standing on stage in front of 3000 people or milling around in the midst of a kid’s birthday party. I feel it like a lens through which I experience life- the joy, the sadness, the chaos, the bliss- and underneath the instability of the emotional rollercoaster lies a constant, something that doesn’t change based on circumstance. I am not familiar with such a state, but I welcome it. It feels like peace at a deep level, peace that’s not conditional on some external achievement or external relationship or external anything, peace that just is- always. For this change, I am so grateful.

The Theme of 2014

In fact, as I write this, I think I just found my theme word for 2014. Heading into New Year’s Eve, I try to choose one word that will be my theme word of the upcoming year. For example, 2011 was my year of integration. 2012 was my year of discernment. 2013 was my year of non-resistance. What will 2014 be? I haven’t been sure. But I think I just found it. STILLNESS. May 2014 be my year of stillness.

I find that choosing these theme words sets the framework for the year. It’s not that each year isn’t laden with surprises, but the theme word becomes a kind of touchstone. As I make decisions, I come back to my word. Am I staying in alignment with my theme word? Is there work I need to do in order to end the year feeling as if I honored that word?

As I head into 2014, I’m reminded of some advice Martha Beck gave me this year. She invited me to cultivate the stillness within me and seek out relationships with others who cultivate that stillness. I have been paying attention, and I have recently brought into my life some people who get still with me. I need that. I want more of that. May it be so.

What About You?

What reflections are you having about 2013 for yourself? What intentions will you set for the next year? What is your theme word for 2014?

Before we close out this year, let me just express how grateful I am for those of you who read what I write. I do all of this for you, and I couldn’t have enjoyed any of the professional triumphs this year without your continued support. I love you. I appreciate you. I know the Divine is always guiding you in the direction of your right life, and I hope you’re paying attention, trusting the signs, and mustering up the courage to follow those signs, even when they guide you against what you think you desire.

I hope 2014 is your best year yet.

With immense gratitude,

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    My word for 2014 is Health, physical, emotional and financial. One affects the other. Happy New Year to you and yours.

  2. Cathryn Wellner

    Dream – my word for 2014. Dream big. Dream bold. Dream lots.

    This one really touched me, Lissa. I felt the sting of tears as I read it. That always means the lessons are important. So I have bookmarked this to read again. Sending you gratitude and bright wishes for stillness in the new year.

  3. Tracy Donnelly

    How often you seem to write the words that reflect what is happening in my internal and sometimes external life. You are a voice, for me that seems to help me not feel like I am alone completely, in my quest for life, or rather a life well lived. Your willingness to be open, candid, honest, and soul bearing is a gift to me. Helps me realize that it is ok to stand apart from the rest of the “pack”. I am certain you don’t fully recognize the gift you are to the world- yet, I hope in your year of stillness–my year is “ease”– you find as much as your soul needs, so you have what is needed to continue to offer naturally your gift–both recognized and unrecognized by your conscious self to a world that will benefit from your talent. Thank you- and as a side note I very much enjoyed your Portland visit to the Nia studios.

  4. Amy Valis

    2013 was a big year for me – many changes, good and not so good! My word for 2014 is BELIEVE. In myself, in the power of God, in the inherent goodness of others.

  5. Kathleen Pedersen

    Thanks for sharing, Lissa! Wishing you lots of stillness in 2014! And that sentence – to be who you must – really speaks to me. There was a lot of growth over here this year, and it really helps to hear that one of my heroes experiences some of the same feelings.

  6. Shirly

    Thank you for sharing. My word for 2014 is breakthrough – fears, limitation, monotonous. 2013 has taught me not to take things for granted and LIVE, be present. May we all thrive, inspire, transform and contribute to the community we are in and love fully.

  7. Suzi Banks Baum

    Dear Lissa,

    Thank you for your words this week.
    I am about to link to this post, but wanted to tell you I came up with two words.
    And instigate.
    I am writing about these on my site, but you have given me the courage to be transparent with my readers as I explore what I am living for this new year.
    Also, while I am here, let me say, again, thank you for inspiring me to create a Mastermind group. I have learned so much from Jen Louden about this and have a group that I am completely dedicated to. And it all came about by a Facebook post of yours.

    I will be burning bright this year, instigating Rampant Sisterhood.
    With much love, Suzi

  8. janice johnson

    Dear Lissa,

    Like you, my Being loves to BE during this Wintertme. I do participate in global webcasts as they seem to ALIGN with my Vibration. My word for the Year is COMMITMENT. I intend to Commit to Being and Expressing the LOVE that I AM. For the last month, including most intensely these last few days, I’m RELEASING so much sadness, grief, sorrow around this, not really because I do not have the COURAGE, I do and have stepped forward. I think it’s just really have the Persistence to Keep on Doing it in the Midst of Resistance from Myself and Others. Why does it seem to be so hard? I know that my LOVE is beautiful, vibrant, alive, it is just especially trying at times to CREATE the SPACE for IT to be EXPRESSED in My WORKPLACE in the midst all of the Deadlines, etc. For me, I wish to FEEL in Every Core and Fiber of my BEING a RENEWED Commitment to Creating that Space for my LOVE in the WORLD especially the WORKPLACE.

    Thank you for this SPACE to EXPRESS Among Kindred Spirits!

    Love, gratitude and appreciation,


  9. Deirdre Maguire

    Peace is my word for this 2014 which ties in nicely with stillness and reflects what I believe is at the core of every aspect of my life and the life we currently share

  10. Maryellen Greulich

    I like your theme of Stillness as well. I try to practice connecting to my still point, especially when life is the opposite of still! I made a video to describe this experience, you’ll have to skip ahead to 7 minutes 30 seconds to see an example of connecting with stillness during the hectic moments of every day life: httpss://vimeo.com/57013122

    • Maryellen Greulich

      Thanks so much for this concept of a theme word, I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’ve dubbed 2014 to be the year of Abundance. Whether I am worthy (or believe myself to be worthy) or not, I am choosing to bask in the abundance of life. I have so much to be thankful for – an incredible partner, beautiful children, a safe home, my health, supportive family and community. I am going to surrender and allow myself to be showered by all of this bountiful abundance. Even when times get tough, and Reality assures me that they will, I am going to choose abundance over scarcity.

  11. Intuitive Leadership Coach

    A beautiful post Lissa… My theme words (or my Soul desires) are: feminine, graceful, abundant & creative.

    Happy, love-filled 2014 !!

  12. anan

    It is a yearly practice between Christmas and January 1 at my Faith-Family community where we hold a period of silence after a brief guided meditation. In the silence each spirit listens for the Word. A WORD for the year.

    At the end of 2006 and beginning of 2007, I received the word: “Trust”. I recoiled with fear of accepting that word. I knew doing so would probably be a year of testing my Trust in God. And, to accept or not, was the first test. I did accept, thereby dimming down all my cleverness in solving, controlling, manipulating, managing and my practice of steadfast positive thinking.

    I correctly expected that there would be countless tests in different situations and strengths wherein I would be facing powerlessness and needing to just let go and let God. (Trust – 101)

    One full year – The day after Christmas 2007 was the Final Exam before continuing to the next level. I know that I passed because that test was a tough one and now letting go and trusting God is easier. The lessons and tests continue but I more easily recognize the testing. The questions are similar to those requiring a True/False choice. [ Does the student solve this one? Yes/No] [Does the student have the power to do so?] [Who answers this one? Me/God]
    I am learning to make no choice but to “Let Go and Let God”
    or even better: Before choosing what I think is the right answer, I ask God which is the correct answer.

    For the Final Exam 2007-2008 I was standing at the entrance to a hospital emergency room, about to identify my beloved brother/soulmate, 12yrs older than I in his early 80s who had died as a result of an accident.

    I thought: “Dear God, this is not right. A little sister should not be identifying her big brother’s body.
    He is the one who would take care of her. Not she take care of him. He would know what to do. I don’t.”
    Then I visualized the Spirit of God standing right behind me and I said: “I am giving you my body with all its abilities, mind and soul. You fill it with yourself and do what needs to be done for all those who will be experiencing a need for comfort, love, guidance and healing as only You can do. I am nothing. It is only you. ” I spent the next 10 days calm in the awareness that it was not I but God ministering to all of us,


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