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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