2017 is nearing its close. As the clock ticks over onto a new day, a new date, a new calendar year, I usually love the reflection that this time brings. For the last few years, I’ve made a real effort to spend time alone plotting out the year ahead and looking back on the year just passed.
But this year it’s been a bit different.
This year, Cyrus our dog died. He was such a profound part of our lives and the most gorgeous, loving boy. It was heartbreaking to say goodbye to him.
Loss definitely throws into sharp relief where one has been squandering one’s energy on the unimportant.
In fact, in the days after he died, I felt strangely, manically energised by his death – as if life were in extreme high-def – where the normal everyday compromises I make out, of laziness or weakness, seemed like a profanity.
But overall, once that feeling settles, grief is an exhausting, ruthless emotion to contend with.
I’ve definitely been conscious of trying to outwit grief at times, simply because it’s such a deeply uncomfortable emotion. My experience of it is at best an all- pervasive, destabilising heartsoreness and at worst a feeling of physical, paniced choking.
Nonetheless, one of the end of year review questions I’ve read is “what are you most proud of from the last year?”.
And I’m proud of how my husband and I were by his side after the diagnosis, trying to make his last weeks as happy and peaceful as possible – despite the trauma of the illness – and, subsequently, how we’ve coped with the heartbreak of saying goodbye, burying him under an apple tree in the orchard he loved snuffling around in, and the weeks of raw pain that followed.
So as 2017 drew to a close, I haven’t done the normal big analysis of the year past as that was really the only thing that 2017 was about for me.
However, I’ve definitely used some focused processes to think about the year ahead.
I’ve made some lists, a vision board and pulled some cards. I think they’ll all be helpful prompts / crutches (!) for the year ahead and remind me of keeping on track. And they’re all exercises I wholeheartedly recommend.
So here they are:
18 for 18 (From Gretchen Rubin’s podcast – find it here)
- Be able to run 5K
- Clear out / organise my wardrobe
- Get my haircut once a quarter
- Start a successful retirement fund
- Save 10% of the money I make/earn
- Successfully invest in a cryptocurrency
- Cook 6 new recipes a month
- Successfully complete extra online yoga teacher training (which I’ve been subscribed to since 2012!) and do what I need to do to get the certification
- Meditate daily
- Face & body skincare daily
- Read 12 quality books
- Successfully complete Amy Porterfield’s List Builders Lab (all these unfinished online courses cluttering up my pysche!)
- Repaint our flat
- Do at least 2 retreats with Anna the shaman
- Master scorpion pose – freestanding, for at least 30 seconds
- Break up with sugar (thanks www.truly-julie.com! or document amount/type eaten (white foods included)
- Only 1 hour of tv a day
- Write a book!
I pulled 12 cards – one for each month and a theme for the year, from the Moon Deck. A friend of mine from NY gave it to me last year, although I’d seen it on Instagram before that.
I love it – it’s a very nurturing, gentle deck. One of its creators is a yoga teacher, so each card comes with a “prescription” of rituals, yoga postures or breathing exercises etc to help with the card’s theme.
The theme of the year that I picked, which seemed so apt as my husband and I are going to spend more time in the countryside and as I ease out of my J.O.B. into doing my own projects (against everyone’s advice of course “stick with the day job” “um, no thanks Mum and Dad” ‘But are you sure you want to move to the country?” “Yes!”!) is
“I am on the right path and divinely guided”.
I’ve picked 12 cards for the new year for the last 2 years and it’s interesting (and can be a little anxiety provoking).
This is the first time I’ve done it with the Moon Deck and I’m really glad that I did, because each card for each month already feels relevant and super helpful.
When I saw the spread there was a feeling of ‘argh phew lovely’ rather than the slight hairs-on-scalp-prickling-nervousnousness which happens when some of the trickier, darker cards get pulled from a more traditional deck.
When I’m feeling emotionally robust, I find getting those cards interesting and beyond the first adrenaline rush, they don’t really bother me.
But after this year, I just didn’t want the possibility of that kind of anxiety and I think I made the right call on that. After all, I use them as a tool to help me anchor into my intuition, not to make me scared about what life holds in store for me. And the Moon Deck just isn’t like that.
A few weeks ago I did a vision board. It was my first experience of doing this.
Wow what a revelation. I felt on a total high after the session (I’m sure helped by it being combined with a session of Journey Dance, which is just the best).
The facilitator explained that it was an uncanny process and that generally people found what they were looking for, as they tapped into their subconsious.
Frankly I was sceptical about this, particularly as I thought some of my aims for 2018 were obscure and the pile of magazines didn’t look promising.
But – how wrong I was! If I didn’t still have the board as proof, I would find it hard to believe that it flowed as it did or that I’d dreamt it. It was almost freaky.
And as someone suggested to Gretchen Rubin, for obligers (like me), it might be a good external ‘authority’ to keep accountable to. I liked that idea a lot and so the board will be displayed prominently.
Here it is! Yes I’m inspired by Meghan Markle!
And finally, every day I write down my Core Desired Feelings in my Daily Desire Map planner.
I first did the Desire Map nearly 3 years ago. For many reasons it was a real relief to work out what my core desired feelings were (these are between 3 and 5 feelings you want to feel every day).
Danielle LaPorte, who wrote the Desire Map, and is just a goddess of common sense and no bullshit, suggests that actually when we goal set we are really chasing a feeling rather than achievement.
We think we want the achievement but what we’re really after is the feeling we think the achievement will give us.
This is my 3rd Daily Desire Map planner. They’re really amazing tools and actually a good record of one’s life.
Looking back from mine from 2016 and it was interesting – how I felt at any point, what I was doing, how I was spending my time, what I was grateful for, what wasn’t working out so well. It’s great to have that kind of archive of oneself.
So my 5 core desired feelings for 2018 are:
nourished, psychic, elegant, protected and leisurely.
I’m looking forward to 2018. I wish Cyrus were here with us, but death is a fact of life.
One of the things I’m most grateful for from last year was the fact that I read The Light Between Us a few weeks before the diagnosis. The last chapter made me weep copiously, as the author writes about channeling her brother’s dog (until that point, her brother didn’t really believe in her mediumship abilities).
I was reading it in bed, with Cyrus snuggled up against me. At that moment, I was so consciously glad to have him there. I hope he felt how glad I was and I’m pretty sure he did. It felt like that that book helped me have a moment of heart connection with him that I hope extends beyond time and space and physical existance. But I can’t get away from the fact that I miss him desperately on this physical plane.
Cyrus I’ll always love you – whatever year it is.