We have all been through a transformational 2020. Whether your work has changed, your financial circumstances, there have been dramatic adjustments to seeing family and friends, as well as your liberties have been constrained. We live in a world with different rules to the one we were in 12 months ago. This Winter Solstice a very potent time. This blog will give you guiding question to help you release 2020 and get ready to welcome in 2021.
I encourage you to grab your journal a cuppa and settle down for 20 minutes of reflection and visioning. Take a few deeper slow breaths, relax into your body and allow your awareness and answers to come from your heart rather than your head. Complete the following:
For me, the last year has been…
What I have learned is…
I am most proud of…
What good things have happened?
What have been your favourite moments?
What have been your most difficult moments?
What have you learned about yourself?
What has become more important to you?
One word to describe what you are letting of/releasing in 2020:
You may have heard that Jupiter and Saturn will be so close together that they will be seen as one bright star. This is been likened to the Star in Bethlehem. You may want to head out and look in the South West direction for this amazing spectacle. This is a time of great change for the planets. We are affected by their energies and it helps us to understand what is happening.
What does this mean? Saturn represents discipline, structure – this can be yourself and structure and discipline exerted on the masses by external forces. Jupiter is unfolding spirituality and bestower of gifts. Today be aware of these two elements in your life as you set your intentions for the coming year.
You may have also heard that we are stepping into a new age, the age of Aquarius. What does this mean? The last age was Pisces, an earth sign, Aquarius is an air sign. Things won’t feel so heavy. There will be new inspiration, working with technologies and finding new innovative solutions. Aquarius is free-spirited, progressive, original, independent, humanitarian. As Maressa Brown explains that “this period will be about learning and growth around how we as individuals contribute to and affect — for better or worse — the world around us, whether that’s a collaborative effort with colleagues or fellow environmental protection activists. It’ll be about putting in the work and reaping the benefits of trading “me” for “we.”
Journal Prompts for 2021
What is your vision for the future?
What needs to die to make space for your vision?
What is working for you?
If you knew you couldn’t fail, what do you think you’d be doing that you aren’t now?
What is important to you?
How can you be disciplined to create the life you want?
What are you known for?
What do you want to be known for?
What do you need to let go of to align with the new you?
What spiritual gifts are there for you, if you choose to elevate your frequency by stepping out of fear and allow more love into your life?
What is your word for 2020?
What is your first step towards that?
Aquarius is a future-focused sign. Get clear on your vision for your future. Transformation comes from the inside out. Give your self 20 minutes to get clear on your next year. Please share below any insights on your 2020 or what you want to create in 2021.
What is the kindest thing that someone else has done for you during the past couple of months?
The pandemic has affected individuals and communities all over the world. Having been in this transition phase for a few months, our old way of life gone but the new way of life not yet formed. Many of us have been stopped dead in our tracks, not allowed to go out and be busy, we have been re-evaluating our priorities in life.
This has brought many people back to their communities. People have been creative and inventive. We have observed physical distancing, but we have found new ways to connect and support each other. The vulnerable are being supported. Doing what is right is obvious. Helping make more PPE, supporting neighbours mentally and physically through doing little chores, encouraging people to plans seeds and grow their own vegetables, there are too many examples to list. Volunteering for our community makes us feel good. We have a purpose which is creating a better world by our small actions.
We are planet made of up communities. Will people continue to give time to do the right thing after the pandemic? We are the masters of our own destiny. Will we support our neighbours and volunteer in our communities? Our actions can lay the foundation. Through Kindness, Balance and Quality we can build better stronger communities.
What is the kindest thing that someone else has done for you during the past couple of months?
How can you pay that kindness forward tenfold in the future?
I am thinking about the future. I’m asking people what sort of world do they want? Because I don’t believe the future world will be made by other people, it will be created by us. Each of us will be a part of shaping this new world. Our world will be shaped by our actions and our inaction. What things did you ignore, close your eyes to and continued to hope someone else would do it? What future do you want our children to have?
These are challenging questions, but I notice a difference in people now and it gives me great hope for the future. In my street and all around the country people are looking out for each other. An example is a household that can get shopping delivered, is now putting an elderly neighbours order on, so they don’t have to go to the shops. They can stay safe because people are looking out for each other.
What has changed?
I admit that there always were members of the community who have put a lot of their personal time and energy in to making a better world. They know that if you want something doing, crack on and make a start. Actions make a better world. But this hasn’t felt true for everyone. Many people have felt disempowered, unable to affect change in any way in their own lives or the lives of others. This is reflected in the numbers of people turning out to vote.
People have been so busy making a living they haven’t had time to stop and think, look at where they are in life and what they are doing. When we are living according to our values, we are living with integrity. Do you value money over family or is family first? Do you need more money for more stuff, gadgets and distractions or more quality time each week with your family and friends? Where does your time go? What do you prioritise? What are your values? Are you living life according to your values?
The “Great Pause” has made us all stop to some degree. We are faced with a huge challenge; the pandemic and our actions matter. Everyone is being asked to act responsibly, to think of the greater good which is in their own good. The focus has moved away from the individual, our busy lives, our personal aspirations of success to the community we are in. Our lives, our safety depends on us working together and following the Government guidelines. Although we are physically distancing, we are also becoming closer as a community. Communities can be geographical, households living in the same area, but there’s also a strengthening of communities of interest. People are coming together, learning together, sharing their wisdom and supporting each other online. We are being tested to our very core, our beliefs are being challenged, this can make us feel unstable. Reaching out to others helps us in uncertain times. Community is important, we are social animals.
Powerful acts of kindness
I see people all over the world acting from their hearts, helping members of their communities online and locally. Because at some level we realise that when we do good deeds, they benefit others and us. Volunteering in our communities, kindness, the act of giving, makes us feel better. We are being helpful and we’re building a better world. Our actions make a difference. The difference is we are all remembering this, we are consciously connecting to our power, our power to make a difference. We can each make a dramatic difference by our actions and our words.
All our little actions, virtuous deeds make a huge difference. We have the power to change the world. Can you feel your power? That knowing, like a little flame that has been fanned in the Great Pause. Our power and our passion are coming back to life.
Can I make a difference?
What do you want to create? You have the power to make decisions and carry them through with your actions. It only takes 25% of the population to adopt something and it comes a new norm. David Noonan’s 2018 article quotes Arnout van de Rijt, who studies social networks and collective action “this is about a minority trying to change the status quo, and succeeding by being unrelenting. By committing to a new behaviour, they repeatedly expose others to that new behaviour until they start to copy it.” “The other environment in which the 25 percent effect is particularly evident, Centola says, is online—where people have large numbers of interactions with lots of other people, many of them strangers.” If you are involved in online communities, this can be very powerful. The way you act, can draw like-minded souls to you. Your actions can change the world.
What does the new world look like?
Are you concerned about the state of the planet? What would you like the new world to look like? How do people act? How do you act in that new world? How do you want people to act towards each other? Do you want people to be suspicious, fearful of eye contact and smiles? Are people expected to manage in isolation? Or do you want to continue to build stronger communities, through kind deeds and smiles? Do you feel we should be involved in local and national decision-making structures? How can new decision-making structures enable people to be involved in a meaningful way? How can we bring our skills and expertise to our communities to help and support them thrive? What can you do to make the world you are dreaming of a reality?
How are you acting and thinking?
The old world was imbued with “my opinion and my actions don’t matter”. That world doesn’t exist anymore. Everything has changed so much over the last couple of months. Has your thinking changed? We have felt the power of our actions, our voice calling for action from our leaders. We’re still in Lockdown and we can influence what happens next. What we do influences the world we create. Our actions towards each other, our community our world does make a difference. We have been reminded of our power. Now you choose how you use it. Do you want a better world? How will you make a better world?
Share your thoughts about the actions you will take now and in the future. What have you wanted to do in the past, but not made time for? What will you stop doing? What have you learnt over the last 2 months? What do you want to continue to do in the future?
Travel can be challenging. It doesn’t always go to plan. You’re in an ever-changing environment with new people all the time. It can be an onslaught to the senses, a culture-shock at times, which pushes you out of your comfort zone. Don’t be ******* yourself if one morning, one afternoon or one evening you feel a bit deflated or overwhelmed by it all. It’s perfectly normal.
It’s normal, but it isn’t something you want to indulge in. Notice how you feel. Have a think about it, why is this happening? What has knocked you out of your stride? A quiet moment journaling can help you get to the bottom of the issue, acknowledge your thoughts and feelings. This clarity may be all you need to move through it. Think about it in this way – open the front door, let the feeling in, understand it accept it and then open the back door and let it out. No inviting it in for a cup of tea, to sit down and make itself at home. You don’t want or need that negativity in your life.
First things first. Why is it happening? Why are you feeling down? Is there any physical reason?
Have you drunk enough water? Are you dehydrated?
Have you eaten? Has your blood-sugar crashed?
Did you get enough sleep? Are you tired and grumpy?
Are you too hot or too cold?
Malsow’s Hierarchy of needs makes its clear that we need to take care of the basics first.
Think about the questions above and write the answers below. This is just checking-in with yourself. It’s basic self-care. You need to be kind, like you would to a small child and see if there’s something that needs fixing at the first level.
Is there any physiological reason for you feeling bad?
Things you can do to address the imbalance:
This basic self-care needs to be a priority in life, all the time. It stops things before they start becoming a problem. They keep you in your equilibrium, your happy rested and energized state, ready to take on the world.
Sleep, Safety and Security
If you aren’t getting good sleep, you will be tired, and it will affect your awareness and ability to make good decisions. Sleep is so important. Think about where you are staying. Is it the best place for you now?
Are you getting a good night’s sleep?
Is it too noisy?
Do you feel safe?
Do your belongings feel safe?
If any of these questions help you pinpoint a problem, it’s helpful. Now you need to decide what you want to do about it.
Do you want to move or stay?
When you are tired, and it all feels overwhelming the last thing you want to do is pack your backs and put yourself out on the street. So, let’s take this one step at a time.
I’m going to share a story with you. I went to Cuzco in Peru. I was booked on the Inca trail trek and I had a couple of days before the trek to acclimatise and do a bit of sightseeing. I booked myself into a hostel close to the center. I got there, booked a trip that left at 4.30am the following day, packed my kit ready and went to bed. There were doors slamming and people putting the light on and banging their kit about through the night. I had booked into the party hostel! We had different aspirations.
After my day trip, I looked for a different hostel, moved 50m down the hill and got a nice bed in a quiet hostel with great food and showers. It was a great upgrade!
What do you want at your new accommodation?
You now have a checklist of key criteria for your search of the local area. If you have stayed in the town/city for a night, you will be learning where the noisy streets are with traffic and people. You can either head towards the noise and action or head away from it depending on what you want to do with your time.
If you want a quiet sociable place to stay, look for a quiet hostel or a family run guesthouse. Guidebooks also give details of popular hotels. I’ve done my homework and found places locally that might be good, but I’ll go down and ask at reception for a recommendation. Other travelers have heard me asking and invited me to join them, as they were just heading that way.
If you want to be on your own a hotel may be best. You can hide in your room on your own or be sociable in the communal spaces if you choose.
Sometimes we just need our own space, time to hide from the constant change and just do a bit of self-nurturing. This is a time to be quiet and calm yourself. Ground yourself so you feel whole a stable rather that in a busy whirlwind that’s pulling you all out of shape.
If you keep a travel journal, writing up the last few days may be a good way to acknowledge all the things you have been doing. How busy you have been, what you have achieved. It is a step towards understanding how much you are putting yourself through. When you are at home you aren’t doing different things every 24 hours, there are some familiar routines, space to unwind.
Travel journal can be mini-scrapbooks, full of your tickets, postcards, pictures from leaflets and your own drawings. Having a quiet, creative, reflective few hours can be all you need to get you back on track. You’ll feel proud of who you are, what you are doing. Acknowledging all the feelings you’re experiencing as you explore this new land is also important. Sometimes we are awed by the beauty and brought to tears, sometimes devastated by the poverty and squalor. Not being able to do anything about it makes us feel helpless and possibly angry.
You may not be able to change the world, but you are responsible for how you choose to act. Treating people with loving kindness always is a choice. If you decide you want to do something to solve a problem you have seen, you can choose to do so. It’s your life and you need to do what’s right for you.
Get out into Nature
You can always choose to do something different. Being in a busy city may not be the best environment for you. It could make you feel lonely and overwhelmed. Maybe it was a great when you were planning, but now you’re there, it’s just not right. Sometimes being in nature is the best place. It helps us feel grounded and calm. Being on a tropical beach or staying in a bungalow in the forest where you can admire the Milkway at night can be humbling and enriching.
I suggest you meditate to calm your mind and get clarity. Below is a guide on accessing your inner quiet space. This will allow you to relax and settle yourself.
Accessing your inner quiet space
There’s lots about meditation and mindfulness now. Whether you have your own practice or not, I offer this meditation to you. This is to help you access your inner stillness and your intuition.
Find yourself and quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Sit comfortably with your back straight and your feet on the floor, hands in your lap or lie down. Take three slow deep breathes in to the bottom of your belly, to help you relax. Feel the contact of your body, where it meets the chair or bed. Feel the support and allow yourself to relax deeper.
Now breathe in slowly and as you breathe out, I want you to drop down a layer in your consciousness. It’s just like dropping through a trapdoor and floating to the next layer below. Don’t rush this just go one layer at a time. To be honest your mind will probably try to distract you with chatter, just stay at that layer until you quieten your mind, then, breather in and as you breathe out float down to the next layer. You will go down several layers and, in the end, you will find yourself in a dark and quiet space. It’s like finding the ground. This is your quiet space. When you are ready you can come back up.
You can access this any time you want. It is very grounding and centering. It gets easier and quicker to access the more you practice. This meditation reminds you that you are more than just the chatter in your head. There is an inner quiet space that you can access. You may want to take a few moments and write about your experience in your journal.
Understand your feelings
Human have had to survive all sorts of different environments and different dangers. You will have heard of Fight or Flight. This is our inbuilt system that looks out for dangers and acts to keep us safe. We get a spike of adrenaline that will allow us run away or fight our way from the danger. Previously, dangers were simply Wooly Mammoths. Now in our complex world many things can seem to be a dangerous, the internet, the traffic and strangers.
Not all strangers mean us harm, in fact the majority are very friendly and are willing to help. The situation isn’t always dangerous. You may have a lot of false alarms going off. Feeling anxious because you are stressed, and think you are under attack it’s a sustainable situation. You need time to relax your body. Let it know you’re safe, so it can turn off all the alarms and rest properly. Doing some deep breathing exercises to connect with your body and the meditation above will make a real difference.
You need to calm yourself. Let your brain know that not everything is dangerous. Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s dangerous. Going out into the world and experiencing something new can be stressful at first as you see in the graph below. But the more you do it, the more normal it seems, and you no longer feel stressed.
When I travel, I take a few specific things with me to make me feel special, connected, comforted and enable me to be creative, as I’ve explained with the Travel Journal.
These are my self-soothing tools.
If it’s my birthday or Christmas while I’m away, I’ll take a few cards and a little present to open. I make sure I have my own room, I make a fuss of myself, putting my cards up and opening a present. I might have bought myself a gift, such as a bracelet I can wear. I have energising music playing (I like dance music and electro-swing). I do something creative or go out somewhere special. This is a great time to do exactly what you want.
If I need to calm myself, I need space to nurture myself. Breathing exercises make me focus on breathing down into my body. This focuses my mind and gets me in touch with how my body feels. I have a Chill-out playlist that I listen to or I can use a guided meditation.
Using nice bath products and moisturisers makes me feel special. I carry a little pot of nail varnish on long trip and paint my toenails. I have a bit of perfume to make me feel feminine.
How can you self-nurture as you travel? List items you can take:
Make sure you make self-care a priority and put together your own compassionate kit bag. I have detailed what you could include below. This isn’t an afterthought; this is core to making sure you can flex with whatever comes your way.
The New Year marks a point in time, where we move from one year to the next, this is a culturally agreed date. Where you’re from, will influence how you think and the customs you’ve taken onboard as your autopilot. Travelling allows us to see these autopilots. Stepping out of our culture into separate set of beliefs and ways of acting makes us aware of what we’ve taken onboard as truth. But is it the Truth with a capital T? The ultimate truth? I’ll share my thoughts about New Year which help highlight our constricted thinking. I’m going to encourage you to turn off your autopilot and consider your Truth with a capital T. Then make some plans for your New Year and new you!
Which is your New Year? There are many different calendars around the world that measure the passage of time. In China the first day of Chinese New Year begins on the new moon that appears between January 21 and February 20. This is huge festivity with people travelling home to celebrate with family and their community. It is known as the Spring Festival and its traditional for every family to thoroughly clean their house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for incoming good luck. This ritual is a conscious way of letting go of the past year to step into the New Year, clean, fresh and ready for opportunity.
The Gregorian Calendar is the most widely used calendar system today. New Year is celebrated on the 1st January. Wikipedia explains the variety of dates used by different places. You’ll notice the link between location on the globe and the amount of sunlight. Because the New Year is about the start of the new growing season. This is true for us internally as well – that’s why we make New Year’s resolutions to consciously develop our growth in ways we want.
Ancient wisdom To ancient people the return of the sun was a time for celebration. It was the start of the New Year. More daylight meant spring was on its way, a time to plant crops and more food security. These were a very knowledgeable and sophisticated people. Neolithic people used stone tools and they had a very accurate understanding of the passing of the seasons through the movement of the sun. The Winter Solstice on 21st December marks the shortest day of the year and the longest night. After this, we in the northern hemisphere get a little more daylight each day up to the Summer Solstice on 21st June. I travelled to Newgrange a Neolithic tomb to be part of this ancient celebration of the return of the sun.
Stonehenge in England a famous standing stone temple that lines up with the summer and winter solstice. There are more detailed carvings on the stones facing the Winter Solstice, showing that this was the more important orientation. The return of the sun was the most momentous time of year. Travelling to Newgrange to be part of the Winter Solstice celebration was a new experience for me. I was following my intuition. I knew I should be there, but I wasn’t sure what to expect.
At Newgrange I learned that Neolithic people clothed themselves using hides from deer and other animals. They knitted using the fibres from sheep and dogs. Dogs! I realised that I had culturally accepted that we use the fur of sheep. Dogs have fur, that’s soft. They need their coats cutting so why did this seem a new concept to me, as it is an obvious use of resources? I had just shone a light on a cultural autopilot. If this is one, then what else to I accept that isn’t True? What do you accept that isn’t true for you?
What is your Truth? When I went to Newgrange, I realised that New Year for me was the Winter Solstice. I had been tidying my house and clearing out the old, so I could welcome in my New Year. It had been something that I just needed to do my internal compass was guiding me. Acknowledging where I’d been and what I’d learnt in the previous year. The return of the sunlight and longer days was a powerful feeling of renewal. I had been preparing for my New Year.
At Newgrange I clearly felt that Christmas is now a cultural festival of bling and consumerism. I know what it is and I don’t renounce it, I’m just not getting subsumed by it. I choose what Christmas means for me. It is a time for family to come together and relax in each other’s company. It’s a day off in winter, a time to rest, nurture and feast. We do this by sharing great food, a key part of our way of showing our care and nurturing each other.
The changing of the season though on 21st December was a powerful internal force. My Truth, my time to choose the path of my future. To make conscious decisions to move in the direction of my dreams. I spend time setting goals for myself, so I can develop myself in all my aspects – physically, spiritually, with family/ friends, improving my home, my career, travelling goals and volunteering.
Conscious choice – set some goals for the year What is your Truth? When do you feel the internal compass spin and a need to move in the direction of your Truth? No matter what others are doing, what calendar they are following because “that’s the way we do things around here”, you should follow your gut and do what’s correct for you. Spend time reflecting and learning from the past year. Then its time to look forward and plan where you want to go. Break it down as I do and set little goals in each area of your life.
New perspective Travel is a wonderful. It shines a light and allows you to see how you have just fallen in to autopilot. The unfamiliar environment, new people, may be even a new culture helps you to notice how you operate and how you could do things differently if you chose to. Think of it like this. A snake grows and a some point its skin then become restrictive. You have been growing over the last year, you now are at the point where you can internally choose to stay as you are in the same skin that feel familiar and safe, but a bit uncomfortable as it’s limiting, or you can choose to grow. This means leaving the safety of your old self, choosing to do things differently, to challenge yourself, to allow yourself to make mistakes and grow. You may feel vulnerable, but you will allow yourself to do new things, have adventures and be proud of your achievements. If not now when?
The trauma of ending a long-term relationship cuts deep. The end of one part of your life allows you to create something new. In this blog I want to share why setting goals is so important to creating the life you want. I hope you will be inspired to set your own goals and make your dreams come true!
When I broke up from my long-term partner, I had to get used to being just me, not part of a couple. It was challenging changing my vocabulary, not using words such as we or us, it was now I or me. So, who was the I without the we? What had I given up to be part of a couple? I looked inside and realised, I’d given up on some of my dreams, to mould myself to be with my partner. Now I was on my own, did I want to follow my dreams? It was a clear choice, stay stuck or grow?
It’s a simple question, but it applies to every part of your life. When you step back and look at all aspects of your life: work-life balance, career, fun/hobbies, finances, spiritual and mental growth, relationships, emotional growth and health/fitness, what do you think? Are some areas better than others? Parts of your life that you are happy with, that are running smoothly. But are there one or two areas that are dragging you down? You may already know what you want to change? These are areas for personal growth, they are your growth objectives.
Why would I want to have a growth objective I hear you say? It sounds like challenging work and I’ve no time or energy for any of that. I just want to plod along and have a quiet life. Okay, I hear you, but do you want a better life? The path to a better life, is sorting out the problems so you’re happier and more fulfilled.
Get clarity and set goals
Getting clarity about a problem can help you find a route to make changes. Sometimes problems can feel big, overwhelming and frankly impossible. If this is where you are, and you want to make a change, I suggest you get a coach. A coach will help you clarify your thinking. You can get clear on exactly what you want to change and create a goal. Having a goal means you can look at options and decide your best way forward. You create a set of small actions that move you towards your goal. Lists help, make them, do the action and tick them off. You feel good about your progress and this keeps you focused.
Achieving your goals
Do dreams come true? In my case, yes, they do! My dream was to ride a motorbike and go touring on a Triumph in the Dolomites. This was my dream since I was a teenager. I’d let other things get in the way, I hadn’t made it a priority, but inside I still wanted to do it. I looked around at other people who rode motorbikes, they didn’t seem to be any better than me. If they could do it, I could do it.
I decided to go for it! I’d try to get my motorbike license. In my mind this could result in one of three possible outcomes:
Pass my license and I was on the way to making my dream a reality or
Fail the test, but I was proud of myself for trying
Realise that I didn’t want to ride a motorbike to the Dolomites, end of dream nonsense.
Any of the above options was a good outcome in my eyes. I found a local motorbike school that was supportive of women and I booked lessons. It was tough. I had to concentrate, learn and master new skills. It sharped up my road awareness and this has benefited me as a cyclist and car driver. I loved learning, challenging myself and developing new skills. As I made small steps, I was proud of my achievements.
My outcome was option 4! When I went for my test, I failed first time, but I wasn’t going to give up on my dream, I’d invested too much. I took my test again and passed. After years of developing my skills as a rider, I went to the Dolomites on my Triumph. My story is the same as many other people’s, I am not super-special or particularly gifted. I had a dream, I broke it down into steps and I just kept going until I reached my goal. I didn’t achieve it in a week, it took me years. But I can say with my hand on my heart that my life is richer. Motorbiking has given me a sense of freedom, squealing in my helmet, fun, respect and adventure. I’ve met wonderful people, visited beautiful, stop-you-dead-in your-tracks places that make your heart swell. As a teenager I had a dream, as an adult I made the dream come true.
Your time to choose
We all have free will. We all choose the life we want to lead. Which future will you choose? Same as always or doing what you want to do?
Start planning or if you want to get clarity, get a coach. Setting a goal makes an enormous difference when it comes to making changes in your life. The October Business Planning Guide 2017 from Rising Tide Society had a Harvard Study: that revealed remarkable statistics relating to goal setting and success: 83% of the population do not have goals; 14% have a plan in mind, but goals are unwritten; and 3% have goals written down. The study found that the 14% who have goals are 10 times more successful than those without goals. The 3% with written goals are three times more successful than the 14% with unwritten goals. Writing your goals down sets you up to be exponentially more successful. If you want to change your life make a goal and write it down. Be proud of yourself for choosing to change and making your life better. If you want to know what support coaching can give you to achieve your goals, book a free discovery call with me.