Named for the two-faced Roman god Janus, January is a time to look back – and forward. Janus is the god of beginnings and endings, of doorways and gates, of time and transitions, and passages, as he looks to the future and back to the past. For without reflection on the past, the dream of a new, bright future is hard to imagine.
The end to the year is here – and the beginning of another is upon us. December 31 and January 1 – we straddle the past and the future, the end and the start.
This is what I’d like you to do today, on the very first day of the New Year.
I’d like you to reflect on your year in its totality – between January 1st and December 31, 2016: the hard times and the tears, but the great times, too. There is always at least one – and, if you reflect, there are many, many more.
Okay. As you reflect, write down all the amazing things from 2016. Handwrite them – don’t type them. There’s something about writing by hand – from your heart to your hand, from your soul to your hand – that makes those great things seem even more real.
Here are some thought starters for you. Write yours down in a list, and really think about how each made you feel – and why.
- A new child in your life
- A degree in school
- Paying down (or paying off!) a debt
- Moving into a new home
- Finding or rekindling love
- Planting a garden
- Creating a painting
- Writing a book/play/song
- Being cancer-free
- Adopting a shelter pet
- Landing a new job
- Being with family and friends
- Volunteering at the soup kitchen
Now, once you have that list and have reflected on each one, tear each good thing into its own strip of paper, fold it once or twice, and put each “blessing” in a jar that you’ll label “2016.”
Guess what? This is going to prepare you for 2017. For any hard times, for any pain. You can go right back to that jar, close your eyes, and pull one “great 2016 moment” from the jar. The good from the previous year can get you through any rocky times in the coming year.
And now that you know how buoyant that feeling of fabulous is, I’d like you to get a jar and label THAT, “Sensational 2017.” DO IT NOW.
This time, you won’t have to wait until the end of the year to write everything down. Now, every time something good happens – no matter how small or insignificant you think it may be – write it down on a strip of paper and place it in the jar. As you do this, think about how this star of happiness made you feel. Why did it make you feel that way? Was it because you proved to yourself you could do “it” – whatever that it may be? Or was it because it made your heart happy?
You want to focus on moments that light your soul, engulf your heart with happy, and inspire your mind.
“The most effective way to do it, is to do it”- Amelia Earhart
So what are you waiting for?
Send us some of your inspirational events so we can share in your accomplishments!
“When there are no ceilings, the sky is the limit.” –
Hillary Rodham Clinton,
former First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State, and Democratic Nominee for President
No, this is not a political post.
Rather, it’s about life: your life.
Think back. How many times in your life did your negative thoughts entrap you? Maybe you didn’t realize it at the time, or perhaps you don’t even realize it now. But negativity constructs walls, topping them off with an impenetrable ceiling, creating a nearly indestructible box from which you can’t escape.
Or so you think.
Mind and thoughts are powerful entities. Emotions, too, generate their own power.
Together, they have the power to dictate your physical experience.
Yes, we face our own share of challenges every day. A challenge for one person might not seem like a challenge for another. It’s in the way we observe, process, and navigate the challenge. It’s our total capacity for life and everything it throws at us (or serves us). Some people have a large capacity and higher tolerance for challenge. Everyone has a breaking point, though, and most of us know when we’ve approached it: short temper, impatience, exhaustion, negativity.
But I know from experience – my own and others close to me – that optimism in the face of heartbreak, or soul crush, or physical illness helps to set the tone and the course of the outcome.
When we think in terms of limits – whether a ceiling, walls or a situation – we can’t see the way out. Such is the nature of limits. We limit ourselves in our thinking and outlook. We construct limitations for ourselves because we’ve probably never pushed ourselves to our real limits.
I’m convinced we don’t know what our real limits are until we are thrown into a situation, or until we unhook ourselves from our own tired worldview. I’m also convinced that optimism shines the light on possibilities, illuminating a new road or a new opportunity for us.
Being optimistic isn’t easy – but it gets easier when you develop the habit. Negativity is draining mentally, physically, and emotionally. Why go down the rabbit hole to the dark side? Re-train your mind to focus on positivity. Pay attention to your thoughts and your words. Pay attention to every thing, every situation. Keep your eyes and your heart open. Look at the world and yourself with positivity and optimism.
Pretty soon the ceiling and those walls will fade, and a blue sky with a shining sun breaks through or a wide open velvet night with stars sparkling comes into view. Both are beautiful, and both contain potential.
The sky is the limit – which is limitless.
David Bowie is dead.
This news shocked me awake two weeks ago on that Monday morning. I couldn’t believe it – still can’t. Tears and tributes and total disbelief from around the world, as social media exploded with the news.David Bowie is still in the news, a full fortnight after his death, with his first number one album and his music dominating the rest of the charts.
At the heart of this, is still the grief and disbelief.
There’s something about mourning someone you’ve never known personally.
There’s also something about mourning someone who had an enormous impact on so many lives for DECADES on a global scale in music, art, movies, fashion, and culture as a whole.
And, then there’s the knowledge that you’re not alone in your grief – that you and millions of others are collectively in a mindset of sadness, but remembrance.
It’s a powerful force.
David Bowie WAS a force. For five decades, Bowie continuously evolved and reinvented himself, emerging as a fresh extension of his former self, exploring places and subjects others feared to face.
It’s difficult to describe my feelings, swirling in a multi-colored nebula of stardust and glitter, trekking through a forest of loneliness and self-discovery. He was a guide, a psychopomp to generations, leading us into birthing new versions of ourselves – in thought, life, creative endeavors, and business.
For me, it started with The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. As a nine-year old, I’d never seen anything like Bowie/Ziggy before. I loved boy bands, but oh – the glitter and glam of Stardust Spiders hypnotized me. His first appearance on The Midnight Special (for those of you too young to remember that show … I’m sorry!), changed the face of rock forever.
On Diamond Dogs (probably my favorite album), Bowie sings of a post-apocalyptic , Orwellian-inspired Manhattan. Bowie’s eerie, spoken lyrics in Future Legend tell of “fleas were the size of rats and sucked on rats the size of cats,” and the words,
“Like packs of dogs assaulting the glass fronts of Love-Me Avenue
Ripping and rewrapping mink and shiny silver fox, now legwarmers,”
have stayed with me over 40 years after I first heard them. Not sure why, but his post-apocalyptic glitter visions made him a mystical messiah. He was dystopian, before it was de riguer in books, movie, and culture.
And I’m not the only one impacted by Bowie, with songs and style with staying power.
That’s saying something.
What does Bowie and his long and glittering career demonstrate to everyone – fan or not – about motivation?
Reinvention is the engine of growth. Bowie recognized this early in his career – and it became a something fans looked forward to. Who would Bowie be next? What new songs, style, and outlook would he give us?
Reinvention in the face of criticism and other expectations is scary. Bowie retired Ziggy Stardust at his zenith, shocking fans and critics alike. Ziggy was huge – HUGE. So huge, that Ziggy overshadowed all the other stars twinkling in the shadows and deepest depths of his creator’s soul. But for Bowie, it was time to move, to grow, to evolve.
Evolution and Transformation
Life is evolution. Evolve or die. Evolution of emotions, of ideas, of spirit. You are not the same person you were at 16. At 25. At 38. If you are, then there is something terribly, terribly wrong. That is truth, and the way of the world. A body or mind or spirit in stasis doesn’t grow. It deteriorates, devolving into pale shades of wasted potential.
From Major Tom, to Ziggy Stardust, to Aladdin Sane, to the Thin White Duke, to the Goblin King, David Bowie evolved, transforming his music, his look, his masks and persona – taking us along with him. You transformed or you didn’t – along with him. Simple. Bowie’s transformations were overt, donning masks and costumes. Attention grabbed: check! Once riveted by the new persona, songs were played over and over, lyrics pulling the listener deeper and deeper, sparking a new awareness within.
Reinvention: Face and Embrace Ch-ch-changes
CH-ch-ch-changes. Everything changes, and to fully live life it’s in our best interest to realize that change is the one constant. Bowie knew this. He reinvented himself consciously and creatively over and over. Embrace change & embrace the inevitable (death). Bowie embraced change within the culture. He embraced it, massaged it, grew it, and gave it back to us – forcing change in us and the culture from which he took the seeds of ideas. He did that right to the end of his mortal life. As he faced impending death, he embraced the process. Death and transformation set to a powerful, eerie soundtrack with video, allowing us to glimpse the soul of a messenger heralding his final journey.
That’s powerful stuff.
Magic and Masks
Wear many masks, but stay true to yourself. David Bowie was a master of this. He knew the secret: to be an expert mask-maker, you first have to know who you are – and be okay with it. Make the mask and wear it with gusto! Bowie made magic with his life and shared it with others, encouraging and exploring the good, the bad, and the ugly of our existence.
Rebellion and Defiance
Rebel against convention and defy labels and stereotypes. Bowie was the ultimate non-conformist – an unapologetic artist. Create art for personal and spiritual fulfillment – chances are you’ll hit a universal nerve. You may think you’re alone in your ideas or feelings, but you’re not. Bowie knew this. By tapping into his own soul, he expressed for us what so many cannot. The mark of a modern day shaman.
Fabulous and Fearless
Live your life on your own terms – and go out on your own terms, too. Bowie did. In the face of critics and haters throughout the years, Bowie stayed true to his own self. He looked and acted fabulous in his fearlessness. A fearless quality which at times explored the ugly side of life, giving it a voice and a platform in which we could all share, nodding our heads and emphatically stating, “Yes, I’ve been there.”
Look beyond your situation to the stars. Bowie did. In the months before his death, he worked furiously to deliver the last album of his career – and his first #1 (posthumously). Did it matter to him if it was number one? Probably not. Did it matter to him if it impacted millions? Most likely. As has been said, it was his last gift to the world – a musical exploration into a human being actively participating in his own transition from this world to the next.
David Bowie will ALWAYS be a force – an otherworldly messenger who fell to Earth for a short time, spreading stardust and inspiration.
David Bowie isn’t dead.
His journey continues, stepping over the threshold into the infinite.
No, David Bowie isn’t dead.
He’s alive in every song he wrote and sang; he’s alive in every single one of us whose lives were changed in ways we never expected.
Thank you, Starman. You will be missed.
By Syndee Barwick
Today, in the Northern Hemisphere, we celebrate the Winter Solstice. As the shortest day and longest night of the year, the Solstice marks the turn from darkness to the rebirth of light.
Light is EVERYWHERE this time of year. Sure, sunset is earlier. But as the sun dips below the horizon in a blaze of golden glory, small lights flicker to life on every street.
I don’t know about where you live, but around me there are a record number of holiday lights (Christmas, Yule, Winter Solstice, and lingering Diwali) hanging from the eaves of houses, framing windows, adorning bushes and trees. White, cool blue, and multi-colors twinkle as they form a tableau for other decorations.
It lights my way home, like a trail of twinkling breadcrumbs. I can see the lights in my yard from the top of the hill at the beginning of my street, beckoning me through the spaces in the evergreens.
Small, sparkling lights possess a hypnotic and calming effect. I can watch my Christmas/Yule tree lights for hours, their glitter reflecting off the shine of ornaments and metallic garland beads. The holiday season can be a source of both joy and stress, but spending thirty minutes by yourself in silence (or with some beautiful instrumental holiday music), melts any of the crazy away.
If you prefer, there’s the soft glow of candlelight, whether outside glowing in a serpentine path underneath luminaria bags, or inside your home atop the mantelpiece.
In the fireplace, the Yule log burns away the old year, building fresh promise upon ashes, transforming any pain and disappointment into hope and excitement for the new year.
During this most reflective time of year, there is much light in the dark. In fact, without the dark, how else would you see the light? Stars spread across the velvet sky, their ancient light providing mystery and wonder. There’s a full moon on Christmas Night, the first since 1977, an occurrence we won’t see again until 2034.
There’s a spark of magic in all this light, if you keep your eyes, mind, and heart open. That same spark of magic light lives in all of us. It’s there, whether or not you’ve felt it, seen it, or manifested it.
Here’s the key: You are your own light.
Don’t wait for someone else’s light to follow. Don’t wait for someone else to ignite your spark. Don’t wait for someone else to feed your fire. They can’t. They can inspire you, but kindling the spark? That’s all you.
“Light your fire and lead your own way.”
Have a Merry Yule, full of mirth and magic!!
By Syndee Barwick