Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Take Your Time

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When I lived in Santa Fe, I used to housesit and dogsit for people. When a friend’s mother  passed away, she asked if I would stay at her mother’s house until she and her sister decided what to do with it.

This was no ordinary house. This was a gorgeous ranch with a guest house in one of my favorite places on earth. I was sure everyone was mistaken and I was really the one who had died because this was my idea of heaven. The days I got to spend in that home among so many beautiful things were unforgettable.

My friend’s mother was a remarkable woman who had crafted an astonishingly elegant life for herself and the friends, family, horses, and canines that kept her company.

One evening as I sat on the porch watching a spectacular sunset the idea occurred to me that I couldn’t hang on to this place or this experience any more than my friend’s mother could. The only thing I could do was fully appreciate the time I had there.

This is why I’m so protective of this time at the end of the year and seem obsessed with making sense of the year coming to a close.  I’m acutely aware that, as the classic Seals and Croft song goes, “We may never pass this way again.”

So I want to make sure I’m present for it. That I don’t rush through it in my desire to move on to bigger, better, faster, or flashier. I want to take my time and give it the attention a full year of my life deserves. I hope you’ll do the same with yours.

With that said, I’ll take you through the rest of the Year in Review template and tomorrow I’ll give you a different one to look at the year ahead.

What were the products that rocked your world? Every year there is at least one thing I wonder how I ever lived without. Usually it’s an upgrade or improvement to something I use every day. It could be as simple as a new electric toothbrush, slim velvet hangers, a new skincare product, or an app that reminds me to meditate, move, or feed the fish. What are those things for you?

Who were the people who rocked your world? Just as there are products you can’t live without, there are people who make it all worthwhile. It could be your yoga teacher, your rabbi, a rock star, a writer, your next door neighbor, Alexander Hamilton, or the dog-treat-dispensing bank teller. I was inspired by so many people that this will have to be a separate blog post for me.

What books, blogs, movies, music, concerts, conversations, or workshop/seminars/coaching programs/retreats changed the way you think and feel? The thing I like to remember is I am only one thought away from a new perspective and a few dance moves or dog walk away from a better mood. As much as I like to think about things, I don’t act on them until I feel something. Often times I need a nudge in the form of reading material, listening material, phoning a friend, or giving in to the unbridled enthusiasm of two dogs who think they are going for a w-a-l-k.

How did your relationships change or shift this year? Did you get engaged, married, divorced, have a baby, lose a loved one, start a business, hire a coach, fire someone, rekindle a romance, move to a new neighborhood, or retire from your job? When your circumstances change, usually your relations shift as well.

What health, fitness, food, or spiritual practices did you try, tweak, test out, or keep up this year? Maybe you took up archery or turned into a total foodie, much to your surprise and delight. Maybe you started a hip hop class or became a Buddhist. Maybe you did a 21-day cleanse or tried acupuncture. Or maybe you suffered a debilitating illness that turned your world upside down and forced you to do everything differently. How have these new practices defined you or allowed you to reinvent yourself?

What is the smallest change you made that had the biggest impact? Did you start meditating for 5 minutes in the morning or stop drinking soda? Did you start leaving love notes in your spouse’s lunchbox? Did you take up taekwondo with your kid? Did you give up lattes for Lent and never looked back?

And finally, what were your greatest contributions this year? Maybe you spent a Saturday afternoon being a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army. Maybe you took 3 carloads of career ready clothes to Dressed for Success. Maybe you sponsored a child, saved yourself and your children and left an abusive relationship, or fed some local families during the holidays. Whatever you did, make a note of it. It mattered.

Tomorrow I’ll look at what you want to call in for 2017.  But for today, take your time and tell me about your year in the comments below.

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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Let’s Review

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This week might be one of my favorite weeks of the year. Not just because I work in education and get this week off, but also because it gives me some breathing space.

I look forward to this time all year to reflect on the lessons learned, experience gained, relationships rekindled or lost, and the unexpected surprises that buoyed my spirits or broke my heart.

Some of these things were in my control and many of them were not. Either way this year  provided a continually expanding arena for me to rearrange my perception of my place in the universe.

In an effort to become more visible and accessible, I became aware of how small I’ve been playing for a long time and how safe it is to do so.  The minute I risked becoming more visible and having an opinion, an agenda, or an attitude, I risked opening myself to judgment, criticism, and haters.

I can live with that. It appears to be the price of admission to a non-apologetic life.

What I can’t live with is being a writer and censoring myself so as not to offend or otherwise ruffle a few feathers. There were many things that had me worked up this year. It was also the year I embarked on an Integrity Cleanse so not writing about them was not possible.

As a writer, my job is to articulate the emotions underneath the issues so you can feel them in a way you may not have, left to your own devices.

I take this job very seriously. And though I don’t get paid to do it or enjoy celebrity status because of it, it’s the most rewarding thing I do. Because of you.

If reading makes us feel less alone in the world, then writing makes us feel more understood.

The greatest satisfaction I get from writing is knowing that some of you are reading this and thinking,”I know exactly what she’s talking about.” Especially when I describe the crazy stuff or make an obscure reference to something you thought you were the only one who remembered or had an experience of.

After a long day at work, I know I can retreat to my writing room and send something out into the world that will come back with a reassuring, “I hear you, honeyWelcome to my world.”

As I begin my week-long year in review, I want to start with saying thank you for being a consistent source of delight in my world and an incentive to keep pushing the envelope, expressing unspoken hopes and fears, and sprinkling a healthy dose of humor on ridiculous situations.

In between dog walks, reading, and savoring some quiet time at home, today I’m working on a few templates I’ll share with you tomorrow.

In the meantime, please share your highlights from 2016 in the comments below or email them to me at penny@wellpower.com.

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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Finish Strong

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Congratulations for sticking with me through the whole alphabet plan in the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge.  As you know, each day presents its own challenges. Since you can’t always depend on Plan A or even Plan B, you now have a whole alphabet plan in your arsenal.

But it doesn’t end here.

We’ve got one week left and this is when things can get tricky. It’s like you’ve been on this long road trip and you’re mere miles away from home when suddenly your car breaks down, you get pulled over for speeding, or you’re redirected on a detour that turns your minutes from home into hours.

How you handle this determines how you view the entire journey as well as how you approach future adventures.

Remember, you are equal to the challenge. You wouldn’t give up earlier in the challenge. Do not give up now. Don’t let fatigue or perceived failure stop you now. Put one foot in front of the other. You’ve got this, my friend.

Even if there are no hurdles left to jump and you plan to coast into the New Year without much thought, I’m asking you to give more.

This week reminds me of the Tibetan Buddhist concept of the bardo – an intermediate time between death and rebirth. So much depends on this week.

Pay particular attention to your thoughts and actions. Act with intention and do with deliberation.

If you can take the time and make the space to review your year, you’ll be much more likely to see the patterns, the people, and the places that impacted your well-being in the last twelve months. Then you can consciously choose whether you want to include them in the next twelve.

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” – Sir Winston Churchill

Acknowledge what went well and what didn’t. What did you learn and how can you leverage that in the New Year? What do you want and why do you want it? I mean really truly want and are willing to disrupt life as you know it to get, not those things you say you want every year but never quite get.

I’m not interested in resolutions that will be broken by 12:15am on 1/1/17. Resolutions seldom stick. We need “goals with soul” as Danielle Laporte calls them.

I’m interested in those things you want to create, do, be, or have that will keep you up at night dreaming and scheming and planning and collaborating until it comes to fruition.

And that starts with a little clarity.

This week I’ll be sharing some of the templates I use to do my Year In Review. Hopefully they will help you start thinking about what’s possible for you in 2017.

Regardless of how you’ve ended years in the past, this year I want you to finish strong. As they say, “It ain’t over, til it’s over.”

Use this week to amplify your output.  You know how you get super productive the day before you leave for an Alaskan cruise, Hawaiian vacation, or weekend getaway? This is the time to tie up loose ends, anchor out of control emotions, make things right in your relationships, and take care of any business you don’t want to drag into the New Year.

You are beginning Week 52 of 52 for 2016.  What would it take to make it your best one so far? Only you can define what that means to you.

Let me know in the comments below what you would like to accomplish this week so you can go into the New Year in Good Cheer – especially if that is to just have fun and completely relax because you’ve been crazy busy all year.

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P.S.  Do you need a notebook to write down your responses?  If so, I’ve got one for you.  Leave your information below and I’ll send a Resolve to Evolve notebook out to you in time for the New Year. Your information is safe with me.

Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan “X-Y-Z”

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It’s not that each of these letters aren’t worthy of their own plan in the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge. It’s just that I’d like to finish the whole alphabet plan this week so we can get down to business next week preparing to ring in the New Year.

Like a well-planned exit strategy from a job or a relationship or a location, a well-thought out exit strategy for the year will yield excellent results.

While you may yearn for a yacht, a yellow submarine, or a career in yodeling, you can’t get from zero to hero without a little strategic planning.

You may zig. You may zag. You may even zip around in order to convince yourself you are getting there fast.  But as Aretha once asked, Who’s zoomin’ who?” Let’s get real about what it’s going to take.

So after we have ourselves a merry little Christmas and make the yuletide gay, we’ll recap 2016. We’ll leverage what we’ve learned so we can leap into 2017 with every intention of 10Xing the results we can expect once we get clear on why we want them.

I appreciate you reading and working through the Alphabet Plan. All I want for Christmas is to hear how these tips helped you or someone you love through the holidays.

Please leave your comments below.  Or just pipe in and share how you are spending the holidays. What are your favorite traditions, foods, presents, places, or parties? I love learning from you and knowing what matters to you.

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P.S. If you’d like to trade in your fruitcake or other interesting gifts for a perfectly-sized Resolve to Evolve journal, just fill out the info below and I’ll send you one.  No need to send me the fruitcake in exchange though. 🙂

Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan “V”

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The letter “V” is the visiting today to validate and vouch for the various strategies we been voicing to get from Here to the New Year in Good Cheer.

If this were a tv show, I’d be asking you to vote for your favorite strategy. But I’d like to give you a vacation from vocalizing your views or vetoes and simply ask you to practice the strategies that add value and verify what works for you.

Venting about what vexes you may be all that’s necessary to vanish the stress.  Or visualizing a vibrant,  healthy, happy version of yourself may do the trick.

The variety of tips vying for your attention may vary. So I’m going to volunteer one of  my very favorite strategies.

Find a room with a view and let your imagination veer you towards that venerated state of a virtual Valium like quality peace and serenity. When you can vacate the need to control events and open to the vulnerability of being present, the volume of vibrant ideas you recognize as vital signs to your well-being may astound you.

One of those ideas for me is to venture into video. So slave-driving Santa will be bringing the equipment I need to up my game, face my fears, and be more visible in the New Year.

I’d love for you to voice your viewpoint in the comments below.

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P.S. How would you like a perfectly sized Resolve to Evolve journal to record your resolutions, write out your to-do or ta-da! list, or record the many vistas you see out of your room with a view?  Just let me know where to send it below and I’ll get one to you in time for the New Year. Please know your information is safe with me because selling your information violates all that I hold dear.

Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan “U”

It’s time for Plan “U” of the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge. Plan “U” urges you not to underestimate the appeal of the ugly sweater. It’s undeniable!

If you’ve got one, it’s time to usher it in with unbridled enthusiasm. Understanding this fashion trend is not important. Unraveling the mystery is unnecessary.

Wearing Santa underwear or elf pajamas usually falls under the ugly sweater umbrella. But have no fear, upgrading to ugly sweater apparel does not undermine your authority. On the contrary, it unquestionably upholds it as it unifies us by unleashing and acknowledging a kind of universal dorkiness in all of us.

When you dare to be vulnerable or silly or uncharacteristically unconcerned, you uncover the truth that it’s what’s underneath the ugly sweater that counts. I’m guessing for most of us, that’s ultimately a uniquely loving heart and an utterly amazing soul.

Use the hashtag #midlifemacgyver to send me photo of your ugly sweater on Instagram or leave me a comment below describing your ugly sweaters or other apparel and the adventures they uncork.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Cake , recipe for winter holiday party

P.S. If wearing an ugly sweater leads to your undoing, then make an ugly sweater cake. The possibilities are unending!

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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan “T”

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It’s “T” time in our Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge.

As tempting as it may be to take you back through the Top Ten Tension Tackling Tunes to Keep You Humming through the Holidays for today’s tip, I think I’ll touch on a new thread.

It’s easy to get your tinsel in a tangle as you tick the days off before Christmas. A tirade of to-do‘s that torment your tired and troubled thoughts are not easily tamed or transformed without a little tampering with the terms of their tyrannical hold on you.

So try this.

Toss them out. Terminate those to-do’s that terrorize, torture, or tap you out. Tiptoeing around them or treading lightly only increases their tenacity and tempts you to head to the tequila tasting table before 10am.

Trust yourself to tune in to what wants to happen next, not what you assume must happen next. Try this reframing tack. If you have to do it, then choose to do it. Make it a choice, not a chore.

Also try this.

Take your time. Or as I love to say, “Move at the pace of grace.” Thrashing around to accommodate someone’s tight timetable can make you act abominably.

Transcend the moment of angst, anxiety, or irritation and trade it in for a temporary time-out that tickles your funny bone or tends to your tightening muscles. A quick body scan will tell you where you’ve tucked your tension.  And then maybe you’ll be able to talk someone into teasing those tensions away with a little tender loving care.

I’d be thrilled to have you teach me your favorite “T” tip, tool, or trade secret in the comments below. Or give me a thumbs up if you feel like you are not just surviving but actually thriving this holiday season.

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P.S. Have you ever noticed how whenever clocks are pictured the hands are almost always on the ten and two?  It makes the hands look like a smile.  Just like the arrow in the white space of the Fed Ex logo, now you’ll notice the time on pictures of clocks. Tricky!