Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Thanks for the Memories and Welcome!

Tomorrow I will go up to my cabin in the mountains to spend the last days of the year reflecting on the year that is ending and anticipating the year about to begin. This year I’m going to try a more formal sort of retreat, following the suggestions in a book by Sylvia Boorstein titled Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There. You gotta love that title.

I look forward to my New Year's Eve ritual. I build a fire in the fireplace. In the last hours of the year, I write a letter to the old year. I reflect on the year, on what I learned and experienced, on the themes of the year, on what I think I will remember. I thank the year for all the blessings it has brought.

Then I write a letter to the new year. I welcome the new year and share my hopes and intentions. I invite the new year in like a new friend, curious, eager to get acquainted, excited about possibilities. I tell the new year what my word of the year is (more on this in just a moment).

I hold both letters as I say a prayer, once more thanking the departing year and welcoming the new year. Then I burn both letters in the fireplace as an offering.

Every year on New Year's Eve, I pick a word for the following year. It is always a verb. It is not a resolution. My word is a focus word, a gentle reminder, a guide. I write the word on little cards that I place where my gaze is sure to light--by my computer, the bathroom mirror, the car dash.

How do I choose my word? Sometimes I am pretty sure I know before New Year's Eve, but more often I don't. As the year comes to a close, I open my mind and heart. The word comes to me, like a whisper in my soul.

My word for 2010 has been "Attend." It calls me to the present moment. It guides me to suspend my inner chatter and to look and listen. Sometimes when I'm caught up in distractions and reactions, I can hear it and I take a deep breath and pause. Attend. It has been a cherished word and I’m grateful for it.

I won’t know my 2011 word for sure until New Year’s Eve, but the word “Yield” has been dancing around in the shadows of my awareness for several weeks now. I suspect that might be my new word. We’ll see. I will return from the cabin on New Year’s Day, and I will post my new word and tell more about it.

As part of my thanks to the departing year, I would like to say thank you to you. I started this blog in February, not at all sure what I was doing (still don’t know), and with no idea where it would lead (still don’t know that either). But I do know this. I have been so deeply touched and humbled by the support and encouragement I’ve gotten from so many people. I remember the first follower I got who was not a friend or family member. I couldn’t believe it! Who was this mystery person?! Now I have lots of new blog friends.

Through you and your blogs, I have received so much wisdom, inspiration, challenge, information, and lots of great fun. And as we all know, fun is good. I am so blessed to be part of this network of people. You are such a gift. Thank you.

Best wishes for a blessed end of 2010 and a new beginning with unlimited possibilities in 2011.


  1. Galen: May the New Year remove the "most of the time" from your profile.

  2. JJ--I was commenting on your blog while you were commenting on mine! Thank you for the new year wish. You are a sweetie.

  3. I love your end of the year ritual Galen... how thoughtful of a process. The first word that popped into my mind for 2011 was "become". Perhaps, I will make that my word! Best wishes to you too!


  4. I nipped over to catch you before the new year and to wish you every happiness in 2011. I am so glad I 'met' you too and am looking forward to continuing my visits to you here next year. In case you are not around before the big day have a very happy birthday young lady and as for 2012 well let's just say you and Hubby will have someting in common and I have all sorts of things lined up for that particular occasion. I too am seeking a word or phrase for 2011...I quite like simplicity. It seems cleansing.
    Thank you for all your good wishes and comments but most of all thank you for being a friend(blogging friends are just as important as those we see in our day to day lives).
    Sincerest wishes

  5. I love your thoughtful New Year's Eve ritual. Wish you a Happy New Year!
    Thanks for being a blog friend.

  6. Hi Galen,

    I think your formal retreat is a great idea! It sounds great to have a cabin in the mountains to go to to think and reflect. From the way you described your New Year's Eve ritual I can almost imagine what it is like to be there. When you say mountains and time alone I was reminded of Moses going up Mount Sinai haha! I am sure you will have your own revelations when you come back down from the mountain. ;) I can't wait to see what you word for 2011 will be. :)

    I am glad that I found your blog. How many of us know what we are doing in life anyway? We have an idea of what we want to do, where we want to go and we just do and go. Somehow it works out right cos we have direction. So you are not alone. Keep up your blogging and have a great 2011! I look forward to learning at your feet. :)

    Irving the Vizier

  7. Thank you all for your thoughtful comments. If you do choose a word for 2011, I hope you will share it!

  8. What a marvelous way to say good-bye to the old year and welcome in the fresh new year! You have the best ritual, or awakening I've ever heard......you and your blog are both very inspiring to me....glad that you happened along, and I look forward to the year ahead with more of your insights to being happy and living life to the fullest! Have a wonderful time at your cabin!

  9. I love this idea. I hope that your retreat gives you a calm center to welcome in the New Year. It will be interesting to see which word finds you for the year.
    I wish you a peaceful New Year.

  10. Hi Galen I thank you for all your input this year, at my blog, Lisa Allender Writes.
    I think Marianne Williamson, Dr. deepak Chopra, and Oprah Winfrey would all be inspired by your New Year's Eve tradition, Galen. May God/Universe reward you with Love and Peace.
    Yield sounds like the will to surrender, a word that's been in my heart, all this week...

  11. I have just found this blog and it is JUST what I need to see me into the new year. I love your attitude and your willingness to share with others. I shall be following as I move into what I hope is a better year for my family. Happy New Year!

  12. I could never write a letter and burn it. All that effort and *poof* up in smoke. Do you really do that every year? That's amazing!

    Yes, this has been quite a year, especially for blogging. I think I've had more fun on my computer than anything else believe it or not. That doesn't say too much for personal life, but I'm working on it. I'm grateful for finding your blog. Your insights and advice are invaluable!

  13. Happy New Year to all and thank you for your comments and good wishes.

    JackSamMum--Welcome! I hope 2011 is a wonderful year for you and your family.

    ryoko861--Yes, I really do burn the letters every year! Since the years have no mailing address, burning the letters is my way of sending them. I've been having fun on my computer, too. Maybe we can both focus a little more energy on our personal lives!!


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