Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Endings and Beginnings

So when you feel all the endings coming...begin looking for all the beginnings. –Ann Voskamp

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.

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 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.

In the final minutes of 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. Throughout the year, my word is there, wherever I look. As the months go by, it becomes a part of me.

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 2011 has been "Yield." In a year full of surprises and life changing events, it was a perfect word. It helped me accept with at least some serenity the things I could not control. It counseled me to pick my battles. It reminded me to open my heart and listen for my inner guidance. It shifted my attention from my ego to God. My word this year has been a teacher and a guide, and sometimes a lifesaver. I have come to cherish it, and I’m so grateful for the gift of its wisdom this year.

I’m eager to find out what my 2012 word will be. When I get back from the cabin on the 1st, I’ll write a post and let you know. If you pick a word for yourself, I hope you’ll share it, too.

As part of my thanks to the departing year, I would like to say thank you to you. I started this blog in February 2010, 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. 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. (As the Cat in the Hat said, “It is fun to have fun!”) 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 2011, and a new beginning with unlimited possibilities in 2012.

[One of my favorite things about the cabin is that I am away from phone, cable, and internet, so I will be “unplugged” from Wednesday till Sunday. I hope you know by now that your comments are valuable and valued, so please leave a comment, and I will publish it as soon as I get back.]


  1. It's funny you used that particular quote from sweet Ann... I plan on using it in a post next week! :)

    I hope you have a wonderful few days of being unplugged, and a very fine New Year! I can't wait to find out what your word for 2012 will be!

  2. Your blog always gives me comfort and hope. My word for 2012 came to me as I was reading your post - you used the word and I thought "yes!".
    I wonder what yours will be? Enjoy your peaceful break, Galen.

  3. That's a great idea. My word came to me immediately as I read this. I will share at some other time. Have a good time at the cabin and I look forward to sharing the New Year through our blogs.

  4. Galen: I have enjoyed blogging with you all year, and look forward to the next one.

  5. Hi Galen!

    I remember that your word for 2011 was "yield" but I had no idea how you came about choosing it. I love that!

    As for your blog, have you ever thought about buying your own domain name? Then you can get rid of the (dot)blogspot part of your domain name. Anyway, just a thought.

    I love your writing and love your passion and love your insight. Keep them coming! :)

  6. Hi Galen,

    I remember this ritual. I can't believe that it has been a year. Time flies and we barely realize it.

    I am glad that you are still running this blog. As I said months ago, it would be a huge pity if you gave it up. I guess it doesn't matter if you know what you are doing or where you are going with this blog. Sometimes it is not the destination that is important but the journey. It is how you travel, how you conduct yourself every step of the way that matters. From your examples, you become a beacon of light for others to follow. This is how I see your blog.

    I look forward to seeing your chosen word for 2012. I realized what mine is when I read this article haha!

    Irving the Vizier

  7. Hi Galen!

    Thanks for sharing your ritual! I love the idea and I think I might try it out as well. Or at least find a ritual of my own. It seems so important to leave the old year behind and welcome the new one...

    Looking forward to reading more from you next year!

  8. What a Beautiful New Year's Tradition! And thanks for coming by and sharing that delightful Story about the Christmas Spiders spreading Tinsel about your Home. *Winks... I Love how Children see the World through Fresh Eyes and endless possibilities!*

    May 2012 bring many Blessings and Happy Memories... may Yielding bring forth a Peace about those Life Issues that we have no control over... God Bless and Happy New Year from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian

  9. It's a wonderful thing to do and I am sure an experience you are looking forward to live every year. I like the idea very much and I am curious to see the word you will pick for 2012.
    Thank you for your always beautiful and uplifting posts, as well as your words and support along the year.
    Be blessed always Galen Pearl.

  10. I really love the notion of going to a secluded cabin and building a fire and contemplating the recent past and the immediate future. I wish I had thought of the word, "yield"---it sounds like a perfect word for an impatient person like myself. Hey, maybe I'll steal it from you and use it as MY personal word for the new year!

  11. Have a wonderful time....enjoy, relax, renew...and I'm excited for your next year's adventure....yield, as a few other's I heard for 2011 has been a worthy choice in many ways for me even. I know two special boys one 11 and the other 7 who could use your writing letters especially to the present (old)year that is moving on, maybe even much more important than to the new year....just to see what they are really focusing their attentions on......I think this may come in quite handy in a few years when they can go back and read where their lives had been the last few years...and maybe what directions they need in the upcoming teen years.....! A Most Happy New Year to you Galen, thank you so much for being here .....!

  12. Dear Galen,

    Your New Year's plans sound really lovely and I wish you a beautiful time of reflection, stillness and silence.

    And also I take this moment to wish you a wonderful new year - full of all that your heart and soul desire :)

  13. Dear Galen,
    Enjoy this quiet and peaceful time.
    I wish you the most wonderful New Year!
    Big hugs to you,

  14. My word this year has been proactivity, not sure what I shall have for 2012. I'll have to let you know!

  15. Hi Galen....Have a wonderful holiday up at your retreat....I know you will come back with the PERFECT word.



  16. I looked back to last year and my word for 2011 was "release". I did some of it, but I see I'm still holding on to a lot - most of it unnecessary.

    I'll let you know what comes to me for the 2012 word.

  17. Hello Galen,
    It makes me smile to see that you are taking a no computer, no phones break....everyone needs those.

    Your post allowed me to think about a word this year for I am a lover of words - so I thought mine will be laughter.....

    Thank you for sharing this post my friend and Happy New Year!

    In laughter,

  18. Happy New Year - I look forward to finding out what your word for 2012 will be x

  19. What a tremendously positive way to end one year and begin another. Unplugging from the world to look at it from afar is so important.

    I'm glad to count you as one of my blogging buddies. Have a fabulous 2012.

  20. I just finished a vision board - now I'll focus on finding a word.
    Your blog is a blessing and an inspiration to many!Looking forward to hearing what your word will be, Galen.

  21. What a wonderful way to greet the new year. I can't wait to read what your new word is. Happy New Years, Galen!

  22. Happy New Year to all! Thanks for all the good wishes. See my new post for my new word. Can't wait to see what blessings 2012 has in store for all of us!

  23. Happy New Year to you...I am interested to know your new word for 2012...mine seems hesitant to emerge this year and I was so tired last night I slept for 12 hours straight.

    I have piles and piles of work on my desk and am 3 books behind and I do not wish my year long focus to be feeling behind! which ever entendre is correct!
    So I think I may take this week to catch up and then lay down the stress that is running and find a word for my new year....who really says it has to be the first?
    Best Wishes to you


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