As we approach the start of another new year, I find myself drawn in by the cultural tide to reflect on where I’ve been, where I am now, and where I’d like to be this time next year. I have several rituals I like to practice over New Year’s Eve to help me focus on this process, and I start with cleaning out my closet. I’m not using symbolic language here—though the metaphor is unavoidable, I suppose. I actually do clean out my closet. I give away or donate all of the items I’m ready to pass on. I pull out and dust off well-loved old coats or dresses to repurpose or refashion. Sometimes I try them on, revisiting former selves as I mop the floor and rearrange my shoes.
In the evening, I make some kind of art—ideally at a big table of friends and family who are also making art—as a sort of visioning process for what I want for myself for the coming year. In the past, I’ve written out specific goals for myself as a part of this process. Along the edges of my visioning art, I’ve scrawled such promises to myself as I will practice yoga for an hour a day, or I will get back to studying French, or I’ll research PhD programs, or I’ll do this or that thing that will make me feel like I’ve done something of value.
I’m not planning to write resolutions like that this year though. It’s not that I’m trying to avoid the particular anguish of breaking a promise to myself. It’s just that these sorts of goals tend to distract me from what I really want. Sometimes I keep the resolutions I make. Sometimes I don’t. Either way, I am still hungry for the kind of experience that is not captured by any doing.
What I want for myself—this year and always—is an inner experience. Of aliveness and vitality. Of connection. Of wholeheartedness. I want to connect to myself and to others out of love—not fear. That’s what I really want.
I guess what I’m saying is that I want to find the courage to take down some of the defenses that keep me walled off and sequestered away from people I love—and from myself. I’m not suggesting I want to be unprotected or unboundaried. I do mean that I want to start to deconstruct some of the typical fear-based patterns that disconnect me from my Higher Self. Patterns like not speaking my truth because it feels too vulnerable. Like not going for what I want because I fear I won’t get it. Like not reaching out even when I want to because I’m not sure how my reach will be received. Like running away from a close relationship instead of doing the hard and mindful work of healing it.
Instead I want to take the risk of showing up more. Of reaching out more. Of staying in more. Of going for it more. I want to take these risks even though I know full well that I still might get rejected, or misunderstood, or not seen at all. I want to lead with my Higher Self, the part of me motivated by love, not fear. Not because I think it will win more friends or influence more people. But because I think—actually I know—I will feel more alive, more whole-hearted, more sweet, and more connected. More like I want to feel in 2019 and more like I want to feel always.
So my visioning process for this New Year’s Eve ritual begins with this love letter to my higher self: Dear Higher Self—Wow! I really missed you so, so much during the times we were separated this past year. I didn’t even realize how terribly bleak things got. Unbearable really. Living disconnected from you is way too painful. I don’t want to do that anymore. I’m just so grateful that, after all the times I’ve tried to push you away, you are still here for me. Thanks for that! I want you to be with me always, Self. I know this may sound cliche but, well, you kinda complete me. Hey! I promise I’ll listen more and I’ll let you lead from now on. And I promise I’ll bake the chocolate cookies that you like so much. Will you stay? Say you will. I know you will. With love and much respect, Rebecca