Can you believe it’s that time again? The older I get the faster the years seem to pass, which is why I think I’m such a prolific journaller — I want to remember stuff. Plan stuff. Figure stuff out. I like writing things down. And I especially like mapping things out. So for the fifth year running it is my very great pleasure to share the (updated and awesomised) Unravelling the Year Ahead workbook with you. This is the tool I use to say farewell to the old year and bring some intention to the new. It’s kinda spooky how effective this stuff is, actually.
Download the workbook HERE | download the 2014 calendar HERE
My favourite thing to do in December is look back over the previous year’s workbook to see which intentions I managed to manifest. There are always things I didn’t expect, but starting the new year with a loose plan in place seems to open me up to even better results. For example, last year I wrote down that i wanted to move my body more and improve my overall health. This intention lead me to join my local gym and find my personal trainer, Carrie, who’s not only helped me get in shape but has also become a trusted confidante. I couldn’t have seen that coming this time last year when I was struggling to get off the sofa.
In years gone by I’ve done this sort of work in my journal, but using the printed pages of the workbook makes it feel more ceremonial, somehow. I like to print out the pages two to a page then cut the paper in half, hole-punch it and stick in my Creative Dream Journal (housed in an A5 Filofax). This year’s workbook includes a map template which I’ll make several copies of so I can sketch out the paths I want to take in different areas of my life. Other essentials include a glass of wine, a lit candle or three and a deck of oracle cards.
It’s the new moon tonight with the next one coming on January 1st, so I’d like to propose we spend this moon cycle working through the workbook and preparing for the new year. Start by printing it out and locating/purchasing a binder. Add extra blank pages for vision boarding and mind maps. Include any articles or photos that inspire you. Print out two copies of the calendar — one to plan out your actual year and another to plan out the year of your biggest dreams. What would that look like, I wonder?
If you haven’t figured out your word for 2014 don’t worry, I haven’t yet either, though I’m currently considering a few options. My plan is to complete the rest of the workbook first to let that guide me to the right word. Choosing a word of the year has proved to be SO powerful over the last few years I’ll write more about that soon. (Seriously — choose a word.)
If you share any photos of your workbooks please do tag me on Facebook or use the hashtag #unravel2014 on Instagram as I would LOVE to see what you come up with.
Above all else, have fun and dream big!
In other news, registration for the January session of Journal Your Life is now open! I honestly cannot think of a better way to start the year than with a journal in my hand and a group of journallers to learn and explore with. Doesn’t matter if you’ve never journalled before or have journalled all your life — everyone is welcome — so if you want to start 2014 with even more intention and clarity, come join us :)
Never let it be said that I don’t walk my talk. My recapitulation process now finds me wandering back through my childhood years and you may not be surprised to learn this coincided with an infection in my gum and wisdom tooth. I have never known pain like it and after five days of nearly going out of my mind I finally got some antibiotics. I’m currently waiting for an appointment with the oral surgeon to extract the offending tooth. Nice.
Tomorrow I’m off to the doctor to ask for a referral to a fibroids clinic in London. It’s been four years since I was diagnosed with these benign tumours and I haven’t done anything about it. Recent events have informed me I need to change this, so I’m listening and doing.
So as I clear out the muck from my insides my outsides are asking to be fine-tuned, too. I’ve noticed this often happens, this body-mind symbiosis, but usually it’s the other way around: I get sick first, then I learn the lesson. This time the internal work is shifting stuff around — Reichian-style, I wouldn’t be surprised.
The longer wintry nights are perfect for this kind of soulwork. I’m wanting to hibernate wrapped in a blanket on my bed, watching comforting DVDS and reading books like my life depended on it (hint to self: it always does). I’m hanging out with the little girl who still lives inside me. Part of the recapitulation is taking an honest look at the past and sifting through memories to find the patterns I’m playing out today. In the book I touched on redrafting the blueprint of our past — bereavement had thrown up all sorts of knots that begged to be unravelled, but it’s only now that I feel ready to do the heavier lifting. I’ve been carrying most of this for the last thirty years — it’s time to let it go.
On the outside I don’t look any different, but on the inside I’m tender and raw, filled with the sweet sweet hope that this is the beginning of something I can’t possibly imagine just yet. A new kind of freedom, perhaps…
When it’s quiet here you can pretty much guarantee it’s not so quiet in my head. I’m burning through journal pages like my life depended on it. Which I guess it does as journalling keeps me sane. At the moment I’m journeying back through the 1990s, revisiting my twenty-something self as she grapples with love and life. I don’t have many journals from that time as I stopped writing them after my ex found my notebook — the violation I felt coupled with his dismay at what he read broke us up for a while. Life was so terribly dramatic back then.
Luckily I have hundreds of photographs from that time, and reams of the angst-filled poetry that became my outlet when journalling felt too dangerous. I see my younger self struggle with being an introvert in an extroverted world, not knowing what was wrong with her. I see how her neediness and insecurity were rooted in the past, and how she was destined to play the same song over and over again until she was finally ready to try a different tune.
Despite all the soul work I’ve done on myself the last few years I still regard this younger version of me as bit of an idiot, but i know that’s not really fair. She did her best with the tools she had. She searched outwardly for herself, not knowing that the real story would be found inside. But this is just what life is, isn’t it. This contant unravelling, figuring out, learning the lessons, moving on. My favourite part of growing older is being able to look back and see how the story unfolded. I feel like a bird perched on a branch in the middle of my life, surveying the past and marvelling at the synchronicities and connections. I remember so many dark nights of the soul when I thought I wouldn’t make it though to morning, yet here I am, able to recall the days and weeks that followed, cherished proof that it does get better. We do survive. Perhaps if I pay enough attention I’ll know when to avoid the potholes going forward. It’s a nice thought, yes?
Part of my journey towards readying myself for a new relationship is making peace with the past. I’ve got a book, blog posts and hundreds of hours of therapy that tell me I’m healed, but there’s one more layer I’ve yet to unravel. To me, ‘making peace’ means looking at every aspect of my previous relationships to really understand the lessons and gifts of my time spent with each person. At a friend’s suggestion — and not one to do things by halves — I’ve been reading up on the shamanic process of recapitulation. This article has been particularly enlightening:
“Recapitulation, and in particular Shamanic recapitulation (as popularized by Carlos Castaneda‘s books), is the art of excavating through our past storyline chapters, locating the emotional imprints and releasing the charges. The process, like most things we engage with in our lives, rewires our very brains and establishes new neural pathways. Once done a few times, it is possible to be re-framing our experiences in a continual (moment, daily, weekly) fashion so that we don’t lug so damn much baggage around.”
Using a combination of journalling, meditation and talking with my therapist I’m slowly working my way back through the years. Some recollections are easier to work through than others. Last week I began reading the journals that chronicle my relationship with my love. One of the benefits of being such a compulsive journaller is I have everything written down in the most astounding detail: conversations, feelings, events, realisations, turning points, printed-out emails… it’s all recorded in a big pile of Moleskines. In all these years I’ve never sat down and read it through from beginning to end. It’s not the most fun I’ve ever had, I’ll be honest, but I’m joining up the dots and learning so much about who I was back then. Who WE were. The frustrations and love…. All of it.
Next will come a whole 10-year relationship to piece back together — I have a box full of journals and photographs for that one. Then the shorter connections of my early twenties and teens, leading back to the relationship at the root of all of this: the one with my absent father.
There are days when I wish I wasn’t such a navel gazer, but it’s the only way I know how to be. I want to know what makes me tick so I can feel deeper, live wider, love better — the unexamined life is not worth living, as Socrates boldly put it. In many ways I’m making up for all the wilfully unconscious times in my life when I plunged into situations and relationships without considering the consequences. Now it’s different. Now I’m different.
I’ve honestly never felt more awake, or alive, in my life.