People talk about New Year's being an aribtrary construct in time, how time is continuous and we should always be reflecting and striving to be better, not just once a year. This is absolutely true, and it is an intention I continually strive toward throughout any year. And yet, we as humans are intertwined in this concept of time to help us make sense of our world and our lives. This is what compells us to categorize a year as good or bad, even though 365 days usually includes a mix of both lessons and laughter. I like the idea of honoring the New Year because I think it's a good reminder for us to check in and see that we are in alignment with our highest values and intentions. We can't have an extraordinary life if we are not.
One of the most valuable things I do around New Year's is an "Inegrity checklist." This is an opportunity to see where I am not in alignment with my values and to recommit to my integrity. Notice that I said values, not goals. Goals are essential in their own right, but goals should reflect values. If your life isn't aligned with your values, then your goals aren't aligned either. To live in alignment with your values is the integrity upon which all grace is built.
Integrity means wholeness. For myself, I cannot feel whole when I have let loose ends fly. There are a lot of mundane human-type things that I hate to do and which I procrastinate (sometimes a whole year!), like going to the dentist, opening my mail, cleaning out my closet, and canceling that damn gym membership I never use. But I know that if I don't have a clean living space my mind will feel cluttered; if I have to-do lists constantly running in the background of my mind, my attention and energy will be sucked up; and if I have financial leaks in my life, I will not feel supported. I also know that being disorganized and late on correspondence or appoinments do not reflect my core values of being considerate, organized, financially stable, and in good physical health (among other things!).
In order to be able to focus time and energy towards bigger goals, to feel whole and capable of achieving one's highest dreams, a person has to tie up loose ends. If we say we want to live a life without stress, we need to stay on top of the things that, when they pile up, cause stress. For me, as a regular human like you, I am not perfect and I can be forgetful and even (gasp!) lazy about doing this. So, the New Year is a good time for me to check in with myself and see where I can be doing better to live in alignment with what I say I want. I take the last few weeks in December to complete any tasks that have been consciously or subconsciously weighing on me. In addition to my own end-of-the-year to-do list mentioned above, this process can also look like: scheduling a health exam, getting your car detailed, paying off any debts, collecting any debts, making that phone call you've been avoiding, cleaning out your email box, cleaning the gutters, returning any borrowed goods, donating unused items, etc. Make a list and do what you can to check them off. Even if you don't complete it before January, you will at least move into the new year more organized about where your focus is.
When I think about integrity meaning wholeness and integration of parts, I also consider the value of nurturing the connection between my mind, body, and spirit. For me, staying aligned with spirit is one of my most heart-felt values and intentions. That's why I love marking the New Year with a special ritual. When we add ritual to an action we add meaning and purpose. When we live from intention in this way, whether during ceremonies, holidays, or just in daily life, we live in integrity with ourselves. This is how we create the foundation for our most courageous dreams to root.
For the last few years I have chosen not to do the typical New Year's activity of going to someplace loud and crowded - that is not my scene anymore (frankly, it never really was). Instead, I have chosen to spend some sacred time with one special person in my life (last year it was my mom, the year before it was my soul sister Rachel). I create a ceremony to honor what has passed, reaffirm my comitments to myself, and call in the highest expression of my dreams.
How a New Year ritual looks is a personal choice. For me it includes setting sacred space by creating an altar with some candles, crystals, and scents, and calling on my spirit and higher power (if that doesn't resonate with you, you can call on your higher self). Sitting in meditation, I review the last calendar year and, with an eagle's perspective, open my heart in graritude for all the lessons I have learned. After that, I will get a candle (one of those tall clear glass ones) and with a Sharpie I write my intentions for the new year on the candle. Then I light it and let it burn for the whole first day of January. I also like to do tarot card readings for guidance and have fun creating vision boards to further anchor in my intentions in a way I can be reminded of them throughout the year.
It's true that we must strive toward living in integrity with our deepest intensions every day of the year. The beginning of a new calendar year is an especially potent time to anchor in this way of living. I invite you to have some fun making meaning with your loved ones and getting aligned with your highest expression!
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