Digesting the Year
A few years ago, I began a simple year-end ritual that I have found helpful. Each December I share it here, and I'm sharing it again. I usually suggest that you get a large sheet of paper, and I still think that's a great idea and it's what I'm going to do. But, I also know that most of you probably don't have a big sheet of paper, so I created this simple worksheet that you can print out and fill in.
The idea is to take some time and look back at the year, so you are better able to let it go and move toward 2017 with a clearer, more grounded sense of where you've been, what you've experienced in the past year, and what you're ready to meet in the months ahead.
You want to find a time where you won't be disturbed; time enough to really reflect on each month, and on the year as a whole, so you can get a sense of its arc. You'll need a pen/pencil so you can fill in the worksheet, and I suggest that you also have your phone or 2016 calendar nearby, to help you remember all that happened.
When you're ready, start by looking at January. Were there any major events or milestones? Perhaps you learned something important at the start of the year, or maybe you had a memorable experience. Did you have any intentions or resolutions? What stands out?
You may notice that there were certain things that, at the beginning of the year, you expected or were hoping to experience. You probably experienced some of those things in 2016, but not others. Take the time to acknowledge what you hoped for, as well as what you actually experienced. This can be a helpful way to recognize feelings of both appreciation and disappointment/grief, for how things are at this moment, as you prepare to say goodbye to the year.
Continue on to February, and the months that follow, and reflect in a similar way. Did you have any notable experiences? Hopes or expectations about what might happen? People you met? People you said goodbye to? Was there a celebration or event that was especially poignant? Or maybe a seemingly ordinary day that was meaningful to you in some way. Were there major disappointments and surprises?
As you begin to fill in the squares month-by-month (or by hopping around if that makes more sense), see if you notice any patterns or ways that your year was shaped by certain experiences. Was there an ongoing struggle or an accomplishment that gained momentum over the year?
After you have filled in the square for each month, read it over and see if there's anything that was missed. Try sitting with your eyes closed for a few moments, and just listen and notice if anything else comes to mind about 2016 that you want to include.
Turn the paper over and write about any patterns you noticed ~ both those that you feel grateful for, and those that you feel ready to let go of.
Experiment with reflecting on how 2016 nourished and challenged you, and how those experiences may have been an initiation for 2017. Perhaps there are ways that the things you experienced in 2016 can help you navigate 2017 with greater wisdom and a stronger sense of inner compassionate authority.