Do you love champagne? I do! Do you love to dance and party? Me, too, in my own adorable introverted way! Do you love to kiss cute people (or one very special cute person) at midnight? Yes, so do I! I love New Year’s Eve and I love our social traditions and rituals but I’ve created one of my own that I’ve been performing for most of the last decade and I’ve got to warn you, it’s pretty powerful.
Before I share my step by step ritual with you so that you, too, can perform it, I want to tell you something personal about me. Come closer. Closer. Good.
I’M TURNING FORTY IN 2016!!!
What the heck does that have to do with powerful New Year’s rituals? Good question. I’ve been honing and shaping this ever-evolving ritual since the age of thirty-two when I basically hit zero and found myself starting completely over and now here I am on the cusp of a new year AND a new decade. Be it twenty, thirty, forty or eighty, a new decade demands our attention and ought to be welcomed with powerful gestures inviting continued growth, success, bravery and what I like to call “best-everness!” At the same time, the previous decade must be acknowledged with gratitude for accomplishments, failures, trying new things, building relationships, soul enhancing moments, triumphs and anything else that makes you you.
So, I have two things to share with you. One is my annual ritual acknowledging the previous year and welcoming the new year. You’re gonna love it. I’ve read so many self help books and books for unlocking creativity over the last decade that this ritual is like a “best of” ceremony. See if you can recognize some of my main influences.
My second offering is more in depth and involves a challenge! I’ve committed to a year long project of self and world exploration to welcome my forties with enthusiasm, bravery, curiosity, honesty, and fun! Each month I’ll be exploring a different aspect of self be it spirituality, physical fitness, appearance, acts of charity, relationships, career, possessions, and more! I really want to see and feel what being a forty year old woman means to me and reshape and redefine any negative ideas I may have, or ideas society may have taught me. I’ll also be visiting different parts of the world at the same time including India, China, Wales, Ireland and Bali. What better way to gain perspective than by leaving your familiar comfort zone?
Here’s the part where I challenge you. You may not be entering a new decade, but anytime is the right time for exploring the best possible you! Are you the woman of your dreams? Would you like to see her manifest?
I’m calling 2016 and this project “Extraordinary 40” but you can join me and be “Extraordinary 58” or “Extraordinary 31.” Also, you don’t have to go to India or Wales, you can have your own Extraordinary experience right at home, or maybe you can get away on a private retreat in a small town nearby or maybe you can go on a safe solo hike and think about how extraordinary you are. I promise I’ll give you lots of suggestions on how to implement the theme of each month!
Give it some thought. Being Extraordinary is not to be entered into lightly. My gorgeous friends at Project:Women are on board and we can all do this together because women are awesome at any and every age!
Your challenge for January should you choose to accept it, is to perform this beautiful annual ritual that I’m about to teach you. It requires a bit of forethought, about an hour of your time to perform and sacred space both physical and emotional. I do this ritual on New Year’s Eve, but any time in January is fine.
- a letter size piece of paper, a pen and an envelope.
- 8 small pieces of paper.
- your notes for the previous year.
- a lighter or matches
- one pillar, taper or tall candle.
- 12 tealights. (You may want to put them in containers or on plates. An eclectic setting can be really pretty or 12 matching little glass tealight holders. Whatever floats your boat.)
- a special uncluttered space with lovely lighting. Create the right mood for you!
- A few days or hours before the ritual begins, take a lovely, peaceful moment alone to jot down in a journal a few highlights of each month of the previous year. I always start with December, then November, October and work backwards to January. Make a cup of tea or get a glass of wine and maybe light a candle. I prefer silence but by all means, choose a soundtrack. Here’s an example of what to write down; “December: Visited family in Flagstaff and Yakima. Sent Part Three of my manuscript to my lovely copy editor. Deepened my holiday traditions with my partner.” These are just bullet points to help remind you of the main events over the last year and you’ll have it on hand in case you need a reminder during the ritual.
- Write one of the following words on each small piece of paper; Mind, Body, Spirit, Relationships, Accomplishment, Failure, Career, Fun.
- Choose a time and a place for your ritual. Make sure you will not be interrupted by phone or family. You are welcome to invite your family to partake but that means they need to participate. My partner and I have done this ritual together. It takes twice as long but I love being a witness to his gratitude and acknowledgements. It’s up to you!
- Set out the 12 tealights in a pattern that you like. I’ve done random patterns or I’ve done a circle or a half circle. You can use a table or a floor, indoors or outdoors, so long as it’s a safe space for lighting over a dozen candles. Watch your lovely pets and babies!
- Place the pillar candle or special bigger candle in a prominent place among the smaller candles. This candle represents the New Year while the 12 tealights, you guessed it, represent each month of the previous year!
- Place your small pieces of papers with the special words on them near the candles (but not near the flames). These words are present to help you focus in on certain key aspects for each month.
- Light one tealight and begin speaking out loud about some of what happened in December. What were your accomplishments? Did you deepen any relationships? Did you learn anything new? Did you take care of your body? Were you injured or sick? Have you healed? This can be a stream of consciousness, especially if you’re alone, just let it rip. How did you feel? Did anyone hurt you? Were you proud of anything? Use the words on the small pieces of paper to prompt you if you’re stuck and refer to your notes if you can’t remember. You are acknowledging the month of December 2015. Be thorough and honest. When you feel satisfied, thank the month of December for the good the bad, everything and then light the next tealight.
- Do the same for November. When you are done be sure to thank November out loud before you move on. Light the next candle until all twelve tealights are lit. You’ve gone through the entire year. You might feel stuff. You might be very emotional! Have tissues nearby! Acknowledgement and gratitude are powerful actions. You will be moved!
- Here is something fun now that you’ve done the hard work. (I got this juicy step from Dallas Travers, The Actor’s Advocate.) Before you light your final candle, take out your piece of paper and pen and ponder the following. Write down your answers. What did 2015 smell like? What did 2015 taste like? What did 2015 sound like? What did 2015 feel like? If 2015 was a color what color would it be? If 2015 had a theme song, what was it?
- NOW! Think about the new year 2016! Answer the same questions and write them down on the same piece of paper! What do I want 2016 to smell like? What do I want 2016 to taste like? What do I want 2016 to sound like? What do I want 2016 to feel like? What color do I want 2016 to be? What do I want the theme song of 2016 to be?
- Fun, right? Fold that piece of paper and put it in an envelope labeled 2016. You will not open this envelope until you perform this ritual again next year. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to compare what I wanted a year to be to what it actually was! You’ll get to experience that for the first time next year!
- Finally, light the 2016 candle and say a few words out loud that are meaningful to you whether it’s a prayer or a wish or a declaration. Be sure to welcome 2016 in a way that resonates with you. I promise you’ll know what to say after hashing out the entire last year with gratitude!
You’re done! You did it! Congratulations! Let the small tealights burn out on their own. Put on some music and celebrate! Once the tealights are completely burnt out, you can blow out your special candle and relight it whenever you want to remember the powerful way you’ve started the year.
Be sure to put your 2016 envelope in a safe place. I keep mine with my holiday decorations so I’m sure to see it again next December. Let me know how you felt after performing this ritual and let me know if you modified it in any way! I love to adapt and evolve my rituals!
In my next post I’ll share with you my answers for 2015/2016 and how the 2015 answers compared to what I wrote down in 2014! Comparing the two is a whole added layer of awesome. For example, the year my Mom died, I had wanted the year to smell like designer perfume and instead it smelled like a candle burning out. That year I experienced incredible growth that I was not expecting or prepared for but I recognize how powerful that is. Or, on a lighter note, I had wanted one year’s theme song to be that really cool Prince song,”Let’s Go Crazy,” but the year’s theme song ended up being the theme song to that old TV show, Laverne and Shirley!
Alright, ladies! You have your assignment! We’ll be sharing our Extraordinary adventures here at Project:Women and also on Twitter and Instagram. I hope you join me on this crazy journey. Let’s be Extraordinary.
Happy New Year!
Follow Jamey on her journey…
Image of paper lanterns (at top) found via Pinterest.