A funny thing happened on the way to the forum – Or, maybe it was on the way to 2021?

Sitting quietly reflecting on 2020 and what I desire most for 2021, I heard my word for the New Year – Soul. 2021 wants Soul. Living from our core, our center, our heart. Living from Soul – is this the same as Purpose? Is purpose a noun? A verb? Is our purpose something we get to define or is it the day-to-day actions of how we do everything? Is purpose passion? Does our Soul express through purpose? Is there a universal purpose we all come in with different expressions ultimately oriented toward the same purpose? A meaningful life? Evolution of the human spirit? Perhaps there is no one answer, perhaps we will never know, but it sure is fun to entertain.

I am always delighted by the way once you make a grand declaration or statement, “Honey, I am quitting my job and we are running away to Costa Rica!” The universe almost immediately pricks up its ears like a deer in the woods and says, “Ok…let’s do this!”

One of the blessings in life, I believe, if you are granted, is to continue the roller coaster of life into the second half of life. It has been said the 50’s and 60’s can be the reward for those who have “done their work” in their 40’s. I am starting to believe that. The load starts to lighten. Control is abdicated. Surrender is sweet. There is an ease.

For the last 4 or 5 years I have felt my usual modus operandi of living out loud shift more inward into a season of “personal wintering.” I have always been a fan of the dark, winter, cold, silence but recently it has been my habitat. With the turning of the calendar this year, I felt my season slowly shifting, like the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere return to the sun after the Winter Solstice to a warmer place.

So, my word came clearly. “Soul“.

Living from Soul. Living from the Heart.

And, then the Universe began her gifting.

To begin, it started with our New Year’s celebration. Usually we have an old-school large family celebration and one or two of our children end up celebrating with other friends in their homes. But, for the first time we can remember in a long time, we decided to stay home and create an evening with hourly activities/experiences infusing the idea of Soul.

Quinn, Kayah, Kira, Kamiko and I refer to our family as the “Sacred Circle of Five.” Our family of five has looked and felt a certain way for almost 19 years and this will be the year our eldest will be leaving for college. We collectively hear the ticking of a clock counting down what we will become, soon. Grateful for what we have had, excited for what is to come. Bittersweet.

This year we will savor more than we have savored anytime before our moments together. If 2020 has taught us anything it is to release expectations and adapt, respect time and with unclenched fists gently hold on to precious time with our baby girl and our Sacred Circle of Five, at home, all together.

Even though we missed celebrating with our family, the time we had together was exactly what my Soul desired. We started our countdown to 2021 at 2pm with a paper chain countdown for each hour.

2pm – we baked goodies and treats for the evening. Kayah made vegan oatmeal raisin cookies to die for and we made the Ghirardelli Costco chocolate brownies with cut up strawberries!

3pm- we decorated the house for the evening and performed a Smudging Ceremony. The smudging was a symbolic act that allowed a release of 2020’s energy from our space.

4pm – we did a family blindfolded painting (thank you Courtney Hirsch for the idea!). One at at time each of were blindfolded, selected 3 paints and painted whatever we felt. Creating a piece of art with no rules or expectations, creating just create, trusting the process without sight. It was fun to see what colors we each intuitively selected and the image we had when we were done. The next day we began taking Sharpie markers and adding words or phrases we wish for 2021. Eventually, we will be hanging our Masterpiece somewhere visible to serve a reminder to each of us.

5p.m. – we met and prepped our dinner for the evening. We all wanted vegetarian sushi! It is a labor intensive dinner but so worth it. We set the table in white, silver with the intention of a candle-lit dinner. We lit a 7 day candle for 2021. We did our final “Dear God Make me Bird” prayer (for those of you who have eaten at our home, you know it…jazz hands and all!) I found a beautiful “All is well with my Soul” frame from the At Home Store to add to our table for the perfect touch.

6 p.m. – due to the beautiful rainy, foggy evening we modified our annual luminary lighting offering of love, light and peace and brought some of them indoors.

7-9 p.m. – we snuggled on our couch with a fire crackling (hygge to the max!) and watched Disney’s Pixar movie “Soul.” OH. MY. WORD. Beautiful story telling with all the feels & left most of us in tears, good tears, grateful tears. Before the evening began, I wrapped some special gifts for the girls to open each hour. Before the movie, they opened cozy slippers and a super cute stuffed animal that would be in the movie as a visual reminder of the joy of finding your “spark,” “your purpose” in life. We rounded up the hour with a couple Zoom calls with friends & family.

10 p.m. – we played the board game Ticket to Ride Europe. Miko creamed us all. Super fun game.

11 p.m. – we played two dance party games led by Kira and at 11:45 poured our champagne and turned on the T.V. to watch the completely bizarre, totally on par with 2020, socially distanced empty streets of NYC crystal ball christening 2021.

12 p.m. – we shouted, hugged, cried, sipped champagne, watched bad lip synching artists on T.V and just savored the moment until it was time to slide into bed and officially allow 2020 to go to rest.

Soul was present. Soul was the guiding principle of the evening and it is my intention to try to live from love and soul in 2021.

My morning walk the following day felt hopeful, peaceful, joyful. And, wouldn’t you know it, as I rounded the corner of our lake to walk down the gravel path on the backside of the lake (my most favorite part of our neighborhood – you feel like you are in the back country of a little town in the middle of nowhere.) I was invited by a silver-haired neighbor holding her cell phone above her head dancing to Latin music with her grandchildren to dance. My soul screamed “YES! Let’s do it!” And, we did! We danced on the gravel road, skipped rocks on the water, laughed and smiled.

Nature is my church and it felt like taking communion with their souls. Once our dance party wrapped up, I returned to my walk, feeling like I did as a young girl leaving a good sermon on a Sunday morning, ready to bring love forward.

When I came home to begin writing these thoughts on 2021, the poem called “She Was Done” by Adrienne Pieroth was waiting for me in my inbox like a benediction from my Soul. If you have never read this poem, I have shared it below (it’s long!) Depending on your gender identification, you may have to substitute the correct pronoun because these phrases are for sure not female oriented only. If you wish, I would love for you to drop me a message and share which stanzas stood out to you.

The word Soul is used ELEVEN times (of course it is!)

She Was Done by Adrienne Pieroth

She was done not fully being herself. She realized she was the only self she could be – and being unapologetically true to herself was a service to her soul and the world.

She was done listening to the noise of the world. She realized the quiet voice of her own soul was the most beautiful sound.

She was done questioning her motives, her intentions, the call of her soul. She realized questions seek answers, and maybe she already had the answers.

She was done striving, forcing, pushing through and staying on the hard path. She realized toughing things out might be a sign to pick another path.

She was done with friends that admonished her to be more light and breezy. She realized they didn’t understand she swam in the deep waters of life, she felt at home in their dark depths and died if she lived on the surface.

She was done with the distractions, the denials, the small addictions that pulled her away from the true desires of her soul. She realized that strength of character came from focus and commitment.

She was done not following the desires that yelled out in her soul every day. She realized if she did nothing about them, they died a quiet death that took a piece of her soul with them.

She was done with dinner parties and cocktail hours where conversations skimmed the surface of life. She realized the beverages created distortion and a temporary happiness that wasn’t real and disappeared in the light of the day.

She was done trying to please everyone. She realized it could never be done.

She was done questioning herself. She realized her heart knew the truth and she needed to follow it.

She was done battling with herself, trying to change who she knew herself to be. She realized the world made it hard enough to fully be herself, so why add to the challenge.

She was done worrying, as if worry was the price she had to pay to make it all turn out okay. She realized worry didn’t need to be part of the process.

She was done apologizing and playing small to make others feel comfortable and fit in. She realized fitting in was overrated and shining her light made others brave enough to do the same.

She was done with the should’s, ought to’s and have to’s of the world. She realized the only must’s in her life came from things that beat so strong in her soul, she had to do them.

She was done with remorse and could have’s. She realized hindsight never applies because circumstances always look different in the rearview mirror and you experience life looking through the front window.

She was done with friendships based on shared history and past experiences. She realized if friends couldn’t grow together, or were not longer following the same path, it was okay to let them go.

She was done trying to fit in – be part of the popular crowd. She realized the price she had to pay to be included was too high and betrayed her soul.

She was done not trusting. She realized she had placed her trust in people that were untrustworthy – so she would start with the person she could trust the most – herself.

She was done being tired. She realized it came from spending her time doing things that didn’t bring her joy and feed her soul.

She was done trying to figure it all out, know the answers, plan everything and see all the possibilities before she began. She realized life was unfolding and that the detours and unexpected moments were some of the best parts.

She was done needing to be understood by anyone but herself. She realized she was the only person she would spend her whole with and understanding herself was more important than being understood by others.

She was done looking for love. She realized loving and accepting herself was the best kind of love and the seed from which all other love started.

She was done fighting, trying to change or not accepting her body. She realized the body she came into the world with was the only one she had – there were no exchanges or returns – so love and acceptance was the only way.

She was done being tuned in, connected and up to date all the time. She realized the news and noise of the world was always there – a cacophony that never slowed or fell quiet and that listening to the silence of her soul was a better station to tune into.

She was done beating herself up and being so hard on herself as if either of these things led to changes or made her feel better. She realized kindness and compassion towards herself and others accomplished more.

She was done comparing and looking at other people’s lives as a mirror for her own. She realized holding her own mirror cast her in the best, most beautiful light.

She was done being quiet, unemotional and holding her tongue. She realized her voice and her emotions could be traced back to her deepest desires and longings, if she only followed their thread.

She was done not feeling at home in the world. She realized she might never feel at home in the world, but that feeling at home in her soul was enough.

She was done being drained by others – by people who didn’t want to take the time for their own process and saw shortcuts through her. She realized she could share her experience, but everyone needed to do the work for themselves.

She was done thinking she had so much to learn. She realized she already knew so much, if she only listened.

She was done trying to change others or make them see things. She realized she could only lead by example and whether they saw or followed was up to them.

She was done with the inner critic. She realized its voice was not her own.

She was done racing and being discontent with where she was. She realized the present moment held all it needed to get her to the next moment. It wasn’t out there – it was right here.

She was done seeing hurt as something to be avoided, foreseen or somehow her fault. She realized hurt shaped her as much as joy and she needed both to learn and grow.

She was done judging. She realized judging assumed the presence of right and wrong – and that there was a difference between using information to inform and making someone else wrong.

She was done jumping to conclusions. She realized she only needed to ask.

She was done with regrets. She realized if she had know better she would have done better.

She was done being angry. She realized anger was just a flashlight that showed her what she were most scared of and once it illuminated what she needed to see, she no longer needed to hold on to it.

She was done being sad. She realized sorrow arose when she betrayed her own sol and made choices that weren’t true to herself.

She was done playing small. She realized if others couldn’t handle her light, it was because they were afraid of their own.

She was done with facades and the pretending. She realized masks were suffocating and claustrophobic.

She was done with other’s criticism and complaints. She realized they told her nothing about herself – only informed her of their perspective.

She was done yelling above the noise of the world. She realized living out loud could be done quietly.

She was done needing permission, validation or the authority. She realized she was her her own authority.

She was done being something she was not. She realized the purpose of life was to be truly, happily who she was born to be, and if she paused long enough to remember, she recognized herself.

Not every phrase resonated for me, and I am suspecting for you either. I believe “being done” doesn’t mean you don’t experience or feel these things, that you clap your hands, rub them together and throw them in the air and say “never again.” But, perhaps being done means you don’t attach to them? You become good at recognizing them? When the big hits of life come (and they will) you know and can trust somewhere, at some point, you will be okay. Being done is a freedom to live.

The day ended with a outdoors socially-distanced dinner with two of our dear friends, one whom I ironically call my “soul sista.” Our friends are grieving the loss of a friend who recently passed away from an aggressive form of cancer last week and our talks centered and focused on the idea of living with purpose. The perfect bookend to the day – an exploration of the concepts of purpose, soul, intention, meaning….the big stuff.

Perhaps one of the gifts 2020 has bestowed our planet was the collective stripping away of life’s busyness, outward distractions, materialistic fixations, and illumination of the inequalities that exist on our planet and is saying a sort of “check-mate” on our hearts? Perhaps 2020 will bring better understanding of the bigger questions of life and what we are here to do. Stay healthy, Stay positive. L

Cheers, friends! Much love & light.

Until Next time, RockonLIVING friends!