Wait! Don’t start 2011 without unwrapping the final gift of 2010

Do you know what today is? Yes, it’s December 30th. Yes, it’s the day before New Year’s Eve. But look at the date. December 30, 2010 is 1+2+3+0+2+0+1+0. Add it up. It’s a nine. What’s a nine? Completion, full circle. 12-30-10 is the perfect day to complete your understanding of 2010.

Throughout December, I’ve been walking in the footsteps of my original The Lotus and The Lily experience that began exactly a year ago—the experience that turned my understanding of the Law of Attraction on its head and transformed by bank accounts from zilch to zillions. Well, OK, not zillions, but enough—more than enough.

In The Lotus and The Lily process, I teach people how to prepare for a delicious new year filled with purpose and joy by implementing the original (and identical) teachings of Buddha and Jesus. On Monday, I prepped the 38 members of the current class on how to create a personal mini-retreat or “Soul Day,” including how to make the all-important Intention Mandala. I’ve taught this process five times this year and am within a hair of completing the book proposal. Or so I thought.

But this morning, I discovered that there is something missing. Something big.

One of the experiences in The Lotus and The Lily is to name your year. Last January, I named 2010 “My Breakthrough Year” and wrote that name in big letters across the bottom of my Intention Mandala. But as I did The Lotus and The Lily exercises this month, it dawned on me that the real name of this year is “New and Renew.”

As I was soul writing today, the question “What else do I need to know about New and Renew?” popped onto the page. My head jerked up. “Oh!” I cried. I had started the year back on January 1 with an angel card reading using Doreen Virtue’s Archangel Oracle Deck. I leapt out of my chair, grabbed the deck, breathed my question onto the cards, and prayerfully asked my Divine Guide: What else do I need to know about New and Renew?

I pulled four cards, just as I did 364 days ago, when I asked for a first blessing on the year being born. The messages from the angels take my breath away. They remind me that the year has indeed been one of implementing a mad flow of new ideas followed by quiet periods of silent renewal. And they point the way to how to prepare for next year. I am to remember

from Jeremiel that “All is well,”

from Uriel that “I know what to do,”

from Jophiel to “clear my space,” and

from Raziel to trust that messages that come through “clairvoyance” (the perfect message for deep soul writers!)

Everything I need to know or remember is right here in this simple card reading. Much as I loathe filing, I’m going to take Jophiel’s advice and attach that pile of papers on the floor. And gather all four of my last 2010 gifts as I enter into my Soul Day on January 1st and set my Intentions for the new year.

What are your final gifts of 2010? Take a moment in deep soul writing or meditation or whatever method you use to connect with your Divine Guidance. Ask, “What else do I need to know about 2010?” Then take those gifts, bless them, and step into 2011 knowing 2010 is truly complete.

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You haven’t heard from me because…

I wrote this feature article for my Writing Down Your Soul newsletter on Dec 28. If you’d like to subscribe, click above.

You haven’t heard from me since December 1. Going a month without communicating is a giant no-no in my profession, but I just couldn’t. I set first one and then another and still another deadline to get a newsletter out before Christmas and watched as each one slipped away. I asked about this problem as I was falling asleep on Dec 21 and in the drowsy first moments the next morning the words New and Renew popped into my head.

I picked up my journal. “Dear Voice, what does new and renew mean? Let’s start with new. What’s new?” Well, my hand couldn’t write fast enough. I was stunned to see all the new courses, books, and events I had created in 2010. OK, I wrote, what about renew? “Look up” the Voice wrote. I looked up at my giant wall calendar. July and December were blank. “Oh,” I wrote, “to be able to produce the new, I have to step back and allow myself to be renewed.”

It was no accident that this awareness came on Solstice. The earth, our mother and primary teacher, shows us year in and year out that life is a cycle of birth, growth, death, and in the silence that follows, renewal. And what comes out of this fallow silent period? Why new birth and new growth, of course. Mother earth has been demonstrating this for eons.

But we humans live as if the renewal part of the cycle doesn’t count. Our employers, and indeed ourselves, place our value on our ability to wake every day and produce and produce and produce. Only we can’t. I mean, we can for awhile, for years even, but the day inevitably comes when the call for renewal must be heard. Call it burn out or exhaustion or numbness–a
day comes when we simply do not have the juice to keep going.

So this December, I’ve been following mother earth’s advice. She’s in renewal mode and so am I. I’m quiet. If you could peak in my window, you’d see me in my favorite reading chair surrounded by books and blankets and tea. Or writing in my sacred writing chair. Or devouring Italian cookbooks and experimenting in the kitchen. And you’d see me sleeping. Oh, how you’d see me sleeping. Some mornings, you’d look at your watch and shake your head: Surely she should be up by now!

To be honest I thought the same thing. But then I decided to let go of any judgment of what I should be doing and just be in the place of renewal. I sense this is a rich place. A lot is going on inside, whether I see it or not. And out of this quiet state will come a vibrant 2011 bursting with new ideas, books, and events. To ensure that happens, I’m going to cap my December renewal period with a “Soul Day” on January 1st.

I know from years of experience that the best way to call in a magical new year is to step into abundant quiet for 24 hours on the first day of the year and in that quiet have long chats with Spirit about what is important in the next year. The end result is a short list of crystal-clear intentions.

I am not talking about making New Year resolutions. We all know how long those last. And I’m not talking about setting goals. I played that game in my business life and always found the exercise flat and uninspiring. Sure, my company always met its goals, but I always felt like saying, “So what?”

I’m talking about something more. Something bigger and deeper. I’m talking about articulating your relationship with Spirit. I’m talking about stepping into a commitment to live a life in partnership with the divine. I’m talking about being of service to the spark of creativity that is begging to come to be born.

If this is a new concept, I have news for you: you have no idea just how delicious your life can be–no, will be–when you step away from the limited concept of resolutions and goals and step into the abundant possibilities of living the life you are here to live.

Those in my The Lotus and The Lily course have spent five weeks preparing to set their intentions on January 1. They have accululated a wealth of insights and resources, but you can have a profound and beautiful Soul Day, too. Here’s how. (More details in Writing Down Your Soul p 230-236)

1. Start by giving yourself the gift of Renewal. Set aside a half or full day to set your intentions for 2011.

2. On the page, in deep soul writing, have a nice long chat with your beloved Voice about last year. Talk about what happened and ask for guidance to extract all the gifts, learnings, and blessings of 2010. You’ll be surprised.

3. Next, write about all the people you cannot forgive for all the rotten things they did to you. Guess what, you can’t call in a magical new year while lugging them around. Let them go. Spirit will help you do it. And don’t forget to release yourself. Trust me, the number one person who needs to be forgiven is YOU.

4. Now, start talking over what you want next year. What matters? What would help you live a life of joy and purpose? Make a list. And don’t forget to talk about what you are you going to do for Spirit in return. This is a two-way street, after all.

5. Now it’s time to do something with your wish list. For years I made a Prayer Sandwich (Writing Down Your Soul p 188-199). Now, I make an Intention Mandala. And add the name my year at the bottom. You and Spirit can work out how to capture what both of you are going to do in 2011.

6. There’s only one thing left to do: Celebrate! You have just engaged in the deepest dialogue of the year. And this dialogue is already working to attract all that you need to live the life you’re here to live. Be grateful. Be happy. Raise your glass in gratitude and joy.

Does a Soul Day make a difference? Oh baby! Every single thing on my Intention Mandalas since 2006 has come to pass. In 2006, I asked for a marketing partner and had UPI five days later. I asked for a publisher and had a contract with Conari Press that November. And it’s not just me. I started teaching The Lotus and The Lily course this year and now have dozens of stories, many of which take my breath away.

If you want more help attracting a delightful and holy new year, consider joining me and Margo Mastromarchi for 2011 Intentions with the Angels, learning how to write the most important prayer in your life–your Soul Vows, and learning how to Plug In to the creative force of the universe.

How are YOU planning on calling in a year filled with all the blessings the universe has in store for you?


Have a happy hijacked Christmas

I’ve been a bit of a Scrooge this year. I announced to my family and friends that I was bowing out of the whole present obligation thing. One brother said, “Tough, I’m sending you a present anyway.” The other said, “Thank God, I’m not doing presents either.” If it weren’t for credit card miles, my son wouldn’t even be getting a present. I’ve planned no humongous dinners, no holiday get-togethers, no eggnog, no Christmas cookies, no red and green candles. But I did do one thing: I got a tree.

It killed me to drop $70, but I had to have it. I can’t explain it, but I love a real Christmas tree. I love the little white lights — the more, the merrier. I love the glass icicles I carefully position in front of the lights. They remind me of the beauty of the real thing back in Wisconsin. Most of all, I love reliving the history — my history — as I take out each ornament: the hand-painted porcelain German bell my acting friend Alice gave me in 1976 when I left Los Angeles and my acting life behind, the delicate Dansk animals I bought in 1984 for our first Christmas in Florida, the ridiculous elf with “baby’s first Christmas” painted on his belly, the 1992 Waterford crystal stocking commemorating the year my father died, the ornate red ball with my son’s name in gold glitter marking the year I was confident that life could only get better and better, the mercury glass moon I bought the first Christmas on my own, and my favorites — the ones my son made in nursery school. I love them all, but the heartbreaker is the piece of green burlap with his tiny hand stamped in red paint. I cry every time I put it on the tree. When I’m finished, I cap everything off with the weathered, red and white striped bows that I’ve tied on the tree for over 20 years. Each year I tell myself, “You know, you really should get new ribbons,” and each year I stand back, look at the finished product, smile, and think it’s perfect just the way it is.

But this year I couldn’t bring myself to decorate the tree. For ten days, the 7-foot fir stood forlorn and naked in its stand, challenging me to get off my duff. Finally, on Sunday, I put down The New York Times and said, “OK. This is it, Janet. Just get it done.” I didn’t put on any carols or pour myself a libation. I just circled the tree in my bathrobe, cursing the knots in the lights and fuming about the whole stupid Christmas thing.

This is so fake, I thought. Dec. 25, as everyone knows by now, is not anywhere near the date Jesus was born. Spring, most scholars think. And the tree itself, for heaven’s sake, has nothing to do with the religion of Christianity. It’s an ancient pagan symbol for the mysterious continuation of life while the earth looks dead and cold. I felt dishonest. By decorating it and calling it a “Christmas” tree, wasn’t I just another cog in the commercial event labeled Christmas, a date that has nothing to do with Jesus’ or any other spiritual teacher’s life or message? Christmas at this point seems to be more about spending money and salvaging the stock exchanges from global doom. (Sorry, boys, but aside from the tree and a few bottles of wine, you’ll have to save the markets without me.)

If you’d peeked in the window last Sunday, you’d have seen a middle-aged woman who was singularly not in the Christmas spirit. When I finished, I didn’t step back and admire my work. I just dragged the empty boxes back into the garage and figured that’s one more thing I can check off my to-do list. But when I came back in the living room and saw my precious memory-filled tree sparkling brighter than the Florida sun coming through the windows, I smiled. I plopped back down in my reading chair, but instead of picking up the book review section, I sat and stared at my tree. “You are beautiful,” I said. “I love you.”

I was happy, but I refused to label this good feeling “Christmas.” What’s the matter with me, I wondered. Why can everyone else say “Merry Christmas” with a genuine smile on their face, but I choke on the words? Because, I thought, Christmas has been hijacked.

It’s been hijacked by the world of commerce. That’s painfully obvious. But it’s also been hijacked by the fundamental Christians who think they have the right to shove Jesus down the throats of the non-Christians in America, despite our essential foundation as the one country in the world where religion does not dictate or supposedly even influence government. Our predecessors fought a revolution for that principle. Where did that promise to one another go? The original Americans, the Native Americans, obviously didn’t know or care about Jesus or Christmas. And the early Pilgrim settlers looked down their dour noses at any foolish frippery like Christmas. When Charles Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol,” Christmas Eve was just another workday. This whole Currier and Ives image of the happy family at Christmas is a Victorian creation, introduced not so very long ago.

I decided to dig into this whole Christmas thing. Just what is Dec. 25, I wanted to know. Well, in Roman times it was the culmination of a week of revelry honoring Saturn, the god of agriculture and sowing. Romans would have a wild time during Saturnalia, allowing slaves to debase their masters, eating and drinking to excess, and hitting the temples to honor Saturn. Scroll ahead a few years, and the Zoroastrians are honoring Mithra on this date. Mithra was the enemy of darkness. He protected souls on earth and, when they died, accompanied them to paradise. Mithra, like Saturn, was a god of prosperity. Dec. 25 was also “The Nativity of the Sun,” a celebration of Sol Invicta, the invincible god of the sun. Before any of these, of course, late December was the ancient celebration of Solstice, honoring the miraculous continuation of life despite the apparent death of the earth.

Given all the delightful pagan fun happenings on and around Dec. 25, it should come as no surprise that the early church fathers hijacked that date and turned it into Jesus’ birthday. Why not? They had a church to build, and they were building it on the idea of Jesus as the son of God, the “light of the world.” How better to reinforce that idea than to commandeer all the celebrations of the light of the sun? Jesus wasn’t too keen on people honoring or worshiping him. He kept saying he was the “son of man,” not a god. But he did enjoy a good time. It seems that in every other story in the Bible Jesus is with friends, and often eating. And we know he went to a wedding and, when necessary, fed a few thousand people.

So, I’ve decided Jesus would approve of my idea: I am going to celebrate all the Dec. 25 holidays. At my house it’s Solstice and Sol Invicta and The Nativity of the Sun and Christmas. Plus, let’s not forget Hanukkah, the festival of lights, which just ended; Kwanzaa, a smart new holiday; and Eid ul-Adha, which begins on Dec. 20.

Why not? The message of all these celebrations is the same: We humans are connected to and protected by an all-powerful, all-loving, all-giving God — a God of light and life. Whether you see that light as the Sun or the Son, or any other name, doesn’t really matter. Late December has a rich history of humanity’s desire to touch the unfathomable. I ask you to join me in this spirit and honor the light — all the light.

(This blog post was first posted on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality site in 2008. People gravitated to it immediately, copied it and began posting it on their blogs. Every Christmas it shows up on a few dozen blogs. If you’d like to copy and paste this onto your blog or share it with your friends any other way, be my guest. Just please add my name, Janet Conner, and website, www.writingdownyoursoul.com. THANKS!)