The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:
The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.
A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2010. That’s about 24 full 747s.
In 2010, there were 15 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 76 posts. There were 13 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 309kb. That’s about a picture per month.
The busiest day of the year was March 15th with 237 views. The most popular post that day was Why writing down your soul? And why now?.
Where did they come from?
The top referring sites in 2010 were writingdownyoursoul.com, facebook.com, mail.yahoo.com, en.wordpress.com, and mail.live.com.
Some visitors came searching, mostly for janet conner, writing down your soul, love after love david walcott, from your lips to god’s ears, and lauralyn bunn.
Attractions in 2010
These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.
Why writing down your soul? And why now? June 2009
1 Like on WordPress.com,
Derek Walcott “Love after Love” January 2010
Jumpstart 2010 with a “Conditions” Mandala January 2010
From your lips to God’s ear–really February 2010
Our one and only job January 2010
We have a tendency to skip over November. It has one rather nice American holiday–Thanksgiving. But after all that eating, and even taking a moment to be grateful, November typically gets hustled out of the way. Its primary function, it seems, is to usher in the “real” holidays of December. And there are oodles of them: Hanukkah, Christmas, Eid, Solstice, Kwanzaa…every spiritual tradition has a festival in December.
Why? Why is December celebration central? Because it is the natural culmination of the earth’s life cycle. Solstice marks the longest night of the year, the entrance into death and darkness. And in the cold and the dark, the seed of life is born again. The earth does continue to spin, and as humanity applauds, the sun does indeed rise again to renew the cycle of the seasons. Our ancient ancestors saw this cycle and burned a big fat log on a long cold night to celebrate the earth’s renewal by the light.
We may have forgotten why, but we keep coming together all December long in spiritual and secular celebrations. We give gifts, go to parties, light candles, shop like crazy, eat massive amounts of glorious food; why, some of us even pray.
But what does all this have to do with November? To find the riches buried in November, look at a calendar. Last January, you entered 2010 with new hopes for a better year, right? As winter faded into spring, and spring into summer, did those dreams melt or morph into something else? Are you today, 11 months later, living the life you hoped for on January 1st? Most of us would say no. Some of us would whisper a weak, “Not exactly.” Some of us would scream,”HELL, NO!”
Why? Why, if we have such high hopes on January 1, do we not experience what we want? Kevin Spacey has the answer. Yes, really. Kevin Spacey. Listen to Kevin Spacey for 1 minute 45 seconds. It could be the most important spiritual message you hear all year. Listen
Now, do you see why you aren’t experiencing your January dreams? Because desire is not enough. Dedicating every breath of your body is.
So what does this have to do with November? Everything. November is the cusp month. It is the month when the cold and dark settles in. (At least in the Northern Hemisphere.) In this dark, you stand at the threshold of a big decision. Am I ready to dedicate myself to become the person I’m here to become–not for the “stuff” but for the joy of being my full, authentic, holy self?
When you make that decision, you shift 180 degrees from desire to dedication. In that moment, the Great Paradox springs to life. Jesus and Buddha taught the Great Paradox in remarkably clear and similar language. When you dedicate your whole being to living your divine purpose, the universe has no choice but to provide everything you need–even things you didn’t ask for. It works. Just look at Kevin Spacey.
I made the decision to shift from desire to dedication last November. At the time I had no idea what I was doing, or how profound a step I was taking, or that I was about to stumble headlong into the Great Paradox. I just threw myself into intense daily deep soul writing and spiritual practice in the hopes of fending off bankruptcy. I knew desire alone wasn’t cutting it–that was painfully obvious–but I didn’t know then that dedication was the magic. I didn’t know that making the commitment to achieve the life I’m here to live would not only transform my life, but yours as well.
So I give you the gift of November. (Well, I don’t; Life does.) Take it. Open it. Stare at it. Ask yourself what you really, really want. If it’s a bit more “stuff,” try the popular conception of the Law of Attraction. Maybe it will work for you.
But if you want to play big, if you want to fulfill your soul’s purpose, if you want to make a difference, if you want to bring your gifts to full, vibrant, raucous life… then, recognize this cusp moment of November. Explore it. Write about it. Digest its possibilities. And make your decision.
You have a choice. A sacred choice. You can waltz through December as you always have and see what the new year brings, or you can walk consciously and intentionally through each and every day of December, engaging in spiritual practice and deep soul exploration, and wake with the sun on January 1, knowing you are ready to call in a magical new year.
I’ve made my decision. On November 29, I’m going to begin The Lotus and The Lily telecourse not only as a teacher but as a daily active participant. One year ago, this process changed my life, but I sense there are even more miracles ahead. And I’m ready. I’m ready to say yes to the life I’m here to live, even if I don’t know exactly what that looks like.
Somehow, even though the outcome is unknown, I feel safe and guided. And excited. Like Tony, I’m singing:
I don’t know
what it is
but it is
gonna be grand.
I enjoyed hearing your “pennies from heaven” story. Here’s mine:
I am an artist. A friend and fellow artist collected 1000 secrets sealed in pure white envelopes in 1996 for an art quilt now in one of the Smithsonian museums. At the time, I was debating whether to go back to school and get an MFA. My friend suggested I put my secret in one of her envelopes. I was one of the anonymous 1000. Last summer, she surprised me with a box of 200 of the sealed envelopes.
I decided to make an art project of my own. I shredded several of the envelopes and made pulp and then paper out of them. The remaining envelopes sat in the bottom of the box till a couple of weeks ago. After machine shredding the second batch of envelopes, I began looking at the strips. Some had a word, some a sentence, some were blank. I decided to weave the bits of words. As I sorted, up came my secret that I wrote in 1996! My secret did not make its way into my friend’s art piece in 1996, or to my first batch of shredding and pulp, but found its way back to me. I lined up the shredded strip recognizing my penmanship and easily remembering the words of my secret.
At the beginning of this year, I requested Spirit to “Please show me that you hear me and reveal yourself.” Well, the morning I read your article about pennies from heaven in your newsletter, I opened the dryer and found — a penny! Receiving my 1996 secret was a sign and the penny is a confirmation. Someone is definitely hearing me.
Enee, St Petersburg FL
Poetry really can save your life. That’s what Kim Rosen says in Saved by a Poem. And she’s right. I know. I am saved almost daily by the Sufi mystical poet, Hafiz, or David Whyte or, Derek Walcott. Today, I learned from my good friend, The Writer’s Almanac, is Derek Walcott’s birthday. A celebration is in order, don’t you think?
Here’s a Derek Walcott poem that saved my life. I love it so much I painted it in white chalk paint on an indigo wall in my bathroom. These words bless me every day.
Love After Love
The time will come
When, with elation,
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door, in yoru own mirror,
And each will smile at the other’s welcome.
And say, sit here, eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread,. Give back your heart
To itself, to the stranger who has loved you
All your life, whom you ignored
For another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
The photographs, the desperate notes, Peel your image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Aaaah, I feel saved just reading that as I type. What poem saved or continues to save your life?
Have you noticed that when you set the intention to connect with your divine Voice on the page every day, those ten or fifteen minutes morph until it seems every moment becomes a vehicle for guidance, wisdom, and grace — even the most mundane?
Like running errands. After mailing three orders for Solarzar’s Theta Music CD at the post office yesterday afternoon, I drove to the library to return a book. The library is on the same street as my son’s high school. I’ve driven it hundreds, probably thousands, of times. Nebraska is an unremarkable street of typical Florida cement block homes. But yesterday something remarkable happened there.
Nebraska is a fun street in December. Many of the neighbors decorate for the holidays. As I passed one candy-cane filled yard, my eye fell on the plain brown house next door. The yard was overgrown, the roof layered with leaves. I know that house. It belonged to my first post-divorce boyfriend. He sold it before we went out, so I’ve never been inside, but he pointed it out once when we were driving somewhere. In the moment it took to drive past that house at thirty-five miles an hour, I felt a little twinge of neglect. He should have loved me more.
Huh? Where did that come from? I had no idea I was carrying any regret for that relationship. He wasn’t even the one who ended the relationship. I did. And I ended it ten years ago, for heavens sake! So why on earth was I feeling even the slightest speck of sorrow?
I know why. It’s because of this December Plan. This particular week of the December Plan. My old boyfriend’s old house had a message about forgiveness for me. And its not the message you might expect. The message is not about forgiving old lovers.
I realized as I drove past his house that any time anyone pulls away, even a little bit, and even for all the right reasons, and even because we ask them to, we feel at a subterranean level that somehow it was our fault. Somehow we were not enough. Not attractive enough, not smart enough, not clever enough, not rich enough, not organized enough, not focused enough…. Somehow we were not enough.
It’s a demented logic loop, I know. Here’s how it basically sounds:
If I were good enough, everyone would love me. They couldn’t help it.
So, if someone does not love me totally, madly, and completely…
I must not be good enough.
It sounds pretty comical laid out like that. But please don’t laugh. Look instead for the truth inside the loop. Go ahead, test it for yourself. Pick a relationship that didn’t work out. Even, or especially, one you chose to end. If you peek behind the door, I think you’ll find that at a deep emotional level, a deep irrational emotional level, you feel that somehow you didn’t hold the other person’s attention. If you had been just a wee bit more __________ — something — then he or she would never have turned to someone else, or fallen out of love with you, or simply stopped being interested.
Why is this such a big message? And why is it so important for this week? Because it proves that there is really only one person who needs forgiving.
Not the other guy. You. It’s always you. The wound is inside of you. It’s not about what the other guy did. That can and will be forgiven, but the first wound, the greatest wound, and the hardest one to heal, is inside of you.
Have you noticed that?
Why do we feel so alone? We know intellectually that this is an impossibility. Even the least scientifically inclined knows enough baby quantum physics to know that we are made up of energy. Thank you Albert for a formula so simple that even I, who barely scraped through algebra, can understand it. And if we’re all energy, then it isn’t much of an intellectual leap to realize we are all connected. (Not a whole lot of walls out there in the energy field.)
Got doubts about that? Read Ervin Laszlo’s Science and the Akashic Field. All those lovely-sounding spiritual principles, like, “We are one in Spirit,” are actually true.
So, why then, if we understand the way the universe is constructed, do we feel so alone? I do not have an answer for this. It seems to be the human dilemma. We are all one, but individually we wake feeling like one person chasing answers to an endless array of problems. One soul seeking peace. One heart seeking hope.
I know I’m not alone. I know it. But I can still feel alone. So every day I stand in front of my Writing Altar and state again, out loud, what I know to be the truth. I don’t say it for heaven. Heaven already knows. I say it for me. I say the words to remind myself that Spirit is with me. My angels are with me. My Guardian Angel (whose name I’d really like to know) is with me. I know it. I once heard her (or maybe him) speak. It was just one word, but it was crystal clear in an empty house. Who else could it have been? Michael is with me. I know this. And Gabriel? She’s got the words. She is the loving protectress of writers. I call on her every time I write.
I know my husband who passed is with me. He has delivered messages three times. And he leaves me pennies. Every time I see one in an odd spot, I laugh and say thank you. I have a bowlfull of pennies on my altar. I know my parents are with me. Dad has appeared as a cardinal — his favorite bird — for years. After Mom died in 2007 I wondered when she’s show up. It took her quite a while, but last winter the male cardinal in my dining room bush suddenly had an orange mate. That long walk I told you about yesterday? As I approached home I felt the need to see them. And a few moments later there they were, a pair of cardinals, in an oleander bush at eye level, no more than 18 inches away. I felt loved.
I’m not alone. And neither are you. But do you know who’s with you? In the card reading yesterday the cards said I’m surrounded by my spiritual community who is helping me find my human community. The problems, mind you, are still here. The fears are still here. But at least I know I have help. A whole village of help. I can call on Michael to protect me. Mary to love my son. Gabriel to help me find the words. My parents and husband to watch over us. I’m not alone. And that sometimes is enough to get through the day.
Do you want to connect with your guides? Your angels? Here are a few things you can do. First, do some deep soul writing and ask who’s with you. Then pay attention to what happens next. Do some angel card readings. Read Angels in My Hair by Lorna Byrne, the Irish mystic who sees angels. Have an angel guidance reading. My favorite angel guidance reader is Margo Mastromarchi, the Oracle of the Dove. Or ask for insights in your dreams.
I don’t think it matters what you do or how you go about becoming aware of your spiritual support team. What matters is that knowing you are not alone, you call on them. Ask for guidance. Ask for help creating the perfect December preparation for the perfect new year.
Who are your guides? How do they show up? How are you working with them to create your magical year?
Readers of my newsletter and this blog know my next book. I introduced the concept of The Intersection between your craft and your spiritual practice this summer. I shared the beautiful graphic Sandy Cromp designed, and taught the first Intersection teleclasses. My editor at Conari asked for the proposal. The next stage in my writing life was clear. Or so I thought.
Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love) spoke on Oct 8th at a Tampa event designed to coincide with the launch of her new book. In dozens of interviews in the past year, she talked about Matrimonium. But there were no books for sale in Tampa. Elizabeth explained why. She said she was halfway through the manuscript when she realized it wasn’t the book she wanted to write. So, she told her publisher she was starting over. But first, she went to the garden. For six months she planted, pruned, watered, and weeded. And somewhere in the midst of not writing, not thinking, not planning, her new book said hello.
My story is not so dramatic. I don’t have the weight of a mega-advance or millions of readers impatiently waiting. But like Elizabeth Gilbert, I knew my next book. I named it and started talking about it with my publisher and readers.
But then, something happened. On September 27th, I had my first low turnout for a workshop. Jennifer Hill Robenalt, my heaven-sent publicist and book sherpa, watched as I taught deep soul writing to four people. As a consolation prize she took me to Chuy’s, an Austin landmark.
Over enchiladas, she scolded me. “That turnout is proof that it’s time to let go of Writing Down Your Soul.” Jennifer could see the shock on my face and tears in my eyes. “Hey, listen,” she softened, “you’ve done a great job. You sold out the first run. You’ve done more to keep your book alive than anyone I know. But now it’s time to move on to your next book.”
I sighed. Jennifer was right. But it was so hard to hear. I love my book and I love teaching Writing Down Your Soul. But the turnout was undeniable.
“OK,” I sighed, “when I get home I’ll start working on The Intersection.”
“Oh, that’s not your next book,” Jennifer mumbled through her cheese enchilada.
“What!” I sputtered. Jennifer kept chewing.
“How many people have come to a Writing Down Your Soul workshop?” she asked.
“I dunno,” I said, “maybe a thousand.
“And thousands more have purchased your book? Right? And deep soul writing changes people’s lives? Right?” Jennifer pressed.
“Oh yes,” I smiled, “I get emails every day from people telling me what a difference Writing Down Your Soul is making.”
“So,” Jennifer stopped chewing, “that means there are thousands of great stories out there. Your next book is a collection of those stories.”
I liked that idea. I liked it a lot. I love telling people’s stories when I speak. I love sharing actual quotes of the Voice. “Hmm,” I thought out loud, “I wonder what the title would be?”
“Oh, that’s easy,” Jennifer said, “Love Letters from the Voice.”
I dove into my purse for paper. By the time the waiter cleared the table, Jennifer and I had the title, the chapters, the structure of the individual stories, a list of people to ask to contribute, a how-to section to help readers receive their own Love Letters, and a list of product extensions including the matching journal and card set of Love Letters from the Voice. In the time it takes to consume a plate of enchiladas, I had my new book and I was madly, deeply, and totally in love with it.
When the check came, I grabbed it. “You really are a book sherpa! “I gushed. “The very least I can do is pay for this miraculous dinner.”
The next day I had an event at the Story Circle Network in Austin. As 7pm approached, I said a prayer of acceptance. It’s not about the numbers, I prayed. It’s not about the numbers. The door opened. In came a half-dozen women, then a dozen, then a dozen more. Someone got more chairs. By the time we began, there were 52 people in the audience. Things were back to normal for me and Writing Down Your Soul.
The next day, the Voice and I had chats about the low turnout on the 27th. Well, the Voice pointed out, if you’d had your normal house, Jennifer would not have pushed you to move on. Yeah, I agreed. We’d still have gone to Chuy’s, but we’d have celebrated instead of taking a download on my new book. So let’s see, you nicely arranged for a depressing turnout to get Jennifer to push me. Well it worked. I was so unhappy that day. Nothing was coming out the way I expected. But now, I’m grateful. That “bad” result created room for my new book to sprout. And I’m madly in love with Love Letters from the Voice. Thank you.
OK. Your turn. What isn’t working out the way you expected? What looks and feels like a rejection, a refusal, a problem, a wall?
Now, consider the possibility, if just for a moment, that nothing is actually wrong. Look at your “dirt” with different eyes and perhaps, like Elizabeth Gilbert, you’ll discover something good growing in your garden. Not what you expected perhaps, but something good.
I received an email this morning from JoAnne Grabinske who took a Writing Down Your Soul teleclass this summer. Her email was brief: “Thought of you when I read this,” followed by a link to a New York Times article about what happened when cancer patients began to write.
When I speak I love to share the extensive research Dr James Pennebaker has done at the University of Texas on the physical and mental benefits of expressive writing. People’s eyes always get a little wide, but the real stunner is that writing increases t-lymphocytes in the body. What are t-lymphocytes? The agents in your body that kill cancer.
I see now why Conari Press has placed Writing Down Your Soul in hospital giftshops.
The power of words for cancer patients
Why does writing work? Why does something so simple, so inexpensive, so effortless have such profound impact? Why does your life change when you write? That’s what I wanted to know when I wrote Writing Down Your Soul. I knew that daily deep soul writing had changed my life, but I didn’t know WHY. So I set out to discover what happens in our bodies, our minds, our brains when we write this way. I had no idea going into my research that the answer would be brain waves!
Does this surprise you?