If you were raised in a Christian tradition, you will recognize this sweet saying. If it’s unfamiliar, read it and see if you don’t fall in love with it, too. In this scene, recounted in Luke and Matthew, Jesus is teaching people how to pray. The issue of worrying about having enough money comes up. Jesus says:
“Consider the lilies, they do not toil nor spin, yet I tell you Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of them. Now if that is how God clothes the flowers, which are here today and in the furnace tomorrow, consider what God will do for you…You must not set your hearts on things to eat or things to wear; nor must you worry…. No, set your hearts on the kingdom and these other things will be given you as well.”
It is oddly comforting to me that people two thousand years ago had the same money worries I have. Of course, it’s even more comforting to learn what to do about them. I heard “Consider the lilies” many many times growing up, but until this year, I didn’t understand it. And I certainly didn’t live it. But I do now. And the result is, well — miraculous. In 62 days I went from bankrupt to bank-full. With the help of a lily. Here’s what happened.
2009 was an astonishing year for me–and for so many. Writing Down Your Soul came out January 1. The next 11 months were filled with teaching, speaking, promoting, and traveling. Invitations trickled in at first, but by summer they poured in. I said yes to every one because the deal I have with Spirit is: Spirit sends the invitations; I show up and spread the joy of deep soul writing. It’s been a prolific relationship.
Between January and November last year, I:
- taught deep soul writing to 1100 people
- held events at 15 bookstores in 8 states
- spoke and taught workshops at 14 churches in 9 states
- addressed 4 organizations for writers, 1 national convention for hypnotists, and 1 holistic health expo
- taught at 2 art galleries, 3 libraries, 1 community college, and 1 homeless shelter
- was interviewed for 16 radio shows, 1 TV show and 3 newspaper articles
As I typed this list for a book proposal, I thought no wonder I’m exhausted. But it wasn’t only my body that was depleted. My bank account was empty, too. By the end of last year, it looked like the only solution was bankruptcy.
Does that surprise you? Here’s the economic reality of being an author, especially a new one. That old image of a writer on a “book tour” is a fantasy. Unless you’re a celebrity or show up regularly on bestseller lists, your “book tour” consists of you begging friends to let you visit. Then, you research the area. You get yourself invited to speak. You cover your travel. You create the flyers. You market the event. With each appearance, I built a larger and larger community for Writing Down Your Soul, but I also dug a deeper and deeper hole in my finances. In December, I faced facts and with the help of my friend and real estate genius, Jane Mak, I made an appointment to see a bankruptcy attorney in February.
If you were reading this blog last December, you know I created a “December Plan” to call in a magical new year. Now you know why. I did it for you, yes, but the first person who needed it was me! Hundreds of you stepped in and played, too. Then, on January 1, I created my Intention Mandala following Thich Nhat Hanh’s profound teaching, “When conditions are sufficient, there is manifestation.”
On the periphery of my Intention Mandala, I drew images of what I want. But at the center, I drew a lily to remind myself to do the six things that will create the conditions that will manifest all that I want. Or, to use Jesus’ words, how I will “set my heart on the kingdom” — the vibrant living presence of Spirit. Looking at the lily every day reminds me to focus not on what I want, but on how I choose to live to express and fulfill my soul’s divine purpose.
It’s a paradox, I know. By not focusing on what I want, I get what I want. Have you noticed hat the universe loves paradox? It would be nice if someone told us in advance that profound spiritual truths always come in a box marked, “Warning! Paradox Inside.” But I guess we all get to discover that for ourselves.
Since January 1st, I’ve been living my “Lily Life.” I wake every morning whispering “I am a lily” and like a flower, turn my face to the Light. Feeling the kiss of Spirit on my cheeks, I bound out of bed with a grin on my face, delighted to embrace my day. Then I scoot into my office, say my prayers, and get to work. If you snapped a picture of me working in my office today and compared it to a picture of me working in my office last year, you wouldn’t see anything different — unless you noticed me smiling at the lily on my Intention Mandala several times a day.
On February 4, I met the bankruptcy attorney as scheduled. He looked at my debt and income and said I definitely qualify. He explained the process and asked if I had any questions. “Yes,” I said, “I made $10,000 in January. Is that a problem?”
He looked at me for a long moment. “Yeah,” he said, “that’s a problem. You can only have a thousand dollars in your account. Call me when you only have a thousand dollars.”
Driving home, I had a little chat with my beloved Voice. “Thank you for that appointment,” I said. “Turns out I’m not bankrupt after all. I am bank-full. And you know what, I love this feeling. I am thankful to be bank-full.” I giggled. “I am thankful to be bank-full!” I sang my new mantra all the way home.
Now, whenever I receive or spend money, I say, “I am thankful to be bank-full!” For the first time in my life, I laugh as I pay bills.
Several women at a recent event took me aside to tell me they love my book and my workshops because I’m so “real.” I laughed. Yup, that’s me. I feel like the spiritual Mikey. Remember the kid in the commercial who ate the Life cereal first? Well, I do seem to eat some interesting “cereals of life” first:
- I have the atrocious divorce, discover deep soul writing, and pass it on to you.
- I forgive my husband, experience an eye-popping miracle, and start teaching forgiveness.
- I discover how to write a book by plugging into “The Intersection” and now teach creatives how to Plug In!
- I discover the joy of mystical poetry and now everywhere I go, people fall in love with Hafiz, the great Sufi poet.
So, I guess it makes sense that I had to step into the pain and panic of feeling bankrupt in order to be willing to explore the spiritual paradox of getting what I want by focusing on creating the conditions that lead to the delightful state of being bank-full.
And please understand, when I say bank-full, I am not talking just about money. Money is delightful, but prosperity is so much more. It’s friendship, growth, freedom. It is loving relationships, a peaceful home, and joyful work. It is in a word — love. Love of life, love of others, love of Spirit, love of who you are and why you’re here. The feeling of being bank-full is the feeling of love overflowing onto your hands, your heart, and yes, your bank account.
Well, the deal I have with Spirit, don’t forget, is I say yes. Yes to having the experience, yes to plunging into the paradox, and yes to sharing what I learn in the process. So, now it’s time say yes to sharing the profound adventure of “considering the lilies” and creating a magical, joyful, abundant life.
Would you like to join me? I created the “You are a Lily” telecourse to share this magical co-creative process with you.
If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I experienced a big shift January 1st when I sat down to create my Intention Mandala for 2010. I shifted 180 degrees from focusing on what I want to focusing on creating the conditions that make all that possible. Many of you are making the same shift.
So, I thought you might enjoy hearing what has happened in the first five weeks of 2010. Think of this as The December Plan–January Report
I have stuck faithfully to my plan. Every morning before I get up,
I turn my face to imaginary sunlight, feel it on my cheeks, and commit once more to love my work and do it in joy. This new morning habit is now, well, a habit. A really nice habit. And it’s working. I wake up happy. Big happy. Smile-on-my-face happy. Leap-out-of-bed-excited-to-work happy.
Then, before I touch my computer, I stand in front of my Intention Mandala and look–really look–at the image at the center. I speak the six ways I create the conditions to become who I want to be out loud. That’s important, I think. I say my prayers out loud.
Then, I write down my soul and get to work. On the surface, nothing appears to really be all that different. I spend my days in my writing office at the computer just like I always did. But something is different.
And I have proof that it’s working. Here are two examples.
Two weeks ago, I sent Daniel Ladinsky, the incredible Hafiz translator, an email asking if he’d like to join me for a Hafiz Love Fest teleclass. I thought it would be such fun to just read Hafiz poems to one another. And I was confident that a hundred people would join us. But Daniel said no. Turns out he doesn’t like the phone. And he says his vocal renderings of Hafiz are, let’s just say, idiosyncratic. For lots of reasons, Daniel said no. Hmmph, I thought. So much for that great idea.
But you know that sweet saying, “From your lips to God’s ears?” Have you heard that? I think of it as a Jewish saying. Not quite sure why. But I do. If you haven’t heard the saying before, the idea is, “May God hear what you are saying and make it so.”
Well, the day after Daniel said no, Cherry Lea, owner of Dancing Moon Bookstore in Raleigh called. She was responding to an email I’d sent about my schedule. When I went online to make reservations for my trip, the Sunday afternoon flight I wanted disappeared off Southwest’s screen. I mean that.
It just disappeared and suddenly the only option was 7:30PM. So I sent Cherry an email saying she was kinda stuck with me on Sunday and I’d be happy to come to the store and sign books or whatever she wanted.
Cherry said they’d be delighted to have me come to the store on Sunday. I could certainly sign books, she said, “But you know what we’d really love you to do? It’s Valentine’s Day and we’d really love you to read Hafiz poetry while we serve tea and pastries.”
And that’s how the first ever Mystical Poetry Love Fest came to be. Straight “from my lips, to God’s ears.” In 48 hours, no less.
Want another example?
I sent an email to Sharon Jebbens, manager of Wings Bookstore in St Petersburg on Saturday telling her I’d be delighted to pop into Wings and sign the March Daily Word. (I wrote the feature article on deep soul writing.)
One minute later, I got an email from the new events coordinator at Wings inviting me to teach an all-day workshop. I thought, wow, that was fast! But when Andi called to talk about details, she knew nothing about my email to Sharon. She said she emailed me simply because so many people had come into the store talking about the book and asking when I’d teach again.
From my lips to God’s ear. In record speed.
I cannot predict everything that will happen in 2010. But five weeks into the year, here’s what I see:
- I am happy–deliciously happy
- Invitations to speak, teach, and be interviewed are flying in the door
- I ask for what I want and receive it (sometimes instantly!)
- January has been the most prosperous month of my entire writing life
Are all these things happening because I begin my day with my face to the Light? Because I commit to a day of love and joy? Because I keep my focus on creating the conditions that generate the life I want rather than on the things themselves?
I think so. I think this whole “December Plan’ idea that began on December 1 has been a divine adventure. And the best is yet to come.
What about you? What is happening since you set your Intention for the year? What words have emanated from your lips and landed on God’s ears? Tell me, I’d love to know.
My last blog post ended with a description of the mystical mandala I created on January 1 to call in my magical new year. The real magic, I discovered, was in centering my focus not on what I want, but on creating the conditions in my heart, my mind, my body, my soul, and my environment that will magnetically attract what I want.
After all we’ve heard and read about the law of attraction, I was rather stunned to realize I’d missed something so big and, once it was right in front of me, so obvious. This isn’t anti-law of attraction. Rather, I think it’s a deeper, more profound understanding of the true law behind the law of attraction.
I realized the magnetic power isn’t in wanting, or rather it isn’t just in wanting. Mind you, wanting is good. Wanting is important. Wanting sends a vibrational message into the universe. I’m not voting that we stop wanting. But I’ve had, and I know you’ve had, the experience of wanting and wanting and wanting but experiencing nothing in response. So the power isn’t generated just by the feeling or expression of wanting. It’s deeper than that.
That’s how I interpret Thich Nhat Hahn’s stunning sentence, “When conditions are sufficient, there is a manifestion.” You are Here.
When I read those words, I felt Thich Nhat Hahn was whispering in my ear: Don’t focus on the manifestation, Janet, focus on creating the conditions; the manifestations will take care of themselves.
That’s why the center of my mandala suddenly had to be a lily. As in, “Consider the lilies, they do not toil nor spin, but I tell you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of them.” (Matthew 6: 28-29) As the Voice and I had chats on the page on how to create the perfect conditions, I found myself drawing a lily with six petals. Each petal states one essential daily activity. As I repeat all six every day, I create the conditions that cannot help but generate my desires.
Petal 1 – Hold my intention to be of service
Petal 2 – Say my prayers aloud
Petal 3 – Create and cherish my sacred work space
Petal 4 – Do my holy work
Petal 5 – Keep my focus on the good (not the fear)
Petal 6 – Have a grateful heart
Of course you don’t have to draw a lily or follow my six conditions. Choose a symbol and the condition-creating activities that speak to you. Perhaps you see yourself and your perfect conditions as a star or ripples of water or something else. The specific image doesn’t matter. Thoughtfully choosing one, does.
But even if you’re not using a flower, please stick with me for a moment on this flower image because I think it holds a simple but profound truth.
What does a flower, or any other plant, do to grow? It doesn’t generate it’s food, the sun does that. It just has to turn to the sun and absorb the light. Nature takes it from there. Well, what if that’s true for us, too. What if our job, really our only job, is to turn toward our Sun — Spirit — and absorb the light. If we keep our eyes on God, we can’t help but blossom and grow.
Kahlil Gibran said it simply and clearly: “Be like the flowers, turn your face to the sun.”
The great Sufi mystic Hafiz expressed this idea in perfect poetry in “The Lute Will Beg” from The Gift. When Daniel Ladinsky gave me permission to quote his translations of the mystical poets, he said I had to include this poem in my next book.
The Lute Will Beg
You need to become a pen
In the Sun’s hand.
We need for the earth to sing
Through out pores and eyes.
The body will again become restless
Until your soul paints all its beauty
Upon the sky.
Don’t tell me, dear ones,
That what Hafiz says is not true,
For when the heart tastes its glorious destiny
And you awake to our constant need for your love
God’s lute will beg
We are all pens. And God is begging for our hands. God’s presence in this world comes through our pens, our computers, our eyes, our art, our words, our work, our beauty. And to feed our souls, to find the energy to do our holy work and create the life we are here to live, we have only one job: to turn our faces to the Light.
This morning when I woke, I imagined divine Light on my face. In my mind, I turned my face to that sweet warm nourishing Light and whispered, “God, God, God.”
Try it. It’s a delicious way to welcome a new day. A new day in which your soul once again paints all its beauty upon the sky.
Heaven communicates with us so many ways. Synchronicity. Animal messengers. Signs and symbols. Dreams. Nudging. Knowing. Intuition. And deep soul writing, of course.
But have you noticed that when you are ready to hear something really important, something that may well be the next step in your soul’s great human adventure, it falls into your hands through a human voice? It might be something someone says, but often it comes through the pages of a book.
That’s what happened to me. As you know, I wrote about how to create a magical new year throughout December. I thought about it every day and shared my experiences with you in this newsletter and in my blog. I thought I had the process pretty well figured out.
Until New Year’s morning.
I spent the morning in deep dialogue with my divine Voice putting 2009 to bed and calling in a magical 2010. It’s a process I’ve followed for a decade and I know it works. But this year, I did something different. Before I said my prayers, before I picked up a pen, before I did anything, I picked up a library book. As I sipped my coffee, I read Thich Nhat Hanh’s slender new book, you are here.
Midway through I had to stop and catch my breath. Because everything in my understanding suddenly shifted 180 degrees.
Let me explain.
A week ago, I decided that the perfect name for 2010 is “My Breakthrough Year.” It’s perfect because it captures where I am. I’m in the fifth year of my writing career: In 2006, I called in my publisher. In 2007, I wrote Writing Down Your Soul. In 2008, I learned what happens after you turn in your manuscript: editing, book layout, cover design… In 2009, I learned what happens when your book comes out: how to speak, teach, travel, communicate through social media, work with a publicist, interview and be interviewed… Whew.
And so, in year five, I’m ready for the big breakthroughs. You know: the income, agent, multi-book contract, well-paid speaking invitations. I’m ready for my ships to come in.
And reading Thich Nhat Hanh, I discovered how to do that. Which is a really good thing, because I had something wrong, and I’m willing to bet you do, too.
Until I read You Are Here, I visualized my year as me breaking through barriers to reach what I want. But listen to what the Buddha has to say about creating: “This is, because that is.”
Not clear? Don’t worry. That’s why God gave us Thich Nhat Hanh, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Vietnamese Buddhist monk. To explain this profound teaching Thich Nhat Hanh writes: “This refers to the manifestation of phenomena on the basis of the law of interdependent origination. When conditions are sufficient, there is manifestation.” (p. 87) To illustrate, he points out that in winter you don’t see sunflowers, but that doesn’t mean sunflowers don’t exist. They are just waiting for the condition of sunshine to call them forth.
My eyes couldn’t leave the sentence, “When conditions are sufficient, there is manifestation.” I wrote it several times in my journal. I wrote it on my white board. I sat staring in space letting it seep into my cells.
“When conditions are sufficient, there is manifestation.”
I am still calling 2010 “My Breakthrough Year,” but I see now that my way to get that to happen is not to focus on me breaking through to what I want; it is to focus on creating the conditions that allow everything I want to break through to me.
Do you hear the difference? It’s huge. And it’s the miracle-maker that will create the year I want — and the year you want.
So how do you create those conditions? Well, my Voice and I had long, rich talks about how I can create the fertile field for my “sunflowers” to break through the soil and grow, grow, grow. Well, actually we talked about lilies. Ever since Michael said, “You are a lily,” in an angel reading with Margo Mastromarchi in 2007, I’ve had lilies on my altar. I love seeing myself as one of Spirit’s cared-for lilies.
Once I was clear on the conditions to allow all I want to manifest, I made a prayer mandala to imprint that image in my sub-conscious. I traced a dinner plate on a large sheet of paper. I drew a lily at the center of the circle. On each of her six petals I wrote something I do to create the perfect conditions for my year. Around the lily, I drew twelve small circles, each with a symbol of something I want to break through to me in 2010.
I finished with an angel reading, using Doreen Virtue’s Archangel Oracle deck and pasted copies of the four cards to the corners. Delighted with the results, I pinned my 2010 mandala to the wall next to my desk where it will bless me for the next 365 days.
Thank you for joining me in this delightful adventure to call in a divine new year. I share your excitement for what we are creating. Thanks for your emails and comments.
But please don’t worry if you haven’t started.
In the past, I did the whole thing in a couple hours the morning of January 1st. And I’m living proof that such compressed intention-setting works. So whether you’ve been preparing to call in your new year all month, or thought about it off and on, or are just now deciding that you do indeed want to call in a joyous new year filled with blessings and grace, I’ve got a plan. A Soul Plan. Take it. It’s my gift to you.
In Writing Down Your Soul, there’s a full description of a “Soul Day.” Here’s a shorter, specific January 1st Soul Day process to call in a divinely-guided and supported year.
If January 1st is not an option in your house, it’s OK. Just pick a time in the next few days when you will have a couple hours to yourself. The date doesn’t matter. Giving yourself the gift of a moment of time to stand in your power, acknowledge your heart’s desires, and call to you in concert with heaven does.
Here’s the New Year Soul Day that always works for me:
Set your intention.
- The universe is run on intention. Use that power to kickstart your year. Place a notepad next to your bed. As you fall asleep on Dec 31, ask for guidance on your Soul Day.You can ask for general guidance or specific questions like what is the name of my year.
- When you awake, lie still for a few minutes and allow insights from the night to come to you while you still have access to the theta brain wave state. When you’re ready to get up, jot down any insights, blessings, images.
Begin with prayer
- As you step into the space where you are going to call in your year, say the prayers that mean the most to you. If you don’t have a prayer process, start now.
- Stand and speak your prayers. Request Spirit, the angels, and your divinely-appointed guides to be with you as you begin the next twelve months in your soul’s adventure here on earth.
Have a nice long conversation with the Voice about 2009
- Ask for help identifying all the gifts buried in the experiences of the last twelve months. List them. Name them. Bless them. Say thank you for both the beautiful gifts you received and the more difficult learnings. Learnings are gifts, too.
- Review everything you accomplished this year. Let your heart be filled with pride for all that you accomplished.
- Forgive yourself for everything you didn’t get done. And anything you did that you wish you hadn’t.
- Release your prisoners. If you are holding someone prisoner in your internal dungeon for the harm they’ve done to you, let them out. (see blog posts on week 3 below)
Have a nice long conversation with the Voice about 2010
- Start talking with the Voice about what you want in 2010. Review the list of the blessings you created in your December Plan or make your list now in partnership with your divine Voice. Discuss what you want until you have a focused list of five to eight desires.
- For each of your desires, create a prayer statement describing it in the present tense as it looks fulfilled. For example, if you want a new job, write something like “I am doing my perfect work joyous as a result of my efforts.” You’ll type these statements up and say them every day for the next 365 days.
- Ask for a name for your magical new year.
- If you have card sets that you love, do a card reading or two asking for guidance on your year. I love to do a Medicine Card reading and an Angel Guidance reading.
Create a visual prayer for 2010
Create a prayer mandala for 2010.
- Use a dinner plate to make a good-sized circle on a piece of firm paper. Write a phrase or word for each of your prayer requests inside the rim of the circle (like numbers on a clock).
- Write the name of your year across the top. 2010 is “My Break Through Year.”
- Decorate the mandala. I like to write my core prayers in a border around the circle. Words like: I know. I trust. I love. I’m not sure what words I’ll add this year. Have to wait to see what the Voice suggests on January 1.
- At the center of the mandala, draw an image that captures your year. My “Break Through Year” is symbolized by a chair. (see Dec 28 post) I’ll draw a chair at the center and put a small wooden doll house chair on my altar.
- Conclude your Soul Day with prayers of gratitude and joy. You have been heard, supported, and guided to stand in your power and declare the life you want. Be thankful.
- Bless your prayer mandala and post it where you’ll see it every day.
- Type or print your prayer statements and put them where you’ll say them at least twice a day.
- Eat in joy. Have a delightful meal and toast the blessings of the magical new year that are coming to you
Bring your year to life
- At least once a day for the next 365 days, stand in front of your mandala, say your prayer statements and SEE all the good you have declared coming to you. Visualize it. Feel the joy you’ll feel when it happens. Smile. Say thank you in advance.
- Keep your thoughts and your eyes focused on what you want to attract in 2010. When you stray into fear and doubt, put yourself back in front of your mandala and remind yourself that you are divinely guided and all is well.
- Recognize good things when they come to you. Save evidence of your desires being fulfilled on your Evidence Shelf. (p. 228 in Writing Down Your Soul.)
- Keep communication between you and your Divine Voice wide open. Write down your soul every day. Pray every day. Ask for guidance and you will receive it.
See how easy it is to call in a magical new year? January 1st is my favorite morning of the year. When I pin my 2010 prayer mandala to the wall, I always feel lifted. I feel my angels beside me clapping and laughing. I know that I am blessed.
And you are, too.
I’ll be thinking of you on January 1st. And throughout the year as together we call in our magical years. 2010 is in for a big surprise! We alchemists are changing not just our own individual lives, but the life of the whole planet.
Please let me know how your New Year’s Day unfolds..
This week in our December Plan has been fun, fun, fun. As of last night, December 27th, we have a list with 27 delightful expectations for 2010. If you haven’t created your wish list, it’s OK, you can begin today or tomorrow or any day you want. Just sit down and get clear, really clear, about what you want to see happen in 2010.
Please note the use of the verb “see” in that sentence. It sounds simple, but it matters. It really matters.
Yesterday, I received a profound confirmation of the power of “seeing.” I had an angel guidance reading with Margo Mastromarchi, The Oracle of the Dove. When I asked about finances, the angels had this to say:
“Do not focus on what is going out. Focus on what is coming in and it will multiply. You are the only reason you do not see it coming. See it. See it as checks, checkbooks, bank accounts, receipts of paid bills…see only that. And as you see it, open your hands.”
Instantly, I recognized what I’d done. I’d put my focus for the last few months on paying bills. I’d made endless lists of what was owed and when it was due and then I jockeyed funds to make sure I had money in the right account on the right day. The only thing I’d been “seeing” was bills. And while I was looking hard and long at all that outgo, fear crept in. And once inside, it grew, and spread, and gobbled up all the air.
But since December 1st, I’ve added one delightful item every day to my wish list for 2010.
Wait a sec. I’ve got to stop calling it a “wish list.” These are not wishes. These are expectations. These are miracles. These are requests. Dare I say, demands? These are descriptions of the good things flowing to me in the next twelve months so that I can do the work I’m here to do and live the life I’m here to live. These are the ways I fulfill my purpose, my calling, my destiny. These are not wishes or pie in the sky dreams, these are real. And my eyes are fixed upon them. My eyes are now fixed on the horizon of Jan 1 and over that horizon comes my ship. My ships. My many ships. Filled with the 31 divine gifts of the year.
No more wishes for us. We are alchemists. And alchemists know how to use the power of this magical universe to create. Last week — forgiveness week in our December Plan — I suggested that we call this list our “Freedom List” because as our ships come in, we break more and more of the bonds of doubt, worry, fear, frustration, depression — whatever name you give to what you know is holding you back.
If you read yesterday’s post, you also gave your new year a magical new name. Mine is “My Break Through Year.”
So, today we wrap up this week in our December Plan to call in our magical new year with one last totally fun adventure:
- Look at your Freedom Lists
- Visualize ships laden with those expectations sailing your way
- Meditate on the name of your year
Mine is a chair. As I began my Freedom List, I realized that my expectations for 2010 fall into 4 categories: my work, the partners who help me get that work out into the world, my son, and my life partner. I know that when all four legs of the chair are in place, I will be living the joyful life of service I am here to live. And how perfect for me that the symbol of my divine year is also the symbol of the space where I work. I do, after all, spend my days sitting in my writing chair.
So, I’m headed to the craft store to get a small wooden chair to put on my altar. And when I draw my mandala for next year (you’ll learn how to do that in the next few days) I’ll put my perfect four-legged balanced chair in the center.
So your delightful task on this the 28th day of the December Plan to call in a magical new year, is to get a symbol for your year. If you’re not sure what that is, ask for divine guidance and it will come. On a walk, in a magazine, in your dreams, while deep soul writing…. It will come.
Then, follow the angels instructions:
“See what you want to see. See it coming…. See only that… See the flow and as you see it, open your hands.”
Me? I see a gorgeous, strong, balanced chair with four gorgeous strong balanced legs: work, partners, son, husband. That’s some chair. My goodness, it’s more of a throne!
Friends: This magical week in our December Plan culminates today and tomorrow with two delightful activities. Today, you give 2010 a name. Names have resonance. Names have power. In this post originally written for UPI on Jan 1, 2008, you’ll learn why naming your year has such magical power. Then, tomorrow, we wrap up the week with a delightful final touch. The bow on top so to speak.)
On Jan. 1, while others are nursing hangovers, cooking beans, watching the parade, or preparing for a football fest, I sit for a few hours in complete silence in my writing chair and create my year. New Year’s Day is my Soul Day. (Soul Days are described at length in Writing Down Your Soul on p 230-237) Soul Days are always profound experiences, but this Jan. 1 was special.
I woke early, threw on a comfy robe, and headed downstairs to turn on the Christmas tree lights. I made a pot of strong French press coffee with hot cream and frothed milk and cut two thin slices of Lindsey Hart’s to-die-for pound cake (available only at Christmas and only for her devoted clients) and settled into my chair. There, I did what I do every New Year’s Soul Day: I reviewed the year before, acknowledged the wealth of blessings received, felt deep gratitude for every gift, and discussed the possibilities for 2008 with the Voice of Spirit.
Then I did a few devotional readings and queried my favorite card sets, prayerfully asking Spirit to show me what I need to know about the coming 12 months. I studied every piece of guidance and distilled them into my “prayer sandwich” for 2008 — a six-line prayer I will repeat every morning and every evening for 365 days. (p. 188-199 in Writing Down Your Soul) Each line is carefully constructed to define, declare and attract my six sacred intentions for the year. I’ve done a Soul Day process like this for years, and the experience always fills me with hope — and confidence that that hope is heard and embraced by a divine chorus who believe in and support my soul’s evolution.
But this year I did something more. I named my year. First. Before I said one prayer or read one card, I named my year. As far as I know, no one does this. No one names the next 12 months. No one writes the title of their year as though it were the title of a movie or book or painting. But naming your year is, I think, the missing link, the extra ingredient, the key that unlocks the future you want.
I got the idea from Jan Johnson, my publisher at Conari Press. Mind you, she doesn’t know I got the idea from her, and if you asked her about “naming your year,” she’d probably look at you oddly, but it came from her nonetheless.
Back in the fall of 2006, Conari Press asked me for a proposal on how to journal to access divine wisdom. I’ve taught people how to access the voice of the divine within for years. I called my classes “Dear God,” because when I write in my journal, I begin my conversations that way. But I tell my students to use any salutation they like. The power isn’t in the name, I always tell them, it’s in your intention. So use the name for the divine that speaks to you.
I wrote my proposal and submitted it under the title “Dear God.” Despite my editor’s admonition that I might not hear for 90 days, I got an email the very next week: We love it! Yes, we’ll publish it. Except for one little detail: Jan Johnson, our president, doesn’t like the title. She thinks the word “God” is too limiting or off-putting for a lot of people. Think about a different, more inclusive name for the book.
Huh? A different title? My classes are called “Dear God.” My company is Dear God & Company! I’ve had the domain name deargod.com for a decade, and I’ll finally be able to use it. What do you mean, “find another name”? I fussed alone in my office for a day, but then I stopped. After all, Conari is a really good publisher, and they sell lots and lots of spiritual books. If they think “Dear God” is not the right title, then maybe it’s not. But I was so in love with my title, and so accustomed to using it, that I couldn’t think of anything else. So I asked for help. I sent an email to everyone who had taken a Dear God class in the past year. “What do you call God when you write?” I asked.
Well, I was taken aback by the response. Jan Johnson was right! Almost no one used the term “God” when addressing the divine. Two people explained why: They’d had dreadful experiences as children at fundamental churches where the minister heavily preached about God. My fellow writers suggested 27 other names for the divine. So much for calling my book “Dear God”!
I went back to the drawing board. I came up with several new titles and sent them off. They didn’t like any of them. I tried again. I read up on creativity and tried a process developed by Win Wenger, who has studied all the great creative geniuses. New ideas came through, but they were all rejected by Conari. “What do you want?” I begged. The answer was completely frustrating, “We don’t know, but we’ll recognize it when we see it.”
I went to my local bookstore and studied the titles of books near where mine would be shelved. Power seemed to be big. How about “The Power of Writing” or “The Untapped Spiritual Power of Writing”? Nope. How about “In Your Hand”? I thought that was kinda clever. Their answer didn’t surprise me: No.
I was getting frustrated. While they were dithering over the title, I could have had the manuscript half written! “Why can’t I just write the book,” I asked my editor, “and the title will evolve through the process?” “Because Jan Johnson believes you have to have the title first.”
Finally, in desperation, I asked Stephanie Gunning, a fellow writer and editorial consultant. She came up with a title in 10 minutes: “Writing Down Your Soul.” Hmmm. That sounded good. And Conari loved it. THANK YOU, GOD! So, could I start writing? Nope. I needed a subtitle. Aaaahhhhh!
I pulled out every spiritual book I have (you don’t want to know how many) and wrote down every bloomin’ subtitle. Staring at the list, an idea simply popped into my head: “How to activate and listen to the extraordinary voice within.” I sent it to Conari, and 48 hours later I had the green light for my book.
At the time I thought, “Well, now, that’s over and I can begin to write.” But the book wouldn’t follow my planned table of contents or detailed outline. Why? Because:
- The word “soul” in the title kept steering the book toward talking about the evolution of your soul.
- The word “activate” in the subtitle became a lengthy treatise on the power of questions to open the unconscious mind, including questions that work and questions that don’t.
- The word “listen” magically attracted experts on compassionate listening that were nowhere to be found in my original proposal.
- And the word “voice” simply took over the entire project. The Voice became the focus and fulcrum of every page
When I finished the manuscript and looked back at my original proposal, I hoped Conari wouldn’t mind that I had not written the book I proposed. I’d written something much bigger and mightier. I’d written a book I adored.
So what does the title of my book have to do with naming my year? Everything. I have experienced the magnetic power of a name. I saw firsthand how the name brought forth ideas, research, questions and even people. (How did it do that?) If the name worked so powerfully for my book, why wouldn’t it work equally well for my year?
After my card readings, I went back to my office and made a vision board. On it I drew myself on a horse leaping through air effortlessly, gathering all the accolades, publicity and success I want for Writing Down Your Soul. I pasted on book reviews, and sales standings, and magazines, and radio and TV shows. I described my perfect readers, agent and next contracts. I stood back and looked at it and smiled. Then I added the crowning touch. At the bottom, I glued on my name for 2008: My Abundant, Unstoppable, Leap of Faith Year.
I’m with Jan Johnson: Get the name first. When you name it, it will come.