Updated: Feb 21
2.20.23 New Moon
I’m a little behind on my 2023 intention setting. I usually spend the first week of January reflecting on the past year and committing to what feels most joyful and purposeful in the year ahead. With gentle firmness, I’ve now promised myself to land my intentions by the end of February, which my sister assures me is just fine.
Last week I set aside a morning for reflection, blocking out the hours on my calendar and holding on to them against all other to do’s. I wanted the day to feel like a gift to me, so I asked a friend if I could visit the pre-dawn beach down the steps from his aunt’s home. I knew I would feel safe and grounded there, with a view of the horizon’s infinite possibilities.
The sunrise felt so sweet that morning. The waves thundered. With my feet in the sand and the waning moon above, I practiced tai chi, then sat in meditation and prayer until my shady spot melted into bright sunshine. I sang as I drove home with the windows down.
When I rolled out the big paper – a small pad is too claustrophobic – I struggled to remember anything of the past year, a year I had filled with extraordinary transition. The months swirled in my head, and the task of remembering felt too hard. I considered skipping reflection and just jumping ahead into intentions.
Fortunately, I committed long ago to holding past, present, and future as one, and my years of tai chi practice have taught me that starting well always involves reaching back. So, I put aside my annoyance and impatience and dove in. To cut through the blur, I pulled up my 2022 calendar to connect the dots between events, and read through the stray notes I type randomly into my cell phone. Slowly, forgotten memories, insights, and ideas emerged. With gratitude, I re-discovered who I had been the year before.
My reflection process is something I invented a few years ago, while I was self-facilitating my new year planning. Here’s what I do:
I ask myself, “What energized me last year?” – because the sensation of energy tells me when I am most fully in my purpose.
I list out everything that pops into my mind (e.g., “Connecting with my sister in Minnesota”, "editing the video about organizing in California," etc.), making no distinction between "work" and "life" because both are about purpose and wholeness.
I take the list and cluster everything into very subjective categories (e.g., “Plants, earth, soil”, "poetry", etc).
Lastly, in a wacky cosmos-meets-statistics mash up, I add up how many items I have in each category, and look at the totals for frequency, to see what I see.
This time, after a year of huge leaps, understanding and naming what energized me felt especially illuminating and reassuring.
So, here they are, my top three energy clusters for 2022:
Loving and being loved by friends and family,
Spiritual practice and community,
Shifting life structures to move toward purpose and vision.
There was lots of great stuff under #4 and #5 too, (e.g., “dancing and being in dance community”, “listening to peoples’ stories”, etc.). And it was fun to see that one song* became its own whole category.
I’ve got nine days left to do my 2023 intention setting. Grounding in who I was last year and where my purposeful energy flowed, I already feel the future expanding in my heart.
*The song was Un Montón de Estrellas, which I first heard while dancing salsa in 2022. People know it as a song about overcoming heartbreak, but for me I experience it – and play it over and over – for its powerful universal feeling of healing.