Grace Hayden.

My Grace.

Sometimes I say her name in my head over and over again and it brings me comfort. I’ve been missing her more than words can express lately, my sweet baby who would be turning 14 next week.

Grief has ebbed and flowed over these past 14 years – sometimes a quiet ache that lingers in my bones and others a gushing flow of tears and fierce longing that batters my heart. The last few weeks have been more gushing than quiet aching. This new layer of grief has taken me by surprise.

I have spent far more time in my bed, my car, the bathroom at work, choking on tears and weeping as if it was just yesterday that she silently and suddenly died in my womb. It has gotten more difficult in recent years to imagine what she might look like now. I’m struggling to picture how her sweet baby features might have aged into the young woman she would be at 14.

I can’t see her anymore and the loss of that ability to imagine her face has made her seem so very far away from me.

When she seems impossibly out of reach, I say her name. Over and over. Grace. My Grace. And then I try to remember and live what she taught me:

To always seek to find the beauty in the ruins.

When I am lonely, she taught me to look for those who make my smile.
When I feel broken, she taught me to see those who can sit with me in my brokenness and see my wholeness.
When I feel lost, she taught me to look for those people or places that brighten the darkness.
When things appear hopeless, she taught me to look for possibility – not guarantees.
When grief takes my feet out from under me, she taught me to see love in the messiness of tears.

She taught me that no matter how dark and uncertain circumstances can feel, life and hope will always sprout up in the ruins and flowers will bloom again.

She gives me hope, even when she feels so far away.

No matter how powerful the grief, hope always blooms.

My gift from Grace. Hope.

Hi Beautifuls!

Only 10 (ish) more days left of 2015!

How are you feeling about that??

Personally, while 2015 has been a rather terrific year, I am pretty done with the holidays at this point and very much looking forward to 2016!!

I traditionally take much of the week between Christmas thru New Year’s Day off of official work stuff and spend some time both reviewing the previous year and looking at possibilities for the coming year.

It’s something I look forward to every year. New Year’s is my favorite holiday – and not just because it marks the end of the not-so-loved holiday hubbaloo of November and December. I love New Year’s because it feels like hope and possibility and new beginnings. It’s a chance to decide who I want to become and to stretch into becoming more.

And, yes, I realized that New Year’s is really just an arbitrarily date on the calendar that somewhere along the way got marked as significant.

I still love it.

Over the years, I’ve honed and perfected my review and intention setting process for starting the new year. I believe it’s part of what has helped me really take charge of my life and create some pretty damn amazing things over the past few years!

So, I thought I’d share some of my process in case you’re looking to set your new year up for some awesomeness 🙂

First, I pick a word for the year. This is my intention or something I want to create more of in my life during the coming year. I first learned about this in 2008 and have done this in place of any specific resolutions ever since. The word never creates what I think it will create in my life, but I always finish the year having learned a great deal about myself – and, in fact, usually I’ve BECOME more than I was because of it.

Previous words for me have included Heal, Trust, Wholehearted, Home, Commitment, and Steady. My word for 2016 is Visibility. (It’s already kicking my ass – in all the best ways!)

Second, I review my year. I have a whole pile of questions I journal about including:

What went well this year?
What lessons did I learn this year?
What didn’t work well this year?
Where did I grow this year?
What were my big (and small) successes this year?
How true to myself and my needs was I this year?
How well did I care for myself this year?
What kind of friend/partner/parent/family member was I this year?

I find it’s good to pause occasionally and look back. Doing so intentionally and with mindfulness can teach us a lot about who we are and where we want to go.

I mean, if something’s not working – it’s probably a good idea to stop and recognize that so one can shift it! Or if something is working well, acknowledging that and doing more of it is also a good idea!

It’s not about beating ourselves up for what we didn’t accomplish or what didn’t go as expected. It’s about taking a good look at what happened and learning from it.

Next, I play around with what I want for the coming year by asking questions such as:

What would I LOVE to create in 2016?
What changes do I want to make in 2016?
What do I want to learn in 2016?
Who do I want to be in 2016?
How do I want to feel in 2016?
What adventures do I want to have in 2016?
How do I want to care for myself in 2016?
What kind of friend/partner/parent/family member do I want to be in 2016?

If you’re having difficulty coming up with a word for the year, these questions can sometimes help clarify some possibilities for you – look at the words that you use to answer these questions. There’s a decent chance your word of the year pops up in here somewhere!

Finally, I set my intentions for the coming year. What do I want for 2016?

In the past, these have often been very specific.

Specific time frames for new projects.
Specific dates for accomplishing things.
Specific income goals.
Specific plans and schedules.

For the most part, that has worked for me and I may return to that at some point. But I found myself doing something different this year. I set an intention for what I wanted out of 2016 – but without too many specifics or much planning attached. I kept it much more simple that I have in years past with this:

Create more amazing things.
Live in Vermont.
Fall in love again.
Explore and have new adventures.

Now, I do have some specific ideas in mind – certain projects and things I’m creating, places I want to travel to, a month in mind for moving to Vermont – but I’m not attached to them. Nor do I have it all scheduled out on a calendar as I often do 🙂

The trick to knowing that an intention or your word for the year is the right one is how it makes you feel.

Typically, either you’ll think of it or write it down and find yourself taking a deep breathe while your entire body relaxes – or you’ll get a zing of something like “oh shit” along with a zap of excitement. You’ll notice either way, because it’ll have some kick to it.

If it doesn’t have some powerful sensation behind it, keep exploring a while, it’s probably not quite right yet.

There. That’s my New Year’s process of hope and possibility and new beginnings.

Enjoy the last hurrah of 2015, my friends, and I’m looking forward to the adventures of 2016 with you!


Beauty+Life+You

Twice monthly inspiration to find the beauty in life, in yourself, and in every situation.

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