The end of the year is approaching —  a new one is waiting in the wings, ready to slide in and bring 2013 into our lives and awareness.  Even though we have celebrated Solstice and the days are now getting longer, I am grateful there are still plenty of short days, cozy evenings, twinkly light tea times remaining.

One thing I really treasure about the end of the old, and the beginning of a brand new year is the time for reflection, stock-taking, and thinking ahead that this transition offers.  One of my personal rituals is to sit down with a candle burning and a cup of tea by my side, and create two pages.  One is a list of all the things I am grateful for in the year coming to a close — and the entries are in no particular order, either of priority or significance. (One Course in Miracles saying has it that there are no small miracles!  I like that.)

This list might includes rain, sunshine, piano lessons, as well as cycling from Montreal to Asheville, or recovering from a stroke 🙂  I let myself fall into an automatic writing mode, and just keep going until one page, front and back, is full.  I love the softening I experience, the heart opening; the way gratitude and appreciate well up as I keep writing.  Gratitude on a daily basis is transformative, this we know.  Yet I still like the intentionality of taking the year in review and letting the particular items float to the surface of my awareness.

Mike and I took the opportunity today, the sun was out, the weather crisp and dry for the first time in ages, to walk the Sea Wall, the snow covered mountains glistening across the inlet.  During our conversations, I had occasion to recall my struggles over the years as I have worked with insecurities, my fear of judgement, need for approval, and to appreciate how the decades of personal work have brought me to a place of self-acceptance and relative ease.  It was really sweet to feel  and acknowledge the major shifts.

The second list gets called, variously, Goals and Directions, or Intentions and Attentions…  This list has tended to become shorter and broader, less specific and more general over the years.  (In 1988 this list had 45 items, last year it had 8!)  I like to look at the list periodically through the year and remind myself about my intentions and see if they still fit. One that carries forward from year to year is to eat more slowly, consciously, and stop before I am full. Still working on that one!  But I do binge less frequently on sweets, and am less hard on myself when I do.  That’s progress, eh 🙂

I also really love to look back over the lists, which I started when I moved to Vancouver over 20 years ago.  I keep the pages in a special folder with a beautiful silk print on the cover that my daughter made for me.  It gives me a sense of continuity, but also of flow and change as I review the years in this way — what I’ve been grateful for, and what I have wanted to bring into my life.

As 2012, momentous and ordinary as it has been, draws to a close, I wish you well; that the new year may bring us inner and outer peace, a continuing and growing of the turning toward love and light that is happening in many quarters.

If there are year end or year beginning rituals, practices that are meaningful to you, I’d be pleased to hear about them!  We never know how much time we have left and sharing our lives and practices can enrich us all.

Blessings, joy, health, wisdom, grace and love to you and us all,

Warmly,  Jill

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, andgrowth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook :-)

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