Looking Back – Stepping Forward 2016~2017

Here we are, flirting with the beginning of yet another new year. As 2016 ticks its way down to the last moments we continue to experience the loss of one beloved notable person after another. It seems that this year such losses were extensive – more than any other. I came across a Facebook posting claiming that 2015 had more celebrity losses than 2016. I don’t know if that is true, but many of us are feeling these immediate losses deeply. Our beloved icons are leaving the planet and that fact taps into a host of emotions. In fact, 2016 is a year that is/was bursting with emotions that have run the gamut from extreme joy to frustration and anger, to fear and anxiety, to great sadness and very deep grief – on a global level and on a personal one. We’ve been through a lot and we’re exhausted.

I for one am ready for shift. Many of my circle are in fear of what’s to come. Many are anticipating a dark time ahead, and I’m not so naïve that I can’t see the basis for their concerns. I have those same concerns. And I will in no way allow myself to be complacent if or when the time arises that I need to tap into my stores of righteous indignation. I’m ready for that. However, I’ve decided to be more ready for dreams to come true, great things to happen, surprises to arrive, wonderful encounters to occur, new opportunities to make themselves known – I’m ready for a great year and I’m seeing it in my mind’s eye already.

I remember a conversation I had with my friend Lisa Zimmerman. Lisa was a ministry classmate of ours, now a dear and treasured friend, a spiritual counselor and gifted astrologer amongst her many talents. We were on the phone one evening talking about the state of our economy. This was during the 2008 recession when life in our country was looking quite bleak and so many people were struggling to stay afloat, many of them losing the battle. I was concerned about whether we would be able to plow through it and keep our heads above water. Lisa said something to me that I believe saved me during that time. She said, “My success is not dependent on the economy”. Just that short affirmation rang a bell deep inside me. A bell of truth. And I realized then that if I tell myself that the apparent conditions will absolutely dictate my personal outcome, it will be so. Contrarily, if I believe – and I do – that we live in the realm of Infinite Possibility, then those conditions may have absolutely no impact on my personal results.

All of that said, I have decided to place my focus (and this is a practice that requires effort on my part as the input from outside sources is relentless) on my intentions, on the things I have on the horizon, on the people I look forward to seeing, on the places I plan on visiting, on the experiences I will be having, and on the wonderful feelings these events will generate. Circumstances notwithstanding, I am in control of where my attention is concentrated, and the best part of this is that I can choose where to place my attention. I can choose. I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again, I can choose. You can choose.

Now, I realize it’s not that simple. We have some real challenges ahead, no doubt. And I believe we can and will meet those challenges with gusto and commitment. AND, while we are doing that we can also be focused on the great possibilities that await us each day. We can anticipate wonderful opportunities for success in every area of our lives. We can make choices that keep us healthy, that enhance our well-being, that nurture our relationships. We can make choices that insure success in our work and in our family dynamics. We can acknowledge that we have the power to navigate our days with kindness and graceful dignity regardless of the circumstances. We also have the power to reach out for help at times when our focus becomes a little foggy. We have power and we are at liberty to use it for good.

So, as we look back for a moment to honor and acknowledge what has been and those we have lost, let us also take a deep breath and with reverence release the past. Then take another deep breath and invite the future, with arms open to receive the gifts that are bursting forth. May we all be blessed with showers of blessings in the coming year. I thank you for your presence in my life. I thank you for taking time out of your busy lives to read what I share with you, and I deeply hope that is has been of service to you in some way.

Looking forward to our deepening connection in 2017. Happy New Year.



This is such a wonderful time of year for students all over the country! Graduation. Endings and beginnings. COMMENCEMENT. I’ve attended numerous commencement ceremonies as a dean at a seminary in New York City. And our director often talks about the word commencement The definition of this word is “a beginning or start”. Many of us think of commencement as an ending. Actually it is when we take what we’ve learned and step into life with new information, new wisdom and new discernment.

I have many people in my life approaching Commencement, one of them my own daughter Melissa whose commencement ceremony is tomorrow, honoring her receiving her Master’s Degree. Needless to say we are proud beyond belief. And one of my precious young friends Gemma is graduating high school this year. Both of these women make me proud and give me hope for our future. I see great things for and from both of them.

The energy of commencement makes me think about how I can view my own life from a place of new beginning or change. Of course change is always present, some of it unwelcome. Reflecting on the massive change in my own life in the last few years I realize that while some if it was, at the time, unwelcome, in retrospect it was all in my best interests and contributed to immense growth for which I am very grateful. So today, as so many people are about to step forward into the mystery of the future I take that same step, knowing that the gift of not knowing is at once exciting and a little scary…and making the decision to embrace the mystery with curiosity and hope.

For our grads I offer this beautiful blessing from one of my favorite writers:

May the light of your soul guide you
May the light of your soul bless the work you do with the secret love and warmth of your heart.
May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul.
May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light and renewal to those who work with you and to those who see and receive your work.
May your work never weary you.
May it release within you wellsprings of refreshment, inspiration and excitement.
May you be present in what you do.
May you never become lost in the bland absences.
May the day never burden.
May dawn find you awake and alert, approaching your new day with dreams, possibilities and promises.
May evening find you gracious and fulfilled.
May you go into the night blessed, sheltered and protected.
May your soul calm, console and renew you.

~ John O’Donohue

Congratulations 2016!!!!

STRETCH: Step out of the old and begin something new. Commence…begin…be brave…be curious. Celebrate your ability to make the choice to move forward with joy and anticipation.