Taking on 2013 and hoping to revitalize my life

Posts tagged ‘Ritual’

My First Winter Solstice Ritual

I participated in an online Winter Solstice Ritual tonight. It was conducted by Christine Arylo, Shiloh Sophia and Amy Ahlers.

The premise of the whole thing is to slow down or pause and take the time to review the past year. To see the surprises, successes, failures and wisdom learned. Once you can take stock of everything that happened, it is easier to begin 2014 with a sense of fullness as opposed to a sense of emptiness.

Christine drew a Medicine Wheel or Wheel of Reflection for us. It pretty much looks like a compass with the addition of the thing that you want to reflect on written in the middle.

wheel of reflection

During the process of reflection, you are supposed to start in the East with your surprises and then go clockwise around the wheel, ending up at North with the wisdom that you gained during the year. (The wheel doesn’t have to be used for just this ritual, it can be about anything).

I was lucky, I had this blog to help remind me of my journey during 2013. They did give you a way to try to reflect on what happened throughout the year, but I cheated a bit and looked at my Monthly Reviews. If you want to perform the ritual, you may need to spend some time thinking a bit harder than I did.

Once you have completed your list of items, you are supposed to share them with others. Sharing is supposed to help you remember the learnings from this ritual. Since I have this blog, I guess I’ll share here.


  • the discovery of the importance of being ‘in the present’ and how it relates to happiness
  • a desire to write
  • a rekindled love of badminton
  • joining a writing course
  • my new job which involves being a minority and working with another culture


  • writing a short story and submitting it to a contest
  • welcoming abundance into my life
  • writing this blog
  • getting a new job
  • teaching my youngest how to ride a bike
  • losing some weight
  • keeping connected with friends


  • dating the wrong men for me
  • not writing as much as I had hoped
  • multiple failed job interviews
  • continued bad eating habits

(You need to feel your disappointments in order to heal them! )

I’m going to leave WISDOM for now. I think it deserves its own blog post, plus I think I need to think about it a bit more before I can articulate the learnings of the past year. 

After we completed the Wheel of Reflection, they shared that January is known as the “Dreaming Time”. It’s the time to visualize and to look towards your future with the possibilities of what can happen as opposed to looking forward from a place of negativity. And once you’ve given yourself permission to look at your future as a canvas that you can paint, then you start your new year in February.

Finally, they discussed that within the next few weeks you should declare 2013 as being complete and to determine what support you need for 2014.

I really enjoyed this ritual. It just seemed very fitting for 2013 for me. I have grown and learned a lot this past year. And as you can see, my successes outnumbered my disappointments so I’m on the right track. I’d like to pull together some pearls of wisdom before I declare 2013 as complete and then I look forward to considering what I need to make 2014 as successful as 2013.

Feel free to do your own Winter Solstice Ritual, there’s still time. Winter Solstice is actually tomorrow :). And don’t forget to share your reflections! I’d love to read them.



Welcoming Ceremony

Yesterday I got to participate in a Welcoming/ Opening ceremony at work.

We’ve been working in a temporary office and yesterday we moved into our newly renovated digs. To celebrate the opening of our new work space, a community elder was brought in and she performed the ceremony.

sweetgrassI really enjoyed being part of it. As a matter of fact, the elder gave me the burning sweetgrass so that I could help with the smudging. Smudging is a type of cleansing ritual. I had no idea what I was doing but everyone said that I did a good job.

Basically I took the smouldering sweetgrass around the room and held it in front of people so that the smoke would flow over them. Everyone did something slightly different but most people directed the smoke towards their eyes, ears, mouth, over their heads and towards their heart. I have to say that it was really a special experience.

During the smudging the elder was speaking in her native tongue and when she was done she translated what she had said into English. Finally she did a chant saying the word “Welcome” while beating a drum.

I really love this kind of stuff. Being part of this new cultural experience was a treat and I felt grateful that I was able to experience it. I feel a little silly in that I don’t know more about the people who I work with but I am happy to have the opportunity to learn.

Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know but it is important to keep an open mind and to take advantage of learning opportunities when they present themselves.

Dealing with Negative Feelings and Increasing Creativity

I’m taking the WINS writing course and it really focuses on creativity and ways to get your writing to flow. SARK states that one of the things that blocks creativity is not dealing with our negative feelings like loneliness, anger, frustration, sadness, etc. She said that they are a little bit like children and really just need some care and tenderness.

3PHSARK has this process called 3 Part Harmony and in part 1 you list all of your negative feelings and then, without pause, you write about why you have those feelings or what those feelings are about. It is a type of cleansing ritual.

The funny thing is that I had a very similar ritual when I was in high school. If something was bothering me I would just write and write and write. I would do a type of “feelings dump” on the page. When I was finished I would set it on fire and release it to the universe. (In case you’re concerned, we had a wood stove and I burned my letters in there, I wasn’t just randomly setting fires around the property.)

I hadn’t done this type of “feelings dump” in years. I guess once I no longer had a safe way to dispose/ burn my negative thoughts, I just kept them inside instead :(. Or maybe I got better at sharing them with friends, at one point I had a best friend that I could share anything with. And when he was gone, well, when you don’t see your best friend every day, you start to keep things to yourself.

Over the last few years I’ve kept a lot of negative feelings to myself. And instead of tending to them or letting them out or letting them be heard I ignored them or reasoned with them. Feelings don’t respond well to reason. Yesterday, I released them.

When I first started writing I talked about sadness and loneliness and frustration but once the topic turned to anger, the tears started flowing. Boy, was I angry. I had no idea I was so angry. I’ve had some challenges but I thought I was dealing with them and getting past them. But it was great to get those feelings out. I felt physically lighter afterwards.

Once I was finished writing I folded up the paper, addressed it to God and the universe, signed it love Gwen, and burned the paper in a tin can on my deck. It was cathartic and cleansing and if it can help get my creativity flowing, I’m on board. Of course it is not a one trick pony, you have to keep doing it, you have to keep looking after your feelings and listening to them and letting them out. Tomorrow there may be new ones or the same ones. They still need to be heard until they don’t.

So for a while I will try to create a daily ritual but eventually I am hoping that it will be a less frequent occurrence.

How do you let your feelings out? Do you share them with someone special? Do you journal? Do you shout them from the rooftops? I’d love to hear your process.

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