I was recently seated on the new and comfy couch of my dear friend, Phyllis Lundy. Phyllis’s living room is one of the most beautiful home spaces I’ve ever been. Surrounded by handsome paintings, sculptures, and travel treasures, I have spent many an hour – I usually camp in the same corner – basking in the glow of the soft uplighting of her glass cabinets, setting my teacup on her Isamu Noguchi glass coffee table.

This most recent visit was a gathering of women who were, now that the year was ending, reexamining the work we’d done during a previous visit in this pretty space. Back in January, as she has for many Januarys, Phyllis hosted a “Life Landscape” workshop, guiding a select group of friends through the process of creating a vision board.

You’ve seen these, no? Imagine a big poster board covered in collage of pictures and words cut out from magazines. The idea is to create something that will inspire you to achieve your goals, however you might define them.

Last January, I fully expected to create a new vision board focused on my word of the year, GIVE. Having become rather pro at the whole vision board thing, I began attacking piles of magazines, scissors ready to grab anything that captured the essence of giving.  When I went to paste them on the poster board though, I realized I had collected a pile of tiny little sayings and smallish images more appropriate for a post card than a poster board.

Luckily, Phyllis, for the first time, was also offering the option to “life landscape” a blank journal instead of a poster. Having put down the whole journaling thing of late, I hadn’t really opened my mind to that idea until saw my cuttings getting lost on the big vision board.

Oooh! I sign! Maybe it was time to do a little journaling again.

I ended up making this elegant journal, sprinkling the little sayings and images throughout the pages, to beautify them and inspire my writing. Here are some of the highlights from this past year’s work.

I’m not usually very visual with my journaling, being more of a wordy person. I’ve seen some truly artistic journal entries, in other people’s journals. That’s why this page is special to me. I wrote about looking for ways that I might transform a habit I have, that is, instantly noticing what is wrong (and often opening my big mouth about it.)

Having changed various habits before, I know that it works best for me if I have a new, healthier habit to replace the old one. I’ve spent a lot of time this year honing my observation skills, learning to observe without judgment. I labeled judgment as “protection mode” and observation as “giving mode.”

This page about the divine feminine fascinates me because I don’t really spend much time genderizing the divine, or really personifying the divine in any way. I actually skipped this page for some time before I came back to it and wrote the following:

The Divine Feminine, Here as in Heaven
When someone witnesses another woman, any woman, they are seeing the divine feminine.
When a woman lets you see her heart, you are entering the divine feminine.
When we give from a place of strength in vulnerability, we are LIVING the divine feminine.

Yesterday, I heard the words of Buddhist teacher, Sharon Salzberg. Salzberg, able at a young age to see through our cultural illusion that everything is supposed to always be happiness and rainbows, said she was utterly relieved to hear the Buddha acknowledge that life is suffering. I agree. Yet, does there have to be so much of it? Many times, and I guess on the day I wrote this page, I feel pretty overwhelmed, as hopeless as a rose blooming on Mars.

Giving is easy when it’s EASY and it’s hard when it’s HARD.

Well, ain’t that some shit. Easy to volunteer. Easy to donate. Easy to create. Hard to give someone a real listen. Hard to admit I’m wrong. Hard to open up and be vulnerable…again! Dammit.

A few times this year, I brainstormed the words and phrases I had selected back at Phyllis’s house. Here’s a fun one:

 

service

service sector
worship service
complimentary service
voluntary service
bus service
wait service
funeral service
military service
postal service
church service
room service
customer service
concierge service
laundry service
self-service
Christmas Eve service

Finally, a quote to close out 2016.

Singing is like crying, but in a way, with rhythm and cadence, that makes other people want to cry with you.

Some of you have cried with me this year, whether literally or figuratively. Thank you. This whole living a life thing is so much better having you here with me. Life may be suffering, but at least we sing together.

 

 

Any year-end thoughts you want to share?
Indulge me in the comments below.