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Passionate musings on yoga, writing, creativity, and self-love 

A New Yearsy Practice

leslie stjohn

birds.jpg

I’m loving all the intention-setting meditations, writing prompts, and yoga classes themed around the new year. While many people acknowledge New Year’s Resolutions rarely bring the results we desire those first few weeks in January, intention with clear vision is always a potent initiator, for where our attention goes, our energy—that spark-and-fire of action—flows.

So far, my favorite new-yearsy practice has been “Ten Small Things for a Better 2016,” an inspiration list offered by yoga-coach and author Meadow DeVor. What I appreciated most about her list is that the intentions come not from a self-judgy place but from enthusiasm. When I was journaling, I wasn’t making my “What Needs to be Fixed in 2016” list but my “Ten Small Things for Inspiration/Purpose/Joy in 2016” list. 

What an ocean of difference.

Meadow’s list is lovely, including “surrender” and “dharma,” green smoothies and hiking, Squaw Valley and her daughter, Isabelle.  Read it here.

I wanted to share mine in hopes that it will encourage you to spend twenty minutes in play with potential for a better…maybe even best year.

Ten Small Things for Inspiration/Purpose/Joy in 2016

1. Choose one word that symbolizes where you have been, the quality that you are most proud of. A word that embodies your journey to this moment.

Well, it’s more a phrase. Brave New World. In the past year, I’ve lived in a new home; taught yoga in new places (California, Kentucky, Puerto Rico); bought a car (that was a whole lot of ‘news’); helped students publish a book of memoirs: Unveiling Self; committed to additional yoga teacher training; and danced into a new loving, supportive, passionate relationship. All these new facets of my journey asked me to step out in faith. To be brave. To participate in a brave new world of traveling alone, leading, facilitating, and trusting.

2. Choose one word that symbolizes what you are currently practicing or working on. A quality that you are reaching for right now.

Expansion. Ease. Elegance. Okay, I’m not so good at this one word guideline, but at least they all start with the letter “E”! I want to expand my creative writing life, yoga knowledge/practice/teaching,  romance with my guy,  financial health and abundance perspective, physical expression…all of it, breathed open into even more expansion. As for ease, well, I’m good at working hard, and I’d like to be better at be-ing at ease in my body, schedule, relationships,  and self talk. I invite more ease. Finally, elegance. In all realms I desire elegance—my words, body language, dress, interactions with others, home, etc. I want my style stamp to evoke elegance.

3. Choose one word that symbolizes who you will become this year. The quality that embodies your journey forward. The word for your future.

Yogi-poet. See that! I hyphenated. One word. And that’s the point. My roles as a yoga person and writing person merge with each Prose and Poses practice.  I offer writing/reflection opportunities in my yoga classes, and encourage students to breathe and stretch in my English classes. I open my body as a creative channel and write from that place. Where will it take me? 

4. Pick one location that you will actually visit this year. This place can symbolize the places that you’ll journey this year.

Wherever I can practice yoga and write in a beautiful place. I can see it even if I don’t know where it is yet. It’s humid, near the ocean; there’s sand on my mat. It feels untamed. Inside, tall windows bathe a desk in light. Everything is an invitation.

5. Pick one activity that symbolizes the actions that you will take this year. The things that you will do.

Movement. No one particular activity emerges as most important; rather a state of being: flow-in-motion. I’m open to dancing, practicing yoga, hiking, ice-skating, making love, swimming, flying (it’s possible!), etc.

6. Pick one person who inspires you and one thing about them that you can emulate.

Sylvia de Marco, sanctuary creator and lifestyle artist. I fell in love with Sylvia by staying at her house, The Dreamcatcher Guesthouse, PR, an intimate bed-and-breakfast filled with sacred altars, vintage furniture, Coqui frogs, and healthy choices (vegan dining, yoga, hammock reflection). Sylvia brings beauty to all she touches; whether it’s her houses, clothes, meals, or words. I desire to emulate her spiritual artistry and personal power.

7. Pick one food/drink that symbolizes health.

Fresh, green salad. I want to eat salad every day. I grew up thinking salad was that superfluous dish at the end of the table: ice burg lettuce, button carrots, ranch dressing, and a snowcap of Bacon Bits. I am blessed to live in a place where fresh greens (Holy Arugula!) are available at farmers markets multiple days a week.

8. Pick one word/image that symbolizes emotional/spiritual health.

Dreamcatcher. The word itself is as whimsical as the object hanging in my window. It may be simple or elaborate, shot through with white light or spun around a sturdy willow reed. It suggests a portal to other realms, where dreams and poetry and mystery abound. It has structure and freedom, an improvisation of movement and empty space. It says you too can have lightness, ease, hope—I’m a thing with feathers.

9. Pick one quote that speaks to you for the upcoming year.

"Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead your astray." ~Rumi

10. What beautiful question can you ask yourself to shape your day?

Sometimes, the questions I ask myself are not curious in nature but judgmental. “Is this good enough?” “Am I enough?” “Will he/she like me?” “Am I doing something wrong?”

What if I flipped the script? I can answer these questions—“Yes, this is working.” “Yes, XYZ like, no, LOVE you.” “You are, in fact, doing many things right!”—Then. Move. On. (You may not need to address these nagging questions, but I find it helpful.)

More compelling questions, ones that may shift my entire framework are “How expansive do I want to be today?” “What will surprise me today?” or “How can I share light today?” These questions will start to shape my life differently—from a darkening, harrowing hole of criticism and shame to a lighter, brighter, broader realm of possibility. A beautiful question will foster more magic and greater personal clarity.

My beautiful question for this day, this year: Where will I see beauty today?

That’s my List. Now, write yours.

Meadow suggests you get arty with it and make a collage. I’d love to hear/see your FUN New Yearsy practice.

Love and Light,
Leslie