I have a tradition for bringing the year to completion by attending a spiritual retreat called Living in Grace in Northern California every December. The best way to describe my experience there is like running a roto-rooter through my mind and emotions and clearing space for my spirit to become more present. At the beginning of the retreat, I set an intention for this year to find and know my place of calm, and to reside within it. I trust that any free-floating anxiety inside of me will be replaced with a canopy of calmness and peace.
For some reason, I have lately found myself experiencing more worry, judgment and resistance than I would like. These patterns have a way of persisting when I fall into judgment of them. I have learned that if I move into forgiveness and compassion for myself for still having them, the patterns diminish and gradually disappear. This is what I call grace.
Every new year, we have an opportunity to claim that grace for ourselves. It is possible to claim it every day, but because the collective power of ending the old year and beginning a new year is so strong, New Year's Day provides a special opportunity to make the shift.
Imagine that this New Year's Eve, your fairy godmother magically appears. She tells you that you get to go to the ball. Your old garments turn into a beautiful gown. Your old shoes turn into shiny glass slippers. But unlike Cinderella, you don't have to get in the chariot to go to the ball. She reveals to you that the ball is right where you are and always have been, and that it doesn't have to end at midnight.
She tells you that you have a choice. You can live in the dark, dirty basement and be a slave to your wicked stepsisters or shake off the ashes and dance at the ball.
You throw down your broom. You open the windows and breathe in the fresh air. You buy your wicked stepsisters a one-way ticket to the Aegean. Maybe the Mediterranean sun will do them some good. You realize the opportunity isn't in waiting for Prince Charming to rescue you, but has been yours to take all along.
Take a look at the Cinderella story in your own life. Let go of patterns that have been keeping you down in the basement like wicked stepsisters. Forgive them, forgive yourself and let yourself out. Wave grace's magic wand and shine light where it didn't shine before. Dare to let yourself dance and be free of the self-imposed pressures of judgment, worry and resistance, or anything else that might be holding you back.
As you take a panoramic view of the past year, you will see where your grace shined the brightest. Extend a blessing to everything that was challenging, that held you back or that didn't go your way. Everything that happens to you, no matter how positive or negative it may seem at the time, is an opportunity for growth and transformation. The beauty and magic of grace is in realizing that the center of the world is right where you are, and that the opportunity is always present. By fully embracing it and letting go of the resistance, new worlds will unfold inside of you.
When the fairy godmother comes to visit, open the door. Welcome her in, give her a glass of champagne and raise a toast to yourself. You deserve it! As you clink your glasses, let her infuse you with the spirit of renewal.
May we embrace the opportunity of this new year, recommit to ourselves and our visions, rekindle our enthusiasm, have the wisdom to let go of what no longer serves us and find the courage to claim our strengths. Let's fill our hearts with gratitude for the miracles of our lives. My prayer for this year is that not one ounce of our precious energy be wasted in anything less than the positivity of who we are, and how much good we can do and offer to the world. No matter how big the challenges, grace is always mightier.
Share with us your wish for 2012 for yourself and those you love.