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Gathering the Flowers of 2017

At the beginning of this year I came across a Facebook post I just knew I never wanted to forget. There were a few things I really did want to forget at that point, like the state of shock that had presided since early November, and yet I was still hopeful, and outraged, and excited to see so many people coming together to collectively steer the ship of our larger community in the direction of democracy, inclusivity, safety and respect for all. It’s been an uphill struggle for sure and far from over, but incredible inroads of progress have been made, and I am so grateful and once again, as a new year dawns, hopeful.

That Facebook post is a cartoon showing two characters discussing the prospects of the coming year. Each of us is both the one asking and the one planting. What did we plant, and what bore fruit that was true to its nature, or perhaps surprising?

Not only did I plant “flowers” in the sense of mindfully cultivating beauty and positive power in my life and in the world, I also began the practice of buying a single flower every Thursday, sometimes even splurging on two or three stems, from the Lebanon Food Coop, a large store in Lebanon, New Hampshire. I take the flower to WISE, where I volunteer by giving Reiki and answering the crisis line, and I display it in a vase on my desk for the morning. Then I wrap it back up and take it with me to Gifford Medical Center in Randolph, Vermont, where I volunteer in the afternoon offering Reiki and pastoral care. Then the flower goes home with me to grace our hearth altar for another week or so. It’s a little luxury, but also an gesture of resistance to the ugliness of the world.

I strongly believe that self-care is a powerful act of defiance against oppression, and I do not feel this is stating the matter too strongly at all. Whether we’re treating ourselves to something yummy, a quick nap, a yoga class, a Reiki session or continuing education, taking space from an unsupportive relationship, making a move toward a better living situation or work that serves the community and utilizes our natural talents and interests, or taking steps to ensure that our voice is heard in the most effective way, from allying with an affinity group at a protest to getting trained in how to run for political office, and especially silencing the internal critic with firm compassion - these and so many more expressions of self-validation are the powerful upsurge in justice, mutual support, accountability, collective responsibility, creative problem solving, spiritual transformation, and complete and utter refusal to crumble in the face of hysteria (or perhaps more accurately “testeria”), absurdity and obscenity. Instead, we have grieved, celebrated, tried and stumbled, tried and succeeded, come together, turned inward and above all persisted despite all obstacles.

Regardless of the turmoil swirling around the world, and even within myself and my own life at times, throughout this year I’ve kept that cartoon gardener before my eyes, and continued to return to this simple understanding again and again. I have enjoyed the powerful support of friends, family, colleagues, mentors and other allies throughout the year, inspiration and education, challenge and change, and I have endeavored to be available for others who may have needed my support in myriad ways as I’ve embraced a pretty steep learning curve as a volunteer, Reiki provider, business woman, community leader, family member and as a human on this planet in this … um… interesting time.

I am deeply grateful for the loving and powerful presence of the Calm & Confident Holiday Wellness community whether on Facebook posts that make me laugh or cry, in local programs where we meet face to face, in Reiki sessions where healing energy flows, transforming me as well as my clients, and in many conversations and other connections with you, my wise and wonderful fellow travelers.

This has been such a wonderful experience for me, and I hope for you as well, that I am continuing with similar programming for Essential Arts in 2018, so stay tuned for an exciting announcement very soon - you won’t have to wait till the end of the year!

Meanwhile, there's still time to enroll in the Calm & Confident Holiday Wellness Packages, and the Calm & Confident Holiday Wellness Facebook group is still going strong with multiple daily postings of winter wonderland scenes and holiday highlights. Where are you in the progression of Holiday Wellness? Still planning parties or winding down from festivities? Will your New Year be rung in with fireworks or welcomed in gently? Are you feeling weary or invigorated, or maybe a bit of both? I love hearing your experiences, so keep sharing.

Now it’s time to take a deep breath, catch up on some sleep or meditation, watch a movie or read a book, connect with someone supportive online or get outside - but not for long if you’re in my neighborhood where it’s now zero degrees at best most days and well below at night! Whatever you do, take care of yourself, support others, and celebrate all we’ve endured and accomplished in this extraordinary year, which will be gone so soon.

And then, we’ll take another step forward, together. It may seem crazy, but I can’t wait to see what’s next! And I’m looking at you. There’s no stopping us now, friends.

Love & blessings,


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