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A Year in Review


photo cred: Afrik Armando

Newness

2023 brought with it much newness. New experiences included everything from a week-long meditation retreat to appearing in podcasts and video content to attending clown class.


The newness has been enriching and enlivening.


Every year, every day, every moment is always new. Nothing has ever happened twice. But this year, I have embraced newness as a predecessor of growth. I have opened myself to new experiences and in exchange I have learned and grown more than in years past.


May you and I remain always open to new things.


Discovering Success

My seeing and experiencing so much newness this year has been made possible by my seeing and experiencing new parts of myself. External is always a reflection of internal.


This year, I maintained much of my energy and attention inward, particularly through discomfort. This took continuous work; of that work I am proud and for that work I am stronger.


Internal discovery stands in contrast to external exertion, to which, in years past, nearly all of my energy was dedicated. External exertion has me seeking completeness through things outside of myself - people, objects, experiences. It offers the avoidance of deep discomfort by escaping into work or other distractions.


But I do not learn about anything about myself or about the world by playing it safe and trying to please everyone around me.


The things we're really after - peace, acceptance, love, depth, and success - all reside within. I've never needed to look far to see a wide discrepancy between external success and a life well lived. (To build a house with the heavy materials required for external success without paying equal mind to one's internal state is to build a castle on a foundation of sand. Protected from attack, but sinking in upon one's self.)


This path of internal discovery is a "pathless path", meaning I follow it not knowing where it will lead. I simply commit to following myself, knowing that I am a moving target, and that to follow myself may mean moving away from the comfort of the known, the familiar, the solid. I take one step at a time. Each step still frightens me.


The external is only a mirror of the internal. When I project onto the external without considering the internal cause, the world appears as a frightening, difficult place. The people and circumstances closest to me feel like burdens and obstacles; I myself feel like a victim.


When I recognize that the real work to be done is within, the external world becomes lighter and friendlier. Every obstacle is an opportunity. Internal discovery aligns my focus with my control. Nothing is out of reach.


Internal discovery can be challenging and painful. But practiced with self-compassion and self-discipline, it will yield gifts that the external world cannot fathom.


This year, I have at last found success. It was within me.


Creating (Solopreneurship)

Success is found internally, but it is realized externally. To focus on internal work does not mean hermeticism; it means more deeply engaging with the outside world.


In 2023, I shifted from a mode of "working" - wherein I exert myself continuously in order to assuage my anxieties and prove myself to the world - into a mode of "creating" - wherein I have nothing to prove and the "work" is in expressing myself more deeply and clearly.


Creating requires a level of honesty that I still find frightening. To be compelling, creations must be self-revealing; all creating is vulnerable. There is no luxury of hiding behind the "should'ing" that is omnipresent in my learned way of working ("what should I be working on?", "what should this look like?" "what should I say?"), which disconnects my self from my effort and provides safety for the former.


I spent long, dedicated hours creating in 2023, maintaining a fairly consistent albeit beautifully flexible schedule of writing, discussing, and brainstorming. I've done much of this work alone. Why do I commit to this effort?


First, because it is what I'm used to, and it is thus comfortable. The shift from a Worker to a Creator mindset is like a conversion from fossil fuels to clean energy: it hasn't happened without internal protest from the coal miners - who find comfort through constant work and associate that level of effort with worthiness. I listen to the protests and offer a complete integration of the old economy with the new. I can exile no part of myself.


Second, I create because I am deeply inspired by what I am building. The work that I've done this year is in my nature to do - it comes straight from within - and with this internal alignment, I have created the best "work" of my life.


Working alone, I play to an audience of one - myself. I believe we would all be the best versions of ourselves if we did the same. Play the music that we find beautiful, and let what follows follow. In business terms: we are all the CEO of our own business, whether we show up to that job or not. This year, I finally showed up.


What am I creating?


I am creating experiences for personal and professional growth. We are wrong to make such a distinction in the first place. There is no work/life balance; it is all life. And thus personal growth is professional growth.


Many predominant roads to professional growth are marked by the minimization of person-hood - both self and other. They are fraught with pressure, frustration, and dissociation. I know this because I have lived it. Many mistakenly believe this is just how work is or ought to be.


Fortunately, there are tried and tested means of finding both personal and professional success in our lives: with commitment, curiosity, creativity, compassion, and courage, we can all grow towards our greatness. We can leave a lasting legacy on others and on the world.


I am deeply grateful to those who have created with me, as clients, colleagues, advisors, and friends. I am heading into next year with excitement and enthusiasm for what we build.


Inner adults

There's a lot of talk about exploring our "inner children", and rightfully so (clown class, remember).


I think we should spend as much time exploring our "inner adults". Our inner adults are tasked with a lot of important work: they are responsible and discerning, respectful of others, they say "no" confidently, they respond productively to perceived rejections, they soothe our inner children when they are upset.


And, perhaps most importantly, our inner children entrust our inner adults with achieving their dreams.


How is your inner adult doing?


Enough is enough

Part of me has been very uncomfortable this year. This part tells me that I did not "make enough" (money, that is). I notice it be overly harsh and critical of the work that I do, desperate as it is for improvement.


I thank this part for it's service to me (it only wants the best!) and remind it: I have enough. I'm going to be just fine.


Nurturing

Self-compassion (self-love) has been the most important ingredient of my growth this year.


It is the only true form of healing. Without self-nurture, gifts from others and gifts from the universe will not be seen or felt. They will be intellectualized, doubted, and spat upon.


Self-nurturing is something I long resisted and neglected. It has felt soft and intolerable. This year, I learned better.


I am an introvert and have always enjoyed solitude. But this year, with less structure and more time alone, I became painfully aware of the judgment and contempt with which I hold myself by default.


To exercise compassion for the self is to cultivate a maternal energy - both warrior and caretaker at once.


The warrior: to confront who we really are without blinking, judging, or running away is a terrifying prospect. To be see our entire being takes enormous strength. The warrior can withstand intense discomfort - she is focused, discerning, and confident.


The caretaker: to nurture ourselves we must open up our softest and gentlest inner parts. There are parts of us, all of us, who are still young and afraid of life. To strengthen them, we must approach ourselves gently with compassion, curiosity, and deep respect. These parts want your company, not your advice. Be with them.


Next year

In January, I'll be starting a 200 hour yoga training certification. A seed that was planted 6 years ago beginning to bud.

Also in January, I am launching a new team-based coaching program to help working groups achieve higher levels of efficiency.

In April, I will be hosting two weekend mindfulness and yoga retreats.

In May I'll be getting married to my partner in and for life.


Cheers to our Growth.

(p.s. two poems below)



A prayer for a happy year

may I lose everything I gain.

may no one see things my way.

may nothing turn out the way I expect.

may my body fail me continuously.

may I never find the right words.

may I get lost in my own home.

may both my light and darkness frighten me.


may I remain in love and in awe through this all.


Like the trees


Growth takes time. Let us be patient like the trees.


A tree knows that all is nature.

It does not look upon itself and say "I am a good tree" or "I am a bad tree".

It does not look at the tree beside it and feel anger or scorn.

It does not resent the boulder inhibiting its roots' growth and warping its trunk.


A tree knows the cycle of nature.

So when it hears the faint buzzing of chainsaws in the distance, it is not afraid.

It does not worry about one day being turned into toilet paper.

Nothing ever ends...


Knowing it is part of something greater than even itself, a tree cooperates.

It takes what it needs and grows as it can.

It work with diligence: growing its roots ever deeper into the soil

And stretching its branches ever higher into the heavens.


Because a tree adheres to its nature, we have fresh oxygen and cool shade and stable soil.

What is it in your nature to provide?

Do your roots stretch deeply enough to provide that?

Concentrate patiently on growing your roots, and the whole world will prosper.


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