This post isn’t what I originally intended it to be.

It was supposed to be a cheerful look at how we tend to fall down on our resolutions and how to approach 2017 with a more achievable strategy.

Then the world turned upside down.

2017 is shaping up to be a tough year. We don’t know how long it’s going to continue like that, but it won’t stop soon. It is hard not to look into the future with trepidation. For many people, life long assumptions of inclusion and safety are being threatened. Fear and anxiety are hard to resist.

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Everyone has their way of dealing, from those who go out and protest to give voice for the rest of us, and those who stay at home to create a base, a safe haven for them to return to. I am a safe haven person and believing in the potential for the base keeps me planted in peace and love.

I have a dearly beloved friend who is a life-long activist. She puts her self, her beliefs, her voice and her body on the front lines. I have always admired her and for many years felt that I was failing her, not doing my part by not being present for the protests.
Then we talked about it one day. She said something that helped me to see my role differently. She said this:

We can only go out and advocate for peace (or women or water or inclusion or whatever else in the endless litany of injustices you feel is your calling) because you are holding a safe place for us to come back to. We can only survive our vision of the ills of the world because you are in that haven, that home base, believing that it will all turn out in the end.
Make tea. Play music. Make food. Love your partner. Hold your children dear. Teach people to move and feel trust in their bodies. Create an oasis of small actions that ripple and reverberate through the world and give us a place to retreat to when we need to rebuild our strength.

So I say this to you: if you are an activist, I offer refuge when you need it.
If you are a maker of safe haven I acknowledge your contribution and if you feel like it isn’t enough I offer you solace. We who stay in our small actions help to support the big voices too.

And now here are the things that I meant to give you as cheerful thought on 2017. They still resonate with me but for different reasons. We need to not be overwhelmed all of the time. We need moments of peace, of rejuvenation and of commitment to self in order to emerge strong and ready to reclaim love and justice for all.

Instead of resolutions, let us have resolution. Let us find themes that feed and fuel us to make the world a better place. At the end of this blog you will find a wonderful list of questions you can use to focus your thoughts about time past and time present, what you need now to thrive. I loved it and here are a couple of ways to apply a theme to your year that might help you feel embodied and stable in turbulent times.

**Please note that these pieces were written a while ago. I have chosen not to edit them or ask the writers to change them. I think they still speak to us!**

Dr Sheri Turrell PhD – Psychologist
Theme: Noticing
“Moving into the New Year in a way that answers the question “what matters to
you” might be a more fulfilling alternative to making resolutions, which statistically, very few of us keep. Rather than getting caught up in the past, wishing it were different, or ruminating about a future that hasn’t happened yet, try spending more time in the present moment. This is a way of going through the day that I learned years ago in my mindfulness training, and that I continue to practice each day, using one or two of my senses to really notice what is going on around me: to notice, to feel, to experience. The skill of ‘noticing’ and being in the moment allows me the opportunity to choose who I
want to be and to take steps in that direction – as you move through 2017, take steps in the direction of who you want to be as a person, and who matters to you, and let your behavior follow from there. Dig deep, go beyond, “I want to lose weight’ or “I want to be in better shape,” and ask yourself, “Once I am in better shape, then what do I want to stand for, what would I do with my life that I’m not doing now?” You might be very surprised by your own answers. For an alternative to resolutions, consider spending 3 minutes a day noticing what is right in front of you, slow down and take it in, and respond to moments as the person you want to be, NOW.”

Sarah Scozzaro – Restorative Exercise Specialist, Running Coach at Drty Runner.
Theme: Nature
sarah-in-the-snow“Growing up in California, outside activities and being one with nature were an option 365 days a year; sure there were seasons, but nothing some light layering couldn’t take care of. Now that I am living in North Dakota, and with it, an entirely different form of COLD and definition of winter, I am learning to find the JOY in winter, even in some of the harshest of temps. Never being one to sit around the house, I have found you truly can get out and enjoy nature and the brisk winter weather, if you are smart and prepared. Getting out in the “tundra” as I have affectionately dubbed it this time of the year, has opened my eyes to beautiful new sights, smells and sounds. The seasons can very much mirror or lives, and vice versa, and winter is often viewed as a time of going “inward” versus the energetic nature of Spring and Summer; but I do not think winter should be only viewed as a time to hibernate and seek the indoors. There is something about the brisk cold air and wind that whips around you that can make you feel alive. It’s bracing and it’s breathtaking (sometimes literally!) but it’s just as beautiful as a bright Spring day. I definitely use judgement when going out in the harshest of days, but I have found my health, happiness and sleep have all been improved with even a 10 minute walk out of doors during the winter.”

Me (Alison Crouch)
Themes: My 20 year old daughter and I went through these questions together at the beginning of the year and I will be going over them again this week, one month into 2017. I have a hard time with narrowing down choices, so I chose two theme words: Perseverance and Joy.

When I chose these words as my themes I was thinking about work, about developing my new teacher training and my need for perseverance in the face of fatigue or overwhelm. Now I think it is still the perfect theme: I need to persevere in my convictions, I need to keep moving forward no matter what happens.
When I chose joy, I was thinking about my own little life, my own family and the joy I get from spending time in nature and with them. Now I need to believe in joy in a bigger context. What do we fight for if not the right of everyone to have moments of joy? Safety, respect, inclusion, education, life rich with families, friends, religious communities and all the other little moments that foster joy and contentment.
So I will follow Sheri’s and Sarah’s advice. I will be present and I will get out and honour the natural world to refresh my connection to the NOW.

And finally, Lyn Christian, my business coach and the founder of SoulSalt Inc, shared the list of questions that originally inspired this post. I think it’s a brilliant tool to encourage you to look at what is happening in your life, what you love, what you need and what can lead you to YOUR theme!
Theme: Curiosity
Completing and Remembering The Previous Year:
What was your biggest triumph this past year?
What was the smartest decision you made this past year?
What one word best sums up and describes this past years experiences?
What was the greatest lesson you learned in the past year?
What was the most loving service you performed this past year?
What is your biggest piece of unfinished business in this past year?
What are you most happy about completing this past year?
Who were the three people that had the greatest impact on your life this past year?
What was the biggest risk you took this past year?
What was the biggest surprise this past year?
What important relationship improved the most in the past year?
What compliment would you liked to have received this past year?
What compliment would you liked to have given in the past year?
What else do you need to do or say to be complete with the results of the past year?
Creating A (Bad Ass) New Year
What would you like to be your greatest triumph in the coming year?
What advice would you like to give yourself this coming year?
What is the major effort you are planning to improve your financial results in the coming year?
What would you be most happy about completing this new year?
What major indulgence are you willing to experience this coming year?
What would you like to change about yourself in the coming year?
What are you looking forward to learning this new year?
What do you think will be your greatest risk in this coming year?
What are you most committed to changing about your work and improving during this  year?
What is one undeveloped talent you are willing to explore in the coming year?
What brings you the most joy and how are you going to do or have more of that in your life this year?
Who or what, other than yourself, are you most committed to loving and serving this new year?
What one word would you like to have as your theme in the new year?
(Borrowed from Robin Blanc Mascari)

So.. what is it? What’s YOUR theme? What helps you be a safe haven or a big voice for change?

I am with you. Always.
xo
Alison

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