This photo was taken at State Library’s “Year of Belonging” festivities last year

February 3 2018 will see an energetic and enthusastic group of people gather in Pullenvale Brisbane Australia for our yearly creative arts workshop. We will begin with a bridging-in exercise, followed by sharing our emerging dreams and possible goals for the new year. We will engage in artmaking, movement, storytelling and lots of laughter as we move towards a clarity of purpose and intention.

I love hosting reflective workshops at the beginning of each year, where we gather, make new friends and make still-to-be-created dreams come to the fore as well as plan and re-story what it is we want to add to our lives to make it richer, more vibrant.

We begin with ritual, one of the strongest healing processes we can engage in. We create our own personal rituals that we will engage with throughout the year.

For me, this holiday season has been one of reflection, connecting with family and friends and deciding on a few new challenges: yoga teacher training for one, improving my cooking skills another. Whatever it is we want to engage with, we can, we just need to make it clear to ourselves and others what we are wanting and where we are wanting to go. We may be engaged in a project that began several years ago: is this the year of completion? We may have finished a long term project and want to begin another…

How do we formulate work that is fulfilling and worthwhile to both self and others? How do we engage in activities that heal and stimulate? I feel the best way of accessing ‘what we may not know we know’ is through creative conversation, engaging with friends and colleagues over a cup of tea and taking turns in talking about one’s life and how we are either satisfied with the status quo (lucky you) or how we want to adjust one or two things in order to move forward with a little more zest. It is through conversation, creative conversations, that change occurs. We cannot do it in a vacuum…

So, this year, reach out! Request a cup of tea from friends and colleagues. Sit down and share your thoughts, in exchange for them sharing theirs. Everyone loves a rich conversation!

Bill, my partner and I have decided that this year is “Our Year of Belonging”, the expression taken from our workshop that is coming up at 4change on February 3, which goes by the same name. We began on January 1, ended up in hot water a couple of times as we drove from Sydney to Brisbane, but managed very quickly to recognise the patterns that were clashing…in our case, we realised that cultural stories relating to gender, and one’sexpectation of these gendered roles were the main culprits (so far!). We are trying, as a couple, to live in learning…and to keep strongly in mind that it is not what happens to us, but how we handle it. We are both excited about this committment, or declaration, to each other, and a little nervous…change is always challenging and we have committed to living a year of total awareness (if it is even possible), something that we have only assumed we were doing in the past.

And that reminds me of the difference between habit and ritual. Sometimes in coaching sessions I ask my client what rituals they have in place, and the response is more likely to be a list of habits rather than rituals. Much has been written about ritual, but briefly, to suit our purposes, rituals require intentional action, rather than habitual action. Rituals heal us: rather than just sitting down to eat, if we turn our meal time into a ritual we very deliberately set the table with awareness, we light candles with awareness…whatever we need to do in order to say “We are now eating together, sharing a meal, talking, listening, hearing each other”.

Here’s to a year full of ritual, deliberate awareness of our actions in order to create a rich and vibrant moment, hour, day, week and year.