To our delight, Normandi Ellis has moved back to Central Kentucky and rejoined KaBooM. She’s a gifted writer, an inspiring teacher and workshop leader, and a woman of wisdom. We’re happy to have her with us again.
As we embark on a new year, she’s leading the group in a series of exercises looking back at the year behind us and ahead to the year to come. These are taken from a workshop she offers at the beginning of every year, called The Night of the Mothers. It’s an energizing way to assess where we’ve been and discern where we want to go.
This week we considered which month of the past year was our “lead month,” the one that gave the year its direction. We sifted through twelve months of calendars, checkbooks, or emails to find the place that held some kind of shift: a birth or death, a beginning or ending, a change in finances, work, health, or family. We then spent ten minutes each writing about that month, the previous month, and finally the month following.
As I paged through my calendar, I realized that I almost never take time to do this. Trying so hard to move forward, I rarely look back with this kind of intention. Moments from the past remain with me, but patterns are much more clear with a review of days I might otherwise forget.
Those patterns can teach us about ourselves. We learn what helps us respond to challenges, and what helps us live a full life. In becoming familiar with patterns that have unfolded in our lives, we can better recognize them when they show up again. And we are better able to choose whether to repeat them, or not.
Looking back can reveal surprising insights into the conditions that allow us to work creatively and productively, which is step one in trying to recreate them as best we can. In looking at how we spent our time, who we were with, how quiet or busy our days were, and what captivated us, it’s easier to see what worked and what didn’t. The things that energize and those that weigh us down become clearer.
It took an hour or so to do the exercise and for each of us to read back some portion of what we had written. It led to a deeper understanding not only of our individual lives, but the collective energy of the group. Sharing those words allowed us to hold the year with the support of one another, witnessing the change, loss, learning, and growth we experienced.
It was one of the richest hours I’ve spent this year.