Blog » mindfulness

Category: mindfulness

Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019

Sometimes, you have to look back in order to understand the things that lie ahead.—Yvonne Woon

Yesterday afternoon I returned to DC after a quick  jaunt to Oklahoma for family time. While there, Mom and I pulled out our calligraphy supplies, a sketchbook, and magazines to start my three-part end of year process: reflection, intention, action.

We lit a candle, played Bach for Book Lovers, and sipped tea for hours. Above you’ll see photos from the afternoon experience. It took us awhile to get familiar again with the calligraphy pen (I kept holding it upside down) and, once I did, I created my 2018 reflection and 2019 intention page.

I thumbed through my planner to mine those 2018 memories (more to be added) and let the ink blots become part of the process. A Rumi quote I recently found was added, “When a bird gets free, it doesn’t go back for remnants left on the bottom of the cage.” This hit me right in the heart. So much goodness in so few words.

Soften is the word that kept coming up for me and it just feels right. Our word (or theme/intention) of the year serves as a guide. When facing decision-making doubt, I’ll ask myself, “What’s the choice most aligned with softening?”

Tonight after hosting the New Year’s Mini Retreat at YogaWorks or tomorrow morning before hosting the New Year’s Salon, I plan to work on the action portion.

Below is more on the process and  audio HERE. I hope you enjoy . . .

The end of the year. Another completed chapter. Let’s tie a ceremonial bow around it and honor our evolution—highlights, lessons learned, struggles, dreams, experiences. Each of these played a role in the year’s unfurling.


To awaken memories, set aside time to flip through places you kept notes and dates, such as your planner, online calendar, and journal. Scroll through your photos for visual cues. Pull out cards, ticket stubs, conference swag, and/or exhibit brochures (I keep these items in a shoe box wrapped in pretty paper labeled “memories”). Collect any mementos you may have tucked away from this year and pile it on your kitchen table.

According to Sarah Susanka, author of The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters (interviewed on Tranquility du Jour), “The end-of-year review process is very similar to sowing seeds. When you plant a garden, you don’t sit and stare at the seeds until they sprout. You know that some will germinate and some will not, but it is not up to you to make them grow. All you can do is set the conditions for their growth with good soil, adequate water, and the right amount of sun. And that’s what this exercise does—and while you are sowing seeds during this period, you can be enjoying the fruits of the previous year’s harvest at the same time.”

Grab writing tools and paper. Sip tea and list what you recall from the year in no particular order and answer the above questions. Capture big moments (e.g. started graduate school) along with tiny ones (e.g. sipped a cherry limeade at the drive-in with Mom). Let the list flow.

Here are a few questions to help you get started:

  1. How did you spend your time? There are 168 hours/week and 8,760 hours/year. Where did yours go? Break it down into categories such as family, creativity, work, spirituality, etc. Compare where it went to where you’d like to see it go next year.
  2. What journeys did you take?
  3. What were your accomplishments and disappointments?
  4. What lessons did you learn?
  5. How have you grown from this time last year?
  6. How do you hope to show up this time next year?

Design a visual representation of the year by printing an assortment of photos and creating a collage. Or if you’re more techie, use an app like Collage Creator to assemble an electronic history that can be a desktop or image to share with loved ones.

Sometimes I paste a beautiful image pulled from a magazine into my art journal and list memories on it with a Sharpie. This reminds me of the year’s ups and down, allows me to express gratitude for what transpired, and honor the evolution. (This year I chose a white page and let the memories flow with a calligraphy pen).

After this process (which can take days, by the way), review your answers, images, hopes, and dreams. Light a candle to honor losses. Acknowledge how every experience has made your year unique.


Set an intention for what you hope to see unfold next year. Is there a word or theme that stands out? Picture yourself a year from today and note how you’d like to feel, what you’d like to have accomplished, what you’d like to have shed, where you’d like to be living, who you’d like to be with, and on and on.

Bring this person to life in visual format. Pull images from magazines that represent the feeling of the word you’ve chosen or the feeling of the answers you’ve written to the exercise above. Display this where you’ll see it regularly.


Here’s where we bring some doing into our dreaming. In Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach wrote, “The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers, but above all, the world needs dreamers who do.”  What small steps can you take today (and tomorrow, and the next day) to move toward that vision you have for yourself this year? List these and add them into your planner.

You Got This

Allow this process to nurture who you are and who you are becoming. Sans judgment, simply observation filled with loving-kindness. Spread your wings and fly, dear one, and don’t go back to that cage. Bisous. x

Forest Bathing

And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.—John Muir

Since hiking the hills of Oklahoma as a little girl, I’ve sought nourishment in nature.

Muir Woods—a redwood-infused forest located outside San Francisco is my most treasured spot on earth and I believe that nature is therapy.

According to the Nature and Forest Therapy website, “Forest Therapy, also known as ‘Shinrin-Yoku,’ refers to the practice of spending time in forested areas for the purpose of enhancing health, wellness, and happiness.”

The Forest Agency of Japan began promoting this practice in 1982 and it’s spread globally. You’ve probably seen the multiple books and articles in outlets such as Time, NPR, The Atlantic, and the Huffington Post touting the many benefits.

Last Sunday we packed up the family and headed to a rented Getaway tiny house in the woods. It was nearly a year ago that we first visited these darling cabins and I’d been eyeing a possible return date ever since. We arrived at the 3pm check-in time excited to set up camp.

In this glamping type situation, setting up camp means placing my stack of books on the table, putting food items on the one shelf and inside the refrigerator, and setting out bowls and beds for the pups. Next, campfire time.

Our two days consisted of campfires, noshing (lots of vegan poutine), and walks in the woods. For hours we sat and stared at the fire with pups wrapped up in blankets on our laps. When I looked up and saw the stars, I realized how completely content I felt.

To watch the flames dance, smell the burning wood, and feel the radiating heat is magical. I see how gathering around the campfire was a sacred and social experience for our ancestors.

One recent study found “that hearth and campfires induce relaxation as part of a multi-sensory, absorptive, and social experience.” The anthropologist researcher believes fires awaken our inner cavewoman.

The day after we returned, I took a Forest Bathing workshop through the Smithsonian Associates with Melanie Choukas-Bradley, an author and certified nature and forest therapy guide. We were invited to disengage from our phones and to-dos and to walk through the Enid A. Haupt Garden paying attention with all our senses. Smelling a gardenia plant was a highlight.

Next we wandered through the Katherine Dulin Folger Rose Garden where many roses were in bloom (see last photo). I noticed the sounds of trickling water from a fountain and a nearby carousel that began to play music to entice children (and me) to ride. We ended the two-hour experience with a tea ceremony sipping maple water and eating pure maple candies.

As I’m writing this many days later, there’s a fire crackling in the fireplace and a pug snoring on my lap. Since my time in the forest I’ve been more pensive and moved at a slightly slower pace. I think there’s something to this forest bathing!

Thoreau wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Now, that’s one to ponder as we move through our weekends. Bisous. x

Tranquility du Jour #423: When Food is Comfort

Tranquility du Jour #423: When Food is Comfort

When Food is Comfort with Julie Simon. In this week’s edition of Tranquility du Jour, we discuss why we turn to food for comfort, the seven skills to inner nurturing, why airports are hard, ways to shift cravings, and why nurturing connections are important.

New to Tranquility du Jour? Learn more here.

Tranquility du Jour #423: When Food is Comfort


Direct download: Tranquility du Jour #423: When Food is Comfort

Upcoming Events

Year of Tranquility: Join anytime

Penning in Paris: July 23-27 in Paris {SOLD OUT}

Writing in the Woods: October 26-28 in West Virginia {4 spots left}

Tranquility in the Topics: February 16-23, 2019 in Costa Rica

Tranquility in Tuscany: July 13-20, 2019 {8 spots left}

Featured Guest:

Julie M. Simon, MA, MBA, LMFT, is the author of When Food Is Comfort and The Emotional Eater’s Repair Manual. She founded the popular Los Angeles–based and online Twelve-Week Emotional Eating Recovery Program and offers workshops at venues like Whole Foods and UCLA. She lives in Los Angeles and you can visit her online at

Social Media

More Tranquility



  • To listen, click on the player at the top of the post or click here to listen to older episodes.
  • New to podcasting? Get more info at Podcast 411.
  • Do you have iTunes? Click here and subscribe to the podcast to get the latest episode as released.
  • Get the Tranquility du Jour apps to download the podcast “automagically” on iOS or Android