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Better than a New Year's resolution: a holiday recipe for wholeness

You can’t make gingerbread with only ginger. A New Year’s resolution based on willpower alone is a like a single ingredient cake recipe — not very tasty. To create lasting change that transforms your old patterns takes additional ingredients: self-love and acceptance, desire to change, openness to the creativity of your being and a dash of curiosity.

In concert with the increasing daylight, you can use a holistic recipe to tackle an old pattern that’s been holding you back, so that when spring comes you have fresh energy and insight to bring forth.

We all have parts we hide from others and even from ourselves, feelings of deficiency or resentment. When I work with clients on their blocks, inevitably they come to grips some aspects they’ve never seen or understood. The surprising thing is that there can be buried treasure in those parts we push away. By bringing them to light, you can reevaluate what is good and right that you want to keep and what to let go.

Here’s a made-up example based on client cases I’ve seen. Let’s say someone grew up in a family where he was expected to take care of his mother’s needs in some way that hindered his own self-expression. He was musically gifted but became a lawyer to please her. Whenever he thinks about picking up his guitar, he feels guilty even if it’s after work. He values his ability to provide for his family, which he got from going into a professional career, but constantly feels like something is missing.

One winter night, as he’s finishing a brief for the next day, he pauses to gaze out the window. As he looks out over the city sprinkled with lights, he finds himself wishing he could once again enjoy his music. He begins to allow himself to feel how much he misses the playing. That night, he has a dream. In the dream, he’s in a wooded forest and hears  music all around him — a creek’s burbling and a delightful array of birdsongs create interlocking melodies, with tree limbs blowing in the wind, synthesizing the concert into one.

The lawyer talks with his wife about the dream and decides to spend some time on his walks home from work, listening for the music in the sounds around him. The discipline and confidence he learned from being a successful lawyer he applies to this new practice. She notices a gradual change in him, that whereas when he used to come home from work he was tired and wanted to be left alone, now he has a kind of aliveness that she has missed. He connects more easily with her and the kids.

One night, his children ask him to play some songs for them before bed. And for the first time in a long time, without hesitating, without guilt he picks up his guitar and plays some simple folk songs. After that, he plays more and more, with increasing enjoyment. His enjoyment and his music affect his family and friends and they in turn are inspired in their own ways to touch others.

The lawyer’s transformation seems like a small miracle, but there’s a recipe for this kind of healing and growth. Not that you could buy the ingredients at the store. You can generate them within yourself and find them in harmony with others.

Regular recipes have an exact temperature and a recommended amount of cooking time. However, the soul has it’s own rhythm which you can discover with the sincerity and willingness to look within. When your goal is clear, you may receive an answer almost instantaneously as one of my female clients did in finding a creative way to battle a crippling depression. Another client of mine, over a number of years, worked through many layers of trauma to uncover hidden resources of personal power. Along the way she had a dream that showed her a big disowned part of her power, and in our work together she found ways to reclaim it.


Find a quiet place to write and list the biggest stumbling blocks you are facing right now in your life. Pick the most important one to you at this time. Now imagine yourself and your life as you’d like them to be, without that obstacle. Write a positive statement of your goal. The lawyer wanted to be guilt-free (obstacle) and his goal (positive statement) was to rekindle his playing and enjoyment of music.

Once you are clear on what’s in the way and where you’re headed, you can begin to open to some new input, which may spark you in a variety of ways.

Sit quietly and allow your body to relax, follow your breath. Notice if you are holding your breath or forcing it, then let it deepen and slow. This is a simple, proven way to tap into your non-linear, creative unconscious resources.

Whatever emerges is right. Draw it, scribble it, jot it down or dance it. Some of my clients use colored pens to draw the images that arise in them as they contemplate inner reconciliation of parts. Others do yoga, write poems or record their dreams. As any good cook, be willing to experiment with the recipe to find what’s true for you and to ask for help if you need it. It may take time and patience.

I believe the best way to apply the will power of resolution is as one ingredient in a fuller recipe for lasting change. We need this kind New Year’s recipe to help us through the winter season and the winter of challenges facing our world. Let your transformation, no matter how small, inspire those around you, creating healing, growth, harmony and wholeness for yourself and others.

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