Easing into the New Year—and Decade!

Happy New Year!
It’s my habit to spend as little time as possible in my office during the holidays and to create quality, festive time with family and friends, as well as quiet, reflective time alone. I’m grateful for these practices and find them restorative, although I’m usually chomping on the bit to get back to work in January.
This year is no exception. I signed up for Michael Neill’s Genius Catalyst Intensive and Creating The Impossible programs. When I consider what feels “impossible” to me at the moment, four things come to mind: 

            • Landing a traditional book deal 
            • Making a 6-figure income
            • Starting a speaking career and getting paid to speak
            • Selling out my print run for Raw in the next twelve months

You could say these are my BHAGs (big, hairy, audacious goals) for 2020, but deep down I know that accomplishing any or all of them won’t necessarily bring what I might expect or imagine. They certainly won’t deliver enduring satisfaction or joy, or make me, or my life, “better.” 
I recently read an excellent post on this subject. Written by my friend and colleague Jonelle Simms,  Goals . . .Blech! is full of her inimitable insight and humor. In it, she examines the deceptive (and sometimes dangerous) nature of goals. If you take them (and yourself) too seriously, you become enslaved by them and end up looking in the wrong places for your joy, which comes from within.
That said, I’m looking forward to attempting to do things that feel “impossible.” I’m holding it all lightly, and I’m excited about the adventure. In my experience, stepping out of my comfort zone usually leads to growth, and sometimes magic. 
And speaking of magic, my writing circles are almost full. I have two openings left in each. If you’re a former student who reserved a seat, it’s time to claim it here. If you’re interested but have questions or concerns, please let me know. I’d be happy to speak with you. 
If you’re local to Southern California and would like to connect with a dynamic writing community, please join us at our next literary salon, Sunday, January19th. This event is free and open to the public, but you must R.S.V.P.
The first thing I did when I returned to my office after taking time off for the holidays was to take everything off my bulletin boards. I also revamped my “Priority Pyramid.” Let me explain. Last November, I worked with Dan Blank, author of Be The Gateway: A Practical Guide to Sharing Your Creative Work and Engaging an Audience. In his book, Dan recommends an exercise to help creative professionals get clear about their life and work priorities. 
If you’d like more clarity on your writing or you life, try this exercise: get fifteen index cards and write down one word on each card indicating what’s important to you. Then prioritize your cards into a pyramid, with your most important priority at the apex, and work down from there. These cards are a wonderful reminder of what matters if you lose your way. Each person will obviously have different words on their cards.

For me, a deep spiritual connection with Self comes first. When I lose that I’m like seaweed tossing in the ocean, and life feels disorienting, even painful. After that my priority is my family and also my writing. While the importance of family is obvious, it’s not always been easy for me to explain why my writing holds such a high priority in my life.  The best way to describe it is to say that writing enhances my connection with my True Self. It helps me remember who I am.
Many of my students and clients tell me that writing is also foundational in their lives. It helps them navigate their days with greater clarity and grace, stay grounded, identify and release limiting thoughts, express joy, share stories, and reimagine what’s possible.
It’s useful to look at priorities independently, but also in relationship to one another.
I’ve added “I believe” statements to my “pyramid landscape” to remind me why I do what I do. 

  • I believe in the power of writing to heal and transform lives, and I view publishing and book promotion as opportunities to deepen self-awareness, nourish meaningful connections, and delight in peak experiences while being of service.
  • I believe in authentic, creative self-expression.
  • I believe that we all have access to unlimited creativity.
  • I believe miracles happen when we consciously choose love over fear.
  • I believe suffering is not the price of admission to a creative life.
  • I believe that freedom and peace of mind are available when we look in the direction of our own innate wisdom.

I agree with Natalie Goldberg, who, in her book, The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life with Languagesays “you can anchor your mind with your breath, but also you can anchor your mind with pen on paper.”
But perhaps the most reliable “anchor” of them all is love, which, ironically, is also the ideal launching pad. The best of what gets created through us comes from love.

I keep reminding myself to be guided by love rather than fear. Old habits may die hard, but they pass more peacefully—and lose their power over us—when we see them for what they are and let them go.

Love is patient and kind, and it allows us to start over and reinvent ourselves. Again and again.
If writing is what you love, and you’re look for inspiration and support, check out my upcoming writing circles here, which begin. January 29th. 
I have two openings for private coaching clients. Let me know if you’d like to work with me one-on-one.
I wish you a new year filled with health, happiness, creative expression, and love.


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  • Bella Mahaya Carter

    Thanks, Dhana. I'm giving myself until June to shop. If I don't receive an offer I like by that time, I'll happily publish with SWP again. Happy New Year to you, too, and good luck with your queries! xo

  • Dhana Musil Querying

    So good Bella! Your goals and mine for 2020 are aligned. I loved reading this article. Motivated and inspired me. Happy new year lady!