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I’m not a person who makes New Year’s Resolutions. I’m not interested in creating a set of false hopes only to be dashed in days or weeks of broken self-resolve and lost plans and exasperated dreams. I never have been.

I am, however, into making declarations. These are always personal, and entirely based on things I can do and accomplish. I’m not usually one to share these declarations. But this year, based on my amazing experience in Mondo Beyondo last year, I am breaking through my own fear and self-doubt and sharing my goals and declarations for 2011 here, with all of you.

But first, an admission. My word for 2011? ADVENTURE.

My goals for 2011:

* A daily yoga and meditation practice.
* My own safe “home base” – a place I can find solitude, comfort, and safety.
* Self-sustaining employment {nourishes my soul, provides for my needs, is tied to and follows my passions}.
* LOVE. Self love. Partner love.
* Yoga conferences {San Francisco, Lake Geneva} and regular yoga classes {Perfect Knot, Mound Street}.
* Investigate a yoga teacher training that fits my needs and passion.
* Teach 2 in-person and 3 online workshops.
* At least 6 pieces of writing accepted for publication.
* At least 2 new individual writing clients {long-term projects and includes editing work}
* Having everything I need to soar at my writing workshop in Wellfleet with Marge Piercy.
* Spend a long weekend with my Canadian friends.
* Spend a week in England.
* Spend 10 days in Wellington.
* Spend 10 days in India/Nepal.
* Attend the European Summit for Global Transformation in Amsterdam.
* A high-quality DSLR and good lenses for documenting stories around the world.
* Photoshop and InDesign for my MacBook Pro.
* An external hard drive for music and photography.
* The ability to develop and scan my own black and white film negatives.
* A small side business selling body-care products.

My declarations for 2011:

* This year, I will have a DSLR I can travel with, shoot video with, adventure with, record stories with, and document my journey with.

* This year, I will USE the passport I possess to travel to Canada, New Zealand, Amsterdam, England, and Nepal. I will learn how to pack for a month of travel in only one bag. I will not be afraid of leaving the safety of what I know for an adventure into the unknown.

* This year, I will love myself above all else. I will respect my own boundaries and needs. I will only be open to romantic love when I am secure in the love I have for myself.

* This year, I will meet at least 6 virtual friends in real life. At least six, but hopefully many, many more.

* This year, I make my dream of nurturing and witness women to discover their true voices and write their true stories a reality, earning more than half of my income from this endeavor, and moving toward a full income from storytelling, story-coaching, and writing.

* This year, I practice yoga every day. I meditate daily. I eat well. I return to my japa practice.

* This year, I begin learning both French and Hindi. I practice my language skills regularly. I am a language-learning fiend.

* This year, I develop my eye as a photographer and find my way with both digital and film images. I develop my own negatives. I print my own black and white images. I create amazing, real images of women and girls from around the world.

* This year, I don’t run away from my destiny. I embrace it fully.

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Prompt: Future self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)

2011 is the year you go big. This is the year you leave behind those old tapes and trust your intuition more than you ever have before. This year you travel to places of where you have only dreamed; you meet the women who change your life in irreversible ways. This year you have dreams, make plans, and succeed in accomplishing your goals.

2011 is the year you live in Mystery and revelation. This is the year you experience the healing power of growth, of connection and community, of trust. This year you blossom into the amazing woman everyone has always told you that you are. This year you look in the mirror and SEE and FEEL that amazing woman staring back at you.

2011 is the year you bump into Elizabeth Gilbert on your birthday, light Shabbat candles with Marge Piercy, share a hotel room with Marianne Elliott and cuddle with Randi Buckley’s bouncing baby boy. This is the year you make sangria in Canada, shoot 120  film in Amsterdam, and almost drop your Canon DSLR into the Ganges — but don’t. This year you live above a video store in Mumbai, run on the beach in Paekakariki, and give a morning sermon in that small town you tried so desperately to escape (but now feel drawn toward again).

2011 is the year you take control of your life. This is the year you earn more than you ever have by doing less for the machine and following your bliss. This year you start to whittle away those pesky student loans and can afford airfare and hotels across the globe. This year you believe that you are worth every penny you make.

2011 is the year you feel like you are starting your life anew. This is the year you in many ways are. This year you rock it like Ani D and make no apologies for being your awesome self.

This year is about you.

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Ten years ago: Your first poem had been accepted into a literary journal. You were so elated, but your family didn’t really get it. You were still cutting. Everything hurt all the time. You were hoping to start college the coming fall. You were studying for your driving exam. All you wanted to do was escape.

You wanted so much to be a sweet child, a sweet young woman. Your heart was so troubled, and no one understood why. It wasn’t until years later when you understood yourself what all the fighting was against, and by then you still couldn’t explain it to anyone who could make it change.

I would come and hold you at night, smooth back your hair and sing you to sleep. I would stand watch at your bed so you could rest. I wouldn’t let you out to those places, to do those things you hated so much but seemed like the only way to feel alive. I would take all the knives and hide them from you, paint flowers and feathers on your arms in place of scars. I would teach you to call the spirits, to burn the herbs and make the potions to cast spells deep into the night. I would give you the moon in a bowl of water and light candles with your breath.

It didn’t matter to you how many people you knew, how much work you did, how hard you tried. Nothing felt good enough. Nothing could please them. Nothing would make them love you like you wanted.

Let’s go skating on the pond tonight. We’ll toss the blades over our shoulders with those hot pink guards glowing in the full moon’s light. Holding hands we burn figure-eights into the ice, again and again until the glass begins to crack beneath us. Then we’ll race home to make hot cocoa in the dark kitchen, trying so hard not to giggle and wake up the parents. They’ll never notice, anyway.

Let’s run away together, tell an adult what is really going on, and reach safety at the end of that screaming, angry night.

You couldn’t wait to tell someone that you had dreams of going away to college, of becoming a researcher and making the lives of women and girls better all over the world. You would sneak out the polaroid camera and use up the last slips of film before putting it away again. You had just learned your father wasn’t dead, but didn’t really know what to do next. You wanted to move away from it all, be just a 15-year-old girl in a sunny happy world and have all your dreams come true.

Sit with me a moment. Let me hold your cold red hand in mine. Together we will watch the year unfold in magick and wonder and amazing dreams-come-true. In this moment, then and now and forever in the future, anything you dream of can happen. We will do it, together. We are the same, you and I. And…

I love you.

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Prompt: Lesson learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

Wow. 2010 was definitely a year filled with lessons about my self. But the one that immediately jumps to mind is the lesson of resiliency. I am an incredibly resilient human being.

After a voluntary eviction from my first “grown-up” apartment, and moving in to the generosity and open heart of a dear friend, I struggled deeply with my sense of self, and especially with my sense of worth. I had always tied my worth into my work life, into my “things” — my home, my income, my stuff. Not because I believed that my belongings defined me, but simply because I hadn’t had much growing up, and so the more I had (in both physical things and places to belong), the “greater” my life had become.

And then I didn’t have a steady income for 7 months.

I made enough money to pay the smallest of personal bills, but I was certainly living off the kindnesses of others. I told myself I was working on re-building my freelance business into more of a small-biz business. In reality, I was wasting time. I was dallying on the inter-webs. I was watching old episodes of television shows I started watching in college, when I felt more alive. I ate a lot. I didn’t get out much. I was bored. And, to be honest, fairly boring.

One day I woke up.

I realized that I wanted more from myself. I wanted to travel, to learn, to nurture and record stories. I wanted to take pictures again, after spending years away from a camera. I wanted to write again. I wanted to explore the quiet places in my heart, my mind, my spirit. I wanted to create rituals and bring magick to the everyday.

I wanted to be alive again.

I have spent the last few months shaking the dust from my bones, sweeping out the cobwebs and opening the windows of my eyes and ears. It has taken a lot of hard work (which is no where near complete), but I finally feel like my heart is starting the gentle quiver of a cocoon preparing to release her butterfly.

I could have given up a year ago. I could have succumbed to the old tapes of unworthiness and failure. For a while, maybe I did. But these are not the voices which speak from my soul. These are the voices of others outside me. My own true voice sings a quiet tune while cooking, speaks poetry when folding the wash. My own voice shares the beauty of a summer thunderstorm and the sharpness of sub-zero mornings. My voice speaks of honesty, integrity, truth and life.

My voice lives strong in my heart, in my throat. My voice does not back down or surrender to the doubts of others.

I do not give up. I carry through.

I AM.

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what if you believed that whatever power you have right now is enough to make a real difference in the world? what kind of difference would you make?

I stumbled upon this question through a tweet by Rachael Maddox. I undeniably believe that the Universe is consistently conspiring to provide us with the connections, inspirations, and nudges (and sometimes swift arse-kicks) that we need to propel us forward into the next steps of the journey. So when I read this question, it really resonated with me as something connected to a thought I’ve been stuck on all day.

This morning I learned that TED is coming to Madison in the form of TEDxMadtown. My dream of sharing the incredible experiences and opportunities of TED with members of my community is suddenly being pushed forward by a group of thought-full and inspired thinkers.

An hour before I learned about TEDxMadtown, I read through all the information provided about becoming a TED Fellow for the TEDGlobal conference. Attending a TED conference is on my dream list, my bucket list, my Mondo Beyondo list, my 5-year goal list, and several other lists. I am not a woman made of money, nor do I have access to unlimited funds. But coming together with a group of incredible intellectuals and change-makers to look at the way of the world and work for the best in it — THAT is a dream come true. So to apply for a fellowship is a way for me to potentially engage with the TED world and it’s movers-and-shakers in a way that is attainable AND allows me to connect with means and ways of sharing my own ideas and world-changing potential.

So thinking about TED and the question Rachael presented lead me to this:

Right now, I would travel and learn the stories of women and girls around the world — through words and images. I would not worry about how I was going to afford the travel and lodging, but find methods of supporting myself along my journey. I would continue to share my own story, and be honored to share the stories of those women who will let me, with the world. I would encourage the women I meet on my journey to share their own stories. I would bring their stories to the leaders of countries, of international communities, of global policy makers. I would not hesitate to bring amazing stories into the public eye. I would not back down from the fear I discover in my own heart. I would support women and girls in facing their own fear.

I would not let another person be silenced.

For now, I am resting in the knowledge that I have the ability to make a difference, that even supporting one woman in telling her story makes a difference, that my voice is strong and clear and carries a message. I rest in this moment of stasis, where things inside me are being nurtured and gestating before springing forward with clarity and vision. I rest in this certainty I have created, the safety and stability I have crafted from nothing; I rest knowing that this certainty must be even just slightly shattered for me to follow my dreams.

Tonight, I rest.

Tomorrow? Tomorrow is a brand new day.

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What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

1. Doubt
2. Anger
3. Regret
4. Pessimism
5. Denial
6. Loneliness
7. Distraction (self-imposed and external)
8. Perfection
9. Mis-management (time, money, energy, money, strength, wisdom, space, money, energy)
10. Unhealthy choices (food, exercise, relationships, self-care, employment)
and perhaps, most significantly,
11. Poverty

This last one is the hardest for me. Coming from a family of working-class, hard-working, always struggling people, I never learned money-management skills. Especially how to save money. Additionally, I’ve never believed that I deserved to have the money to fulfill both my needs and some of my basic wants (a quality camera, some travel time, quality bicycle gear — especially for winter).

So, 2011, here’s the deal:

I’m done with being poor. I’m done with not having enough, with relying almost solely on the kindness and generosity of others, of foregoing some of my favorite activities due to (a lack of) funds. I’m done with feeling a lack in my pocketbook.

I am ready for abundance. I am ready for bountiful creativity. I am ready for work that nourishes my soul and feeds me (literally and metaphysically). I am ready to share more than just my talents and energy, but to also provide financial assistance as I am able and it is needed. I am ready to follow my passions: yoga, photography, travel, writing, cooking, international human rights work, magick, documentary photography/filming; the list goes on, but all interests center around storytelling, self-exploration, and being a catalyst for positive change.

I am ready to step fully into my amazing, awe-filled life.

2011, here I come.

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I admit, I was very slow to join the Twitter bandwagon.

I was afraid that I would feel awkward, that I wouldn’t have any followers, that I mean seem like a stalker if I started following and interacting with the authors of blogs I read daily. I was REALLY scared of coming across as that crazy young girl who looks up so adoringly at the amazing bloggers she loves.

I’m not sure what the deciding spark was, but I remember very hesitantly building up my list of people to follow. I wasn’t sure who would follow back, and I wasn’t surprised when many of the folks I followed did not immediately follow me. I also didn’t understand the idea of spam-bots on Twitter, and spent many of those first weeks weeding through spam comments to get a clear understanding of what to look for and how to protect myself.

But I have done some incredible, amazing things through Twitter. I have dreamed with Mondo Beyondo, planned several dream trips across the globe, crafted plans to move England to the US, and expanded my web of creative souls to span every continent. I’ve made incredible friends I would have never otherwise met, and I have discovered my own internal strength and amazing abilities, cultivated and nurtured by a cohort of like-minded gentle souls.

So for all the friends I’ve made, the letters I’ve sent across the planet, the Skype calls, the virtual hugs, and the spinning teacups of this tiny, tiny planet, I say to Twitter and all the beautiful souls creating it:

thank you.

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Prompt: Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

I just opened my computer to write this post.

Almost an hour ago.

I checked my email, caught up on Twitter, sent a few replies to questions about my workshop, changed the playlist 4 times, caught up on my calendar, and then remembered I had this blog post open.

This is only the tip of my ability to distract and delude myself. It is the most detrimental activity I can do, as it muddies the clear stream of thought I bring to my desk each morning. I find I have no restraint or even management of my …

I literally couldn’t finish typing the above sentence without getting up to reheat my tea, renewing some library books, and responding to a few tweets I caught on my Tweetdeck notifier box. Seriously. And then I went and researched a knitting pattern I have been wanting to try. For an hour.

Perhaps this isn’t just a matter of distraction. Perhaps this is about commitment.

Committing to the stories hiding in my heart. Committing to the stories which are asking to be told. Committing to the stories that frighten me, that anger me, that terrify me should I tell them. Committing to making the words be my primary relationship.

Committing to making ME my primary relationship.

For most of my life, my needs have been made secondary to all others, including: family, friends, children in need (across the globe), the planet, work, school … The list continues. It seems that somewhere along the way, no one taught me that is was OKAY to have needs, and  — this is the most important part — that I was ABLE to meet them. In my family, it seemed that certain people’s needs were always put first, and so I learned by watching (and feeling) that it wasn’t okay to think about my needs.

I think about the choices I made as a teen: cutting, anorexia, suicide attempts, long aimless poems used as cries for help; none of it seemed to matter. It wasn’t until a stint in the hospital got the attention of those around me that I finally was noticed. That my needs became important.

I no longer believe that it should take a crisis to be noticed, that I should be quiet and not talk about my needs until a tipping point is reached. I learned (though am still uncertain how) that my needs are my needs, they can’t be ignored or denied, and I am responsible for meeting those needs. I learned that it is okay to say no to someone when doing it hurts, because saying yes would hurt even more.

I’m no guru.
I’m not even a great.
I’m a woman who is striving for wholeness.
For needs met.
For wounds healed.
For strength and love and wisdom and honor.
For integrity.

Today, I am a woman who loves herself.
Today, I am a woman who is committed to herself.
Today, I am a writer, a teacher, a dreamer, a Creatrix.
Today, I am a focused, dedicated woman.

Today, I step into the long and beautiful journey of making the needs of my heart my first priority.

Today, I am committed living my life fully, to engaging with my path, and to birthing the gifts I am bringing to the Universe.