Gratitude and Intention Setting: It’s Time For a Reframe

Gratitude and Intention Setting: It’s Time For a Reframe

Gratitude and intention setting get a lot of play. Are they played out?

I was feeling skeptical, and maybe a bit jaded and bored.

You are an old soul, she said.

Yeah, right.

Every soul feels old sometimes... and tired... and been-there-done-that, have the tattoo to prove it. Click To Tweet


Sometimes this “you’re an old soul” mumbo-jumbo just pisses me off.

I was this particular kind of pissed off a dozen years ago when walking into yoga class.

Most likely I won’t remember your name if I run into you on the street (sorry, it’s true, I’m one of those people who needs context), but I can still feel the warm wood under my toes and the slight sawdusty scent which always lingered under the Nag Champa burning in the old church where class was held.

Kate, who still often graces the cover of the yoga magazines, was teaching. I rolled out my mat and pretended to stretch, listening instead to the replay in my brain of Llorraine’s rant about my old-soulness.

So when Kate asked us to set an intention for the class, I did what any old soul with a chip on her shoulder would do: Prove it! I challenged the Universe, shaking my metaphoric fist at the sky. Show me just how “old soul” I really am!

And I set my intention to feel each of my lifetimes on a cellular level.

Let me pause for a moment to remind you that I food shop and vacuum and use chopsticks to fish the dog’s kibble out of the crack under the baseboard, just like you.

Most of the time I don’t live in altered states. But I cross through them, maybe more often than most, and learn a smidge more about the underside of the Universe (the part we don’t often see) each time I do.

What I learned this time was rather simple:

When I set the intention of feeling all my past lifetimes during yoga class, I felt like a bunch of puzzle pieces that don’t fit together. The length of my legs no longer matched and there was a weird stereo cacophony which almost seemed to reach my ears.

That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling these past few weeks as I straddle two timelines, two possible realities.

Honestly it’s been a bit schizophrenic. One moment I’m a complete failure, ready to fold up my part of our business and collapse in relief on the sidelines. The next moment I’m an author-to-be with an incredibly beautiful book coming out next summer (I’ve seen the illustrations and it’s going to be pretty spectacular) and a group of witchy, wise women deeply invested in my community and programs.

One moment I’m deep in the morass of a crisis of confidence brought on by a multitude of bad decisions on the technological front, the next I’m fielding emails from numerous people who suddenly want business coaching (and I’m thinking come on people! Haven’t you gotten the memo? F-A-I-L-U-R-E.).

My friends have watched me swing between these two extremes, trying on every hat in the closet to see which will get me through the day:

the wise old teacher retiring so the young ‘uns can take over, the sassy mentor ready to unstick you from your own morass, the sharp business woman asking all the right questions (this time around!), and the pathetic wreck sniveling through mounds of tissues.

This morning I was finally able to step back from myself, to get enough distance to understand I’m dancing between timelines, between possible realities… and right now, in this moment of choice, both are alive and real (and there’s probably more than two!).

Here’s the bit that’s replicable, ’cause if I’m the only one having these thoughts I’ll eat my socks:

To get through these moments I needed the next level of intention-setting and to sink into a deeper well of gratitude.

  • Intention setting has never been simply about a couple mantras in the morning and a new vision board. But this experience of seeing the warp and weft of my reality, seeing the threads I was weaving or not weaving, drove home our multitudinous levels of choice: we not only choose our emotions and our actions, we also choose how we’re gonna think about ourselves. And that last choice resonates through everything else say and do.
  • Spending time in gratitude every evening, recounting the day’s pleasures, is lovely. But gratitude runs deeper than that; it’s about where you want to put your energy and attention… which means it’s not just about being grateful for the book deal, it’s choosing to focus on being grateful for the book deal instead of spending the same time/energy worrying about the tech troubles.

The funny thing is, in the midst of the angst of the past week, I’ve heard Lorraine’s voice a couple times:

Listen, if you were some young soul, I’d take this shit! But you’re an old soul; quit wasting your energy on the wrong stuff. Get yourself together and get to work!

Guess there’s a place for all that old-soul mumbo-jumbo after all.

Oh, and some of you like to know what herbs or stones or animals I work with when I’ve got a particular thing going down. This week, I’ve been focused on dandelion, who cheerfully finds a way to grow and prosper in all sorts of odd and uncomfortable situations.

I’ve also called on Owl, who moves easily between realities. Finally I’ve been taking some probiotics to help my gut digest life a bit better and massaging the Liver3 acupuncture point to support my liver assimilating all this new information!

Big hugs,

The Joy of a Sharp Knife: Shift Your Focus from Vision Boards and Word-of-the-Year So You Can Shine in 2017

The Joy of a Sharp Knife: Shift Your Focus from Vision Boards and Word-of-the-Year So You Can Shine in 2017


While others are focusing on setting intentions, vision boards, and “word of the year,” I’m thinking about the joy of a sharp knife.

I stood in a restaurant supply store at Bainbridge and 5th, belly-up to the counter (if I leaned back I’d topple over baking sheets stacked haphazardly on the metro shelves behind me). The saleswoman brandished knives and enthused about various types of tangs and the composition of steel.

One of the first things I learned when I began my studies in traditional healing: you need a sharp knife.

I remember the first cut with my new Victorinox knife, the ease with which one became two and two became many.

A chef friend once told me a dull knife is far more dangerous than a sharp one.

As my knife got less and less new and less and less sharp, I learned the hazards of a dull blade first-hand. My knife, refusing to ease through a tomato, skittered sideways and sliced my thumb.

Then I learned about knife sharpeners.

I began the year reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. If you read this book you know it could take decades to get through the clean-out of your sock drawer… unless you use a sharp knife and cleanly cut away what you don’t need.

This cutting away and the space it creates is pure magic.

Often at this time of year we fill up—with food, with gifts, with intentions.

What happens when you shift your focus?

What happens when you find joy in a sharp knife, in the cutting away of what no longer supports your truest self?

In this quiet time of long nights, when energy is rooted deep in the earth, it’s time to savor stillness, to feel the what it’s like to be unborn, unadorned potential. The trees have gone to seed: when you study an acorn or a milkweed pod you find nothing extraneous, just what’s needed to start again.

While everyone else is choosing their word of the year, setting intentions, and creating vision boards, I challenge you to instead focus on what’s not needed. What can you release, what can be cut away, so you can shift seamlessly into the new year with exactly what you need to simply start again?

As you work with this I’d love to hear what’s ready to be released. Share with me in the comments below.