This review explores three questions*: 1. What went well this year? 2. What didn’t go so well this year? 3. What am I working toward? *This a format suggested by James Clear (www.jamesclear.com.)
1. What went well this year?
Harmony at Home I'm blessed. I love my wife and by all appearances, she loves me. Our home is a sanctuary. I have the luxury of lifestyle dedicated to serving and savoring. Health and Vitality Save for the occasional migraine, I’m as healthy as I’ve ever been. I’ve been (ovo) vegan for well over a year and feel strong, flexible and clear. My migraines have decreased due to regular focused yoga/PT, eating more consistently and managing caffeine. I paddle most every morning possible, swim regularly and have incorporated more yoga and core training in my daily regime. I’m feeling great. Improved at Public Speaking and Teaching This was a full year giving talks, leading retreats and trainings. I anchored the Monday night class at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Arlington offering a weekly half-hour meditation and 45-minute talk when I’m not on the road teaching. I also gave talks on retreats, subbed for Tara’s class and presentations in businesses and to small groups. I continued to refine the structure I use in my talks, to develop my story-telling skills and to speak with more clarity, simplicity and empathy. Here’s what I did this year: • The Year of Living Mindfully program • 45 Dharma Talks (+ over 400,000 downloads on my podcast since inception) • 4 residential Vipassana Retreats • 2 300-hour teacher trainings at Kripalu Center • 6 daylong retreats • 2 intensive weekend retreats, “The Energy Intensive,” at Kripalu Center • 1 5-day retreat, “The Still, Small Voice Within,” at Kripalu Center • 1 weekend on “Conscious Relationships,” teaching with Tara at Garrison Institute • An ongoing series, “The Transformational Journey,” for a group of DC-based CEO's and business leaders • A presentation on mindfulness at NBC news in DC • A keynote, “Mindfulness Strategies for Healing Yourself and Others,” for the International Trager Conference • A presentation on “Intuition and Decision-Making” at the Psychotherapy Networker Conference • A presentation, “Going with the Gut,” on Mindfulness and Intuition at the Mindfulness Summit • 1 wedding (officiating) Improved at Photography, Video and Creative Ventures I continued to refine my skills at photography, videography and in other creative ventures. These seem to be the keys to improving: • I shoot something every day • I moved from Aperture to Lightroom. (Thanks, Lise.) • I moved from iMovie to Final Cut Pro • I moved to an iPhone 6s +with a great lens system (Moment lenses) • I’m getting more skillful at a suite of editing tools (Intensify Pro, SnapHeal, Focus, Tonality, Aurora HDR) • I published many of my best photographs on my blog and in my newsletters • I published a minimum of one video a month • As of December 17, 2015, I have written every day this year. (check out DayOne software for mac and ios.) Improved in Communications and Marketing DNP Studio (http://www.dnpstudio.com) redesigned my website last year and provides ongoing support. My weekly talks are on iTunes as well as a youtube channel which also offers monthly videos. In addition to publishing a weekly podcast, I started a monthly newsletter in which I offer short articles, some photography and a video. This commitment keeps my creative juices flowing. A few statistics: Simplified A goal this last year was to continue to simplify and streamline what I do. I set up a Living Trust and 529 accounts for my nieces. I’ve set up automatic data back ups, scheduling, bill pay, etc. I’ve managed to keep this theme going with periodic purges of the stuff that accumulates. Savoring "Serve and Savor" is a phrase Tara and I live by. I had some great adventures this year: • A ten day personal silent retreat at the Forest Refuge in Barre, MA • Some dedicated R&R and creative time on St. John’s • Some time on the Cape • Weekly “date nights” with Tara • Morning paddles on the river and evening walks in the meadow • Not least, the gift of living next to a park on the river. Serving I continue to serve in a few capacities: • Guiding Teacher for the Insight Meditation Community of Washington (www.imcw.org) • IMCW’s Mentoring Program (http://imcw.org/programs/mentoring.aspx) • Freely-offered weekly class
2. What didn't go so well this year?
One with Everything TV We came really close to landing a sponsor for our concept of a spiritual late night talk show http://www.onewitheverything.tv, but the funding was pulled last minute. The producer, a good friend, got some interest from other parties but it meant ceding too much creative control. If this had come through I'd be writing monologues, working on my interview skills and deeply immersed into the project. With this option gone, it's left an openness to more creativity and collaboration. Financial Organization My antipathy toward math bleeds into my financial management skills. I am fortunate to have a wonderful friend / advisor who helps on the big stuff, but managing the month-to- month stuff wears me down. I need to shore things up here. Lousy follow up on promoting products I still suck at marketing. Maybe it’s inherent shyness, but in this age of self-promotion and social media, I can’t bring myself to do more than what I’m doing. Doing my one annual Facebook update exhausts me and I can't imagine doing much more. On the other hand, I’m way busy and not sure I need to do more. Migraines I got some big insights into my bouts of pain and migraines and have made some strides, but need to focus on refining my attention to what goes in to avoiding them. Figuring out the "Next Big Thing" "Should I be doing more?" is an ongoing, unsettling inquiry. Should I write a book? Should I get out on the national teaching circuit more? Should I create an online program? Should I do an exhibit and publish my photography? Should I do another product? My gut tells me to stay the course, keep the creative juices flowing, stay open and be sensitive to the best ways I can serve.
3. What am I working toward?
Cultivate Presence and Compassion This is the most important thing to name and the hardest to quantify. Harmony in my relationship with Tara is important as well as cultivating the inner experience of peace, wonder, joy and wakefulness. The doorways for me: pausing, cultivating gratitude and appreciation, immersion in nature, immersion in the creative process and opening to more intimacy in all my relationships. Continue to Simplify The simpler things are, the happier I seem to be. I made some strides last year and want to keep the momentum going. On my list: • Finish up all the details on my Trust and put it to bed • Figure out a strategy for Long Term Care • Do a regular inventory of what I own and give away what I don’t need Continue to improve as a speaker and teacher • Get more feedback on my talks • Listen to my talks • Listen to great speakers and research best practices • Focus on excellence in all my offerings. Cultivate consistent wholesome habits I’m following the adage "You can manage what you can measure." This is what I'm tracking in 2016 for daily habits: • Some morning time dedicated to being outside and practicing • Write. No word limit, but something each day (check out DayOne software for a great way to capture words on the go.) • Meditate • Yoga and focused movement • Exercise (paddle, swim, hike) • Check in with Tara • Shoot at least one photo and video clip • 20 minutes on multi-media (editing) Dedicate Time to Creativity and Put Stuff Out There Inspired by James Clear, I made a commitment to Putting Stuff Out There No Matter What. This reliably keeps the juices flowing and I’m going to stay with this commitment into the new year. This includes: Photography and Video • Shoot each day • Work on composition and editing skills • Pull out the best of my work and organize it into presentable formats • Publish at least one photo / week • Publish something video-related at least once a month • Experiment with new formats • Produce some prints Writing • Write something each day • Publish something substantive either in my monthly emails or on the blog at least once a month My sense is 'the Next Big Thing' will come out of investing into my practice and my deepest intention to serve. Cultivating gratitude, appreciation and creativity keeps my heart primed. Serve Teaching Though I will be on retreat more this year, it will also be an active year. My intention is to bring my very best to each event: • The Year of Living Mindfully program • 40 Dharma Talks, more or less • 4 residential Vipassana Retreats • 2 300-hour teacher trainings at Kripalu Center • 5 daylong retreats • 2 intensive weekend retreats, “The Energy Intensive,” at Kripalu Center • 1 5-day retreat, “The Still, Small Voice Within,” at Kripalu Center • An ongoing series, “The Transformational Journey,” for a group of DC-based CEO's and business leaders • Weekend meditation retreat at Bowdoin College • Weekend intensive in Amsterdam • YPO Presentation in Boulder Working 1:1 Mentoring I’ll continue to support the IMCW Mentoring Program as a Guiding Teacher. Savor Celebrate often. Some adventures this year: • Ten-day personal retreat at the Forest Refuge • Ten day personal retreat on St. John’s • Some time to roam in Europe before teaching in Amsterdam • Time at the Brach ancestral home on the Cape • Local adventures in the woods and on the river • A possible Foust family gathering