January 29, 2020
New year…new decade!
It’s time to let fresh breezes blow through your mind and soul. January is a great month to look back, take stock, and move forward. This may stir up a positive sense of anticipation, but if it’s laced with a touch of fear and trepidation about the future, let’s remember the comforting words of the Christian mystic Julian of Norwich:
“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
What’s Going On At Riverwood?
Our Christmas tree stayed up for all twelve days of Christmas, but soon after Epiphany (January 6), the decorations were put away and John dragged the tree to the woods to become a mini-habitat for the woodland creatures.
I remain enthralled with the birds at my feeder as they move and interact with a mysterious combination of instinct and avian savvy. How do they know to feed more heavily as much as 24-hours before a winter storm moves in?
To celebrate the new year, I’ve changed the image at the top of this newsletter, as well as the look of the home page of my website. Stay tuned for more!
What’s going on in your part of the world?
✧NORTH—Faith: Word before world
I’m embracing best-selling author Ann Voskamp’s mantra—“Word over World”—by seeking God’s word each morning before turning on the world’s noise in the form of my cell phone or computer. Right now, my routine looks like this:
- Read a short devotional message.
- Read the day’s Scripture from our church’s lectionary.
- Read a few minutes in another spiritual book (right now that book is The Universal Christ by Richard Rohr).
- Read from The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday.
- Pray/meditate for 10-15 minutes. I use the Headspace app.
- Write in my journal – reflections or insights from the readings and meditation.
Of course I have mornings where I hit the floor running and either shorten or skip this completely, but whenever possible, it is a cherished and vital part of my day.
Morning routines can set the tone for the whole day. Do you find this to be true?
✧SOUTH—Connection: Try the “10/5 Rule”
The “10/5 Rule,” also known as the “Zone of Hospitality,” is simple: when you pass within 10 feet of a another person, smile and make eye contact. If you’re within five feet, you also include verbal acknowledgement. This can be as simple as “Hello” or “Good morning.” It might include a compliment, “What a lovely necklace!” or “Nice wheels!”
This obvioiusly won’t work as well on a big city sidewalk as in my Shenandoah Valley town, but use the idea to find more ways to engage with others and spread a little good cheer!
✧East—Self-Awareness: Beware black and white thinking
Here in Virginia, there is a highly charged political debate over the issue of gun control. To hear the rhetoric, you would think there were only two choices: the extremist view on each side.
Why do we force so many of our issues into a black or white framework, the only corollary to which is, “We’re right and they’re wrong”?
You can’t change the other person, so just make sure you’re not buying into the “black and white”mindset. Whatever the issue, ask yourself instead:
“If this were a spectrum instead of black and white, what other options might there be?”
“Where is the common ground?”
“What is the real issue?”
✧West—Nature: Poets bring winter alive
“To read a poem in January is as lovely as to go for a walk in June.”
~ Jean-Paul Sartre
“In the brilliant pristine light,
snow birds in tall trees take flight.
Evergreens draped in capes of snow,
their heavy branches hanging low,
blanket earth as north winds blow.
~Patricia L. Cisco, from Winter’s Embrace
“Bitter, naked limbs stretch high
in the icy pewter sky.
Bitter chill and stinging wind,
quiet earth grows gray and grim.”
~Patricia L. Cisco, from Winter’s Wrath
Heartspoken Notes & Letters
This is a new section you’ll find each month to encourage and empower your personal and professional correspondence.
“The Power of Written Communication in a Technological Age” by Ashley Davis
CLICK HERE to watch this TED talk (16 minutes).
I was hooked right from the beginning of this talk with the speaker’s brave claim:
The simple act of handwriting a letter can fundamentally change who you are as person, can impact the recipient in immeasurable ways, and if done often enough, can change who we are as a society.”
He was first inspired by the 26 letters his father wrote to loved ones on his deathbed…letters his son distributed at his father’s funeral and saw the impact they had on their recipients.
His additional moving story of uncovering a 30-year-old letter his grandfather wrote him when he graduated from high school will send you scrambling to find pen and paper to write your own children and grandchildren.
Note writing tip: short & sweet is often enough
We have a friend, Wayne Koeher, who is masterful at writing short notes with high impact. After an event we helped him with, we got this note in the mail, “Great job. Thanks for all you do.” Another time, he wrote, “Wonderful evening. I’m glad we’re friends.”
Don’t put off writing to someone because you think it has to be long and eloquent. We cherish these short, heartspoken notes.
Recent Posts at Heartspoken
“Three Words for 2020” I set my intention for these three words to guide my thoughts and actions in the year ahead…and there’s a lagniappe fourth word.
“A Beautiful Ending: Faithful Writers” – Heartspoken’s official Faithful Writers Facebook group and the “Faithful Writers Toolkit” newsletter are no longer active as of January 1, 2020, but you can find posts and archived newsletters HERE.
“Christmas Morning, Donnegal“ – Sometimes a song, such as the one beautifully performed here by Celtic Thunder’s Paul Byrom, is all you need to capture the beauty and joy of this holy season.
“Letting Go: Faithful Writers Toolkit November 2019“ This was the last official issue of this newsletter as I turned over the group’s leadership to The Rev. Teddy Asiel. There was a short special issue in December called “Endings and Beginnings.”
If you’re not getting Compass Points in your own mailbox every month, sign up HERE so you won’t miss any future issues. You can unsubscribe at any time.
See you in February—a month that offers so much more than just Valentine’s Day. Until then, breathe deeply, love fiercely, and savor every moment. Know you are in my thoughts and prayers.
P.S. I answer my emails! You can respond to any of these topics leaving a comment below or through any of my social media channels. Use the hashtag #HeartspokenLife or #HeartspokenNotes.
P.P.S. You’re invited to join my Facebook group, The Art of the Heartspoken Note, where we explore and share the joy and impact of personal notes and letters.