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Recognize and Refresh Yourself

By Ann Irr Dagle

Whether we admit it or not, we all think of the New Year as a time to reflect on the past and look to the future with a renewed sense of hopes and dreams. Some create lists of things to change, add or delete from our life. If you are like me, these thoughts were all too much to even think about, therefore I simply avoided it for many years, until I attended my first Unfinished Woman lecture by bestselling author Joan Anderson. 

One of the first and most memorable exercises that Joan had us do was called the Calendar Exercise.  This helps us look back and reflect on the past year, one month at a time.

Before you begin, try and steal a few minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time alone. Anywhere is fine, but allow yourself a few minutes to think, and to listen to your thoughts about the past year.  How many times have we asked our self, where has the time gone? Now simply take a piece of paper and list the twelve months of the year and try and recapture the events of the months, beginning with January ending in December 2010.  What moments do you remember? What events over the year have been for others, such as family, friends, or work?  How many of these events gave you pleasure, where some uncomfortable or were a source of pain? Now, circle the experiences that were just for you, a square around the events that were exhausting, a heart around the exhilarating events.

As you look over the months and the events, are there fewer circled events, than the others?  What have you done for yourself?   As Joan Anderson claims, “There are 8700 hours in a year, it is absolutely pitiful if a woman can’t find 24 for herself!” Let your journey begin. “If it is a woman’s nature to nurture, then she must nourish herself,” Ann Morrow Lindberg.

Since attending my first Joan Anderson lecture, I have also attended two of her three day long retreats on Cape Cod.  I have learned to take time, whether it is a walk along the shore to clear my thoughts or treating myself to an afternoon of “girl time”.  This time away replenishes my mind and body so when I return to my husband, three boys, and all of life’s commitments, I feel a sense of renewed energy.  Joan calls the retreats, the Unfinished Woman, “may you always be as unfinished as the shoreline along the sea.”

We all have been there as mothers, daughters, sisters, professionals, caregivers, the list is endless. Often afraid to admit it, but who is this person I have become and where is the woman I once was, after all the roles we play in our life, who are we? Are we on the path that we truly wanted, or was it one that we thought we wanted.  

In my work as a fitness trainer and yoga teacher, most of my clients are woman.  By the time I first meet most of them, they are worn down, physically and emotionally, coming to me to regain not only their body from years past, but also the person that is buried underneath the layers. They are trying to piece themselves back together.  The Total Unfinished Woman Workshops are designed to help them begin to become whole again. 

They have recognized that something is missing in their lives; maybe they have emptiness, an ache that they cannot define.  There is a desire to look beyond our four walls, to remove yourself from the everyday- to create a value in you. During the day long workshop, we will explore the recognition.  After we recognize that something is missing we will take time out to breath, listen to be alone with our thoughts as we walk along the shore, discovering metaphors that call to us as symbols of our past, present and the future. 

Our day together closes as we circle together, weaving the threads of our lives, and seeing more clearly a new direction and journey.  But we will meet again, the third Saturday each month for the next three months, as we continue to repair, rebuild, refresh and reflect on our renewed sense of self.  As Joan explains during her retreats, “you will become a scholar of self and soul.” 

As the New Year approaches, give yourself the gift of time, remember, there are 8700 hours in a year. Make an appointment each week for time alone.  As we look at the word alone- it becomes ALL ONE.  For the New Year, become whole, become all one.


As profiled on GRACE magazine website, www.graceforwomen.com

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