Forgiveness and intention for writers


It’s the end of another year and it’s time to think about what your goals will be for the next year.

Like so many of the writers here at this blog, I don’t make resolutions. They are just too difficult to keep and when you inevitably break them, you feel like a failure. No thanks.

Instead I reflect on what I did in the last year, how I can do better, and what it is I hope to accomplish in the coming New Year.

Which brings me to a little New Year’s Day ceremony I used to do with my kids -I don’t do it anymore but maybe I should dig it out and dust it off.

On New Year’s Day, after our annual family breakfast of pancakes, bacon and sliced fruit, I would hand out 6 green leafs cut from construction paper to each member of the family.

On 3 of the leafs we were to write things that we didn’t like about the last year. Things that embarrassed us or that made us feel bad or worthless. Failures, lies, poor performances.  We didn’t have to show anyone what we wrote; we just had to be true to ourselves.

The younger kids would always need help with this, because let’s face it, there is little self-doubt or embarrassment in the very young child, it’s only when we get older that we start to attach morality and shame to our failings.

On the other 3 leafs we wrote goals that we wanted to accomplish for the coming year. A project we wanted to complete, an aspect of ourselves that we wanted to improve upon, something that we wanted to contribute to others.

I’d gather the leafs with the things we didn’t want to remember and we’d gather outside while I burned them in a special cast iron kettle that was only used for this purpose. We’d all watch as tiny wisps of paper ash rose into the sky forever absolving  us of our shame, our guilt, our doubts.

And then we’d take the goal leafs and travel to the bank of a local river where we’d throw the bits of paper into the rushing water, thereby releasing our intentions to the world.

It’s a powerful thing when you allow yourself forgiveness for your mistakes. And it’s just as powerful to put your intentions into words and then send those words outward – a prayer of hope.

You don’t need paper leafs in order to do this ceremony, but it certainly doesn’t hurt – leaf buds signal growth, fallen leafs signal change. If you choose to do this, though, your “bad things of the last year” list needs to be destroyed – fire is a wonderful cleanser. You can’t, for example, write them down in a notebook. A list of bad things reviewed is a list of bad things that are never forgotten or forgiven.

It *is*, however, important to keep your list of intentions for the New Year up front and center. Place it loud and bold on a wall in your office, by your bedside table so be seen at end of and beginning of day, or even attached to your bathroom mirror. A list of goals daily seen is a list that is daily re-enforced.

Whatever you choose to do, make it count.

Consider spending some time this New Year’s Day to reflect on how you can release old doubts and how you can accomplish unique contributions to help make the world a better place.

And then get to it.



Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). ( She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

16 thoughts on “Forgiveness and intention for writers

  1. Part of some Buddhist ceremonies include forgiveness of people and oneself; you write the names of people you forgive on a piece of paper and everyone together brings their paper to a communal fire where they are burned!

  2. Hi everyone, may I join in please? I stopped making NYR many years ago because by the end of February I had probably broken or abandoned each of them. Like many of you, I now try to set small goals which are much more achievable. Then I don’t feel a complete twit if I miss a target and I can rethink how to recoup my aim.
    A goal I am setting myself is to give myself some ‘ME’time. I seem to put off my writing time because something domestic needs to be done. I’ve also spent a great deal of time trying to set up my blog and I’m still not happy with it, so these are two goals for me to take into 2017. Norma

  3. Serendipity! Your post appeared in the inbox as I started a cogitation about 2016 and 2017. As I am fond of rituals I applaud your leaves. This year I am enjoying letting go of worrying about making the right decisions. In 2017 I am making decisions then making them the right decisions.

  4. Thank you and congratulations on a creative and thought provoking for a new year. A great family talking point too. Happy 2017 ,,,,,,,whatever comes your way!

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