Kristin Armstrong’s Column
by Kristin Armstrong
Illustration by Heather Sundquist
I love a brand-new year.
I love clean slates, fresh starts, new calendars, new journals, and starting over. I love the process of making resolutions and setting goals and reflecting back over the previous year.
One of the best gifts I ever got for Christmas was something called the Mastermind Journal. A good friend gave me one two years ago, and I was hooked before mid-January. It begins with an interior inventory, where you chronicle the successes from the prior year. I like to include the setbacks and detours too; it keeps it real. Then you create a list of goals for the new year, with steps and plans for each one. Then you get a chance to get crafty, which usually makes me roll my eyes, but I sucked it up and followed instructions. I spend a cold early January afternoon at the coffee table by the fireplace, cutting up magazines and gluing them onto a dream collage. A dream collage is time-consuming but so worth it. It feels different from a list of resolutions or goals because it’s visual and emotional, so your right brain gets invited into the planning process, not simply the boring, bossy left. My images aren’t just about things I want per se, but more the way I hope to feel as I cultivate my dreams.
They say that if you write a dream or goal down, the odds of it coming true increase. If you combine the words with pictures, merging intention with desire, I believe the likelihood of manifestation must be even higher.
Just last January I cut out several images of mountain trails and vistas, tapping into my longing for more adventure. Six months later, I ran 107 miles around the Alps in France, Italy, and Switzerland. I cut out an image of a fire in the fireplace and waves hitting the sand. All year long I made time to rest and look at things that made me feel content and peaceful. I also took my kids on a trip to the beach. I cut out an image of a couple’s hands entwined, and I became more grateful for the kind and beautiful man in my life. I cut out a silhouetted image of a woman doing yoga in Warrior Two pose, and I practiced so much yoga that I found the warrior place in me where peace and ferocity meet and stand strong. I cut out an image of a stack of books, and between grad school texts and the reading pile next to my bed, I fed my brain with mind-opening food. I cut out a photo of a woman laughing with her children, and over time I aligned my parenting to reflect my value of connection and communication rather than my fear-based, cop-out desire to control. The relationships I have with my kids and the atmosphere in my home have radically transformed.
None of these things happened immediately, and there were plenty of face-plants and eff-ups along the way, but these things evolved. My year was dramatically different because I clarified what I wanted in my life (and what I didn’t) and committed to moving in that direction. The visual, visceral reminder of how I wanted to feel served as an ongoing reminder of why this mattered to me in the first place, and it helped me stay on track. More than a list of tasks, it resembled a manifesto. More than to-dos, it ventured deeper, into to-bes.
After the dream collage, the year breaks down into monthly goals, weekly goals, and daily intentions. I write down eight intentions every single morning. And maybe best of all — each month has a full-page gratitude list — I love looking back over the year and seeing the accumulated awareness of blessings. There may be no greater progress than the ability to see and be thankful for what you already have, who you already are. Gratitude is more than a baseline; it’s a springboard.
2018 is here, opening and unfolding right now. We can choose how we want to meet it. What we do in the interior workshop becomes who and what is expressed on the outside.