Go Gently little bird: an antidote to New Year’s resolutions

a peek inside my sketchbook

gentle wisdom flows from the pages of my creative sketchbook

For weeks, I’ve been dreaming and drafting some kind of inspirational post to welcome you to the new year.

The problem is, the words remained somewhere as yet unreachable. Along with my ideas.

Meanwhile, my inbox is filling with well wishes from the other bloggers I follow. And the feeling of being “behind” sets in by noon on January 1st.

Meanwhile, my energies and focus on fire with new projects, new writings, new pages of images filling up in my sketchbook. But nothing for my happy new year blog post.

Hours and days pass, and there is wondering: why can’t I just come up with something simple and inspirational.

Ahead of time.

Ahead of time. Ahead of time. Ahead of time.

The opposite of presence. Of relishing now.

We can’t be ahead of time.

We can only be here, now, living and breathing with what is.

If you are struggling with trying to get ahead and out in front of things, too, I invite you to breathe in and out and just appreciate where you are right now. Breathe in. Breathe out. Ahhhhh….

Breathe? Come on!

(In case the idea taking a breath is annoying to you)

Years ago, I had a spiritual teacher who, I swear to goddess, would spend most of our precious 55 minutes together breathing in and out with me. I was so annoyed. What a waste of time and money.

Sitting here breathing. Really? Where is my spiritual guidance, damn it? I’m busy. I’m in a hurry! I guess I didn’t get it. I needed many more years of breathing in and out. And some more detours from presence. Part of the journey, right? /

And then…this morning. When something woke me before dawn. Only it wasn’t the noise of Oaxaca, Mexico, which can be…significant.

It was the quiet. And an idea stirring inside me that had to be felt. Not written down. Just wakeful feeling. And breathing.

I did some yoga stretching in bed, feeling into the ideas I’ve been writing about in my latest project.

Then I got up, and danced around my apartment in the dark to a favorite Buddha Bar playlist as the sky turned pink, then blue, then yellow. Radiant.

Then I rolled out my yoga mat, and proceeded to dance on top of it rather than do any proper sort of yoga. Feeling the slight cushion of the mat between my feet and the tile floor. Lungs and arms expanding like an inner massage against my spine.

After that, I dared. One foot at a time. I got my left heel down on the floor, leg stretched behind in a modified downward dog. It’s the first time in over a year that I’ve been able to get my heel even close to the floor, without feeling searing pain, like the snapping of a rubber band, due to an injury to my ankle, foot, and achilles heel more than 13 months ago.

I finally gave up on yoga about six months ago, because I kept re-injuring myself, no matter how careful I was. I was angry at my foot, and my body, for the pain that limited everything. Including so much plain walking around, which is my happiest way of meditating.

Walking around a foreign city in the morning with my camera, before everyone else is up and out, is my go-to experience while traveling, to help me get present and grounded. I’ve been in Oaxaca almost a year, and it’s hurt to walk around. Definitely cramping my style.

The inspirational message that might actually…inspire you, not overwhelm you and spark a shame spiral

It was during this very slow, tentative stretching of my bum ankles that the Happy New Year sentiment  to share with you floated in:

Sometimes we have a wound, and it takes way longer than we expect to heal.

Not something you’re going to find on a Hallmark card.

Not forced enthusiasm of cheerleader rah! rah! I’m wonderful and you can be too!—pieces we are bombarded by with all those (expletive removed) NEW YEAR, NEW YOU messages that appear before we’ve even digested our holiday dinners and recycled the wrapping paper.

Sometimes we have a wound, and it takes way longer than we expect to heal.

Which trumps well-made plans and good intentions. And possibly… “forward” momentum. Whatever you might be wrestling with, struggling with. Whether an inner or outer sort of wounding.

Sometimes we just need to take our time and heal.

Which may look like ratcheting down our to-do lists and making our goals more humane.

What if Healing was on the to-do list, even?

Like as a sticky-note reminder to give healing some time and space and awareness? Especially in this season of high expectations.

Especially if we are limping around, literally or metaphorically.

My foot injury only started healing when I stopped pushing myself. And when I surrendered to walking less, walking slower, and, ok, walking in “sensible” shoes. Ugly sensible shoes.

I bombed around town last night in my Sketchers, dreaming of strapping on a pair of Louboutin stilettos (not that I have a pair of those). But I digress.

What if it was enough to breathe in and out more consciously? Just for right now? And go gently. Not being hard on ourselves when it’s more self-compassionate to take it easier, slower?

What if you went gently, little bird?

With more ease.

What shape would the day take? And your new plans?

This is what I’m dwelling on today. As I think of you, wherever you are in this wide world. Happy Thursday, January 3rd, 2013.

Update: Sunday, January 11, 2015 So much creativity has happened since that post two years ago. (All done Gently, by the way!) I’m *ahem* still wondering when I’ll get back to more daily yoga…

Update: Wednesday, January 6, 2016 Have been doing an energy yoga practice for a couple of months now, but my feet are still wonky.

meanwhile, there are 2 new things for you: 1. Now you can join me for a whole year of creative exploration…

Magic Book workshop

Magic Book 2015  |  $34   price for the whole year!

Add to Cart

During the 30 Day Journal Project last year, so many people wrote asking for ongoing connection and contact. I wanted that, too!

The seed was planted for a year-long journaling workshop that isn’t time-consuming or overwhelming—or even require a daily journal entry.

Ooh! How does that work?!

How it works:

Magic Book brings you a whole year of journaling inspiration.

Once per month I’ll share a new set of creative journaling prompts and a project to help you connect with your creativity in our online classroom.

Projects include simple, easy and fun ways to incorporate mixed-media art, collage, photography into your journaling.

Each month is like adding a new chapter to your magic book. You don’t have to do all of the projects. Even if you just dip in and out, you’ll be creating a whole new year of possibilities.

This is a simple way to stay connected with your creativity, me, and a community of kindred journalers. You don’t have go it alone!

Register right here (you can begin right away, and start at ANY time of the year) or read more about the Magic Book workshop.

Dreaming on Paper: The Creative Sketchbook, pretty badge   2. Dreaming On Paper is now available as a digital download.  This is my foundational course, and the basis of everything I teach and share. It’s the pre-requisite workshop for all of my other workshops, including the facilitator training and Creative Entrepreneur workshops and trainings. Discover how kindness and gentleness can help you do your best work yet. Dreaming on Paper info is here >

44 Responses to Go Gently little bird: an antidote to New Year’s resolutions

  1. Taylor Walker September 7, 2016 at 9:34 am #

    Well it’s 2016 as I’m writing this and the message is still just as relevant now to me. I signed up for the 30 day Fire challenge and was feeling down on myself for falling behind but this reminded me to be gentle with myself and embrace where I’m at instead of where my mind is saying I “should” be.

  2. jules January 11, 2016 at 3:08 am #

    January eleventh, yes, thank you for this Lisa. Will there be a Magic Book for 2016 (she asks hopefully!!)

    • Lisa Sonora January 12, 2016 at 9:37 am #

      Hi Jules – I didn’t create a new Magic Book for 2016 – because last year as I was creating it, I imagined it as a timeless journey – on that could happen any year – and one that could happen year after year, if desired, using the same prompts.

      You may already know from doing Magic Book, that I’m a fan of doing the same prompts over and over. They bring us to different places than we go when the prompts are changing.

      I like to both!

      I’m repeating Magic Book myself this year. I like it as a frame of reference between the years.

      For those are wondering what Magic Book is – the info is right here: http://www.lisasonora.com/magic-book/

  3. Anne in Virginia-USA January 9, 2016 at 5:06 pm #

    Lisa, this is going in my trove of inspirational quotes:

    “We can’t be ahead of time.

    We can only be here, now, living and breathing with what is.”

    I need this reminder, quite often. Thank you!

  4. kc January 11, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

    HI Lisa
    oh this really touches me today, with a cozy smile and a nice deep breath. I’ve been collecting prompts, writing down quotes, praying to ratchet up my ART ACTION PLAN….
    …and the spacious breath here of allowing for healing on so many levels, healing that is taking its own sweet time – is a welcome kindness to remember. Feels like your personal gift to me, a gift of connection in the vastness of cyberspace. I receive your blessing with gratitude!

  5. Lauralyn January 11, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

    Ahhh….A perfect deep healing breath! Just what I needed this morning…as I pursue healing…Thank you again and again Lisa for that inspire gentle push out of the nest and into the wind where I can still rest but soar and explore.

  6. Judith Fine-Sarchielli January 25, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

    Your healing blog is helping me heal from a fractured rib. I tended to sabotage myself when things went well in the past. Now i am going slower and healing my perfectionisim and drive to do more and more. Thank so much for your caring creativity! I am healing my core!

  7. Deb Wilden January 12, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

    I feel better now that I have wings!

  8. Susan Heffron Hajec January 10, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    Behind time….ahead of time?? What?? Lisa, you are PERFECTLY ON TIME with your New Year’s Message; I’ve had a challenging time to come up with the WORDS (I Am a Writer) that describe the MAIN MESSAGE of a workshop I am marketing for Feb. 1.

    Now, with your blog and challenge today, I NOW have the words I want on the flyer:


    Present, really being present; whew! Some pressure has come off. Thank you for this.

  9. Susan Heffron Hajec January 10, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    I am known by many for my gentleness and it is a quality I love being.

  10. Susan Heffron Hajec January 10, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    My journal for today is just the fullness of gratitude that we have a communal artistic spirit and the calendar and our urges to create….create….create…..see others’ creations…..see others’ creations…and breathe deeply into all of this. This comes to mind as I read Lisa’s challenge and post for today.

  11. Christine January 8, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

    “Sometimes we just need to take our time and heal”. The clarity and depth of that statement are leaving me breathless (and profoundly grateful, beyond words!)

  12. sheila kalkbrenner January 7, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

    Read this post…remembered this song..

  13. Darlene Rose DeMaria January 7, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

    I am born in the Year of the Metal Tiger and it is really difficult for me to GO GENTLY especially with my Self. Thank you for this comforting reminder. I have been coming out of a deep need to heal my chest, cough, and just plain taking care not to be “cold” and it has gone on for 2+weeks now. I am ‘sick of being sick’ and I know it is my body’s way of getting my attention and giving me time to “heal” and love me, my life, my chance to change and re-direct my Brilliance.

    Bless all of us as we proceed on this 30 day journal writing project. I know for me it is allowing me the committed time to listen, write and create everyday with other souls who also care to LISTEN and express their VOICE. I LOVE ALL OF YOU! Amen, Darlene Rose

  14. Lynette (NZ) January 7, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    This post – just what I needed today. Thank you 🙂

  15. deedee hampton January 7, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    what a beautiful post- it touched my heart!!! the timing was perfect as i was feeling like i was falling behind my new year’s goals- good to be reminded to breathe and be here now. Thank you!!! I am always trying to get “ahead of time” and now i am able to chuckle at myself 🙂 especially since what ti coming up for me in the ROOT project is that my art/work is to be present- NOW!!!

    • Lisa Sonora Beam January 7, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

      Hi Deedee! So nice to see you here! Glad you are finding nourishment for the present. I’ve been to your studio, it will be a gift to see what more work you will create with this new focus. I am happy to play even a small part in it.

  16. Laura Bucci January 7, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    Thank you for writing this. I realized yesterday that you are one of my spiritual advisors.

  17. Maureen McGahey January 7, 2014 at 8:52 am #

    Sometimes it takes longer to heal than we expect….so true.
    I have not been able to walk a lot in a year and then had hip surgery 4 mos ago….I have been trying to let go of expectations and let my body heal, yet always want to help it along….Now I feel bursitis inthe knee and right side (same side as my surgery)…..a painful reminder that the body has suffered trauma and I need to be compassionate to it. So yes “go gently little bird”…..Some wings take longer to heal.
    Thanks for your writing…I am not alone.


  18. ~Christy January 7, 2014 at 8:35 am #

    Positively lovely.

  19. susan pope January 7, 2014 at 6:20 am #

    thank you. well writtten and insightful. inspiring.

  20. Grey Gibson January 7, 2014 at 3:57 am #

    Wonderful Lisa. Reading it and the great comments made me think of of Desiderata
    by Max Ehrmann. It is a long poem and won’t quote it all here except these two paragraphs for those of us who struggle and are apt to forget tthat in your words “Sometimes we just need to take our time and heal.

    “Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
    As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
    even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

    ……..Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
    You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

  21. Linda Grimes January 31, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    Hola Lisa! I started reading your email on the day that it arrived in my inbox. When I got to the sentence “Go gently, Little Bird,” I was bawling my head off and stopped reading. This morning I finally felt “brave enough” to revisit and finish. 🙂 I’ve had so many people tell me that I am too hard on myself. Recently, my therapist just relayed to me the story of “The Second Arrow.” That made it click for me. Now I can see when I am shooting the second arrow into myself – all the self-recriminations, blame, self-hatred. I love the message “Sometimes we have a wound, and it takes way longer than we expect to heal.” Thank you, Lisa, for that. I’m going to BACK OFF now and let myself take all the time I need. Silence the whine-y voice that says “Why aren’t I better by now?” and trust in the Divine timeline, in Divine deliverance. I used to think that healing came from within, but I now believe it comes from above.
    Thank you, Lisa. XO

  22. MaryLee January 19, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

    Thanks for the reminder to ‘be’ right where I am now.

    It’s such a nice reminder to breathe and allow the journey to unfold.

    Mary Lee

  23. Halle January 17, 2013 at 1:29 am #

    Well, I had a feeling, your inbox deleted my response email. I opened my email tonight and read Go Gently Little Bird, and whammo. Sending you loads of love Lisa, and very much looking forward to Feb 1. Enjoy your sabbatical!!

  24. Marleen January 16, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    Thank you Lisa!
    I love your way of writing and how in tune you are with yourself and what you wish to express in this post. The message of gentleness is beautiful.
    I’ve been much gentler with myself these past few days and it has helped me tremendously to get my energy back and spend it on myself instead of the projects I thought I had myself trapped in.
    It feels honest and pure. While I’m still a little low on energy I now feel myself better and allow myself to be. Spending quality time on myself.

    Reading this blogpost was a part of that quality time. Thank you for putting it right in my inbox! 🙂

    With love,

  25. Santina Kerslake January 16, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    This really resonated with me Lisa! Not only have I had to heal my body (funnily enough it is my foot too) but my whole being over the last couple of years. First from burnout and then dealing with the transition. There are days that I feel bocked or stuck or whatever word I’d like to use but really I am trying to honour my body by remaining calm and more even and accepting what is! I have been trying to get my website up and perhaps it has become a metaphor for my body….it seems stuck….partly my fault and circumstances from the web guy’s side…..interesting. Perfect message and reading it today made me sit up and take notice. Thank you for your courage of sharing such details…not enough people are real:)

  26. Indigene Theresa Gaskin January 5, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

    Looking forward to all the wonderful things you have in store for 2013! Happy New Year! You continue to inspire me with your amazing energy and strength.

  27. naomi January 4, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    Love your work, and your insights into life and creativity – thank you

    • Lisa Sonora January 4, 2013 at 10:37 am #

      @ naomi: Thanks, so much. Everytime I share something, even after all these years and being published, it requires a leap of courage. Glad for the connection.

  28. Naomi Rifkin January 3, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

    Thanks so much for this. I keep thinking I need to do/be/make MORE to justify taking up space. The truth is that I need the time to be quiet and deeply heal my heart and soul. THanks for the permission to take the pressure off 🙂

    • Lisa Sonora January 4, 2013 at 10:36 am #

      @oh, Naomi R: (and all of us!) my heart goes out to that old script of having to justify one’s existence. Yep. Know it well. Permission slip for no pressure, time and space for healing granted! To everyone!

  29. Max Daniels January 3, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    Oooh, thank you for this! It’s a lovely, gentle antidote for those RAH RAH messages – with 89347609 times their power.

    Yes, lovely, Lisa!

    • Lisa Sonora January 4, 2013 at 10:39 am #

      @Max – Step away from the pom pons! (Did you know I was a state champion Pom Pon girl back in Illinois? Good workout, those things are, at like 5 pounds each)

  30. amanda January 3, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    I spent all of last year healing. My body made me. My mind was thankful.

    • Lisa Sonora January 3, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

      @amanda: ahhh…I too have had full years where healing was on the front burner. Very humbling. My mind came around kicking and screaming later…it’s a process.

  31. Rachel January 3, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    Thank you for this gentle and poetic reminder 🙂

    • Lisa Sonora January 3, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

      @Rachel – you are most welcome. Thanks for the comment love. 🙂

  32. Kim January 3, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    I love the birds. And the map. And the reminder to go gently. Beautiful stuff on this Thursday morning!

    • Lisa Sonora January 3, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

      @Kim – oh, I love it when you stop by and share. A million thank you’s!

  33. kat January 3, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    Interesting, isn’t it, how our bodies will force us into the place we need, especially when we refuse to stop and see what we’re doing to ourselves? I’ve had several injuries which, in retrospect, were all caused by pushing, too hard, too much, and too long. This last one I’m working with finally got the message through. I no longer hurry, despite anyone’s impatience.

    Go gently into the world, dear, and smile at the “hurriers”. Your body knows 🙂

    • Lisa Sonora January 3, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

      @Kat – Mexico is such a good place to not be in a hurry. Anywhere outside of Mexico City, that is. I’m grateful!


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