It is Stephen’s Day
I have an annual ritual for November 28th. It is the birthday of someone now in heaven who was exceptionally special to me, and so in his honor I call this Stephen’s Day. When Stephen died, I decided that I needed to commemorate the day somehow, so I would keep remembering and working on some of the things he had taught me to be grateful for during all the time he blessed my days. Having his birthday fall at the end of November, a month I have always associated with the diligent, focused practice of Mahalo (appreciation, gratitude, and thankfulness) seemed to be an added affirmation.
That affirmation has now become gift. Living within mahalo is living within thankfulness for each element which makes your life precious to you.
Stephen was someone who could focus on the present moment clearly and with perceptive intensity, able to see the everything existing in the here and now (he was a great toe tickler :). In Hawai‘i we call this kÄ“ia manawa, living in moments which seize the day with both hands, with heart, mind, gut and soul. KÄ“ia la; today you own the day.
Stephen was someone who never looked behind him, easily letting things go and leaving the past behind. What was over was done. He was also someone who was never in a rush to have tomorrow come, fully knowing that a single day is never long enough for us mere humans to milk it fully of all its possibility. However have no hesitation or doubt: We are here to try. And try he did; Stephen lived his too-short life in a joyous way that made everyone else feel lucky to be on earth with him.
However Stephen was not obsessive about whatever he chose to do either; in fact, he had relaxing down to an art form. His was a life of contentment. When you live in Mahalo as Stephen did, you die with no regrets because you never feel you have missed anything.
This is my annual ritual: On November 28th I rewrite my Dailies for the next year to come, starting from scratch and letting my spirit’s intention do any remembering of carry-over necessities. My Dailies fill a simple list on a single sheet of paper, and I print a dozen copies, putting them wherever I may need them to be readily accessible for me in the coming weeks until memory and habit-building kick in. The electronic copy goes on my calendar as a daily recurrence so I read it whenever I first switch online.
On My Dailies is a listing of everything I would want to do each and every day if I could possibly fit them all in.
This is not an exhaustive list of everything I do each day, and I do not duplicate the business-of-life stuff on my calendar or my family time unless I am creating some new habit: It is a list to direct my attention on a daily basis to better train it, getting actual attention to match up with desired Ho‘ohana intention. Whenever those “what shall I do next?” or “how can I fill this found time?” questions pop into mind I look at my Dailies and can simply choose something.
From year to year my Dailies have gotten either longer or more detailed and ambitious. I do stick to my one-page-only rule, but frankly, I have never had a day where I did everything on it. If you add up all the minutes, it probably isn’t even possible.
But here’s the rub: Without my Dailies, I probably wouldn’t accomplish half the things I do each day. I would not manifest as many possibilities as I do, and I would miss opportunities I now see more clearly because they seem to somehow conspire with the universe swirling around me. Possibilities present themselves to me, seeping into my attentions and intention. Looking at the Dailies I have just now written, I usually do achieve the first six at minimum, and when I make it further down the list, wow. It’s a great feeling.
Another fringe benefit has been that having my Dailies written in late November has completely replaced any desire to jump on the New Years resolution bandwagon: By January 1st I am well on my way within the new habits I have chosen to award my attentions to.
My Mahalo for a brand new year to come
Here are the Stephen’s Day Dailies I settled on for this year, as I had the grace and peace of the Thanksgiving holiday to get a jump in them. You may recognize a few influences, and I’ve added in some explanation and links for you. Eventually my own copy of this gets whittled down to a single index card with just the words in bold. Habit creation takes care of the rest, cementing my initial intentions into them.
- Stretch and Exercise: In past years this has said “Run” or “Walk” but I have recently discovered that these past loves are adversely affecting my spine in a significant way, and I must change my habits. Yet I must have a replacement of some kind, knowing that without good health the rest of this list doesn’t matter, and personally it affects my head space (the quality of my thinking). So developing a new fitness habit is a significant learning for me, so much so it tops my list.
- D5M: Do the Daily 5 Minutes. As you all know, I am currently championing a rediscovery of the D5M for us in two Ruzuku challenges to come, and I am fully aware our successful prospects start with me walking my own talk about it. Though the D5M has long been my habit, it is back on my Dailies to trigger my thinking about virtual opportunities as opposed to face-to-face ones.
- Ho‘ohana Projects: Complete my day’s work as planned (whatever I’ve calendared in my Strong Week Plan/ per my Weekly Review): Am I attending to my projects or not? There’s usually a good 4-5 hours of work here per day, and in my case it’s a mixture of personal and professional: You have to choose the right work to begin with, and that is where the value of Ho‘ohana comes into play so beautifully with its personal hidden meaning, and also as a Wow Project container. To ho‘ohana is to have resolve and determination, and to seek mastery with personal efforts of your own deliberate, thoughtful choice.
- Work your Alaka‘i ABCs: I loved doing this Language of Intention exercise last week, and I want to see how I can continue to incorporate this listing I had come up with into my Ho‘ohana and Strong Week Planning. Writing that list jolted me, and it super-charged my attentions in a very good way. It was an energy burst I will seek to continue sparking.
- Connect to Sense of Place: Get outdoors and feel where you are. Appreciate it. This is about wherever I might be, and not just when home on Hawai‘i island. Having this on my list will help tickle my toes, and ensure I do not miss things like this sunset seen Thanksgiving Day evening:
- Write to Goal: Writing does so much for my overall sense of well-being. There is simply no denying it, and I would not want to! I have my morning pages, my blogging, my gratitude journal, my coaching and curriculum product design, my correspondence and preferred ways to reach out to others — there is so much that writing enables and influences for me, and yet I have to make directed time for it, organize it and channel it purposefully.
- Slow down, Stop and Savor: This has now been on my list for a few years, but worded in different ways. In 2007 I wrote, “Believe in your biology and cherish your brain” and my study of Daniel H. Pink’s A Whole New Mind has been an added influence in the last year, particularly with the elements of play, story, and design he speaks of. Having this on my Dailies coaches me to slow down at some point because otherwise, I tend to work like a bull in a china shop. I need to stop whatever I am doing more frequently and mind-sweep, seeking to respect every thought, and write everything down. Get quiet, capture and savor. Deliberate and decide using the current filters I might be favoring (like Pink’s and others).
- Listen as the way I Read: This is my self-coaching to listen to a few book chapters or podcasts via my Audible Library. One of my current goals (trying this yet again) is to learn of any auditory capacity I am not using. By nature I am highly visual and kinesthetic” one result is that MWA is still not offered in audio” shameful!
- ‘ÅŒpala ‘ole: Literally, rubbish be gone! I am trying to clean something or declutter for at least a good (i.e. highly physical) 20-minute’s time each and every single day. Material freedom, and discovering how little I can make do with has been one of my fascinations for a while now, and the more virtual my business becomes, the more I find I am enjoying (and needing) the physical exertion of my ‘ÅŒpala ‘ole movements.
- Ma‘alahi: The persuasion toward calm contentment. What complexity did the day reveal that I can streamline and make more simple? I truly want to stop any fluffery and continually add to my Stop Doing List, shedding the less important for the more meaningful. What “should-ing” or busywork did the day reveal, keeping me from true accomplishment? Why did I do it, and how can I stop it, particularly when it was draining my energies instead of boosting them? How can Less be More?
- Attention to Strong Living: Reflect at day’s end for more accurate Strength Statements: What made me feel strong? This one is the counterpart to Ma‘alahi addressing my weaknesses in my Hawaiian way, with a more studied practice of what Marcus Buckingham teaches within his strengths revolution about capitalizing on our strengths. His latest book is called Find your Strongest Life, and was written for women, and I want to internalize it: Me first, then perhaps it will filter into my coaching. We shall see: Counterintuitively, Buckingham advocates a deliberate imbalance in the tactics we employ when living a strong life, since “Attention amplifies everything” (and I certainly agree with him there!)
- Nānā i ke kumu: Look to your source. Reflect at day’s end for Spirit: Did I live my signature story of my Aloha? Each and every year the writing of my Dailies reveals a Hawaiian value to me I know I need to recommit to. Nānā i ke kumu has been speaking to me for weeks now, and there was no question it would be the one.
Stephen died in 1977, and my first Dailies were written that same year. Since then, they’ve provided me with a kind of annual chronicle of what was important to me each year. For instance, the years my children were born are all about my learning to be a mother, first for one child, and then for two. The year came that I taught them both to do their own dailies; this was such a great way to stop them from saying, “Mom, I’m bored!” on those long summer days! As they did with Stephen’s death, my Dailies have pulled me out of several rough patches when I lost other people who had been so important in my life, like my dad.
What do you think about this exercise? Are you game for adding Stephen’s Day to your calendar too?
Try it this weekend: Your Dailies are completely up to you.
This planning practice is Mahalo in sweet action: Live within thankfulness for each element which makes your life precious to you, and commit your intention to doing more of it. Focus your attentions on your energy boosters, and away from your energy drainers.
What could be on your Dailies for the coming year?
If you work on a list of your own now, you too can be sailing along with me, feeling you have made a significant start come New Years Day. Will you incorporate Mahalo, Nānā i ke kumu, or another value currently speaking to you in a louder and more insistent voice?
Perhaps it isn’t “sailing along” which appeals to you, as much as the thought of burning your boats (I keep thinking about that one too.)
Listen to your Muse, for he/she has your well-being in mind, as does your Aloha spirit.