Some of us reside in the now, but revel in the past. The past represents the shoulders upon which we stand, it is not the ladder upon which we climb. As we proceed through 2015, if you haven’t already done so, take some time to reflect on the last year, and to prepare for this year. A Chicago-based non-profit helped me and about one hundred other people engage in this practice this past Saturday.
(Affinity Community Services is a social justice organization celebrating its 20th anniversary that works with and on behalf of Black LGBTQ communities, queer youth, and allies to identify emergent needs, create safe spaces, develop leaders, and bridge communities through collective analysis and action for social justice, freedom, and human rights. www.affinity95.org )

Affinity Community Services is a social justice organization that works with and on behalf of Black LGBTQ communities, queer youth, and allies to identify emergent needs, create safe spaces, develop leaders, and bridge communities through collective analysis and action for social justice, freedom, and human rights. http://www.affinity95.org

Affinity Community Services hosted its annual Burning Bowl ceremony, an affirmation ceremony that has two main components:

(1) constituents write down the feelings, experiences, and circumstances that they will leave in 2014 – this is the “burn;” and

(2) constituents write down their affirmations for 2015 and then place their affirmations in a self-addressed envelope which Affinity mails to them in June 2015, allowing  constituents to check-in and measure their progress for the year.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to engage in your own burning bowl. You’ve heard of vision board parties. Well, you all can also do a burning bowl.

How to Have a Burning Bowl: 

  • Get a small group of close friends together at someone’s home.
  • Note: Of course, you can host a solo burning bowl. 
  • Provide Paper and writing utensils
  • Provide refreshments to guests (potluck style is always an option)

The Burn:

  • Think about what you will leave in 2014. Write that down. And then let it go.
  • Example: From 2014, I will burn the negative and hindering feelings associated with rejection and self-doubt.
If you can safely burn the paper, do so. The goal is to never engage in those experiences, painstaking moments, and negative feelings, again. Release it. Burn it; let it go. If you cannot safely burn it, shred it. Ball up the piece of paper and pass around a wastebasket for everyone to pitch their “burn” list. Immediately take the garbage out. Whatever your method, your “burning” is a symbolic release.

The Affirmation:

  • Write down what you want to affirm in 2015.
  • Example: For 2015 – I affirm love in every aspect of my life, ruthless prioritization, and fearlessness.
It’s best to write your affirmations on a single sheet of paper, front-side only. Don’t overwhelm yourself with the action items right now; start with feelings. How do you want to feel in 2015? We all want to feel happy. What is keeping you from feeling happy? Are you dissatisfied with your employment? Your affirmation may be that in 2015, you will affirm your work experience for the lessons, learning, and mentoring. You may also affirm your ability to advance in your profession.
* Note: You do not have to share your burn list or affirmations. However, you might find it incredibly liberating and affirming to do so.

Follow-Up:

  • Set calendar reminders for your affirmations
At the end of each quarter, check in with yourself on the progress of your affirmations. For instance, you might ask yourself whether you have been kind to yourself, whether you have made your health and wellness a priority, whether you have allowed fear to stop you from pursuing a goal, or whether you have engaged in the process of determining your passions.
We have reached the middle of January 2015. Time will move on regardless of whether you are prepared for it. Isn’t it better to be prepared?
Wishing you a successful year ahead,
TJ