The time between…an opportunity to review

December 28th

20151228_144139The last few days of the year are a kind of limbo – this year gone but not quite over, next  year not quite begun. There is still time to finish things in this year and also to plan things for next year.

So here are a few journal prompts for reviewing the past year before we embark on the new year:

When I think about 2015, some things rise first in my memory: the 1st World Congress in Existential Therapy in May in London, the publication of Expressive Writing: counseling and healthcare (Eds Thompson & Adams), the Expressive Arts Summit in New York in November, other travels to Taiwan and India.

I could call these some of the steppingstones of 2015; these are big picture items. Other threads spin off these – people I’ve met, books I’ve read, conversation and experiences I’ve had.

When reviewing in this way we  can look at different existential dimensions – physical, social, personal, spiritual. Each one offers us a different set of steppingstones. Steppingstones are ways of structuring our experience and memory.

Journal prompt: Steppingstones for the past year

Either choose a theme for your Stepping Stones or simply think back over the past year. See what memories rise to the surface, make a note of each one as it occurs, just a word or a phrase (no continuous prose!) Don’t inquire why it has come to you or what it means.

When you have a list of 6-8 things, number them in chronological order. Read them out loud in that order, see if one of them stands out with more substance or arouses more interest in you.

Write about this one in the present tense, include all things you can remember and the associations that come to mind.

Journal prompt: The Incompletes

Make a list of unfinished business, tasks, projects, conversations. Decide which ones you want to carry over into 2016 and which ones you want to drop (making a conscious decision not to finish something is very different from simply letting something languish – see what it feels like).

Journal prompt: The Satisfactions

Make a list of things you have done in 2015 which have brought you satisfaction (simply completing even simple tasks can bring a sense of satisfaction that is often overlooked) or a sense of achievement.Include professional and personal acts, emotional or physical developments, doing and being.What are you grateful for?

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A turkey is not just for Christmas…..

And finally: what was your book of the year for 2015?

I’d have to put Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk up there. Isn’t it hard to pick only one? Please share your best reads of 2015 in the comments on this blog.

Happy New Year to you all.

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5 Comments

  1. Hi Kate! Finally getting around to writing at this transition time. Your prompts were perfect. And I agree–H Is for Hawk was the best book ever!

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  2. Kate Thompson

     /  December 29, 2015

    In Lapidus , Julia Denise said: Thanks, Kate. Some great ideas here. I’m just finishing ‘H is for Hawk’ myself.

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  3. Thanks Kate. That’s very generous. I am sure many people will find this extremely helpful as a starting point for reflection. I shall check out the book you recommend! Mine would possibly be: Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive.

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    • Kate Thompson

       /  December 29, 2015

      Hi Emmy – thanks for this book recommendation. I’ll get hold of it as soon as I can. Always good to have more books which are interesting on different levels. Sounds like this one would be good to recommend to some of my clients.

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  4. Michael Thompson

     /  December 28, 2015

    Good post! I will try following the prompts as I review the past year.

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