In December 2013, as I completed my cancer healing journey, I told my doctor I was looking forward to the new year so I could start fresh.

New Year, New Start, New Me.

His reply, “Really? The New Year is just an arbitrary ending and beginning. It doesn’t really mean anything.”


We need endings and beginnings in order to stay (consciously) connected to the natural cycles of life. Honoring endings helps us release the past so we can move freely into the future. Endings help us bury our burdens, process our grief, and put it to rest. It’s only then that we can regenerate and make room for the new seeds of our lives.

In ancient times, our ancestors practiced rituals and ceremonies to mark the transitions from one season to the next. They lived on the land, and without modern day conveniences like electricity, they couldn’t divorce themselves from the endings and beginnings that stirred around them.

Trees became transitional icons, slowly cycling through the seasons, a touchstone to remind them that life is full of endings and beginnings. Life, Death, Rebirth was everywhere.

Without arbitrary endings, we cling to the past, harboring our failures like fugitives. But with arbitrary endings like New Year’s Eve, we have an opportunity to consciously release our burdens. We can let go of our failings, returning them to the earth so they become fertilizer to nourish our life-soil.

What Fugitive are You Harboring?

I don’t normally use words like “failure” because everything is really “trial and feedback.” Every less-than-perfect situation is an opportunity to grow.

But there are times when we feel like we’ve failed. Times when we cling to mistakes, letting them become the Story of Who We Are, while we simultaneously try to hide their existence, to pretend like we’re above it, or beyond it.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I felt like I’d failed.

I told myself, “good healers don’t get cancer,” and this belief ate me up inside. It became the Story of Who I Am for awhile, adding to the shame I already felt for having cancer.

Then one day I realized I had to let it go. I had to have an arbitrary ending to that story so I could create a new chapter. A chapter that turned cancer into soul medicine instead of a curse.

Whether or not we’re conscious of how we hold our failings, they influence our lives until we lay them to rest. That’s what I meant by “harboring our failures like fugitives.”

So although the New Year is an arbitrary ending and beginning, use it as an opportunity to lay your burdens to rest. Leave behind the shame and guilt, the stories of how you failed. Let the curse be over so you can turn it into soul medicine to heal you.

What “failure-fugitives” are you harboring?

What ritual can you create for the New Year’s to let them go?

Happy New Year!