Linda: As we approach the end of 2009, I find myself doing what I usually do at this time of year: stopping to pause and reflect upon the past twelve months and giving thought to what I have experienced this year. I try to let myself consider the full breadth of my experience and include the low points as well as the high points, the losses as well as the gains, the sorrows and the joys, the accomplishments and the failures; the whole shebang, or as Zorba the Greek says, the “full catastrophe”. Receiving it all with an open heart allows me to experience a kind of completion in which it’s no longer necessary to dwell upon whatever residual losses I might still be in the grip of, as well as any attachments that may be preventing me from moving ahead with openness and receptivity to the experiences awaiting me in the coming year for which I want to be fully open to receiving.

Completion is what I’m after because if I’m not complete with the past, whether it’s something from last February or from this morning, I’m not as present and available to what is showing up on my plate NOW. I welcome even those shadowy aspects of this past year, the mistakes, the disappointments, the embarrassing moments, the misjudgments, those problems that I might have caused or those that were beyond my control. I look back to last January and the commitments that I made then to assess how I did with them. Did I fulfill the vision that I had a year ago? If I did, can I acknowledge myself for that? If I didn’t can I forgive myself for not doing so? And either way, is there anything for me to learn from my successes and failures that I can apply to the challenges that may await me this year?

And for those goals and intentions that I have completed, I take time to savor a sense of triumph and to acknowledge myself for a job well-done. Sometimes I find that I have fallen short of my goals and haven’t fulfilled them all, but whether I have or not, there is always appreciation for whatever I have managed to accomplish and gratitude towards those who have been of support to me regardless of the outcome of my efforts. I am always reminded of how essential the support of others is to the fulfillment of my goals and of how much I depend upon their input in all of my projects. This awareness leaves me with a sense of appreciation and a desire to reciprocate for all that I receive from so many people in the course of a year in my life. Out of this reminder I am left feeling great thankfulness and some humility in the realization that in truth there is actually very little, if anything in my life that I accomplish completely alone. I am always moved to take time to directly thank the people who stand out as important supports to me and I find that doing so feels like a gift to myself.

I feel that this self-reflection is a way of tidying up my life at the end of the year and going into the coming year with a clean house. It’s become an annual ritual that enables me to open up space for whatever is coming and to meet the new year with an attitude that is fresh, open and receptive. There is no ‘correct’ way of wrapping up the old year and welcoming the new one. For some , drinking a glass of champagne and shaking a noisemaker does the trick. Others sit alone in silent meditation. And some just hope for the best. Being intentional in regard to what you truly wish to bring forth into your life in the coming year is something that anyone can do and it can take any one of an infinite variety of forms. The process needn’t take more than few minutes or can include an extended retreat. What really matters isn’t what you do or how much time you take to do it, but rather whether you listen to the words of your heart and respond to them with attention and care. Such a response can literally create miracles.

May we all be blessed with an abundance of gratitude, wisdom, compassion and love in the coming year.

Our New Book Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love

We are delighted to announce the upcoming birth of our second book, Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love, to be published next month, January, 2010 by New World Library. The book features in- depth and intimate conversations with twenty-seven couples who have been together for an average of thirty years and who share exemplary marriages. The inspiration for the book arose in response to concerns that we have heard over the years from both men and women who have become increasingly pessimistic regarding the prospect of creating a mutually enriching connection with a long-term life partner. The couples in our book not only dispel the notion that marriages that deepen in fulfillment with age are unattainable, but they offer unique and in some cases, surprising insights from their own experiences as to exactly how they have been able to create a marriage that continually deepens over time.

Like most of us, these couples have had their share of life challenges and ordeals. There was nothing in their backgrounds that made it easy for them to create an exceptional relationship, and yet that is what they did. Secrets of Great Marriages illuminates just how they did it. With great eloquence, openness, and humor, they share their valuable wisdom with the rest of us and reveal exactly how a good marriage can be transformed into a great one! We are thrilled with how the book turned out and confident that it will serve as a guide to the many individuals and couples in the world who are unwilling to settle for mediocrity in their relationships. We feel especially gratified and affirmed by the testimonials that we received from many highly- regarded authors, including these:

“Reading this incredibly enthusiastic, confident celebration of marriage is a total joy! Every couple is unique. Every story is engaging. The level of candor in which matters both tragically dire and delicately intimate are presented is thrilling. The message – commitment to love supports and sustains through difficulties – resounds throughout.” – Sylvia Boorstein, author of Happiness Is an Inside Job: Practicing for a Joyful Life

“The portraits of couples in Secrets of Great Marriages demystifies the intimate bond by studying successful rather than conflicted couples and identifying the factors they all have common. Any couple reading these stories will be inspired, challenged and guided towards the relationship of their dreams. I highly recommend it to all couples, successful or unsuccessful.”- Harville Hendrix, Ph. D. Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples.

“With this entrancing book once again the Blooms work their special magic of evoking, appreciating, and analyzing the special alchemy of relationships, and their power to test, heal and transform us throughout life. Each couple in this living collection is vividly unique – and each is marked by common depths of respect, mutual appreciation, and commitment to a life stance of learning and growth, which carries them through crises and challenges to fulfillment and new horizons. Read, laugh and weep at times in recognition – and learn nuggets you can use immediately in your own practice, and your own life.” -Gordon Wheeler, PhD – President, Esalen Institute; Author of Beyond Individualism; Love, Work & On Intimate Ground: Gestalt Approaches to Working with Couples.

We are also deeply grateful to John Robbins, who wrote the foreword to our new book. John is the author of several books, including Diet for a New America, Healthy at 100 and the forthcoming The New Good Life: Living Better than Ever in an Age of Less.