Yearly Review 2021
The first New Moon of 2022 is a perfect time to share with you my Yearly Review.
It’s been a very special year in my life – it marked the beginning of a New Cycle, which I wish to be all about manifesting dreams. I feel like everything that happened this year was a long process of integrating everything that happened in my life so far, and preparing me for something new.
Here’s the drawing of my year:
I’ll share with you a bit more about it, using a few scans from the pages of my 2021 journals, captured during my yearly review.
Year of Squares
The year begins with the Squares of course.
You’ll notice that they changed quite significantly through the year. This is the page that took me from 15 Nov 2020 to 12 Jan 2021.
Squares were a major theme of the year. I finally figured out what they are really about, and what is the most effective and fun way for me to inspire others to play along. In September I finally transformed the unpronounceable Minimalist Journaling System into Infinity Squares, and launched a brand new email-based course.
As you can see below, my squares evolved a lot. Here’s September 2021:
And in case you’re wondering, I still haven’t skipped a single one in over 1400 days. It is the most fundamental self-alignment practice in my life.
On the other hand, I also realised that I need to make space in my professional life. I’ve been feeling a lot of confusion around JournalSmarter, which led to writing a letter to it (as in to the brand itself), where I tried to inquire what does JS want to become. After a long and painful process, I’ve decided to radically simplify my entire approach and launched (today) a new website. JournalSmarter will no longer be my main professional focus, in order to make space for what I feel called to do (more on that later). I’ll still keep the courses going and add a new journaling game / course whenever I feel like it. I also have a few pieces of the journaling puzzle that are ready to be published, so I’ll make than happen in the next few days. And then it’s time to breathe.
Paradoxically, by removing all the financial pressure from JournalSmarter, as well as radically simplifying how it works, I have a feeling that this project will be more successful than ever. And I admit that the moment of insight which lead me to describe journaling as an infinite game unlocked something that has been stuck for a long time.
Welcome to JournalSmarter 3.0. I hope that it will bring you a lot of joy.
Year of Practice
In December 2019 I had this crazy idea to offer a year-long cohort-based course, where I’ll take 20 people on a journey of building 3 practices of their choice through the year.
I’m still due to write an in-depth documentation article on that journey, so I won’t go into more details now, and instead I’ll share about my own practices. Funny enough, they were completely different from what I expected them to be.
In the summer I felt a call to ditch the comforts of a house and moved into a forest. It has been the most impactful summer of my life, along with 2013 (when I hitchhiked from Scotland to Greece) and 2017 (when I said goodbye to Edinburgh and began location independent life).
Photo by Austėja Liupševičiūtė
Being in the forest started a deep process of reconnection with myself, tuning into my intuition, which allowed me to rediscover what is important to me and how I want to manifest it. I am forever grateful to Jean-Daniel who allowed me to live on his land, as well as Austeja and Niko, who were my forest neighbours.
My home in the Magical Forest
I started to write poetry and letters again, I felt free like I haven’t in a couple of years, and I have learnt a few critical lessons, which I then integrated on a trip to the Mainland Portugal in September, which blew my mind beyond anything I knew before.
The seed of walking has been planted during my little camino in Faial island. I felt called to go there and connect with the island, and instead of cycling or driving I wanted to walk. So I walked for three days pretty much non-stop, covering the entire island, climbing up and down volcanoes, and sleeping in a hammock in the forest.
In September, I spent three weeks walking in Lisbon and Porto, for most of my waking hours. Soon after walking up I’d leave the house and began walking, walking, walking only to come back late at night to sleep and then walk again the following day.
I have never reached such a deep level of self-awareness until that trip. I’ve experienced unprecedented abundance, flow of synchronicities, moments of beauty, unexpected beautiful connections with people and other beings, and powerful insights. It changed me.
I don’t really have words to describe it just yet.
I wrote “I want to” and then decided to strike it through, as “I am” walking and writing stories. It is happening already. And if you’re curious about what was the story written below, it is here and it was a moment of vulnerable and hilarious insight.
In 2021, walking became my meditation. My way of Being. My lifestyle.
It’s all I need in order to encounter and create Magic. And Magic is precisely what I’m after.
Creating spaces for magic to emerge is something that I feel called for, and it’s also when I feel like fish in the sea.
This year was special in that regard.
I co-hosted the first community gathering in Pico, which was a game-changer for the community. Before the gathering I used to feel that I have friends in the island. After the gathering I had a family.
I took this energy further with our second gathering, designed to 1) help each of us to understand what kind of community do we want to be a part of, and 2) find ways to support each other to make these visions come true in the context of our island. It was a very special moment for our community and for me, as a catalyst. Here’s a community catalysing game I prototyped during the gathering.
I still remember the crazy brainstorming session when the game idea came to me:
My wonderful island family gave life to the prototype and created a map full of exciting projects.
I’ve also created a performance with Austeja, which moved local people and kids in ways that we haven’t expected. We also co-created a more events in Pico, such as Slam Jam, Masking Around, and more. We also had our bi-weekly sharing circle and a drum crew. Loads and Loads of spaces and even more magical moments that emerged from there.
I’ve also had the honour to create a wedding ceremony for a dear friend and his lovely partner. I loved it and I’m game for creating more ceremonies. Call me 😉.
Apart from making spaces in real life, I’ve also created some powerful digital experiences, such as Year of Practice (a year-long practice-building community), Habit Sprint (a three-month, focused version), Relational Weekly Review (a weekly co-journaling session boosted with relational growth), *Enspiral Europe Connection Weekend (an experiment in weaving social fabric in the European part of Enspiral network) and more.
Intermission: Top Songs, Films, and Books of 2021.
Three Songs That Moved Me
Adult Jazz - Springful
bandcamp | spotify
As I was about to depart for a trip that would turn out to be the most powerful journey in my life so far, I asked my best friend for a gift: a few songs to go along with me. Springful was the one that created a powerful emotional shift inside of me, and prompted me to dance, dance, dance and then dance some more, as I was deepening my self-awareness reaching unprecedented levels, while walking for hours in the streets of Lisbon and Porto.
It is one of these few songs that will always stay with me, reminding me of this very special moment in my personal history whenever I get to listen to it.
Milo - Folk Metaphysics
soundcloud | spotify
I remember the moment when this song came into my headphones for the first time. I paused. I listen to it, and then listened to it on repeat a few times to really understand the lyrics. There’s something about this song that puts me in a very special state of Being – humble, honest, creative, melancholic, connected.
Milo is one of the most important poets I discovered this year, and I highly recommend his work.
Climbing Poetree - Awakening
Speaking of poets, here’s two of them, united in a raw and powerful force of nature poetry. Listening to this song (and a few other ones) make me shiver, and there are not many songs that can do that.
Note: I deliberately avoided youtube links for the songs, as I’m on a quest to set myself free from google. It’s not an easy task and it requires practice.
Three Films that I absolutely loved
The Twentieth Century
Incredible example of neo-German-expressionism, depicting the story of a Canadian prime minister rising to power. The vibe is really quite something, and it’s good old-school set design, not computer generated stuff.
Dear, oh dear, what a feast.
The dialogue, the characters, the intrigue, the cinematography… I loved all of it. And translating the tropes of noir into American high-school environment works exceptionally well. Make no mistake – this is nothing like a typical American high-school comedy. Brick is a piece of art.
One of my favourite moments is the conversation when the hero rejects help from la famme:
Look, I can’t trust you. You ought to be smart enough to know that. I didn’t shake up the party to get your attention, and I’m not heeling you to hook you. Your connections could help me, but the bad baggage they bring could make it zero sum game or even hurt me. Better off coming at it clean.
I wouldn’t have to lead you in by the…
I can’t trust you. Brad was a sap, you weren’t. You’re with him, so you’re playing him. So you’re a player. With you behind me, I’d have to tie one eye up, watching both of your hands. I can’t spare it.
You’re absolutely right, Brendan. She is a player indeed.
Four school teachers embark on an experiment to prove an obscure theory: maintain a constant level of alcohol to see if it will make them happy. The result is a wonderfully dark comedy from the magnificent Scandinavian school of film-making.
Speaking of good films, I can’t recommend MUBI enough. The curation is amazing, and instead of force-feeding whatever into your throat like Netflix, Mubi actually helps you find cinematic gems. This link gets you (and me) a free month.
Honorable mention: A Gathering of the Tribe
A powerful, 9 minute short, perfectly fitting for our current times. It really touched me.
Book of the Year
Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein. No doubt here.
In fact, I find Charles to be one of the most important writers of today’s world. I can’t recommend checking out his work on Substack. Here’s one of the recent essays that expressed very accurately a lot of my feelings regarding that virus: A Path Will Rise to Meet Us.
The Alternative Culture is here. All we need to do is shine ✨
Most of all, the 2021 shown me that the (for a lack of better word) global capitalist culture is not only complete bullshit (this I knew for a long time), but the alternative is already here and so many people already made the shift. It’s possible. It’s happening. No more excuses and keeping the hamster wheel going.
It’s been such a privilege to learn from and with all the wonderful souls I’ve met this year. Here are a few of them along with ideas they shared with me:
It’s not that the change is coming.
It is right here, right now.
All we need to do is shine ✨.
And, of course, NO FEAR.
Fear is the heart killer.
Speaking of the people I’ve been lucky to connect with…
Every year I draw a Gratitude Mandala, which includes beings I’m grateful for in the year that has ended. It’s a part of my yearly review since 2019.
Here’s my mandala for 2021:
Since I’ve been reconnecting with my letter writing practice recently, I’ve decided to write as many letters to as many of these wonderful souls as possible. Some of the letters will be public, and I’ll keep adding them here.
For now, there’s only a letter to Kiki, the wonderful cat that lives with me, which is an absolutely amazing being, and I’ve learn a lot from her.
And hey, since you are here right now:
THANK YOU FOR BEING A PART OF MY LIFE.
💜 💜 💜
Setting a new course for 2022
New Lunar Year is a good moment to adjust the course I’m taking in life.
I still feel like doing a bit more internal soul-searching in that field, but the direction is clear.
My #1 priority in 2022 is to create and document regenerative communities.
It seems like it’s a perfect Ikigai – a direction encompassing something the world needs, something I’m good at, something I love doing and something I can get paid for. I wrote a sweet article about Ikigai a long time ago, and I actually feel like revisiting the exercises I shared there.
But for now, here’s a hypothesis:
If I make more space for my community catalysing activities and keep documenting what I do and how I do it (whether in Pico, the Azores, Enspiral or in digital spaces) my work will create a serious ripple effect inspiring and encouraging people to create their own communities and regenerative projects. And part of that ripple effect will come back to me in the form of gratitude and financial support allowing me to do more meaningful work in that area.
In other words, instead of pushing to sell products, I’d rather be supported by people who believe that what I do is important, and who want to help me make it happen. So, I’ve set up a Patreon account and I’m curious to see if it’s a viable path for me right now. It’d mean the world to me if you would consider being a part of that journey.
You can see what I’m focusing on here.
I wish you Freedom, Joy and Fulfilment. Let’s co-create a beautiful world where all beings can thrive. It’s possible. All we need to do is shine ✨.
Thank you for Being,
ps. Since this is a New Moon, I’d like to share my Moonly video (a practice I reconnected with this summer and kept it going without skipping a beat until now). Here it is (youtube link, since I still haven’t made my mind as to where to upload videos instead of google… TBC). If you want to see more, here’s the entire collection. And speaking of that - it’s such a wonderful way of going back through my year. I’m so grateful for this practice!
pps. As I went through all the one-second-a-day videos from this year I’ve noticed one HUGE thing missing from my yearly review - sailing with Maria Armanda, a traditional whaling boat. I’m so grateful to Amanda who brought Marcos into my life, who connected me with Felipe, who took me as a crew. I need sailing in my life. It’s essential ⛵️.