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Congratulations! You have presented your life story. You have told that life to a room full of people who support you and care about you. You have listened deeply to their questions and answered them thoughtfully and truthfully, with love and compassion. What a remarkable achievement!
After you have presented your Odyssey, put your manuscript aside and wait a bit. After a few days, review your manuscript. If your presentation was recorded, watch or listen to the recording. Looking back, what do you remember best about the experience of presenting your Odyssey? Do you perceive it differently, now that a few days have gone by? Take some quiet time to reflect.
In your journal, complete these sentences:
You may have completed the same sentences right after presenting your Odyssey. If so, compare your thoughts now, a few days later, with what you were thinking in that moment.
Put both your manuscript and your sentence completions aside and wait a few more days. If it helps you reflect, copy your sentence completions on a piece of paper and post them in your writing space or on your mirror—someplace where you can see and review them now and again.
When you decided to tell your story, you planted a seed. Through your research, writing, and telling, the tree has grown and prospered. The next step is to pick the fruit it bears. Look again at what you have learned, at what surprised and moved you, and at what you wish you had done. It is time to consider those things you do not want to leave undone.
Read your Odyssey again. Listen to or view the recording, if one was made. Do this by yourself, at a quiet time with no distractions. As you listen, watch, or read, make notes. Date a new page in your journal and head it "What I Do Not Wish To Leave Undone." Your list can be as long as you wish. Compare your list to the earlier list you made during the retreat weekend. Have you changed your mind about any items? Which do you want to remove, and why? What would you like to add, and why?
Prioritize your list. Ask yourself:
In the course of making these lists you may hit on an item that could be life-changing. Pay attention to your feelings as you write and prioritize.
Once you have written and prioritized your list, put it in a safe place for a week or two. Then take it out, review it, and make a new list of the three most important things you do not wish to leave undone, knowing you can always go back to the rest of your list later. On a new, empty, beautiful piece of paper, carefully write your top three priorities. Post this list in a central place in your home.
When you are ready, take the list of your top three priorities off the wall and look at it carefully. Do you want to make any changes? Make a brief plan of your intended actions, a chart naming each item and listing the dates, time, places, specifics necessary to complete that action. Your chart should list:
If your priority list includes difficult or challenging conversations, or contacting people you have not seen in some time, think about what you will say to them before you call. Be candid about why you want to meet and what your hopes are for the outcome. Surprises are really not fair to other people! If the topic is a difficult one, it can be helpful to meet in a neutral setting, such as a coffee shop, where it is easier to be mindful of one's tone of voice and either of you can easily leave if you need to. If the meeting is likely to be a joyful reunion, choose your home or theirs, or perhaps a lovely spot you would both enjoy.
When you have accomplished one of your priorities, give yourself a gold star—really!—or another treat, such as dinner out with someone you love to tell them what happened and how you feel about what you have done. You may want to call a friend from your High Hill group and talk to them.
When a couple of months have passed, look again at your list. Ask yourself:
You may have discovered your list has items you do not, in fact, want to approach. Perhaps there is something you wish to add to your list. Either way, it's fine! If you are ambivalent about something, try discussing it with a member of your High Hill group or a friend who knows you well. Develop a plan for accomplishing any remaining or new items.
Important accomplishments such as writing your life do not just end! T.S. Eliot wrote, "In every end, there is a beginning." As time passes, you may find it useful, or fun, or interesting, to reflect on or consider one or more of the following:
After a couple of months or longer, reread your Odyssey. Talk about your retrospective thoughts with a member of your High Hill group, or with a friend or family member. Do the same thing in a year!
It can be fun, supportive, and instructive to have a High Hill group reunion. Perhaps your group will have made plans for a reunion at their last session. If not, you may want to initiate a one after a year has passed. Contact the group, and set a date, time, and place to gather. People may just want to sit, talk, and catch up. Or they may want a more structured experience. Here are some questions to guide your planning:
Be sure and save time to just hang out and talk. A fire in the fireplace, music playing, delicious food and drink, and meeting those amazing people whom you knew hardly at all when you first began, but now know well.
You may wish to present your Odyssey to another group, such as your family or friends. Presenting to your High Hill group was great preparation for telling your story to people who have known you for years. Think about the questions you were asked in your High Hill group, and consider whether you wish to make any corrections or additions to your manuscript because of them. Here are some considerations for planning an outside presentation:
Celebrate when you accomplish actions from your list of things you do not wish to leave undone. You may wish to invite others to celebrate with you. You might have dinner out. You might go for a walk on the beach or in the woods. You might meet at the local coffee house for a cappuccino. Choose the right place, and the right time, and go for it!
Congratulations, one last time!
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Last updated on Saturday, December 10, 2011.
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