Darkness, goals, and your inner curmudgeon — Magnolias West

Sue Kearney
5 min readDec 16, 2017


The year-end time whispers its invitation to get complete with the year that’s ending and then look ahead to plan and create goals that will guide you to the full expression of your purpose and passion.

You’ve probably done it before — it’s a natural inclination to feel into a theme for the new year, and step into the vision that theme can bring.

How your plans unfold depend largely on your mindset.

When you create a plan or theme for the new year, you’re capturing your thoughts and wishes and creative spark in that moment.

You’ve taken a snapshot of what you want to do — more or less or differently — in the coming year in every area of your life and work.

  • Have you also noticed that some of the goals and plans and intentions you make stick and some don’t?
  • Have you noticed that the goals and plans and intentions that do stick don’t always stick for the same length of time?
  • Have you noticed that, as you move through a new year, things change and the goals that you created in the stillness of solstice season as the year ends don’t always match up to your changing reality?

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As you live into the days and weeks and months of the new year, your relationship to the goals you set at year-end informs the way you deal with the changes that inevitably come your way..

When you create a plan as if you’re building a rigid structure that must be followed without change, then you miss the opportunity to nimbly shift with the changes as they unfold. And you close yourself off from your own beautiful creative spark that’s there to remind you that you can try something new or a little bit different or anything in between.

But when your grip on that plan is light and loose, you may find that your connection to your inner creativity and resilience allows you to look at those goals and intentions from a totally different space.

  • Instead of feeling like you must execute the plan as written, you are freed up to be inspired, to listen to your intuition, and to shift — tweaking what you have put in place, adding/editing/deleting as feels right in the moment, and trying something completely different when inspiration lands.
  • When you let go of that tight grip on structure and rules then your creative spark is your ally, letting you try something different, something you didn’t even consider when you were making this plan in the first place, something bold.
  • Most of all, you’ll be open, nimble, and adaptable. When circumstances and challenges arise that you had no clue we’re going to be present back there at the end of the year when you made your plan, you’ll be able to take a breath, settle down, reconnect to trust and insight and your own intuition — reconnect to your innate resilience.

I’m having to keep my grip on every plan light and loose these days. It’s been a hell of a year.

I’ve moved through a ton of changes. Changes that have brought me — again and again — to a place of redefining agency and sovereignty in my life and in my work.

  • I moved house, home, and office. Unexpectedly and not by choice.
  • In the process, I downsized my possessions by a ton. I now have fewer things.
  • And once again, I’m facing some tough physical challenges.

My inner curmudgeon has had it. She has reached her limit and is throwing her usual tantrum.

All I know to do is to breathe. Settle down. Be patient. And trust that this too shall pass.

I know that many say that strict commitment to mindset work is the answer. Or more meditation. Or more this and less of that. I no longer believe that strengthening my practices is the answer. I believe — because I’ve experienced it — that each and every circumstance life brings my way will pass, and that when I can quiet down and wait for the mud to settle the way forward always appears.

But I have that inner curmudgeon. That voice (a permanent member of the “uh uh no way not this” subcommittee in my head) that tells me that it’s too much. And wow, with this latest round of physical pain, it has felt staggering.

It’s all in this beautiful passage my friend Paul Zelizer just shared, from this post by Rabbi Jonathan Kliger (emphasis mine):

What is true about the collective Jewish journey through history is also true about each individual journey through life. Every one of us at some time encounters a dark moment or a dark season in our lives, a time when we see no light at the end of the tunnel. Every one of us at some time feels despair that the small light we possess can never possibly be enough to guide us to wholeness or to heal the hurts of the world. Chanukah reminds us to kindle our light no matter what, and that even though it seems impossible, that light will be enough. Chanukah reminds us that when we join our small light with the light of others, together we can dispel the darkness. Chanukah reminds us to have faith that there is more strength and fuel within then we know. Chanukah reminds us that the sun will return and the spring will come, in our world and in the garden of our souls.

When that curmudgeon voice is raging away in your head, the self-loving acts of quieting down, settling down, and trusting can feel inaccessible. Sometimes all you get is the knowledge that you’ve gotten through this (or something like it) before, and likely will again. As I heard once a long time ago, and which has been good to remember when those dark days and nights of the soul arise. Let’s close with that blessing:

You haven’t been brought this far, precious one, to be dropped on your head now.
So breathe, breathe again, and keep going.

Originally published as Darkness, goals, and your inner curmudgeon on Magnolias West on December 16, 2017.



Sue Kearney

I mentor and encourage for women who want more joy and freedom, less stress. More creative flow, less angst. At your age. In your body. In the world as it is.