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Soul Matters @ OUUC

January 2018                                                                                             


January's Theme: Intention

carved anew

Sara's Reflections

Sara Lewis1

Here comes January! I, like many other people, have been getting ready by picking out 30 Day Exercise Challenges, creating new chore charts for the year, and many other efforts to Start Fresh and Better Than Before.

What is it about a fresh start, even an artificial one like a new calendar, that makes me want to, or think I can, do it all better and differently? I'm not alone in this, as so many start off a new year with Resolutions and Goals.

But our theme this month isn't Goals, it's Intention. And that is a little different, isn't it? Intention comes from the Latin, meaning to "stretch out, strain, lean toward". Our intentions are what we are reaching toward, but may be too far off to be accomplished with a 30 Day Challenge of any kind.

Living a life of intention, then, first requires that you know where your heart is calling you. What makes you lean forward with your whole self? Maybe you have a clear life mission, or maybe you can picture your life, or perhaps something outside of yourself, some people call it God, calling you toward something? What is intended for you?

When I remember my intention, new goals and resolutions are fine but needn't be drastic. I won't wake up on January 1, 2018 and suddenly be a totally different person. But, by being devoted and true to my life's calling, I may be "carved anew" as the Mary Oliver quote above says, not through rugged chisel swipes of pure will power, but through the gentle action of daily life rubbing at a person like water flowing.

Join us this month is reflecting on our Intentions!


With goals, the future is always the focus: Are you going to reach the goal? Will you be happy when you do? What's next? Setting intention, at least according to Buddhist teachings, is quite different than goal making. It is not oriented toward a future outcome. Instead, it is a path or practice that is focused on how you are "being" in the present moment. Your attention is on the ever-present "now" in the constantly changing flow of life. You set your intentions based on understanding what matters most to you and make a commitment to align your worldly actions with your inner values… Goals help you make your place in the world and be an effective person. But being grounded in intention is what provides integrity and unity in your life.. What would it be like if you didn't measure the success of your life just by what you get and don't get, but gave equal or greater priority to how aligned you are with your deepest values?

-Phillip Moffitt, from The Heart’s Intention

Reflection Questions:
    What dictates your days? Your To-Do list or your intentionality? Do you begin by asking, “What do I have to get done?” or “What do I want this day to be about?”
  • Are you too intentional?  Is it time to put down all the “doing” and pay a bit more attention to “being”? Has your long list of intentions left you feeling exhausted and even lost?
  • Are you serving a purpose or living a lifestyle?


Soul Matters Discussion Circle

sharing circleJoin us on the 2nd Sunday of each month, 12:30-2:00 (Bring Your Own Lunch) for an open Discussion Circle on the theme of the month.

Start Your Day with Intention

“At the beginning of the day, the mind is most open to receive new impressions. One of the most important things we can do is to take full responsibility for the power of the morning.”

-          Marianne Williamson

“Your day is pretty much determined by how you spend your first hour.” - Anon

This exercise invites you to explore the power of intentional mornings. Too often our days take hold of us rather than us taking ahold of them. For at least one week, pick one of the below practices to begin your day with a greater sense of intentionality and purpose.

Pick A Word

Carve out some time each morning to complete the sentence: “Today I want to be/feel __________________.” You can do this while you are meditating, brushing your teeth, eating breakfast or walking the dog. Just make enough room to pick one descriptive word that you want to walk with throughout your day. So many to pick from: generous, powerful, unruffled, trusting, present, nurturing, nurtured, kind. Pull that word into your awareness throughout the day. It helps to literally place it in front of yourself. Write it on a 3*5 card and place it on your desk or put it in your wallet or purse. Maybe even write it on your hand! 

Get Grateful

Begin your day with gratitude. So many ways to do this. You can keep it simple by just sitting in silence and pulling into your mind the things you’re looking forward to or the things you are blessed with (your health, a family that loves you, a job you enjoy). One focused way is to start each day by thinking of 4 people you are grateful in your life, letting the good energy from that relationship flow into you. Or maybe use a gratitude jar or write your gratitudes down in a gratitude journal and review its pages as it grows day by day. The point is to replace your to-do list and the morning news with thankfulness as the thing that launches you into the day.


This route gives you permission to indulge yourself and give yourself the gift of generosity. It invites you to begin your day with the feeling of being gifted by life, rather than armoring up for the battle of another day. You can keep it very simple. For instance, shower with aromatherapy, treat yourself to a fancy cup of coffee, give yourself an extra 30 minutes to get ready at a slower pace or wake up early enough to see the sunrise. Whatever it is, add something to your morning routine that nourishes you.


Go ahead and pull out that to-do list and worry list. Write it all down. Then go through it and self-consciously pick the handful of things you will give your attention to and intentionally allow yourself to put the rest into a “parking lot” for some other day. The goal is to narrow the list and achieve a sense of manageability. Sounds simple, but most of us start our days with a hill of worries that just places a shadow over or entire day. End that feeling of “I’ve just go too much to do today” and move yourself into the space of “I’ve chosen the things I can and want to do today.”  


That’s right. Get up. Pick a song you love. And do nothing but sing it or sing along with it. Songs have more power than we give them credit for. Don’t underestimate the power of singing as opposed to just listening. When the words come out of your mouth, the music gets more deeply into your body and spirit, enabling the feeling to stay with you and “set the tone” for the entire day.

Walk in Nature

Get out and connect with nature rather than the morning news. Let the smells, sights and weather on your skin remind you of your deeper and wider connections. Begin the morning by reminding yourself that you are more than an employee or a parent. Simply put, begin the day with a wider sense of who you are. Feeling a part of something larger helps you maintain perspective during the day. Feeling connected to the interdependent universe reminds you that you are not alone. Here’s one version of a walking meditation if you’re looking for some inspiration. 

Be Silent

It’s the most basic of spiritual practices: Empty yourself and let yourself sit only with silence and your breath.  Here’s a 5-minute breathing meditation and a TED talk to help you out if you’re new to this practice. 

Inspire Yourself

Start your morning off with something that inspires you: a podcast, a poem, an inspirational audio book, a work of art from the internet or simply a quote. We find it so easy to begin our days with what is weighing us down. Why not turn things on their head and start with something that lifts you up?


Did you know that many of the most famous writers, inventors and leaders set aside 2 hours a week to do nothing but sit and think? Sounds odd, right? I mean, when don’t we think? The point is that most of the time what we call thinking is really working on a task. Rarely do we let our thoughts wander freely. We are not good at ruminating. So begin your day with some rumination. Sit down with your thoughts and see what they want to think about.  Do it a little each day or take on the bigger task of finding two whole hours each week of this month. Here’s an article that will convince you that it’s worth it.

Meditate and Pray

The classics! If you don’t have a daily meditation or prayer practice, use this month to try it on for size. There are lots of resources out there on the web.  But the best route is to talk to a friend who regularly meditates or prays and ask them for a bit of guidance and inspiration.

Other Media to Inspire:

Landslide, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham

100 Years, Five for Fighting

Resolutions: I Promise - Spoken Word Poem, Natalie Patterson

Family Resources

Billy Elliot

A young miner's son’s intention to become a ballet dancer changes his life, and the lives of those around him.

Ratatouille (G)

A tiny rat with the big intention to become a gourmet chef.  What else is there to say?!

Faith In Action: Year of Environmental Justice

OUUC has designated 2018 to be our "Year of Environmental Justice". Learn more about that here.

To receive other recommendations, words of wisdom, reflection questions, and more all through the month as we engage with this theme, join the OUUC Soul Matters Facebook Group!
In This Issue
  • Sara's Reflections
  • Reflection Questions
  • Spiritual Exercise
  • Recommended Media
  • For Young Souls, Parents, Teachers, and Caregivers
  • Faith In Action
  • Words of Wisdom
ouuc chalice

It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are you busy about?

-Henry David Thoreau

Cat: Where are you going?

Alice: Which way should I go?

Cat: That depends on where you are going.

Alice: I don’t know.

Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.

-Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Any dead fish can go with the flow — you have to be intentionally alive to swim against the current.

-Ann Voskamp


Conscious change is brought about by the two qualities inherent in consciousness – intention and attention… Whatever you put your attention on will grow stronger in your life. Whatever you take your attention away from will wither, disintegrate and disappear.

-Deepak Chopra

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something. So... Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.

-Neil Gaiman


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Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation
2315 Division St NW
Olympia, Washington 98502

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