Here’s to You, 2016! From Higher Thoughts

Image: Chloe Ridgway

Well, Higher Thinkers, here’s my obligatory addition to the bloated virtual heap of New Year’s posts you’re probably seeing from just about everyone this time of year. As much as I despise cliche’, this one, I believe, is a good one (I’m not, however, going to talk about the election as I’m sure you’re up to your ears in that stuff just as I am; plus, it’s a little out of my jurisdiction). From what I can tell, ringing in the new year with some intention and reflection is nothing but healthy. So here we go…

2016 was a great year. I rounded my first year of daily blogging. I stopped fighting it and fully embraced my love for spirituality by making it a strong central theme both to this publication and my daily life by enrolling in theological school.

Although, in a couple years, I’ll be a full-fledged New Thought minister (for what it’s worth), what I’m really looking forward to is the journey and sharing it with you.

I’ve found myself in this interesting place where I’ve stepped fully into this spirituality thing, but find myself getting along better with atheists than hard core fundamentalists. After going back and forth, we find that the god they stopped believing in — I don’t believe in either. Methinks there’s a paradigm shift happening and I’ve somehow found myself in its wake. 2017 should be interesting, nonetheless.

And now, here’s some highlights from this last year…

I wrote a book in 2016. This will go down in personal history as one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. Seeing my work in a beautiful hardcover-bound book was like alchemical magic. From base metal to gold. From digital to analog. What an incredible feeling. Getting photos of happy bed-headed people in their hilarious Christmas PJ’s beside their tree holding a copy of it warmed my heart.

I opened HT up for patrons. This was a scary one. The driver behind the work I do isn’t the money, but in order to take things to the level I want to take them, I need more time. With your generous contributions, I’m buying that time so I can give back to you in bigger, better ways. Thanks for buying me a taco or two and supporting my work:)

I embraced minimalism in 2016. I’ve been dabbling for some time, reading along with The Minimalists (cheers to them on their continued success with their documentary getting picked up by Netflix this year, btw) and contributing to my friend, Brian Gardner’s wonderful minimalist blog, No Sidebar. I strayed for a couple years, but after some unexpected insights (the best kind), I’ve decided to embrace this mindset and have already noticed profound changes. In 2017, I’ll be writing more about simple, deliberate, intentional living as well as contributing to those who champion the cause.

Now, here’s looking ahead to 2017…

I want to do more audio/video. I tried a little video Q&A thing on YouTube for awhile. I didn’t feel great about it. For one, I felt it was too much. Like I was hammering people with too much content. But something in me still wants to play in this arena. I’d like to do some video, but I’m thinking about starting with audio. We’ll see where this takes me.

I want to teach more. I’ve been resisting this because I still very much see myself as a student. However, a part of me knows that one doesn’t have to know everything in order to teach. I’d love to teach a writing class of some sort since this is what I consider to be my craft. Maybe some spiritual classes too. If you have any ideas for things you’d like to learn more from me, let me know.

I want to write another book. This last one was a collection of essays from this publication. I want to write a book around a central topic. Now if I can only pick a topic rich enough to mine for a book… Again, any topics I regularly cover that you’d find interesting to read more about in-depth, let me know.

I want to contribute more. I have some friends with amazing blogs, both on and off Medium. I’d love to contribute to their work more by adding my two or three cents.

I want to get on stage. Yes, I decided to start going to my local toastmasters club next week. I’m terrified, but it’s a good fear. Been needing to slay this dragon for some time.

As for 2017, expect way more from me, both on this publication and in the world at large (subscribe to my emails if you’d like to stay posted — yes, I email daily but you don’t have to read every one; delete my posts as much as you wish).

Top 10 books of 2016

I wanted to give you the ‘Top 10’ posts from Higher Thoughts in 2016, but Medium’s stats aren’t equipped to do that. I can only sort the whole lump of my posts, not just ones from this last year.

So, I’ll do something I want to do more of in 2017: Share what I’m reading with you.

Nothing I write here is totally original. All of my posts start as seeds in something I read.

Without further ado, here’s my favorite books from this last year:

A Course of Love

Mari Perron

This one is blowing me away right now. It’s a channelled book that is meant to be a follow-up to A Course In Miracles (another personal favorite). Not as lesson-based as ACIM, this book is heart-centered and flips the way we look at love on its head and calls us out on the floor. So good.

How to Be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living

Rob Bell

I’m a huge fanboy of Bell. Just saying. His podcast is the only one I listen to regularly. His sermons are magic and his take on Christianity, so refreshing. If you need some meaning in your life, this book is for you. I’m a sucker for creativity books and when you sprinkle in spirituality like Bell does, you have me at go. Enjoy.

Insurrection: To Believe Is Human To Doubt, Divine

Peter Rollins

Pete Rollins, the Irish philosopher, is a rockstar in my mind. Google him and see for yourself, but this dude is a hero of mine. Never has anyone tested the edges of my faith as Rollins has and I find myself shaking my head with an evil grin the more I read his work.

The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life

Ann Voskamp

As soon as I start thinking I’m a good writer, I read Ann and quickly see how far I have to go. Voskamp is the most fearless writer I know. Although our versions of faith differ slightly (or maybe not, I’m not sure), she’s a master. I’m just starting to dip into this one now.

Skin and Other Stories

Roald Dahl

As much as I wish to be, I’m not a huge fiction guy. My world is non-fiction, so that’s where I tend to hang out (I know, I need to mix it up — I’m working on it). However, Roald Dahl, I could read all day. He’s my favorite storyteller of all time. His dialog is unbeatable. If I ever were to write fiction, Dahl would be my go-to for inspiration. And these short stories are perfect for short attention spans like mine.

Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers

Anne Lamott

What can I say? Anne Lamott… Pretty sure she’s my mother from another lifetime. I just get that vibe from her and have drawn so much inspiration from her work over the years. She provides the perfect mix of deep, non-bullshit spirituality and irreverent humor. Another goddess I look up to.

Power Through Constructive Thinking

Emmet Fox

As many of you know, I’m reading this one for my coursework right now. It’s really good. Emmet was a pioneer in New Thought and his work shows it. The dude put a lot of deep effort in mining his messages and it shows.

Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West

Daniel Ladinsky

Daniel Ladinsky is the man. In this book, he crafted exceptionally playful renditions of ancient poetry (6 from the East, six from the West) from the likes of Rabia, St. Francis of Assisi, Rumi, Meister Eckhart, St. Thomas Aquinas, Hafiz, St. Catherine of Siena, Kabir, Mira, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and Tukaram. Each one is a meditation. Enjoy.

The Optimist Creed and Other Inspirational Classics

Christian D. Larson

Another New Thought classic, this one’s thick. I’ve only read about an eighth of it, but each chapter is packed with powerful prose and affirmative thought. Christian was a man ahead of his time. If you need a boost in spirit, this one is a nice one to have handy.

The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art

Erwin McManus

It’s really hard for me to sit through a sermon these days without my bullshit detector going off in the first few minutes. But McManus, founder and lead pastor at Mosaic in Los Angeles, is one of the best, most vibrant, soulful spiritual leaders of today. This one is another creativity book mixed with scripture for context. If you want a book to get you in the mood to go out and create, this one’s a solid pick.

Aaaand that’s it for me, friends. Here’s to 2017. See ya next year.

As Ever,


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