Dec 2022


As 2022 roars to a close, I find myself relieved to be moving past the stresses of this year. Despite the lessening of Covid and the beginning of a return to normal, I feel a bit worn out.

I need a big exhale and a personal reboot.

That self-reflection was what shaped our end-of-year celebration at Parlay House San Francisco last week, where we veered away from the usual speaker-led format and turned the evening into a party of sorts.

With a glass of champagne in one hand and a pen in another, women who came to our event wrote a list of feelings, experiences, trials and tribulations that we wanted to get rid of. Those pages would then be burned in a safe, indoor fire pit as a way of washing that negativity out of our systems and preparing us for something better.

As we sipped our bubbly, slips of paper filled the glass bowl to be taken to the fire ceremony.

On the papers were common themes:

Fear. Shame. Jealousy. Judgment. Self-criticism. Betrayal and Lies.

Debt. One-way Friendships. Regret.

Ex-lovers and Ex-husbands.

* * *

As we were pouring our hearts into the memories of what we wanted to set on fire, an alarm sounded throughout the house.

Had someone already lit the fire pit? Were the appetizers burning? Could it be that our collective will caused some sort of spontaneous combustion?

The firepit hadn’t been ignited, and the oven was off. A few people looked around for a source of smoke, but most of us held onto our glasses and our pens, assuming a false alarm.

It turns out there was a fire, but not the one we expected.

What was burning was the bathroom towel, which had slipped too close to the decorative candle, which was situated too close to the box of matches, which lit the adjacent wallpaper ablaze.

In a matter of seconds, the flames that we envisioned as burning our sorrows burned my bathroom instead.

Fortunately, a few quick thinkers doused the flames before we could even get to the fire extinguisher.

The best news is that no one was injured in the process.

The wallpaper will need to be replaced, the vanity now needs a facelift, and the towel is a goner. But the guests were fine and reasonably unphased.

* * *

Moving on from that near-disaster, the group trickled downstairs to complete phase one of the evening as planned. As we read the list of things we were letting go, the slips of paper were tossed into the well-controlled fire.

There was a palpable exhale as we said goodbye to the things that were weighing us down.

Shutting the door on 2022, we poured another glass of bubbly and poured ourselves into the second activity of the evening: writing love letters.

The letters (which will be mailed at a surprise time) were not notes of gratitude or holiday greetings.

They were love letters to ourselves.

The reason for this activity was simple: Most of us spend our lives caring for others. Whether it’s the holidays, work, family, pets, charities, or chores, most of us exert our energy caring for everyone else. Often, that leaves little to no time to care for ourselves.

Sure, there’s the occasional hour at the gym or a pick-me-up at the nail salon. But without some prompting, we rarely take time to think about and honor the pieces of ourselves that we truly love.

We value the smallest traits in others but fail to recognize the most glorious traits and actions that make us, us.

Having already written my own letter, I used these moments of writing to observe the women around me. In some, I saw smiles. Others were thinking deeply as they wrote. And quite a number had tears in their eyes.

I hope they were tears of joy with the reminder that there is so much in themselves to love.

The evening ended with our make-shift mailbox filled to the brim with 52 love letters, and the new year will begin with the receipt of those letters.

I hope the authors will place the cards somewhere that they can serve as reminders throughout 2023 of how much light there is, even in the darkest moments.

I wish that for you as well – a new year filled with bright (and non-flammable) moments as well as the ability to find moments of joy even when things around you seem to be on fire. It’s a glass-half-full wish.

* * *

Share it Small: What do you love about yourself? Don’t overthink it – just pull out a pen and paper and let the thoughts flow. Then save your letter and re-read it whenever you need a boost.

Share it Big: For the holidays, consider creating a love letter box for friends and family. Have everyone add their own note and send the letters back to them when they need a boost! It’s a gift that will keep on giving.

Share it with Me: We all learn from each other. If you have had a revelation, a breakthrough, an insight, or a triumph, we can learn from you so please tell me about it here! I’m collecting stories of these cascades of good for ongoing community building and to track The Parlay Effect in action. I would love nothing better than to hear how you lifted, were lifted, or observed something in others that made you feel good and recognize your power.