Hogwarts books, glitter, + a candle: a specific recipe for a feel good year

On Sunday my man and I cleared the day for our 2012 review and laying the groundwork for a fab 2013.

I’ve done some version of annual review and planning every year since I can remember. When I was growing up, on December 31st my family would sit in a circle on the living room floor on sofa cushions. We would turn out the lights and my mom would put on some of her woo-woo chanty music (which, of course, I listen to now in adulthood.)

She had a huge book with a soft leather cover that looked like she got it off the shelf at Hogwarts. Our New Year’s Eve ritual began by lighting a candle for the year past, a candle for the year to come, and a candle for the present moment. I remember sitting across from my sister watching the light flicker on her porcelain moon face as we set our intentions as a family.

We each went around and shared completions from the previous year: things we wanted to acknowledge that had happened. For my sister and I they included things like taking our first ballet class or sticking with soccer for an entire season. For my parents they included trips they’d taken or career related accomplishments. My mom would write them all down in the sacred Hogwarts book as we spoke.

Next we shared our intentions for the new year. My dad would voice a yearning for more time out on his sailboat. My mom would share something about the book she was working on. My sister and I would talk about play dates and adventures in the woods.

Each intention was uniquely our own, distinct by stage of life, proclivities, and soul qualities. Each one was recorded in the Hogwarts book for posterity. As a little girl the fact that my dreams were being written down in a big leather bound book made them feel important. It made me feel magical. It wired into my psyche that I can have what I desire. But first, I have to speak up about it.

This past Saturday I sat with a group of women at an event called Radical Sexy Self Care that my friend Thea cooked up. We started the morning going around the table sharing a brag (something we wanted to celebrate about ourselves), a gratitude, and a desire. What struck me the most was that before stating her desire, almost every single woman at the table said, “Wow. This is hard.”

At what point in time did we let it become hard to desire?

When I was a little girl peaking across our little family candle lit coven at my sister it wasn’t hard for me to say what I wanted. I didn’t judge myself for wanting a pink tutu, to play fairies in the woods, or to take a trip to Disney World. I didn’t censor my words. I didn’t put a lid on my glitter and ribbon little-girl desires. My mom wrote my annual desires in her big leather book right next to her financial goals, intentions to deepen her relationship with my dad, and career aspirations. They were important, valuable, and most significantly, right by sheer virtue of the fact that I’d dreamed them up.

Listening to the women on Saturday struggle to state their desires was sad at first, but immediately liberating as soon as they gave themselves permission to say them out loud. My little girl did a twirl each time one of these women let themselves want what they want.

If you don’t have an annual review and planning practice, I invite you to do one this year. Nothing compares to the feeling of being well digested after acknowledging everything that happened in the previous year. And if you have even one creative cell in your body that wants to set something in motion, whether it be a business, a relationship, or a new spiritual practice, you have to let yourself want it first.

Creating a safe, loving container where you’re allowed to want what you want may be the most powerful thing you could ever do for yourself.

When setting goals, laying your intentions, or writing your 2013 desire list (however you want to say it), here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Make it a ritual. Light a candle. Get out some glitter and crystals. Play some chants. Find a Hogwarts book of your own. Make it sacred, like you.
  • We tend to over estimate what we can do in a year but under estimate what we can do in a decade. What would it feel like to intentionally leave white space this year?
  • Let your little girl come to the planning party. She’s unabashed about her desires. She’s playful. She’s wise. And she hasn’t yet forgotten who she is. Listen closely to her and weigh her desires for rainbows and unicorns just as heavily if not more so than your profit margins and client counts. (My friend Nisha Moodley wrote beautifully about exactly how to include your little girl in the planning party here.)
  • Remember that every goal or intention we set is based on some way that we want to feel. Focus on the feeling more than the thing. There are a million ways to create the feeling of freedom that you crave. Releasing your grip on exactly how that feeling will come to pass is one of them. (Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map drops today. This guide will teach you exactly how to chart your life to feel the way you want to feel more often.)
  • Include the people in your life who are most important to you. Plan with your hubby. Ask your daughter what she desires for the next year. At the end of your life you’ll probably remember your candle lit New Year’s Eve with your partner and your kids more than some of the stuff you manifested. Share the love.

Do you have other annual review or planning tools that you love?

Is it hard for you to state your desires? Is it easy? Why?

How do you want to feel in 2013?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!


  • Miss Jackson

    Dear Kate,

    I LOVE this. I was suppose to have an annual review with a partner but he had to back out (needed to spend quality time with his girl. I honor and totally encourage that!). This is my first year actually set time and space for this reflection. I am using Chris G. from Travel Hacker’s annual review. It has already produced some wonderful ideas.

    However, I want to thank you for the moments that you isolated to make this special. All of the aspects-bringing your little girl out to play, how you want to feel-these are all important because, and I believe this may be the heart of it: Don’t we want to ENJOY the ride that we’re on? What is a goal if our heart isn’t in it? I am struggling with that in a few areas in my life but I love that you brought awareness to it.

    As always, I love your posts. Keep rocking, sister!

    • Kate

      So beautiful Denva! I also love Chris Guillebeau’s annual review tools. It’s a little too detail oriented for me and I find myself getting overwhelmed when I follow it to a “t” but I love the overall idea. And when mixed with some candles, chanting, and The Desire Map, I think it would be the perfect combo! Here’s to a beautiful 2013!

  • I have always admired your mom and her vision and now I love her more! You are an amazing word crafter yourself and a powerful sentence for me was

    “At what point in time did we let it become hard to desire?”

    It resonated deeply in me. Thank you!

  • Kate! Ahhh – this is an awesome post. We spoke the other day about our love of planning and visioning (is that a word?) I adore how it was part of your family life growing up – what a great tradition.

    I have a virtual planning retreat scheduled with a friend, both of us work for ourselves. We thought it would be good to come together and share, brainstorm, evaluate, celebrate and plan our parallel lives and businesses. I’m going to check into Chris G’s annual review (and Danielle’s Desire Map!)

    Squeezing the last bit of goodness from 2012 and bring on 2013.
    xo Johanna

  • Amanda

    I love this so much! While reading, I had such a clear vision of your family’s candle lit circle. I have asked a good friend of mine if she’d like to participate in a ritual like this with me this year. Thanks for the inspiration and for the push I needed to get out the glitter and let out my little girl desires once again!

  • Okay, could I please be officially adopted by the Northrup family? What a wonderful gift your family ritual was. I especially like the Hogwarts-style book. I’m going to go out and give myself one for Christmas!

    I’m in a 28-day program right now for women only (sorry, guys) that is a great way to review 2012 and lay the foundation for an amazing 2013. It’s proving to be very powerful on an individual basis plus terrific connections and community are also taking place. It’s easily doable in 30 minutes a day and not overwhelming. And the good news is the program is still open for another couple of days and if you use my discount code (STARPOLISHER), you save $10 (no, I don’t get an affiliate commission). Here’s the website. Check it out! http://resetreviverestart.com/

  • Ann

    Love this Blog——thank you for sharing Kate:)

  • Trish

    Kate, what a beautiful ritual your family practiced. This is certainly something that almost needs to be taught somewhere. I wish I had done this when my kids were little and I think we’ll do it this year. I’m going to look for our Hogwarts book…

  • For the past several years, I’ve made a list of 13 thing that I wanted to complete during the year, along with one really big goal. This year, I sat back and visualized my life in one year, five years, and my entire lifetime. It was liberating. I love the Hogwarts idea book, though … I love leather-bound books and ritual!

  • Marianne Dressler

    Hey Kate,
    Love this post. Last year was the first time I ever made a vision board. My friend Elizabeth asked me if I wanted to do this together last Jan 1st. It was very fun, as we sat and cut out pictures, words and set them into motion on out poster boards. Little did I know or understand how powerful of a tool this vision board became in my life.

    This year I have already begun a preplan for our vision board date. I like the idea of setting a ritual with candles and the like….will definitely add that to our get together. I also want to record and reflect on the blessings of this past year and forge forward with what I want to see more of in 2013.

    You are an inspiration! Blessings on the journey…


  • Thea

    What a Great post Kate, I’m honored to be included and I too noticed the emotional charge everyone had around stating their desires-so powerful! On that note, I now desire an exquisite Leather bound book to begin my families new tradition! I have visions of reading it New Years eve many years from now & giggling with my grown daughters :) Thank You! xo

  • Biljana

    Dear Kate,
    Thank you very much for inspiring me to dig deeply and find what I wish for myself next year. I came to the interesting revelation.
    I do not want to set any goal for next year!!!
    I just want to be myself, be happy and allow things to come to me.
    I am quite good in strategic planning, setting goals and achieving. Somehow I get tired and now I want something else. I wanna be thrilled and excited about what is coming next! Its like I do not want to know what present I will recive in advance. I want to enjoy in unwrapping it!!!
    For me 2013 will be a year of receiving.

  • Great blog Kate, and excellent post. Thank you for that.

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