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Blog Entries DIY Reviews

Activities For New Year’s Eve

When we had the idea of throwing a small gathering at our house for New Year’s Eve, we did the initial planning around food and drinks, the traditional (for us) stuff: pork, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, etc. But not one to want to do just the expected things, I talked to Emily about coming up with new activities like we did last year for the gathering. I think it probably says something about my personality that I feel like if we’re gonna have people come together we should do something creative and meaningful, as if talking, connecting, eating isn’t enough!

Reflecting on the Decade

I had the idea to do some kind of decade timeline, but it was Emily’s idea to wed the decade reflection with Godly Play-esque questions. These two things came together well and so we decided to make this the main activity for the evening. It seemed like a good opportunity to invite reflection with friends on the decade, so we laid out some brown packing paper, added dates, and lines, and some questions on the dining room table.

Here’s what it looked like:

We added questions on index cards to prompt reflection for this “Decade in Review.”

  1. You favorite moments and events
  2. Important changes, accomplishments, failures, and losses
  3. Landmarks for human history
  4. What could you do without?

The results were pretty fantastic. Our guests dropped in and out, adding favorite memories, babies being born, moving to Greensboro, weddings and more. It was nice to see how the timeline shaped up with some of our friends, but it was also interesting to see how this then became a conversation piece, prompting people to ask questions and notice things.

Individual Reflections for the New Year

We had other, more personal, activities written on index cards and sitting out on the table for folks to engage with (shown above). These activities were based off of ones we did last year. We set out a bunch of different art supplies, magazines, cardboard, etc. so that folks could craft and engage with the activities as they saw fit. Here are those prompts:

  1. Write a letter to someone you want to thank for being their for you or write a letter to your future self
  2. Get rid of something
  3. Pick a word or theme for 2020
  4. Create a deck of cards: use images, quotes, words, affirming you in the coming year
  5. Make blackout poetry (with pages from One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)

Not everyone did the activities, which was fine, but it was nice to have these out as an option and I noticed many people tried at least one thing. It helped to break up the conversations, time, and it created some opportunities for some great storytelling. And if nothing else, we had a good time.

Here was a card a friend left behind for us.

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Blog Entries DIY Living Well Reviews

Are You Ready to Do Your Annual Review? Here Are Some Tips and Resources

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

As we round out the end of 2019 and the last of this decade, there’s no better time than now to reflect on the past and think about goals and priorities you want to have for the coming year(s). When I think about the connection between work and productivity and my spiritual practice, setting time aside for recalibration, deeper reflection, and prayer are really important to me. I have time set aside for my own reflection coming up. As I get into the mindset and consider how I can take some time to look back not only at the last year but also at the last decade, I’ve begun looking for materials and resources to draw on when I do this work.

Here’s a round-up of resources and ideas that you can use as you create your own plan.

1. Step-by-Step Process for Conducting An Annual Review

First and foremost, here is my post from two years ago on “Conducting an Annual Review.” In this post, I walk you through how to structure the annual review, tools you’ll need, some key questions, and more. This is the basic process I will be using this year, though I always adapt it some.

Here’s an excerpt: This was my first time doing an annual review after really designing a system of project management like we did in Building a Second Brain. I wasn’t quite sure what to do, and I did it before reading “The Annual Review is a Rearchitecture,” but I knew I wanted three components:

  • Enough time away to get into a reflective and prayerful space
  • Time to reflect back over all the projects, accomplishments, failures, learnings that took place.
  • Time to build out my goals and vision for the coming year

📝 See: Conducting an Annual Review

2. New Year’s Eve Review Activities – Fun for a Crowd!

If you want to get super nerdy – because why not – we came up with seven New Year’s activities we put out for our NYE party last year and we had a great time.

Here’s an excerpt:

  • Pick a word for the year
  • Create a personal vision board for 2019
  • Get rid of something – write something down from 2018 that you want to get rid of, tear it up, and throw it away. This was an idea from E.M., our 9-year-old, and I thought it was pretty fantastic.
  • Create a deck of cards

📝 See: Seven New Year’s Eve Activities and End of the Year Reflections

3. Books That Can Help With an Annual Review

How to Not Always Be Working by Marlee Grace – An amazing book about taking care of yourself, complete with reviews, and other exercises for you to use in your own reflections.

Keep Going 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon – A great book about self-care and how to remain creative, especially when you’re not feeling creative.

Essentials of the Enneagram by Dr. David Daniels – As a part of my review, I like to look back and review my number on the Ennegram and review the growing edges and gifts of that number.

4. Some Key Resources for Helping Practice An Annual Review

David Allen’s article on “Horizon’s of Focus,” a great perspective on laying out goals, priorities, projects, and tasks for the coming year. 📝 Download the .PDF here

Praxis Blog from Tiago Forte: The Annual Review is a Rearchitecture and Tiago’s Annual Review Course if you’re looking to spend a little money but go deeper into all of this. As a graduate of two of Tiago’s courses, I can vouche for the quality of these courses, though I haven’t taken this new one.

Shawn Blanc’s Plan Your Year is another good looking and less expensive option that comes with some cool tools you can use for planning. Shawn’s work is also high quality and takes into account mindfulness and intention behind all we do. I’ve taken a couple of Blanc’s courses as well and feel good about recommending this one (I’m seriously considering joining this course).

My friend Fernando Gros has lots of great creative stuff on his blog but here are two where he walks through how to do yearly planning and how to set up annual themes.

Focused Podcast: The Annual Check-In – A work and productivity with a priority towards mindfulness and focus. David Sparks and Mike Schmitz cover their process for personal check-ins.

Jason Shen of Better Humans: How to Run Your Own Annual Review


Ways to Connect with Wess: If you like this post and/or have feedback you think I should know about feel free to connect with me on Twitter and Telegram @cwdaniels or subscribe via email by clicking here.

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Blog Entries Reviews

2019 – Year in Photos

Photo Descriptions

From Left to Right, Top to Bottom

  1. Living in Greensboro means that we are closer to family and we get to see cousins a lot more. This year we got to celebrate Halloween with my sister Steffanie’s family.
  2. Went to Philadelphia a couple times this year, a highlight for me was being at a leadership conference.
  3. I have been listening to a lot of tech show and Apple podcasts, which is both nerdy and fun, but also having an impact on my efficiency and work. This is an image of my current office setup complete with a standing desk. (Podcasts: MacPower Users, Upgrade, Automators and Connected)
  4. Emily and I celebrated 18 years of marriage and 20 years of friendship and love this August.
  5. In October I turned 41.
  6. Made a bunch of new friends in Greensboro who are religious leadership during an Interfaith Clergy Trip this past year.
  7. Went to Indiana to celebrate the wedding of my good friend and fellow Fuller grad, Dr. Jamie Pitts.
  8. I got to meet Dr. Janette Coleman during Guilford’s commencement this year.
  9. My kids found a sign with my name of it! 😉 This was a sign set out in front of Scuppernong Books for my Book Release party for my book, Resisting Empire.
  10. I went to England to support one of my students who presented at a Quaker Studies Conference a great paper on her research she’s doing at Guilford. I also presented on some new research I am working on.
  11. Did I mention my new book, Resisting Empire, was released!
  12. Saw my uncle and other family who live in Arizona after 25 years!
  13. Co-taught a 3-week class on Food and Faith that was moving, and a lot of fun.
  14. Launched the Fireweed Coffee Cold Brew recipe to great fanfare this summer.
  15. I participate in an 8-month Executive Director Academy with the Center for Creative Leadership this past year that was an incredible opportunity, pushed me in my thinking around leadership, and helped me feel more confident in my work.
  16. Trip to the Smoky Mountains with cousins!
  17. In August, my buddy and I rode bikes up to the Blue Ridge Mountains, but we never made it. I watched him go down on his bike. Thankfully, he was okay, albeit badly bruised and banged up.
  18. Emily and I went to Louisville, KY to visit Bourbon Country and spend time with some good friends. This was seriously one of the best highlights of the year. My favorite of all the distilleries we toured was Rabbit Hole.
  19. We vacationed in Beaufort, NC this year and loved every moment of it. This is a photo of Emily on a boat headed out to the beach at Cape Lookout.
  20. Purchased a new roaster, the Aillio Bullet R1, for Fireweed Coffee Co.
  21. The kids all started their 4th school year in Greensboro. L is now in 6th, M is in 4th, and C is in 2nd. This is the photo we’ve been doing each year since we moved to Greensboro.
  22. I married my sister Catrina at the end of 2018 but L and M loved being flower girls and I wanted to share this!
  23. C at the Over The Rhine Nowhere Else festival in Ohio. We loved it and can’t wait to go back.
  24. That time Westboro Baptist came to protest the college you work at and you are responsible to coordinate the response.
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Reviews

‘I Am Continually With You’ : A Review of L. Callid Keefe-Perry’s “Way to Water: A Theopoetics Primer”

I really enjoyed reading and learning from Callid Keefe-Perry’s new book, “Way to Water.”

A photo posted by C. Wess Daniels (@cwessd) on

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Church services are poetry from beginning to end; they just are poetry.
…Religion is serious poetry — which is not to say religion cannot be light-
hearted. But at its highest it turns important; and important involvement with language, use of language for significant human experiences,
merges inevitably into poet.
-WILLIAM STAFFORD

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book for review from Wipf & Stock.

This book outlines the historical development and contours of theopoetics, a theological discipline, or even style, that has emerged since the 60’s. Prior to reading Way to Water: A Theopoetics PrimerI knew next to nothing about this unique approach to theology. In a way, as a pastor and theologian, I’m a good test case for the book, which aims at being an introduction but is certainly not entry-level. If you have interest in knowing more about theopoetics and the potential uses for it within faith communities, this is book is really is a perfect place to start.

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Blog Entries Reviews

Books I Loved Reading In 2014

I love books and I love to read. This past year I started keeping a little better track of the books I read using a simple reading log at the back of one of my notebooks. This makes it a lot easier to not only remember the books I read, but what I actually read about!

Here are some of the highlights from last year:*

Miracle Motors by Peggy Morrison: If you haven’t read this book yet you’re missing out. It was hands down my favorite book of the year. Peggy is a top-notch storyteller, a great thinker, and a Quaker minister who rides a motorcycle through places like the rainy hills of Oregon, the desert heat of Nevada, and the filled-streets of Burundi. This is part memoir, part narrative theology, part motorcycle diaries, and part battle-cry. You will laugh, cry and be challenged by this book. If you liked Nadia-Bolz Weber’s Pastrix, then I promise you will love this.

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Reviews

Review: Planted: A Story of Creation, Calling and Community by Leah Kostamo

If he wantonly crushes ants for the fun of it, odds are he won’t be too concerned about the suffering and demise of larger species, including, studies have show, his own. – Leah Kostamo

Planted Leah Kostamo

I just finished the book “Planted: A Story of Creation, Calling and Community,” published by Cascade Books. What initially caught my attention about it was Eugene Peterson’s raving forward of the book. He writes,

When I sat down to read the manuscript that became this book, I intended to read for twenty minutes and then go back to working on my manuscript…Five hours later I turned the last page with a sense that I was participating in the remarkable story of people who ventured into seriously caring for creation in a highly unusual way – establishing an Environmental Center for the care of creation, God’s creation.

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Featured Reviews

OMG! A film on GMOs: Review of “GMO OMG”

Monday evening, I had the opportunity to watch Jeremy Seifert’s new film GMO OMG. Jeremy and his family hold a special place in my heart because of our friendship that developed while he and I were in school together at Fuller Seminary. During the time that we were a part of a small group we called the “Hairy-Tics,” Jeremy got involved in documentary film-making and began working on his first film called Dive!. Dive! deals with the food waste in our country contrasting it with the hunger that so many people face. Dive! is a fun romp through dumpsters: it’s educational, challenging and entertaining. You can read my review of that film here.

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DIY Reviews

The Moleskine of calendars @NeuYear (Review and 40% Discount)

I am a big fan of Moleskine – and Moleskine-like – notebooks. High-quality “analog” ways of note-taking, planning and sketching are where it is at for me. So you can imagine my delight when I learned about Jesse Philips NeuYear Calendars. After receiving mine for review I can say it truly is as she said “the moleskine of calendars.”

I received this beautiful planning calendar a couple weeks back and am loving it. It’s on high-quality heavy paper, the colors are lovely and the front of the calendar has all of the days running horizontal, and the back is laid-out vertically. So you have options! Finally, the fact that it has no gaps between the months and your whole year can be seen at once makes ministry planning (or any other kind of planning for that matter) much easier.

Check out the image gallery:

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Reviews

Review: All Labor Has Dignity – Martin Luther King, Jr.

The book, All Labor Has Dignity,” is a collection of Martin Luther King, Jr’s speeches edited by Michael Honey, a scholar of labor and African-American history. There are a number of speeches/sermons that have never been put into print before that Honey was able to track down and include. At the beginning of each speech Honey does a stellar job of offering some of the labor movement history and MLK’s own work role within that setting. Much of the book shows King’s constant support of the labor, at least its ideals (there are number of critiques he offers in the book as well), and his work to try and bring the labor movement together with the Civil Rights movement.

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Quaker Quotations Reviews

Practicing Discernment Together as a Church

About a month ago we began a Wednesday evening meeting at Camas Friends (the Quaker meeting I pastor). The goal of these meetings are to build our friendships with each other (so we eat together before the class begins), as well as add to our being a learning community. The first book we decided to work through is a book on discernment and is called, Practicing Discernment Together by Lon Fendell, Jan Wood and Bruce Bishop. The book was written by three Quakers here in the Northwest and is a really useful guide and introduction to learning about the practice of discernment. While the book draws heavily on the experience and wisdom of the Quaker tradition, it is not an overly Quaker book in the sense that it is not bogged down with jargon or insider-speak. It would be beneficial for anyone interested in learning more about this topic. And it does seem that there is a growing interest in the Quaker practice of discernment. I have had a lot of people interested in knowing more about the way Quakers make decisions together without voting.