Happy New Year!


Happy new year! I hope that your holidays have been filled with opportunities to find joy, make connections, and celebrate. It has been fun to hear from people that read about my tradition of choosing an animal to inspire my year. Some friends said they felt inspired to choose an animal or a word to capture their desired values for 2022. Others wanted to make guesses about my new animal choice, and one even guessed correctly! As you have been thinking about and preparing for the new year, I hope my talk of otters encouraged you!

Without further ado, I would like to announce my animal inspiration for 2022: the narwhal! Yes, my friends, the narwhal IS real. Some call them the “unicorns of the sea.” They are the foundation for the myth of the unicorn, and their tusks have inspired wonder and curiosity for centuries. 

I love the idea of inspiring people to dream about possibilities they hadn’t thought were real! Imagination is the foundation of transformation. Albert Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited; whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” This year, it feels so important to me to open myself up to lessons that can be learned by following these very real mythical creatures.

The Inuit name for narwhals is “Qilalugaq qernartaq,” which roughly translates to mean “the one that points to the sky.”  For me, coaching, mentoring and teaching are all about pointing to the limitless sky of possibility. As I have opened myself up to possibility, I have realized that each of my dreams has a role to play in creating a joyful life. The sky is not the limit; it is the destination. I love mentoring and coaching because I get excited about people living their dreams, too! This year I want to follow the narwhal tusk to remember the power of possibility.

When not pointing at the sky, narwhals use their tusks to sense changes in the salinity level of the water they are swimming in. Knowing when freshwater rivers are dumping into the ocean tells the narwhal it is time to migrate or feed or otherwise care for their pod. After a year of studying and cultivating compassion, I want to focus on mindful presence. This year, I will transition from the classroom to the open ocean of coaching, which means being open to understanding the messages the sea is sending me.

Narwhals are deep divers! They dive deeper into the ocean than almost any other mammal because they have a flexible bone structure, which protects them from the crushing pressure at the bottom of the ocean. This year, I want to continue my work with compassion and discover more practical uses of the enneagram. In 2021, I enjoyed playful exploration of topics that sparked my curiosity. This year, I want to dig in and allow lessons to bubble up from rich investigation of the ways we connect with ourselves and others.

If you thought that was enough science to choose a theme for the new year, I have one more deep cut for you. Narwhals are one of two whales that have unfused cervical vertebrae. This means they can turn their necks separately from the rest of their body. They are flexible and aware of their surroundings. They can take a different and new perspective on situations. I welcome this trait into my year.

This is a year of change for me, but I want to hold on to the lessons I learned in 2021. Narwhals will help me do that. They are connected to their pod which grows and shrinks during different seasons, and they are extremely playful. They also molt. While it has only been witnessed on rare occasions, narwhals can shed a thin outer layer of skin in the summertime. Their skin color changes as they get older. They change and adapt. This is a year of change for me. As I shed some of my old identities, there are new opportunities that await me. 

Adaptable, sensitive, curious and pointing to the sky.  I will be happy to be in the company of narwhals this year.

By the way, a group of narwhals is called a “blessing”. Thank you for being counted among my blessings this year!

Yours with a heart of discovery,

Carly Flagg

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