Guest post by Nikki Jefford

It is a universal truth that grief is an eventuality we must all face. Many of us have already endured the heartbreak of losing a loved one. Sometimes it is expected, other times it hits like a shock wave to the soul.

My family experienced the devastation of losing my cousin in January 2020. We thought we would be celebrating her wedding in August 2020 instead of a solemn spreading of her ashes in Cook Inlet ocean where family and friends gathered in Anchorage the day she was supposed to exchange her vows.

I was afraid for my aunt. Her daughter was everything to her. How would she go on?

Before I left Alaska, my aunt’s cat Theo died. Then her dog had to be put down days before Christmas. When I found out about Spanky, I texted my aunt and told her I was afraid to call because I didn’t know what to say to her after so much loss. I felt like a coward. She immediately phoned me, far stronger than I, bravely holding on to her conviction to live a happy life no matter what.

As you can imagine, this past holiday and New Year’s Eve did not feel like a time of celebration for me and my family. At the end of last month, my little sister called me and said she was at a loss for what to do. I forwarded her “A New Year Begins With You” the December enewsletter from Inquire Within.

My sister immediately perked up and asked if I could send it to our mom, as well. From there, Mom organized a New Year’s Day Portal of Gratitude and Healing with my aunt, family, and friends. Eleven of them gathered around the burn barrel in Wasilla, Alaska to burn the slips of paper and wood with their reflections from 2020 and their intentions for 2021. It was a restorative ceremony to end a challenging year in a hopeful way.

This was the first time I participated in James and Lisa’s annual New Year’s fire ceremony. My gratitude was tenfold being able to do so from our new home in the mountains of North Carolina.

The experience was both emotional and therapeutic—exactly what I needed to put the year behind me and step into 2021 feeling a sense of inner peace, hope and well-being.

I have read and listened to self-improvement books for decades and done a lot of head nodding along the way. What sets James’ book apart, in my personal experience, is the practical approach to spirituality along with the exercises and tips at the end of each chapter.

What I’ve learned over the years, is that you have to do the inner work if you want to create lasting change in your life. You need to do the homework, so to speak, and continue the good work as an ongoing practice. The Inquire Within guidebook offers the wisdom and tools to find happiness within. The Inquire Within enewsletter is like bonus content—invaluable reminders to be true to yourself and are filled with inspiration to, as my dear friends always say, Rock Your Life.

Having had the great fortune to personally meet James and Lisa while living in Washington State, I saw firsthand that they walk the talk and are some of the most kind and generous people I have ever met.

I have been given the honor of writing the first post of 2021 here on the Inquire Within blog. James and Lisa have many exciting projects to uplift our spirits and inspire us in the year ahead.

In the meantime, I wish you all the Best of You no matter what this year brings.

With love,


P.S. James, Lisa, and I would love to hear about your own experiences participating in any of the ceremonies or exercises from Inquire Within in comments here or on the Inquire Within Facebook Page. Thank you!


Nikki Jefford was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. She spent the last 12 years living in the Pacific Northwest before driving cross country to North Carolina with her husband and their dog. She is the author of over thirty works of romantic fantasy fiction.



Woman on beach by Jonatán Becerra, Unsplash

Burn barrel gathering in Wasilla by Gary Tone

Intentions by candlelight and stove by Nikki Jefford