Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! How did it feel for you to turn the calendar from 2020 to 2021?

Most people I know felt a whole lot of relief and happiness as they saw the end of 2020 – a year that was full if unexpected challenged from public health to job insecurity to financial hardship to isolation and more. Even worse? It was all unexpected — a complete shock to ourselves as things unfolded and then dragged on and on — still actually dragging.

However, there was hope in turning the calendar a few days ago. We did end 2020 with seeing our healthcare workers getting vaccinated. Wow! Our US healthcare system may soon be completely secured from the pandemic. That is definitely hopeful — and we all know that we will have out turn sometime in the New Year.

With the vaccine there is also the hope that our lives will resume to normality — but I am left to wonder will it be a new normal? The pandemic has gone on long enough that people are making new habits, living their lives along different rhythms, and orientating meaning in a different way. Dare I say it almost feels like a return to olden day ways. We are at home most of the time, cooking our own food, spending time with our family constantly – not just quality time – discerning who we really want to share time with via Zoom, engaging with our children on a deeper level, and more. Life has shifted and it’s not all been bad — the break from our break-neck, fast-paced lives has provided us with a different way to live our lives.

How often do we get such a reset in our modern day?

Having had the reset, what will you keep and what will you discard when we are all vaccinated and life is ready to return to “normal?”

As we enter 2021, I am hoping a new normal takes hold that honors the best of who we found ourselves to be in 2020 under extraordinary circumstances and also allows us to bring these parts of ourselves to our lives as we resume normality.

Here’s to it!

A Writing Break

A Writing Break
I Took A Writing Break

I am a therapist. And I am also a writer. Are there two different professional paths that you embody? For me, my work is about seeing my patients as well as writing on a fairly continual basis. It may be a screenplay, a non-fiction book, or this blog — but I write and always have. Somebody once said to me, “If you write, you’re a writer. Own it.”

Why is it so different to own something like writing?

In any case, this Autumn I found myself without the impetus to write. My motivation sort of up and left in what seemed like a mere instant. Perhaps it was my own election stress, perhaps being caught up in home projects, or perhaps even the change of seasons. Not sure what happened, but I did not want to write — not even this blog.

I don’t know about you, but when I have something like a blog to write that I have committed to write on a daily basis, I tend to “feel bad” if I don’t meet my own expectations. However, when my motivation to write vanished, I let go. I decided that it was “OK” to not write and to be curious when my desire to write would alight upon me.

How refreshing to not put myself through the ringer for not doing something that I felt I should be doing. I allowed for there to be a pause in my writing on this blog and other projects as well. I just let it be. The longer I let it be, the happier I became with my decision to not write, to not do, and to simply be with this.

And then my writing impetus began to return. Not sure if it is a daily thing, a weekly thing or a monthly thing or if I will switch it up between all three. I am not sure at all. What I am sure of is how awesome it feels to let go of an item on the old “to do” list when it is really not something you want to do. Freedom!

Are you feeling this way as the holiday season kicks in? Is there something you think you should be doing — professionally or personally — that you have no interest in doing? Perhaps the greatest gift you could give to yourself this season is the gift of not doing without guilt or care. Trusting it will return — or not. But whatever the outcome, there is something to become curious about yourself and learn from.

For now, I hope to be back to at least semi-regular posting. After all, I am a writer, even if one who takes breaks.

Celebrations At Home

Celebrations at Home
Celebrating at Home?

As life continues at home for most of us, life and all of its celebrations have not stopped. Birthdays and anniversaries are always in full swing throughout the year — these special personal days come along no matter what is going on in the world. Given the pandemic times we are in, many people are not going to have the celebration they were expecting this year.

As I am a planner, I always have something good planned for my friends, family and myself as their and my special days rolls around. Oh my goodness, all of those plans have been taken off the table in no uncertain terms. As I realized this as the weeks marched toward these special dates, I had to take some time to feel this disappointment of not being able to enjoy the plans that I had carefully made to delight my loved ones. Instead of brushing it off, I faced my sadness over the loss of my special plans for this year. Being able to sit with my sad feelings for some time allowed me to take the next step.

To make the most of what I could do to celebrate. For Birthdays, I could send cards or flowers, I could call, I could order a Birthday cake, hey how about take-out since it’s so special these days to not cook, find a movie and watch it together, take a walk with the loved one I live with, and, most importantly, be present to the person.

Everything wasn’t exactly how I thought it would go, but letting go of my expectations allowed me to be in the moment and see what unfolded that was new and different. Although these were not the celebrations I had planned, being present to the celebrations that unfolded was not only interesting, but fun.

If you are going to be having some celebrations at home soon, here are my top tips:

  1. Give yourself time to process, grieve, and let go of what you may have planned and were looking forward to.
  2. Make the most of what you can do — baking a homemade cake, buying a card at the grocery store, setting up a Zoom party, taking a walk, ordering takeout, and anything else that you may have around your home to celebrate – i.e. bang pots and pans.
  3. Be open to what unfolds without expectations — the unexpected phone call or card in the mail perhaps.
  4. Relax.
  5. Be in the moment. This is most certainly a unique one.

Whatever you do, indeed mark the celebrations at home. It is important to make a big deal of our loved ones and special events. Even though we are all at home, this is not a year to “pass,” but rather to have a celebration that you will remember when you think back to these pandemic times.

Creativity Burst: Confetti Sprinkles

Confetti Sprinkles

Given tonight is New Years Eve, confetti may be in your immediate future. You know those fun, colorful small pieces of paper that can sprinkle us with delight and also become the bane of of our existence when, two weeks later, we are still finding bits and pieces to clean up!

Still, confetti can lead to a burst of creativity and not only on a special celebratory night like New Year’s Eve. Perhaps its the color, perhaps its the tiny little bits of paper, perhaps its the way it bursts in the air for a moment and then falls to the ground, perhaps its the surprise when you aren’t expecting a confetti shower.

Whatever it may be, having a little jar of confetti on your desk or somewhere that you can easily access can add a delight and pleasure in your day to wake one up out of a mid-afternoon stupor, find a smile, give some fun to someone, etc. all for very little effort.

Perhaps on this New Year’s Day you engage in this little creative project. Find the old tissue paper and holiday gift wrap that you are just about ready to put away for another season and cut the paper up into confetti. From there, put them into a little dish or some other container. Place it somewhere that you can easily find.

Tonight, of course, you can sprinkle confetti to celebrate the New Year.

But how about sprinkling the confetti on a rather glum, ordinary day in January or any other mundane day that is sure to be found in the New Year?

See how it lands when you do so – a creativity burst, a smile, a frown for what now has to be cleaned up? Where does your confetti sprinkle take you?

Dear Therapist: New Year Resolutions

Dear Therapist,

It’s that time of year! What do you think about New Year Resolutions? Should I make some or let it go for 2020?

Ah! Yes, a new year is about to dawn as is a whole new decade.

That means the pressure is on to resolve something for all of these new days to come. However, there is much evidence year in and year out that three weeks into the new year, the resolutions have been broken and we’re up to our old ways again.

Oh well, we gave it the good college try! But it does beg the question, should we even bother? Isn’t this just something else artificial that we lay upon ourselves to feel bad about in the not too distant future?

Through that lens, I would say let it go. Do not officially make any New Year resolutions.

At the same time, if there is something you want to resolve to do, be, take action on, etc. do it now whenever “now” arises. Do not put off change to some designated day in a given year.

Start now and make the commitment to yourself for you not because it is some season to do so. I think then and there we have a better chance of reaching our goals.

Whether or not to mark January 1 with a resolution, well that is entirely up to you. Only thing, if you do and you don’t stick to it, let it go and don’t worry about it. The effort is what counts.

Start the new year resolving to go gentle with yourself!

The Holiday Hangover

Do you have a holiday hangover?

I’m not talking about being hung over from drinking too much, but rather the feelings of being “spent” or having made too much merriment? The holiday hangover I am also describing may be called the “Holiday Letdown.”

The holidays that have been building for what seems like months – in Seattle, the radio channels started playing holiday music on Veteran’s Day for goodness sake – and now it is over. No more songs on the radio, the holiday movies all of a sudden have no relevance, people are returning to work, and people are anticipating their credit card statements as they know the bills will soon be due.

It’s all back to reality in many ways. I know there is still the New Year’s Eve holiday and traditions to enjoy, but the presents are opened, the feast inhaled, and the merriment made to a large extent. Now, it’s about the clean-up and out of the season.

Do you have any rituals that you use to make the end of the season easier for you and yours? Do you spend time together before life rushes back in to play one more board game? Do you write your thank you notes really appreciating what was given to you by your loved ones? Do you make up a plate of leftovers to taste it all again one more time?

These are ways to mark the end and also savor just one more moment. With all of the hoopla of Christmas in the rearview mirror, how are you spending your day?