Hello February

Hello February

Hello February!

And where exactly did January go to? I know life in many ways is still very limited due to the COVID pandemic, particularly in states like WA, but it feels like time is still flying by even as lockdowns continue.

I always look forward to February. First it is a short and sweet month — four perfect weeks made up of 28 days. When Leap Year falls every four years it is also quite unusual. February also bridges the seasons between winter and early spring. Once March rolls around we know we are going to have longer days, bulbs blooming, and some warmer days. So, February is that short bridge to early spring. Ah!

And then there is the sweetness that comes from chocolates, flowers, and Valentine cards. Do you celebrate? Granted this is often noted as a “Hallmark Holiday,” but I love to show my family and friends how much I love them with special cards and candies. I make sure to have fresh flowers on hand and chocolate of all types for a sweet treat here and there. I know it can often feel bittersweet if we are single or recently broken up with, but I believe there is still the opportunity to spread and receive all types of love if we put ourselves in the space of love — just love.

Finally, this is a month to learn as we celebrate Black History Month. And all of us have so much to learn about black history that is rich and enlightening to the historical context of our nation and how the past history is shedding light and perspective on today. This is the perfect month to pick up a book on a black historical figure or event and to grow in understanding. And don’t stop there with your own understanding. Seek to pass along what you learn to your family and friends – perhaps have a group of your friends and family commit to learning about black history and at the end of the month hold a Zoom discussion to learn from one another.

February is whisked in after the very first month of the year has taken its bow. It’s up to each one of us to make the most of the next 28 days that are ours to spend in many different ways. Here’s to learning, love, and hopping the bridge to early spring.

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!

Dear Therapist: August Already?

August already

Dear Therapist,

Even though we are in the midst of a pandemic, I feel like the year is moving by fast. Like wicked quick! It’s strange because none of this year feels like how an actual year feels, but what are some ways to enjoy August even as life and the end-of-summer rituals are almost non-existent at this point?

Sincerely, Pining for End of Summer Normal

Wow! August already. I agree — it’s been a strange summer, but that didn’t keep it from flying right on by. Seems no matter what the circumstances summer is a fleeting season of the year.

For me, August stirs up a late summer vacation, getting ready for school with shopping and all of the paperwork, and taking advantage of the last of the long, hot days before Autumn’s familiar routines settle us into the end-of-year.

My guess is there may be a lot of disappointment on all of these fronts this August. Parents and children may be preparing for the school year, but it is one that continues at home for most without the regular routines, activities, social interactions, and more. It’s just the family together continuing on – tough. Grieving what is lost for all of you is very important, while at the same time imagining new routines and ways of being in this together that is unique and offers some thing to look forward to this month.

Those late summer vacations have been seriously curtailed this year, but how about some day trips or local weekend getaways? At this point, any time away taking in life from a new vista is refreshing. Surely there is a park, beach, or hiking path nearby that will serve as a late summer refresher for you and yours. Making time to get away is important to mark summer’s end.

We may not be able to be with loads of people, but we can grill out, take long evening strolls, harvest the garden we may have planted, head to an ice cream shop, and other simple summer pleasures that keep a sense of time during this late summer.

Even with life upside down, the yearning for those traditions that mark this time of year is important. Keeping this in mind and getting creative about how you will do this will not disappoint.

August will come around again – hopefully, by then, we will find life’s normal pace has returned. Until then, hold on to the memories of past summers and create something new too.

Yearning for Nostalgia

Yearning for Nostalgia

I read and interesting article about Yearning for the Past in the New York Times this past week. The gist of the article is that during times of crisis, such as the COVID pandemic we are facing, people yearn to go back to the times before this time where things were easier, simpler, and uncomplicated with the concerns of the day.

Do you find yourself yearning for the days before COVID — or even times from an earlier time in your life? The article points out people are reconnecting with their old childhood friends, dressing as they did when they were teenagers, revisiting in their minds places that are full of ease, like a favorite park.

For me, nostalgia is active at this time. It plays out in the yearning for the olden days when I traveled without a care in the world. If I needed to be in Asia the next day, the ease of buying a plane ticket, packing a bag, and boarding the plane to take me far, far away. I now marvel at how I did this with such ease and confidence. Now, I wonder if I will ever travel like this again? My travel memories delight me and hold me in good stead during this crisis. I have lived and enjoyed travel when and while I could. It makes me happy to remember and allows me to hope for it in the future once again.

The article points out that having bouts of nostalgia are neither good nor bad, but noticing what is going on for you when you think of yester years and days is more the point. What is coming up for you? Are you living in those times to avoid your sorrow and depression of these days? Or are you returning to happy memories that sustain you and give you hope as you live out your present days? Noticing is the key word when thinking about how you are using nostalgia.

The good ol’ days have always been called upon by the older generations. However, even the youngest of us can now recall the “good ol days” — i.e those days before COVID. It’s perfectly fine to remember and enjoy the memories of the past. However, being in the present and remember that one day these pandemic days will also be stories we recall to younger people who were to young to remember this time or are not even yet in the world. Yes, we most likely will even romanticize a pandemic in the future.

Take a trip down memory lane when you need to and also be present and notice what that trip is doing for you in the here and now.

That Magic Age

That Magic Age

That magic age. What age is it for you? I recently heard someone say that 35 was their idea of that magic age where everything falls into place, there is no more issues or worries, and one can just be one’s self without any more hang ups.

Interesting! Does such an age even exist?

The older I get I don’t think there is a magic age. It feels like that each decade and the years within each offer its own lessons and magic based on what we have lived, learned, our attitude toward self, and what we anticipate as we look to the future. I often thought when I would get to a certain age then all of my problems would be over — well, those problems may have been, but new ones I have found arose at the same time.

I will say that getting older is interesting though. Even if you haven’t figured it all out, getting older seems to naturally wash away many of our hang-ups and earlier concerns of life. Age helps one to see things differently, which often makes those things that we were so worried about when we were younger fall away. Now there is some magic!

However, each age is to be cherished and relished each moment we are in that year of our lives. We will never have that year again and the “now” of what we are in is the most compelling year of all as that is what we are in – that is our present. And, truly, this is all we have at any moment. Yes, we can yearn to be a certain age, but this takes us away from where we are and learning in that year and calling it good.

May we all appreciate the year we are living in our lives. Indeed, that is the magic year!

Your Favorite Day of the Week

What’s Your Favorite Day of the Week?

Do you have a favorite day of the week? If so, which day is it and why?

It’s a little thing to notice, but there are 52 weeks in a year and so you have 52 favorite days in any given year for you to enjoy and relish. Yet, you first have to know it is your favorite day and why so you can celebrate it with gusto.

You may think it would be a weekend day, like Saturday or Sunday, but it doesn’t have to be one of those days. After all, some people work these days, have to do errands, or any number of other things that keep the weekend days from being favorites.

Others may love the hump day or Friday — closer to the weekend perhaps?

Some may even love Monday! When I owned my own tech business, I always woke up with a spring in my step on Monday mornings — ready to go!

Perhaps it’s a random day like a Tuesday because that is your day off. Whichever day it is for you, name it that, and relish it. For me, my favorite has to be Sunday — yes, it is a weekend day. Usually, it is slower than Saturday, which means there is less to do and I feel completely within my rights to take a long, languishing nap on the couch on a Sunday. Sometimes there are fun events on a Sunday, sometimes there is nothing to do and that’s fine by me.

It’s also the day that I am anticipating the new week to unfold. What will it bring? I can reflect on the past week and anticipate the new with some mindfulness. Of course, the alarm rings off shortly after Sunday and it’s “just another manic Monday,” but I feel like I had a rest. I call Sunday my favorite day of the week and I enjoy.

So, which day is your favorite?

What Day Is It?

What Day Is It Buttons
Have you lost track of the days of the week?

What day is it?

Has this question been on your mind lately? It’s no surprise given the weeks without end under a “shelter in place” order that the majority of America and the world is following for the time being. We mark the days and the weeks by certain rhythms, such as going to work, the children going to school, the weekend with an often errand-filled Saturday, date night Saturday, and a relaxing Sunday.

Goodbye schedule, Goodbye rhythms. We are in new territory indeed!

I was reading an article in the New York Times discussing the phenomenon of losing track of the days. The article points to more stress, anxiety, and uncertainty as several factors combined with a lack of rhythms to mark and differentiate time for ourselves. After all, time is made up by man. Man decided to carve out a five-day work week and two days at the end of each week to rest and relax. He also carved out the working hours of 9 to 5.

All of us pretty much abide by these artificial designations because it’s always been this way and we conduct our lives accordingly based on the day of the week and the time of day. What happens when none of that matters or makes sense?

Some of us are working from home so that gives some sense of how a day is supposed to be spent — but even then there is no space differentiation from working at home to being at work. We are just at home round the clock, i.e. living, working, keeping kids busy, and more. The days of the week are blending together and so it would be easy to work on a Saturday as it is a Tuesday.

What if you aren’t working? Then this is time out of time for you. Your routine has been completely disrupted. There is literally is no where to go and nothing to do outside. You are called to shelter in place day after day with no change. Time often doesn’t feel like that – it speeds up, it slows down, it tells us where we need to be, it keeps track of the hours we work and sleep, and how long it takes to cook something.

Time is still making up each of our days, but what does it matter when we struggle to see or feel any of it right now? Here are a few tips to help yourself keep track of the days and time that makes it up:

  1. If you aren’t keeping track of the days or you are finding it difficult, don’t fight against it. Give in and see what it is like to feel time differently, if you feel it at all. This is a unique situation and surely one where you can learn about you and your family.
  2. If it is important to track time, then orientate yourself to the day of the week upon waking up, “Today is Monday.”
  3. Once you have grasped the day of the week, approach it as you would that type of day in regular times. Is it Monday? Get up and begin your week. Is it Saturday? Perhaps the day you go out and grocery shop? Is it a Friday night, perhaps a date night?
  4. To shake it up a bit, once you remember the day, turn it on its head and do the opposite of what you are normally supposed to do on that day. As an example, on a Wednesday, spend the day watching shows. Just experiment with turning the normal routine of time on its head.
  5. Remember time has not changed — there are still 24 hours in the day, making up 7 days in a week, making up the 12 thirty or thirty-one day months, making up the 352 days in the year. How we experience this time is what has changed. Notice and observe yourself moving through this time and perhaps journaling about how it feels the same and different.

What day is it? I am often wondering it myself these days. Know you are not alone in feeling lost in how we have made up our systems of time. Lost is not a failure, but rather a place to explore and find unique ways to cope and turn time on its head for a split second of eternity.