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!

Creativity Burst: Visual Journal

It’s all about journaling these days. And usually our minds land on writing words on paper to process whatever is going on in our lives. As a writer, I certainly appreciate writing in a journal to do just this. However, for those of you who could care less about writing and words never have that much of an impact, a visual journal can be a creative and fun way to track where your mind is on any given day.

It’s also super easy, especially if you don’t think too much as you go through the exercise.

First, while perusing any visual material, i.e. magazines, newspapers, paper advertisements, have a pair of scissors on hand and clip out whatever is calling out to you. As mentioned, do not over-think this part. Simply cut out what interests you.

Second, have a large blank journal available for when the spirit moves you to engage with your visual journal, as well as a pair of scissors and some glue sticks.

When the mood strikes, pull out your journal, scissors, glue sticks and clippings and journal away using the visual medium only. From words that you have cut out to images, start to work with what you are drawn to and paste the clippings into your journal. There is no right or wrong way to do any of this.

After you have done a few pages, stop, and look over what you have created. If you haven’t given it too much thought, it may be very interesting to see what has visually arisen on the page that is all about you even though it had not yet been uncovered. This is why journaling visually without too much thinking is one of the best ways to intuitively reflect on parts of yourself that are yearning to be heard.

After you have done this over the course of several months, it is always fun to look at all of the pages and see what has been evolving over time for you. Even if you write in journals, visual journaling is a whole different endeavor which taps different parts of your brain and mind to learn more about what is going on in your internal world.

It may not only provide you with a creativity burst, but also help you attuned to your self and the place you are in today.

Dear Therapist: Now What?

Three Days In, Now What?

Dear Therapist,

We are three days into the New Year…now what? The celebrations are over and the long, cold winter is staring me in the face. What to do?

Breathe and relax is the answer that comes to the top of my mind, but that is anything but easy.

Why does it seem so impossible?

There may be a couple of reasons:

  • A whole new year is staring you in the face – and you have not a clue what to do.
  • The old is very much a part of your life and you feel stuck in it all and there are no holiday distractions to keep the feeling at bay.
  • It’s cold, dark, and the days are super short.
  • You’ve already broken your New Year Resolution

None of these make anyone feel very comfortable – let alone desiring to breathe and relax.

So, what to do? First, remember January is 31 days long. It will be here and gone – nothing lasts forever and neither will this month if it feels bleak to you.

Second, what are some pleasures that you can incorporate into your days. I listed a few of my own yesterday here, but surely you have your own list of ways you care for yourself and things you do to take pleasure in the days no matter the season. Find one or two and bring some pleasure to these days.

Third, although its winter, getting out into nature and witnessing her beautiful nature during this season is also a way to refresh yourself. Perhaps you will take a Forest Bath — perhaps you will just walk your dog around the block. Whenever you are out there, breathe deep and take in the beauty.

Finally, make a plan for the spring! Is there a special outing or trip you would like to take when the days are longer and warmer. Dream on it, armchair travel, and make a plan. You will have something to look forward to and a pleasant way to pass the time.

Yes, the celebrations are over, but a whole new year has dawned to capture your attention and imagination. Live into it and go gently with yourself.

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?

Letting Go of 2019

Time to Let Go of 2019

It’s that time of year. Ready or not the year is coming to an end. Not only that, but this year, with the end of 2019, comes the end of another whole decade. How did that happen? Wasn’t it just 2010 and it was all just beginning?

Time stops for no one, even if one is not quite ready to say goodbye. Do you mark the end of a calendar year in any special and/or significant ways? I notice that my mind takes a wander through each of the months of the past year and I think about the events and other happenings that marked that particular time during the year — for both good and bad.

Not only do I go through the calendar year by month in my mind, I also think about the various areas of life and whether or not there were any shifts to note?

These categories include:

  • Physical Health
  • Mental Health
  • Professional/Vocation/Career
  • Personal – my role as a wife, daughter, sister, friend
  • Home Life
  • My Pets and their lives

There may be others to add, but I sort of take stock and think about what has gone on in these areas and how do I feel about them? In this way, I have a good sense of what made up the year and sets my mind intentionally on the new year.

These practices allow me to linger with 2019 for a little longer as I prepare to let go of the past dear year.

Do you have any practices you engage in to help you let go at this time of year?

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!

Now is the Moment: Seize it!

It’s the month where we look toward January first and the New Year to turn a new leaf over on life with our new year resolutions. It makes sense, I suppose. January ushers in a whole new calendar year to try and “get it right” all over again.

Statistics and experts also tell us each new year that within three weeks we will be back to our old ways. Although our intentions are astounding, our follow-through often goes astray very quickly. I have always been puzzled by this as I am also one who succumbs to letting go of my own resolutions to better myself.

That’s why I don’t wait any longer for the new year to roll around. Instead, if there is something I want to change or add or delete about my life, I seize the moment and start right then and there.

No more waiting. Not even as this crazy holiday season is ushered in — now is the time.

If you think about it, now is really all any of us have in our lives. The past is past and we are not guaranteed the new year. This moment is the one that is most precious because it is the one we are in just at this moment.

So, my thought as December says, “Hello” to you and to me – is to begin whatever you want to begin today.

Right now.