Advent of a new year: choosing your ‘word’

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Throughout a year loaded with more change than ever, my word for 2020—growth—continues to stretch and mold me. Yet, when I reflect on the past 12 months, I’m encouraged by the countless ways in which I’ve given my word a good workout. Perhaps it’s my age—reaching the halfway point in Club 50 membership can do that to a girl—or maybe it’s the date on the calendar that sparks possibility and expectation as we await the advent of shiny new beginnings. In either case, excitement stirs in my belly as I meditate on my word for 2021: a theme, of sorts, or call to action that captures the spirit of what I’m drawn to most, in this moment—a life of surrender. For me, this looks like creating a plan, but releasing attachment to future outcomes. And, instead, approaching each day with playful curiosity, while practicing resilience in the face of whatever comes.

What word or theme will you focus on in the new year?

Dwelling in possibility

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I dwell in possibility. ~ Emily Dickinson

As we draw closer to a new year, I spent extra time considering the message I desired to convey in this post. And I settled on a common thread I imagine weaves itself throughout humanity: expectation. In my own life, my family waits with expectation to celebrate the birth of Jesus (see “Regain the wonder…”). Others, throughout the world, prepare with expectation to engage in favorite traditions in the spirit of the holidays. Regardless of what this season might look like on your corner of the planet, I can almost guarantee each of us anticipates starting over. Yet, with many of the best-laid plans we envisioned for a new decade turned upside-down, it might prove difficult to wrap our minds around the hint of possibility. But herein lies the nugget—an idea to contemplate as we count down to 2021 and the clichéd clean slate. Without expectation, without hope: what remains?

How does your life reflect expectation for the new year?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Regain the wonder: creating new traditions

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‘Tis the season once again. And this year, no doubt, many of our traditions will look different. As we navigate the pressures inherent with the holidays—amidst the added stressors of an ongoing pandemic—I’ve found it helpful for my own mental health to adopt a spirit of wonder and possibility that exists beyond the norm, or the “way it’s always been done.” For example, rather than rush through a harried month of December, my family created a new tradition: the Advent “tree.” This entails a small, makeshift tree onto which we clipped little notecards—dated from Day 1 to Day 24. Each morning, we read a chapter from the Gospel of Luke, and afterward we open the corresponding day’s card to view that day’s activity. Some activities include completing Christmas word puzzles, setting up our nativity scene, “attending” an online concert and baking loaves of bread to share with family and friends. A simple and sweet way to slow down, connect and reflect.

What’s your favorite tradition?

No. 1 remedy to burnout

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Image source: healthline.com.

I couldn’t put my finger on it. Barring all-things 2020, my mood contradicted a grateful heart. Head spinning, I opened my devotional book and, although not “dated” for that particular Sunday, the passage focused on the Sabbath as a day of rest. I don’t know about you, but I tend to view Sunday as a “catch-up” day, in which I attempt to wrap up the previous six days’ worth of tasks. Then, by the time Monday morning rolls around, I’m already itching for the weekend. Yet, as I read that rest serves as a simple remedy to burnout and its symptoms, I saw myself reflected between the pages. In that moment, I shifted to a “Sunday slowdown” mindset and removed the heaping helpings that crowded my “plate”—all a product of my own doing—and proceeded to spend the day regrouping. This time when Monday rolled around, it didn’t arrive as a surprise or a burden, but rather a clean slate.

What does rest look like for you?

The end: starting over in 2021

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During this past year, I’ve brainstormed a lot: potential stories to explore with my writing, how I envision my future self, my goals in five, 10+ years, etc. Which has prompted me to take a deep dive at how I’ll use my time going forward into the new year. And when so much in our daily lives is out of our control, I can rest in the knowledge I’m free to choose how I’ll spend that time. One thing I’m excited about includes beginning 2021—and each consecutive day—traveling through the “Bucket List Journey by Annette.” On her website, Annette introduces readers to 365 days of soul-searching tools and inspirational activities to start living out our own bucket lists. While each of us possess a litany of commitments, we also get to choose possibilities. So, as humanity awaits the traditional ball drop at midnight on Dec. 31—preparing for a better year ahead—I invite you to do the same.

How will you start over in 2021?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.