Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Time to Muse on What You Want in 2021 With a Little Help From 2020
It is soooooo tempting to throw the 2020 baby out with the bathwater. We may, however, be doing ourselves a disservice with a self-preservative move toward adding it all to the "dumpster fire." For me, if I turn my face away too quickly, I will will forget perhaps all that may shine light on and help me to move forward in a healthy way, in a way that serves my highest purposes in life, for me and those around me. I will pull up a chair to 2020 and reflect briefly on the the past 12 months then look forward and live presently. First and foremost I want to acknowledge that we have all had vastly different experiences during 2020, depending on many many factors, too numerous to list. For some the year was greatly inconvenient. For others, devastating. With this variability considered, we can generally speak of what we perhaps share.
In our recent December evening program, we discussed steps to enable a sense of ease and lightness, even advantage during the dark and cold winter months. The last session wonderfully fell on the day after the winter solstice, the day when we start to gain more light. Winter is a time of year when more rest, more contemplation, more warm foods and soups, more times of being "hygged" (pronounced 'Hue-gah') are called for and align with the clock of winter and our animal instinct to hibernate and be more dormant. The time of contemplation and looking back to see what you want to bring forward is our helpful task perhaps, and the subject of this blog.
Bottom line - winter is a very fitting time to move inside a bit, reflect on the past year without making any big decisions or bold moves. We are resting and regaining strength and perspective for the Spring when activity returns and the sun and light bolster our energy. The timing is perfect for our purposes here.
2020 was unprecedented yet unwanted, unique yet also with historical precedent in some ways, a time of great loss yet we can also find gain, frightening and divisive yet we all shared in the experience of this virus - ALL across world. In retrospect, and if we could detach and float in the clouds looking down, 2020 was utterly fascinating from a 40,000 foot view. I anticipate the documentaries and books that will pull apart and examine the year from economic, sociological, medical, developmental, race for the vaccine, educational, viewpoints.
What from 2020 changed for you that you want to keep?
What from 2020 still needs some rumination?
What can be tossed wholeheartedly into the shared conflagration?
Here a just a few items from my list to get us all started:
More time with family - Lest you get a picture of the four of us playing board games, reading classics and making art every day, I don't mean to infer that this was all quality time. Life in the modest house with two sizable teenage boys, where we are all working or schooling, eating, making food, cleaning, gaming, trying to find common ground was not a walk in the park. The teens are not in to spending a lot of time with us old folks right now as they try to stretch the independent wings but keep getting blocked by the flour walls. However, I will always view this time with gratitude for togetherness, even though it was often painful. Without quarantine, I would have seen very little of my family, known them less, missed them more. Gracious I hope they can venture out soon BUT I will treasure this time and feel I know them better having gone through this time literally, in close quarters.
Living presently as the future is unknown. Always the case but this year stood out in stark relief. I want to keep enjoying even the little moments. Be present in each and every task and interaction.
Gratitude for the sentence above in which I mention that we still had jobs, schools, a house and food. Plus, a habit of Outreach that we started this year that a hope to continue. Outreach was an unhabituated occurrence previously.
Reaching out to family - the check ins with older family that I cannot see is a habit I want to keep. So easy to get lost in my day and not keep in touch with my elders, my treasured elders who watched over me for so long.
Nature - don't get me started here but nature saved my day, almost every day. I was all in before but
now I am addicted. All addictions considered, I will take this life preserving, now deep rooted bond. And nature gave us the show of shows this year. It was one of the most beautiful Spring and Fall seasons here in Western PA that I can remember. From a COVID safety standpoint, nature was hugely accessible and safe. And a light, beautiful snow for the holidays? Nature - your message was hard loud and clear. We need you. I need you. My family needs you. I appreciate you.
A true, unparalleled appreciation for what we could not do fully - gather, teach, school, celebrate, spectate, participate. And a much greater appreciation for those who had to work smack in the middle of the red zone - educators, medical workers, service workers.
Eyes wide open to the suffering of others.
Technology - I have spent the last 10 years railing against the tech that garners so much of my kid's attention, and my own. I may not be video gaming until the wee hours of the AM, but I am quite attached to my phone and the little sounds it makes to grab my attention. I fully agree that gaming and social media can be addictive, brought to us care of our brain chemical "dopamine and serotonin gifts we receive with a game won or a post liked. I have, however, witnessed how tech has enabled myself and my husband to stay in business. Tech has enabled my kids to remote learn, and through something I don't yet fully understand called "The Discord" to stay very social. I do know that The Discord has downsides. I am accepting it for now! Gaming has kept them occupied, even though I would much prefer they read or create, correspond or learn, I choose to choose battles. Going forward I am not sure about tech. I have a deep seeded instinct to remove myself from all social media, find an old fashioned phone and voice message machine, to stop the constant interruption and need. I wish I could take gaming fully off the board for my kids. But this is all still up for discernment. A balance is most likely best. How to do that I am as yet unsure.
News - how much do I need? News is right at our fingertips. If I could go back and view a pile of the news I read that was actually enlightening and important to well-being and awareness vs the pile that served no helpful purpose whatsoever, how would these stacks "stack up" against each other?
Where I live - I love my community. Do I a need to live in a place that is more natural and less crowded/commercial? Or is the close community aspect something that I need?
The huge physical, psychological, economic, life and overall well-being toll that this virus and unrest in 2020 has wrought on so many - on all of us to some extent.
The term "dumpster fire"
Not being able to see someone smile - waiting for less masks to be possible
The divisiveness of 2020
So tomorrow at dinner I will surreptitiously guide the discussion towards a glance back at the year. What from this year was good, bad, not sure? In order to accomplish this "touchy feely" discussion with three guys, I will make use of the much lauded coaching "sandwich" tactic. If you are not familiar, the sandwich technique is a way to positively give constructive feedback to a young athlete without sinking their confidence ship. You "sandwich" the growth bit in between two positives. So my plot is as follows:
"Looking back, you guys really handled 2020 with a lot of resilience and adaptivity."
"So - let's talk about 2020 a little more. It's kind of fascinating. How did you do it?"
"Did I mention there is cake for dessert?"
Ask me later how it went;). May make for a great discussion at your household though or a great idea for Journaling.
Until recently, many naturalists and forestry experts believed that clearing a natural space of downed trees and debris was important for the health of the forest. Now, we are learning that downed trees can be of great import for rich soil, seeding further growth, housing ecosystems, and bolstering continued health. Likewise, if we remove ourselves completely and too quickly from the past year we may miss the seeds of growth, the lessons and perspectives that can be gained and nurtured.
We do not have to linger in this place of looking back. We just may want to glance over the shoulder long enough to bring forward a 2021 that has more insight into what we need to be calmer, more appreciative, happier, more connected, more resilient, more ourselves at the core. Once contemplated, once learned, we can be present now, knowing we have staked our claim for some benefits moving forward.
"It's OK to look back at the past, just don't stare." - unknown
For courses starting in January
**I blog not as a guru of ANY KIND but as a student of many practices. My "guruship" with natural world connection is a work in progress that I passionately study. I love to tell stories that describe or symbolize some aspect of the joyful, invaluable, challenging work of making the practices of mindfulness, mindful meditation, nature connection, yoga, gratitude, and positivity an integral part of life. I hope you find value also. Aimee, my business partner, is, in my estimation, a guru of much, although she would also say she is merely a teacher/student on the forever journey.