29 Dec

When life hands you lemons...

The old adage doesn't quite feel appropriate for the upheaval that has wrought our world this year. Life has turned upside down, many of us are balancing all responsibilities from our living room couch, facing the constant daily threat of serious illness and loss, and we can't safely commiserate around a table with our family and friends. While a global pandemic has raged on for most of the year, we have also faced a reckoning as a country in response to the ongoing violence perpetrated against black and minority lives, and a growing political divide that has severed friendships and families. This has all been hard. We are tired, defeated, and ready for some semblance of "normal." Or maybe not normal. Maybe something new, where the myriad threats we currently feel are not so weaved into the fabric of our everyday lives.

It is tempting to believe that as soon as the clock strikes midnight this December 31st, magic will befall the planet, and things will start to feel okay again. I have seen countless bumper stickers, Christmas ornaments, and memes demonizing the year 2020, giving it full responsibility for our plight. I, too, have found myself daydreaming about how a new year will bring an end to at least some of the suffering of the past year. But what if nothing is different on Friday morning? How attached are we to the idea that things MUST feel "better" in 2021?

Death and rebirth are the only constant; it's the cycle of life. Nothing stays the same. We reinvent ourselves, birthing new versions of who we are on a regular basis. The seasons show us beautifully how letting go and falling dormant leads to blooming as soon as conditions are right. Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes, beginnings and endings. It's how we navigate these that really matters. Saying goodbye to 2020 inevitably means welcoming 2021. What expectations do we already have for the new year? After months at home with ourselves, what have we really learned?

Let us be intentional about what we say goodbye to in 2020. Let us allow in all of the lessons that came out of this year and make room for the changes that are begging to be made. I would argue that 2020 has not been a curse, but a teacher. It has reflected back to us, individually and collectively, who we are and what we need, and it has forced us to FEEL it all. 

Some reminders I hope to carry with me into the new year:

  1. We can do hard things (Thank you Glennon Doyle).
  2. Being willing to be gently but fully present is a form of self-kindness.
  3. I don't always have to choose between career and family (and sometimes I do). It turns out I can be mediocre at both, if pressed to do them both at the same time. Mediocrity is usually enough.
  4. If I'm not making time for something in my life, maybe it isn't actually a priority for me in this moment, and I can give myself a break.
  5. It turns out there aren't THAT many material things I really need. This becomes glaringly clear the more I sit amidst my piles of things every day, missing out on who and what really matter.
  6. True compassion involves staying in my own business and living my own life, while allowing other people to live theirs, whatever version they choose.
  7. Truth evolves. What is true on Monday might not be what is true on Friday. I am willing to be open to and flexible with a changing reality. If I find myself fighting reality, I will lose, but only 100% of the time (Thank you Byron Katie).
  8. I must take care of my body. I only have this one. I vow to listen to it, feed it, water it, and be mindful of what I expose it to. 
  9. Privilege is not a scarlet letter. It is our unchosen place in society, from which we can either be complicit with the status quo or, with awareness and courage, choose to promote change and build equality. I will use my voice when I see injustice.
  10. We will get to the other side of this. No one knows exactly what the other side looks like, or when exactly we will arrive. The uncertainty of it all is scary. But, we are in it together.

Sending peace, light, and love. See you in 2021.

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