I’ve been thinking about writing this blog for months. Perhaps even for years.

I’ve noticed that every New Year’s for the past few years, I hear people say or write on social media about how the previous year has been a “dumpster fire” and that the next year must be better. Never has this been more true than in 2020: mounting deaths due to the coronavirus, state-sanctioned deaths of black and brown people at the hands of police, widespread unemployment, hunger and despair.

We are done with 2020.

I totally get that we all want to turn the pages of our calendar and leave all this behind. But, I’m going to tell you a hard truth because I love you: Turning the calendar into New Year 2021 is not going to magically change or make things better. Life is just hard. It is particularly hard right now. Even when the coronavirus vaccine is more widely distributed, and even if new policies protect more black and brown people from police and other harm, and even when unemployment and the economy rebounds, life is not going to get all better or easier.

But, we CAN take this moment and rituals surrounding the change of the calendar to release, to rest, and to set an intention for what is to come. I’ve distilled this process into three basic questions that you can ponder or journal about:

  • What from 2020 do you most want to release?
  • What have you learned that you want to carry forward?
  • What intention do you want to set for 2021?

For the first question, a helpful practice might be one I described in this Mindful Monday video — feeling into the challenging emotion/thought/belief that you most want to release from this past year and then experiencing how feeling into it actually helps it dissipate and release.

Maybe what we’re learning  from 2020, and (perhaps) other difficult times, is that we need to have a different relationship with unpleasant feelings, circumstances and situations. Maybe we need to lean into — rather than shy away or numb — unpleasant feelings. Maybe we need to accept that change is the norm rather than brief aberration. Maybe we need to give witness to the joy felt even in the midst of grief and despair. Maybe the most difficult of circumstances can be our best teacher about how to move forward differently.

All of these things add up to what makes life so hard and so amazing. The trick is to learn to hold all of them at once, acknowledging that so many wonderful and unpleasant things can be happening all at the same time.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Rest, Learn and Grow with me in the New Year! Tackle Tough Conversations in my six-session coaching group starting Jan. 26. Spark your creativity with me and Filmmaker Lindy Boustedt during our week-long Sparking Creativity Retreat Feb. 3-10. Both have Early Bird registration rates that will give you full access on these amazing experiences!

Learn more about these and more gatherings  on my Eventbrite page.