Happy New Year! We are a month into 2021. I feel like time in my world has been both incredibly fast and incredibly slow.
I usually get very excited about the end of the year. The holidays generally ignite my creative energy. The end of one season and the beginning of another tends to activate my reflective genes.
But not as much this year.
With so much to feel and so much to process coming out of 2020, I found myself less ready to be “ignited” and “activated” than I normally am.
So I went with it…in part because, as I get older, I continue to go deeper into the practice of “simplifying” my life and in part because…well, I honestly didn’t have the energy to do much else. 🙂
This meant that there was no flurry of holiday activity around my house during the last two months. I decorated no trees, put up no lights, swapped out no regular pillows for festive holiday ones. I sent no cards on time, had almost no holiday check-ins with friends & family, exchanged no gifts with Daniel (my partner), and cooked nothing special for either Christmas or New Years. I don’t think I even made it to 12am on New Year’s Eve, and I’m very sure I didn’t get dressed up. And on the reflective front, I attended no end of year meditation retreats, wrote not a single word in my journal, took no long walks with friends to deconstruct the previous year and plan for the next one. I made no vision boards.
I noticed that many of the things that have brought me joy and energy in the past just didn’t this year.
So instead of forcing it, I decided to go where the energy was…and here’s where I landed.
I baked a lot of dog biscuits and cookies, put on a cheery red pom pom headdress, and drove around town delivering them to friends…because I felt like it.
I created a reflection space for a women’s group I’m part of and used that as my forum for reflecting on the year past and the year ahead…because I believe reflection is important and also felt like some guardrails & lane lines around how much & how long on I reflect on this year is useful right now.
And I got a puppy…because…well, he’s cute…and I like cute things.
And yeah, I heard some noise in my head as I did a whole lot less than I normally do – Am I making the most of my time? Am I being intentional? Am I living in gratitude? Am I doing the “right” stuff”?
But I also had a lot of fun…with the limited energy I had after a long year of…2020. And I think that’s ultimately what matters most: I listened to myself and gave myself permission to honor what came up, without insisting that it match up to some archetype of what the holiday season “should” look like or some past experience I’d created for myself of “what Alice does during the holidays.”
Nothing kills joy and activates anxiety faster than competition & comparison…even with yourself. Nothing spurs resistance faster than forcing it.
As I look forward to 2021, I’m still thinking about what I hope will guide me this year. Secret: I’m not throwing reflection and intention setting totally to the wind; I just want to right-size how I do it right now based on where I’m at mentally, emotionally, & physically. And where I’m at right now is – simple & joyful.
In a world that constantly tries to make us smaller, joy is an act of resistance & liberation. In a world where overcomplicating is often encouraged & rewarded, simplifying is a necessary break with the status quo.
As a client said to me recently, “I think we all need to access the courage to be basic right now.”
Yes. I concur.
So this is what I’m holding up as my north star this year: accessing the courage to be simple.
You’re probably wondering: What does that mean and look like?
Good question. I don’t totally know. But I don’t need to…because a north star isn’t a plan, it’s a guide…something to look to, to orient me when I feel lost, not a roadmap that shows me all the steps to my destination.
I’ve got some hypotheses about what might happen for me as I keep my eye on that star. I imagine accessing the courage to be simple might lead me at moments to do less & say less, create with focus, pick one thing rather than many, say no to the half hearted yeses in order to say yes to the wholehearted ones, force less & embrace more.
But maybe not. We will see. Hypotheses are opinions loosely held that hold the promise of being confirmed or reshaped based on experiences.
I’m guessing following my north star will lead me to actions, ideas, & decision points I can’t yet predict…and don’t need to expend energy thinking about now. That sounds like an adventure, and I like a good adventure.
So there you have it: 2021 – accessing the courage to be simple.
Let’s face it 2020 was a lot on a lot of fronts, and even if, in the aggregate you can, like me, look back on the year and say, “Wow, I’m grateful for…” or “I learned & discovered…” or any other variation on something uplifting, energizing, & empowering…it was still a lot. A lot of change, a lot of grief, a lot, a lot, a lot. And it continues – it’s 2021, but the forces of 2020 are still shaping our worlds. We are still reacting, responding, sensing and sense-making them.
So among the complexity, I invite you to simplify. What’s your north star? What is guiding you into this new year? What’s the thing you want to look to, to help you orient in times when you feel untethered?
I’d love to hear what you come up with!
Until next time,