Happy Holidays!

Since starting this blog in 2013, I can see the significant positive changes that continue to bubble up in my life. Life is good! We are all on a continuous journey, and we sometimes need the down time from the holidays to really appreciate what we have. Far too often,we reflect on the madness of the holidays – and then look to the future to make changes that may not happen, which in turn create a lot of frustration. That’s the madness of the monkey mind. So, I decided to share how I’ve come to envision each day – not just New Year’s Day.

1. Focus on Now

You cannot find yourself by going into the past. You can find yourself by coming into the present.
…Eckhart Tolle

We often set high expectations for ourselves every January after looking back in frustration from the previous year. Don’t let the past or future haunt your brain – focus on Now. Once you truly realize there’s nothing you can do about the past or future (except ruminate on them), you’ll find the concept liberating. Now is where is where you make changes – where there’s no excuse to avoid them.

“How do I ever get anything accomplished?” you may ask. That’s easy, you…

2. Set an Intention

And intentions are different from resolutions. They are less threatening, and something we can live with as a constant. I mentioned intentions in this article last year.  Good luck!

3. Reframe Your Goals

So you didn’t accomplish everything on your “To Do List?”  Turn it around and see what you did accomplish.  Whether you’ve done a lot or a little doesn’t matter – baby steps are sometimes just as important as the big ones. Goals are great if we need the incentive to “make things happen,” like graduating from college, getting a particular project done at work, saving for a house, etc. However, goals can become counter-productive if we attach our perceived identity to them, which suffers when we regard negative results as failures rather than learning experiences.

To ease the burden of “Goal Guilt,” try this simple tool. With gratitude, write down what you have accomplished, even if these things are “small.” If you add in unexpected events, you’ll be astounded with what you have accomplished

4. Build Some “Me Appreciation”

Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.”
August Wilson (Source: Goodreads.com)

We have a tendency as human beings to be very harsh judges of ourselves, especially if we are perfectionistic. Unless your goals and dreams are related to survival (food, water, shelter), take a step back and ask yourself why you are setting goals that may either be too high or repeatedly unobtainable.  You’ll know if they’re too high if:

  1. You feel stressed and overwhelmed by them
  2. You judge yourself harshly if you “fail”
  3. Your relationships and personal life suffer

As a recovering perfectionist, I used to always focus on goals, and worked obsessively to get them accomplished. Focusing on “projects” may mean you are avoiding something you don’t like about yourself.

This may sound “corny,”  but as someone who’s had to overcome some killer personal demons, I can say that avoiding the issues won’t make them go away, and it becomes exhausting to keep them “under control.”

Start simple, by giving yourself down time to do things you never “seem to have the free time for.”  Start a hobby you’ve been dying to try, read a good book, take a long walk, take a hot bath. You can even give yourself the gift of rest and silence. Start a journal and record with gratitude the things you like about yourself. These are all simple tools to foster self-acceptance and self-esteem. If the issues are more serious, you may want to consider professional counseling to kick-start your healing journey.

5. Have Some Fun!

Having fun, honoring our past an present dogs, and giving to the local kill shelter where we rescued them. Happy New Year!

Avoiding holiday madness, having fun, honoring our past and present dogs, and giving to the local kill shelter where we rescued them. Happy New Year!

It’s important to give yourself fun time every single day. It can start off very simple and small. This is part of the “Me Appreciation” I talked about above, which helps foster loving kindness to the most important person in your life – you.

Since my girlies were tiny, I’d wake them with a sing-songy “It’s a beautiful sun shiny day.” In Cleveland, that doesn’t get you very far from November to April, so I changed it one day after my very-cross then-4 year old said it was cloudy outside. Game on.

It’s now “It’s a beautiful some kind of day” every single day. It’s goofy, it’s embarrassing, and oh so fun. Attitude is everything – and it sets the mood for our day. Now 10 and 12, they’d be embarrassed to admit it, but it’s something they’ll always remember about their childhood. We start each day as beautiful and full of potential, which is a simple goal in itself.

Happy New Year!