Ahhh, the New Year! A time for reflection, new beginnings, and a fresh start. It’s a blank page in a brand new notebook with a freshly sharpened pencil. And in my lifetime, no new year has been as anticipated as 2021. Not even the craziness of 2000 can compare! (Y2k anyone?!)
But sadly, the excitement of finally turning the calendar quickly dissipated. Like you, I’m still reeling from the horrific events of last week. We watched the attack on our Capitol in total disbelief, fearing for people’s lives, and what it meant for us as a society. And honestly, deflated because it felt like we carried over all the heartache of 2020 with us.
Truthfully, I wallowed in that sadness for a few days. Sometimes we have to give ourselves time and space to sit in our feelings, or they’ll just come back to haunt us. Usually bubbling to the surface at the least opportune time. (Therapist husband, remember?)
But then I thought of my friends and family. And I thought of all of you. And my spirits began to lift, because I know in my soul that we are good, kind people. Our country is a beautiful melting pot of good, kind people. That angry mob does not represent us.
It was a despicable, dark day, but it doesn’t define who we are, nor dictate what lies ahead. I truly believe lightness is coming, and that hope has me excited again for this New Year!
I’m not really one for resolutions though… there’s something so resolute about them. Resolutions don’t really allow room for error, or flexibility. It takes time to break habits, or change patterns and behaviors, and no matter how badly I want to make grand changes, I know I’ll stumble. And with that, comes a feeling of failure.
So in the last few years, I’ve allowed myself the time and space to slow down and reflect on my patterns and behaviors of the previous year, and changes that could make a positive impact on my life, and therefore, those around me.
It usually boils down to one word… and it’s a word that comes barreling towards me and rolls over me like a freight train. (Be careful what you pray for, right?!) Several years ago, that word was RELAX. In every sense of the definition… relax my control, my grip, my expectations, my fears… it goes on and on. I needed to surrender.
The next year INTENTION was so loud in my head I looked around to see if someone was in the room (they weren’t). I was so busy juggling life, being a ‘master multi-tasker,’ that literally nothing got my full attention. That’s a startling and humbling realization. As a wife, mother, daughter, friend, business-owner… none of those roles ever really received my full, undivided attention. Not for long anyway.
For this year, rather than a single word becoming clear, the whole dang dictionary came flying at me! But how could it not after the year we had?!? I stumbled as a parent, spouse, friend, and business partner, with what felt like more missteps than victories. Instead of living with intention, I was just trying to keep my head above water. And forget relaxing my grip, I white-knuckled my way through 2020! Anyone else feel that way?
Regardless of what life in 2021 holds, I need a new mindset. A new way to approach things. And here’s the thing… I’m a fixer. I want to jump right in with my opinion, advice, or a solution… whether it’s my kids, my husband, or the world in general.
My intention isn’t because I think I know best, but rather, I hate to see them hurt or struggle. But in the process, I bulldoze over their feelings with my band-aid. Which in the end helps no one, and results in frustration and resentment.
Mr. SP and I actually started parenting therapy last year, and what I learned is more often than not, my kids just want to be heard and have their feelings validated. (Don’t we all?!) They need a safe place to express their storm of thoughts and feelings. And y’all know, in the middle of a pandemic, there are a lot of those!
So the more I thought on how I want to approach relationships in this new year, these words kept coming to mind…
Rather than an immediate response and reaction when problems and heartache are presented… I want to learn to pause my own thoughts, and really listen to those of others. And in that pause, there is solace. Comfort. Understanding. Power.
Only after should I respond, but instead of a ‘fix’, it’s simply love. Validation. Grace.
I realize I don’t have all the answers, and I can’t heal the pain for everyone all the time. Nor can I protect them from hurt. But I can be a reprieve, and a safe place for them to discover the healing and answers on their own.
What a concept, right?! That my silence and acceptance can actually be the ‘solution’ they are looking for!?
This mantra applies not only to my family, but to the world around me. I have much to learn, and that requires listening first. I won’t always agree, or even understand, but I can provide solace in my willingness to stay present. There is respect in the pause, and in listening. And from that, I’m showing love. I think we can all agree we could use more of that.
I know I have my work cut out for me, after all, I have years of learned behavior to unlearn! But I truly want to be a place of reprieve for my family…a bit of peace in the chaos that is life lately.
Do you have a word or phrase for 2021? Or are you more of a resolution and goal setter?
This post is created in collaboration with Nordstrom and ShopStyle. I’m grateful to partner with companies that encourage their customers to spread love in their own communities, and allow me to dig deeper and share my heart with you.
*Photos by the darling and talented Audrie Dollins.