By Lisa Adams Walter
Happy New Year? 2020 has been a year unlike any other. I do not know a person that was not ready to turn the page and begin this new year.
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be devastating for our community, as well as the entire country, it is essential that we find ways to care for ourselves, be deliberate, and feel hopeful and optimistic.
The prospect of a new start in 2021 is both inviting and exciting indeed. However, it is important to remember that the new year will likely be fairly similar to the unprecedented year that we just experienced.
A common practice at the start of a new year is to draft resolutions to be better, continue good practices, change an undesirable behavior or achieve certain goals. The idea is to improve life, and often these resolutions are centered around themes such as fitness, exercise, eating better, saving money, spending less, losing weight, being kinder, working harder or becoming more productive at work or at home.
If you are anything like me, New Year’s resolutions have often made me feel discouraged as the new year moves on, mostly because I resolved to do something that may not have been attainable, or I made too many resolutions. In sum, it would have been impossible to achieve success with my way-too-long list!
One year ago, if you made resolutions, what do they look like now? Too much has happened that was impossible to predict. It was all totally unexpected, and completely out of our control. Our lives, schedules, jobs, typical behaviors, hobbies, entertainment, and financial situations may be much different than we expected.
There have been silver linings though, as we likely each have gained a newfound appreciation of what is really important in life: family, health, safety and community.
When the lives and health of those you love were in danger, when you were no longer able to
see or hug those who you hold close, when you could not go to work, school, or other activities — suddenly all of these things became even more meaningful.
Instead of making classic resolutions this year that may be tough to follow or achieve due to social distancing guidelines, closures of many venues and strained incomes — there are other options for happiness and self-improvement that allow for growth and change in a more personal and intentional way.
Here are some ideas:
Start a Bullet Journal While keeping a journal or diary is a long tradition, a bullet journal is fast and easy, and only takes a few minutes each day. Prompts are available all over the internet, and you could center this around anything you would like to focus upon or chronicle.
Plant a Window Garden I have long been a gardener, but I usually reserve this activity for the spring and summer when it’s natural to garden here in Napa. Sprouting seedlings give me such hope. Plant some herbs, or houseplants, from seed and watch those little babies grow indoors in the dead of winter! If that sounds like too much, then do the old avocado seed in water. We started one by piercing toothpicks and then submerging the base in water when the pandemic hit last year, and it is now already quite a hefty plant.
Create A Family Cookbook Last year I accidentally began a pandemic cookbook, as we were cooking and eating at home like never before. At this point, mine is a file folder stuffed with handwritten notes and modified recipes. Clearly I have lots of content. Perhaps I will make it into a “real” book this year!
Add Some Physical Activity It may be too much to immediately add on a full workout regimen. If you can, please do it. I have found that nothing makes me feel better, stronger and healthier than a bit of exercise. If it’s too much to begin a giant workout routine, then add one physical activity per day. Maybe do ten squats while the shower water is warming up, or five pushups three times a day (before each meal?), or walk around the block at lunchtime. Whatever works for you, make it attainable and chances are that you will add activities as you accomplish these attainable goals.
Donate or Volunteer While it may or may not be possible to volunteer in person, there are still plenty of opportunities to give back in the new year. From online donations, to sharing time and talent, to jumping in to help wherever it is needed, nonprofits are taking great COVID-19 safety measures to make sure that both volunteers and recipients are taken care of so that we can continue to take care of each other in the coming year.
Create a Gratitude Board Vision boards are not new, but a gratitude board is something a bit different that I plan to do this year. In fact, mine will likely be perpetual. I will start with some images, or even photographs this month on a physical collage, and then continue to add them throughout the year.
However you resolve to approach 2021, small steps made possible by planning attainable projects are likely to make us each a bit more positive, resilient and ready to embrace with grace whatever it is that is waiting for each of us in this happy new year!