For many of us the real new year starts in September. This is the time when kids and young adults go back to school, when the rest of us go back to work, when many of us make new resolutions and promise ourselves to do better or different. After some reflection over the summer season, our brains seem cleansed and ready for reset. Personally, I had many chances to indulge in my own practice of #BlueMind – when I find peace and calm near a body of water that grounds me – after many hours on the lake and even in the ocean. Yet, I still worried about all that needs to be accomplished this fall … until I remembered I only need to worry about one day at a time.
For me the summer hasn’t been entirely peaceful, although it was a significant one – one where I witnessed some beautiful beginnings (as during a wedding) and some tragic endings (when someone I was close to passed away). There were days when I felt overwhelmed with emotions because of all the love I got to experience, and there were days when life seemed bleak and senseless. If I were a religious person, perhaps this would’ve been the summer of dropping down to my knees and shaking my fist at the sky, or perhaps I would lose my religion altogether. But since I don’t recognize a monolithic god or an organized religion, I had to deal with my emotional ups and downs mostly on my own. And although this was lonely at times, being able to rely on myself is something that I take pride in. It’s not that I don’t need others – I very much do – but most of the time, I am able to step back and take an objective look at what is happening and know how to deal with each situation because of my past experiences.
I know, for instance, that nothing ever stays the same and that the only constant is change. So I knew that those loving, deeply personal feelings I’ve experienced during the wedding would eventually get less overwhelming and transmute into beautiful memories. A little bit like having a photograph turn yellow from too much sun. The essence of the photograph is still there, but everything is toned, blurred. And it was the same with grief. I realized relatively early on that I absolutely had to face all of my uncomfortable feelings to be able to deal with it in a healthy manner. Being in denial was out of the question and minimizing was too – the person died and it hurt. And I found that by honoring their death and acknowledging the feelings in the present, I was able to find a stronger and surviving connection to that person even though I was seemingly going through the grief without them around.
For all those reasons, and the fact that this is a new season, my sense of renewal is very strong and when it first came on, I felt excited, not scared, because of the new challenges it presents. I went through a lot this summer, but instead of giving into emotions and crumbling, I came out more resilient – what better way to face new challenges than in a new, well-fitting armor?!
I realize that not everyone has that kind of reaction, and this is not me bragging about my superior skills of being able to handle situations, no. But what I can share and hopefully impart on some of you is that one thing that always helps is knowing that renewal is always possible and that it’s possible to find joy anywhere. Maybe this seems preposterous to those of you who are struggling, maybe it seems common sense to those of you who know what I’m talking about… but for those who are curious: even the smallest pocket of it (joy) matters, and often we can find it in the present if we stop and look. Seeing your kids leaving for school on that first day, going back to work to new opportunities, changing roles, moving to a new place, even the seasons changing – all of that is the evidence that nothing stands still and that we are given new opportunities all the time, that we almost always have a chance to face the world, again. There’s an adage in recovery rooms that says, “One day at a time,” that teaches its adherents not to get hung up on what happened yesterday or worry about what might happen tomorrow. If you see time and it’s passing as piecemeal, it might be easier to digest – and, yes, it will be easier to find some pleasure in all of that. This is what I wish you in the new season – I wish you a happy new year!