To look forward:
I find that right between Dec 25 and Jan 2 or so, there’s an unusual vibe about. This reflection time becomes for me what I want to do more than almost anything else. I used to feel pulled to go to black tie events even bus it into New York city to ring in the new year in a crowd of strangers. Always I feel huge releif to stay home, make a nice pot au feu, and connect with the distant twinkling stars over my head whether I can see them or not.
Before looking forward there’s this quiet openness to tap into. I’m grateful that I no longer have to be trying to keep down too many appletini’s in a silvery dress on a NY subway as the clock strikes midnight and can instead just be home, soaking in a twinkly silence. Reflecting on the very illusory, slippery and conceptual nature of time.
When it’s morning, the light is always a little different in the new year. Unwritten and like new airwaves. This is sometimes a nice moment to do the forward looking part.
If you consult your innermost truth, the velvety layers of your heart, what would you love to experience in this year? What would you love to see unfold? Be careful here to really check to see if what you identify as wanting is true for you right now, or something you used to want but feels a little stale.
Also here, be careful to focus on qualities of experience, how you want to feel, versus on what you might get, or the outer trappings. I say this because sometimes I think I’ll get joy from a boyfriend or a fancy tech job, but the universe or whatever it is knows better, and so if I focus on the JOY itself, the quality of experience, I will open up the possibilities beyond my own imagination, trusting the best form of JOY to arrive, in a package I can’t predict. One year it was buoyancy I wanted, another it was roots and community. It can be lots of things, but don’t just say you want to feel good. Make it specific. And too, other people, places and things won’t ever deliver forever, so don’t place your bet on someone stopping their habitual thing, or treating you or seeing you differently. We have no control over others. So focus on your own experience and drop those objects. They will do what they do. You can work within your own hula hoop effectively, and change comes from there.
Look back, take stock, and celebrate.
While the first way: Stay in the Body is concrete and personal, the next two have a more contemplative and cerebral quality to them.
The question is then, how to do these things. There are a million ways. Right now what’s springing to mind is to suggest with a friend, or to set a date or two with yourself, to do these things intentionally. You might put on your calendar for a day of this weekend, or the one right before or after the bigger holiday events coming up, a two hour window at your favorite coffee shop or nook, to meet or factetime a copascetic friend or on your own, to come together write and share on the following.
A few guidelines:
Don’t force anyone to do this. Including yourself. No 14 year old kid is likely going to want to answer these questions. That’s ok.
If doing this in a group or with friends, let everyone be and respond as they want to. It’s not a time for advice giving or opining. This was everyone feels safe.
When I do this kind of thing with a friend, I find it helpful to share the questions and write on them, and then each person has time to share out loud what they wrote.
1. Stay in the body.
When manic holiday shopping or intensive socializing and activities are on constant offer, there is a tendency for my energy to go up and out. In the aisles of a store, the energy goes out through the eyes and the senses, or bores deeply into a list, and I can completely forget I have a body at all. At a holiday party or a tea with a friend in from out of town, I can feel a pull to match the bubbliness and superficiality that may be all anyone is capable of mustering as the weeks wear on. Another scenario that looks a little more like hibernation but also is a kind of disembodiment is binge-watching shows. Sometimes if holidays are lonelier, or there’s grief and loss as a part of this time of year, I can find myself wanting to manufacture good feelings by not one but a whole season of something, until I dream about the plot lines and characters, and my own life becomes of mash up of fiction and reality.
This is for most of us a norm at this time of year.
To stay in the body, here are some suggestions.
Happy belated Thanksgiving.
As the days get shorter and colder, I am now slowing down into this season of reflection, rest, and to the best of my ability, going inward. Someone recently pointed out to me that doing so poses a real challenge at this time of year because economic forces do not want us to do this, though for centuries it’s been a time for rest and falling fallow. At a grocery store three days before Thanksgiving, I felt and heard that constant jingle jingle jingle that spurs one to throw that extra holiday oddity into the cart, and just one more little gift. It’s fun sometimes, until it becomes a kind of manic autopilot. So, today, on the day after Thanksgiving, I’m going to start putting out some alternative points of focus to accompany all of that, or to do instead. I will do this in three parts.
We’ve got just over a month before the holidays are behind us. For myself, and for you if you choose, here are some ways to go slow and go in peace and stay healthier. I’ll outline these, and then go into more detail in the posts to follow.
1. Stay in the body.
3. Look forward.
Bring the insights of these practices to the more outward facing facets of this holiday time, and see how much richer an experience it can be!
Hannah Burr is a contemporary artist and author. Originally from Boston, she lives in Ann Arbor MI.