As 2020 nears its end, I have been reflecting on all the challenges the year brought in its wake. The pandemic, the derecho, economic instability, hard discussions about race and equity, and the elections have all contributed to my anxiety.
Despite all of this, however, I am focusing this month on finding the good in our world. When the storms are gathering, I have a few simple steps to let the sunshine breakthrough.
Give Yourself Grace
This might be the biggest one for me. I started the year with a list of goals and habits I wanted to build in my life. Many of those goals were frivolous: folding laundry when it comes out of the dryer, working out regularly, eating healthy foods. And then, they were thrown out of the window in March.
My new word for 2020 is now GRACE. With the added pressures of this year, I have permitted myself to miss some of these goals. Laundry does not need to be folded right away. Gyms have closed and changed. And when you order Hy Vee delivery, sometimes they don’t bring the exact veggies you want to make your favorite salad.
Instead of feeling bad over what I haven’t accomplished, I feel great about what I have accomplished: time with family, time to reconnect with friends on a more emotional level, and an increased appreciation for every hour of every day.
Are you struggling to maintain your Jan 2020 expectations? Don’t. Give yourself grace.
Make a Gratitude List
I’ve been asking my daughter frequently to tell me something for which she is grateful, or something good that happened each day (and by the way, she usually rolls her eyes). This exercise sounds silly, but it’s so helpful in grounding me. I know many families have some issues that seem insurmountable, but sometimes, thinking about a small, good thing is enough to bring a smile to my face. Some days, I am just grateful that there was less traffic on the road than normal. Spending a moment appreciating the little joys in life gives me the strength to work on the more significant matters.
As Aesop said, “No act of kindness – however small – is ever wasted.” If you rake the time to practice kindness, it does become a habit. Hold that door open. Smile at the person in front of you in line (even when wearing a mask, a genuine smile still crinkles up your eyes). Let the car change lanes in front of you.
If you have more to give, look around to your family, friends, and neighbors. One friend of mine gifted her child’s daycare teacher a bonus this year, so the teacher can purchase gifts for her family. Did this change the world? No, but it did change the trajectory of someone’s year.
Looking to make more of an impact? Watch out for our favorite nonprofits in December; they are all looking for funding and volunteers to help serve the community.
Pause Daily for Reflection or Meditation
This final tip is, by far, the hardest for me to do daily. If you can set aside five minutes daily to meditate, breathe, and center yourself, you’ll start to see a difference in your patience and ability to handle what life throws at you. Looking for help to start a meditation practice? There are several apps and podcasts available: one of my favorites is The Solstice Space, by my local friend Dawn Hafner. Feel free to give it a try.
I would love to know what you are doing this year to center yourself, take the time for gratitude, and help those around you.
And, if you are struggling, know that we are all praying for you. Feel free to reach out privately, and I will try to help and/or connect you to people who can help. We are all in this together.