Processing 2020

As 2020 has been winding down, I have been winding down with it. 

In some ways, 2020 seems like forever and in other ways, it has passed quickly. On March 4, 2020, I had a routine doctor’s appointment and my doctor told me to go home and not to leave again for a couple of weeks because of the coronavirus, because I am immunocompromised from a kidney transplant I had in 2011. Two weeks turned into months. I have measured weeks from Monday to Monday when I take the trash cans to the curb, and I have measured days by my Zoom meetings.

I am more fortunate than most, in that I have a home with a yard, a dog, a church I love, organizations I’m involved in, and I can coach from my home. Still, as an extrovert, being home all these months has had its challenges. I ask myself, “What will I hold onto from this year and what will I remember?”

I will hold onto the friends I became closer to because of Zoom, and I will treasure those moments where I witnessed both clients and friends expressing their most vulnerable selves and reaching out to me for extra support when they needed it.

I will hold close the tears, the pain, and the things shared with me in confidence by so many in the last few months as their pandemic fatigue and grief became unbearable.

I will remember the faces of the many young essential workers who have delivered groceries to my door, and I will be forever grateful to them. 

I will remember every flower and every rose that bloomed in my yard this year, because I took the time to walk around the yard each day and to notice them as they grew.

I will think about the many nights I noticed the brightness of the moon and the stars and the hope it brought me.

I will remember the smiles of the elderly men and women who lit up with excitement when they saw my face staring at them on a computer screen, as I taught them how to connect on Zoom or Facetime. 

I will think about some of the big things that saddened me this year like my friend who is fighting cancer, and my friend who lost her job, and my friends whose kids have needed to start therapy because of covid anxiety, and my friends who have suffered major depression from social isolation, and my friends whose partners, spouses, parents, and children have struggled with health issues or who have died.

I will remember the heartbreak of seeing the ever-increasing numbers of Americans who are dying of Covid-19 and the growing grief in our nation, and I will remember the ritual I adopted of lighting a candle in their memory each morning at my desk.

And I will remember the feeling of wanting to go be with my grieving friends and to hug them and the realization that I could not do so.

As you think about 2020, what will you hold onto and what will you let go of? What stands out for you? 

I encourage you to give yourself permission to be wherever you are, to feel the sadness and happiness of 2020, and to think about the faces, the images, the feelings that will remain with you.

Tomorrow is a new day and a New Year, and the best way to approach 2021 is with hope. I wish you happiness, health, and joy in the New Year, and may we all learn to love and protect each other.

 

Christmas, Day 25

Today is Day 25 of the 25 Days of Christmas.

Thank you to those of you who have celebrated each of the 25 Days of Christmas with me and who have participated in the challenges and ideas I offered to you both in my videos and in my blogs. Having the activities to do together helped at least a few of you who have let me know you were following along in an effort to feel connected, even though we were socially distanced this Christmas.

Like many of you, my Christmas has been quiet and uneventful. I hosted a Zoom coffee hour for a few church members this morning, ate lunch and opened a gift with my mother, and then joined in for a Zoom visit with some family members. The rest of my day was quiet and restful and very different from how I usually spend Christmas Day.

Despite the difference, I have enjoyed a wonderful day. I have felt sadness for those I know who have died and are now sick with Covid-19, I felt a little fear when I heard about the explosion in Nashville, and I felt some letdown when the rain came around noon even though I know we need it. I also felt joy when I lit the Advent candles this morning and when I hosted the Zoom video for my church, and when I joined the Zoom with family members. I felt excited when a friend came by to exchange gifts, and I loved feeling the raindrops on my face as I stayed distanced from him outside.

I have felt so many feelings today. Maybe you have, too. Acknowledging them and naming them is important, knowing that feelings are feelings and they’re perfectly acceptable. What we do with the feelings is what’s important.

What will you do with yours? I know what I will do with mine. I will accept all of them, and I will be grateful that I have feelings. Feelings tell me I’m alive and sensitive to my environment and normal. If I didn’t have a range of feelings today celebrating Christmas in the middle of a pandemic, I’d worry about myself. I trust you will accept all your feelings as well. Give yourself a pat on the back for whatever you did today to take care of yourself.

Thank you for celebrating the 25 Days of Christmas with me. I will leave you with one last affirmation for Day 25: I affirm, accept, and trust all of my feelings.

‘Twas the Night, Day 24

Today is Day 24 of the 25 Days of Christmas.

Tonight is Christmas Eve. Thank you to those who have walked with me as we celebrated the 25 Days of Christmas Journey together, apart. I appreciate the ideas you have sent me to use, too.

The activity for tonight is to read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” and drink some hot chocolate. Then be sure to go to sleep soon so Santa can visit you tonight.

Tomorrow I would like you to sing “Silent Night” and light a candle. Think of those you know who are alone or staying home because of Covid-19. Reach out to them and spread a little of the light, joy, hope, and love that is Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

What’s Your Ideal Christmas? Day 23

Today is Day 23 of the 25 Days of Christmas.

If you have been following my videos and blogs for the last 23 days, you know I’ve been coming up with ideas and activities that we can do together even though we are socially distanced. Some of you have shared these with your friends or nieces and nephews, and some of you have even sent me some ideas of your own.

For Day 23’s activity, I would like you to dream about your perfect, ideal Christmas, and what it would be like. Think about whether you want to be in the snow or in the sand, and who is going to be with you. Dream about what you want to do while you’re there.

As you dream about your ideal Christmas, think about how and when you can make it happen. With careful planning, perhaps you can plan your dream Christmas for next year or maybe for ten years down the road, but holding on to the dream can be important. Of course, not all dreams become reality because plans change and circumstances change, yet I think this year in the middle of a pandemic Christmas, a liittle dreaming is allowed.

As you think about your ideal Christmas for the next 24 hours, just enjoy the dreaming, and then tomorrow night you will come back to the reality of the 2020 Pandemic Christmas and can make it a good one.

The affirmation for Day 23 is “I love to dream about possibilities.”

Have a Little Fun, Day 22

Today is Day 22 of the 25 Days of Christmas.

As Day 25 grows closer and closer, two of my friends have let me know that I have been too serious the last couple of days so for Day 22 of the 25 Days of Christmas, I want you to have a little fun. If you are home and not able to leave the house, you can still entertain yourself and have fun at home.

One fun thing to do is to go online and tour Paris or London or tour a museum virtually. You can also watch live animal cameras at the San Diego Zoo and other places, and you can hear Michael Buble on YouTube reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas. Many 2020 Christmas events are on YouTube, available for live streaming free of charge.

Making cookies and being messy can be fun, as well as watching movies and talking about them with friends. You may be into Scrapbooking or making collages, and you could make a college about your Christmas in quarantine.

If you’re able to go out, you might enjoy walking or just driving around looking at lights. Be sure you keep your mask on and stay safe.

Having a day of fun is really important for your mental health, especially if you think your will feel stressed on Christmas Day.

Your affirmation for Day 22 is “I like having fun and entertaining myself.”

Thanking a Mentor, Day 21

Today is Day 21 of the 25 Days of Christmas.

As we continue celebrating the 25 Days of Christmas together, apart, your activity for Day 21 is to let someone know how special they are to you. Perhaps at some time in your life you had a mentor who taught you about a business or how to do something you didn’t know how to do, or perhaps you had a person who picked you up when you were down.

It’s important to let this person know how special they were to you at a time in your life when you needed someone, and Christmas is the perfect time to do this. Especially this Christmas when there is so much sadness and sickness, it’s a good time to reach out to your special person and let them know you appreciate them.

You can start off your letter with “I want you to know I am so grateful for the time that you…” or “I just want to say thank you for helping me out a few years ago when…..”.

People love to know they are appreciated, and it will help you to feel good about yourself to thank them. As another step to the Day 21 challenge, think of ways that you can be the special person for someone else in an effort to pay it forward.

The affirmation for Day 21 is “I let people know when I appreciate them.”

Picture-Ready, Day 20

Today is Day 20 of the 25 Days of Christmas.

If you have been keeping up with my effort to come up with ways to celebrate the 25 Days of Christmas together, apart, you may know that I have had some challenges that are mental health-related, some that are kid-friendly, some that are simply fun, and some that require some thinking. Today’s challenge is all about being picture-ready so you can document your Christmas in a pandemic year.

I’d like you to do a little cleaning and decluttering of at least one or two of your rooms in your apartment or home. After you clean up a bit, be sure to add a few Christmas decorations in the room. The reason I’d like you to do this is so that you’re picture-ready on Christmas Day.

On Christmas Day, be sure to take several photos and videos of yourself and those who are with you to send to family and friends and to post on social media. It’s one way to share your day with others that you aren’t able to see on Christmas, and it’s also a way for you to have photos and memories to share.

Making a video diary or journaling about the day will be helpful in five or ten or twenty years when you’re remembering how you spent Christmas during the pandemic of 2020. Perhaps you will be in a workshop or simply reminiscing with friends, but having the documentation, the videos, and the photos will be important.

I encourage you to begin cleaning and thinking now about how you plan to document your Christmas Day. When Christmas morning comes, you will be able to grab your smartphone or camera and begin documenting history.

The affirmation for Day 20 is “I am present and aware of what I am doing at all times.”

Dealing with the Elephant, Day 19

Today is Day 19 of the 25 Days of Christmas.

As I considered your challenge for the next 24 hours, I thought it’d be important to address the elephant in the living room. If you are not familiar with the term, just think about being in a room full of people with an elephant literally in the middle of the room, visible to all, and yet no one mentions it because no one wants to deal with it.

For example, the year that my dad died I knew my family would gather around to open gifts and everyone would be thinking about my dad’s absence but no one would know how to address it. In order to acknowledge that he wasn’t there, I took a big stuffed Santa to my mother’s house and put him in the chair where my dad liked to sit. When everyone went into the living room to open gifts, they saw Santa in the chair, which then opened up a conversation about how much we missed my dad and how he liked to play Santa and give gifts. Once we talked about missing him, everyone seemed more comfortable opening gifts and bringing up memories of my dad.

I hope you will be aware of any possible “elephant in the living room” scenarios in your family. The elephant in the room for you maybe be that you’re all missing someone or it may just be that everyone has a whole range of feelings because of Covid-19 deaths or losses related to jobs, cars, homes, family changes, or others.

I encourage you to journal, talk with friends or someone you trust, and to give yourself permission to feel your whole range of feelings. You may feel a lot of opposite feelings at the same time such as joy and sadness, hope and depression, fear and faith, and others. Feeling the opposites together is perfectly okay, and it’s important to acknowledge that you can have a huge range of emotions at the same time.

The affirmation for Day 19 is “I give myself permission to have lots of different feelings even if they contradict.”

Nurturing Your Inner Child, Day 18

Today is Day 18 of the 25 Days of Christmas.

I can’t believe today is Day 18 and Christmas is just a week away. I continue coming up with ways we can celebrate Christmas together, apart, since so many of us won’t be with family and friends this year due to Covid-19. I hope you will add your comments on my Facebook page to let me know if you have any suggestions.

The activity for Day 18 is to nurture your inner child. You have a strong innocent, fun-loving, feeling part of you that lives deep inside you and needs to be acknowledged, nurtured, and validated. Especially since you’re living in a pandemic and stress is high, it’s really important to take care of your inner child.

How do you do that? It’s different for everyone. Here are a few suggestions, but you will know what works best for you.

  1. snuggle a doll or a stuffed animal or a blanket and feel like you’re hugging something
  2. build a fort in the middle of your den and sit inside of it for a while
  3. watch a children’s movie or read a children’s book
  4. decorate cookies

There are lots of options for nurturing your inner child, and it really is important not to neglect that part of you. Have fun and be creative as you nurture your inner child.

The affirmation for Day 18 is “I acknowledge, nurture, and validate my inner child.”

Setting Boundaries, Day 17

Today is Day 17 of the 25 Days of Christmas.

As Day 25 draws closer and closer, the activity I chose for today is to set boundaries. Setting boundaries and saying no when you need to seems really important right now as Covid continues to spread. Today I was coaching a client who was invited to a friend’s for Christmas dinner and didn’t feel comfortable going. However, she was struggling with how to say no.

Saying no is perfectly okay, and you are not obligated to make excuses to others. Simply saying no is a healthy way to set boundaries and take care of yourself. The pleaser part that lives inside wants so badly to say yes in order to be liked by others, but then the regrets begin when you hang up the phone and are mad at yourself for saying yes.

You are not obligated to say yes just to please someone else. One way I have learned to deal with setting boundaries is to tell the person, “Let me think about that and get back with you” which gives you time to decide if it’s really something you want to say yes to or not.

Practicing with a couple of friends is really helpful as you learn to set boundaries. Saying no becomes easier the more often you do it. For a Christmas gift, give yourself permission to say no when you really want to say no.

The affirmation for Day 17 is “I take care of myself and say no when I want to.”