Tag Archives: New Year’s Eve

Embody Joy

2021 is here, and the wall calendar in my home office still reads 2020. Written in dry-erase marker are events and intents that came to an abrupt halt on March 20. No day retreats, art journaling in-person events, or word of the year in-studio workshops happened. I did not travel to training or business events and instead logged many hours with Zoom.

Steady, my word-of-the-year for 2020, became a daily mantra. Like a child learning to ride a bike, I kept my eyes in front of me and hands on the handlebars. I wobbled a bit but I didn’t fall.

I sat in my studio New Year’s Eve with a few family members preparing to ring in the new year. Much different from years past was the subdued nature of the event. No raucous activities downtown, performances to attend, crowds to get lost in. Just me, two sisters, a niece, and three small nephews cutting and gluing and pondering our intentions for 2021.

I did not reveal my word at the stroke of midnight as in years past. I share it with you now as a reminder that it is never too late to sit down and set that intention.

I knew in October that embody was my word. By December I knew it was a phrase.

Embody Joy

This is the art journal page created New Year’s Eve. It hangs in a frame in my studio to remind me of my intention for 2021. Can you find the word Joy hidden in it?

Maybe the shock of all that happened last year makes setting an intention for this one feel daunting. I look at my planner, already a week behind, and wonder the point of everything. Not an encouraging mindset for someone inviting others to more of themselves!

May I encourage you to try? Take that next gentle step forward. Just as I opened my laptop today and spent 30 minutes writing to you, however imperfectly, spend 30 minutes considering where you might want to go in your story this year. Reach out to be seen and heard with kindness and intention.

Let’s step gently into 2021 ready to embrace all of the gifts and the griefs fully, as only humans can. Let’s do it together.

Happy New Year!

Winning 2020

We win 2020. It brings a horrific diagnosis, but it does not take Mom from us.

Not wanting to miss a moment with her or my siblings who are all coming in from out of town, I clear my calendar to be an out of town kid with my sisters for the last week of 2020. We stay in our parents home together, gathering gradually until there are four of us.

The week is full of reframing stories, having positive corrective experiences, processing embodied trauma, and decluttering Mom’s things with her.

We joke that she has created a giant Memory game for us to play as we find the bottom of a cute little decorative box with her jewelry and its lid in a dresser drawer in the guest room. We help her sort and put like things together and get rid of what no longer serves.

We do her nails, she passes out jewelry, we wear her clothes, we put on fashion shows. We laugh and cry and stay up late working on puzzles. We sing and do skits and welcome her brother, our Uncle Roy, who comes to visit.

We don’t want to miss a moment. We don’t know how many more we have.

Childhood floods over me like a tidal wave. Long-forgotten feelings surface as the sisters stay up late into the night remembering together. I wake sobbing in the wee hours one morning, and a sister crawls out of her bed and onto my air mattress. She holds and soothes me while decades of tears and pain release from my body.

We gather for family meals at my brother’s house. His wife loves us all well with her hospitality. A friend prepares chicken barbecue and buys chicken salad and croissants for us. We do countless puzzles.

We rearrange furniture and rooms and claim mementoes. Mom sits with each of her children one by one and gives them treasures she has chosen to pass on to them. The grandkids who visit pour over the jewelry tray, choosing something that reminds them of her.

My eyes land on a pair of earrings that immediately brings tears, then sobs, and I add them to my pile to be curious about later.

Days begin with coffee and soft-boiled eggs on toast, which I learn how to prepare in the special waterless cooking pan. They end with gathering around the puzzle table or the keyboard or a bit of both. There is much singing and laughter and copious tears.

And we end 2020 with Mom still here.

The clock strikes midnight on December 31, and I sing the Doxology standing between my mom and uncle. This is a family New Year’s Eve tradition. Mom joins us. Our eyes fill with tears. We hold every moment holy, glad to still be together to sing.

January 1 arrives and no Word of the Year post publishes, though I have a phrase chosen. I plan to write more soon, but for now I am taking time to live in the moment and savor the time and cry over goodbyes with my siblings as we anticipate the hardest goodbye to come.

Happy New Year, Friends!

Dressember

My final post of the year was unplanned, yet begs to be written. A New Year’s Eve twist finds me at home rather than out celebrating downtown. A surprise sum of money collected earlier in the day finds me with funds to donate when I was unsure there would be any. Now I need to write about it.

For the past several years, I have donated to the Red Tent Living team in their efforts to raise money to combat human trafficking via Dressember. Cheering them on from a distance, admiring their choice of outfits, I never participated fully by wearing a dress myself or calling attention to the movement.

This year I began pondering what it might be to participate by wearing a dress or skirt each day. The month of November found me wrestling the idea, torn with ambivalence and struggling with what was going on inside of me to offer such resistance.

On December 1 I put on a skirt, telling myself that I would regret not wearing one if I decided to go through with the challenge. That day was an early-morning choir rehearsal for the Shenandoah Valley Children’s Choir Christmas concert. I am a parent assistant and received many compliments on how nice I looked that early in the morning.

The following day was Sunday and was natural to dress for church as well as for the choir performance. Day 2.

I continued through the month. On Day 4 I wore a dress to my exercise class. It was the one I wore to my son’s rehearsal dinner the month before. The other ladies in the class admired it and seemed surprised that I would wear it to class, but they did not ask further details and I did not offer any.

The month rolled on, and each day I wore a dress or skirt. It was easy because I have so many of them. In fact, what made it easy is also what made it difficult. I realized that my story with dresses and skirts is what was keeping me steeped in ambivalence.

At the final exercise class of the season, I determined to share why I was again wearing a dress while exercising. There was a new participant, and at the end of class when we were talking I shared why I had worn a dress to the previous class and why I was wearing one now.

I looked at the newest member of the class and said, You could just think I’m that lady who wears dresses all of the time which I am not. I have already been down that road.

Because I have. And that is what made this so difficult. My story with wearing dresses feels shameful and confusing, and to call attention to the fact that I was wearing one triggered deep feelings tied to clothing and body image and a whole list of other related baggage.

Having purposed in my heart to wear a dress each day, I continued to the end. Confident that I would find some extra money to donate, I waited. Christmas money was absorbed by medical bills and other necessaries. Time began to run out. End of year finances tightened to the point that Christmas cards still remain on the mantle, addressed and waiting for stamps.

The final day of December, the final hours arrived, and a message came, thanking me for a job I had done for a loved one. She told me there was money to pick up for it. This was an unexpected twist in my day.

Grateful, I stopped by and collected a generous amount. It gave me $20 to donate, which is not much, but it is something. These days, to me, it is much.

I immediately got on the Red Tent Living Dressember Community page and donated.

And on this last night of 2018, I invite you to consider doing the same. Make a donation, great or small, to help the team round up to $10,000. They are so close!

Click here.

I have my dress on, though my New Year’s Eve plans changed. I wonder if they changed to give me time to write this final post. To share my journey and struggle and wish that I had sorted all of this out sooner.

This was the time to share. I am still sorting, struggling, pushing through.

Shame says It’s too late. Why bother? You should have made this decision at the beginning of the month.

Truth tells me I am right where I belong.

Thank you for being here with me, Dear Readers!