Greeting the New Year

Hello, friends. It’s been a while.

I don’t know about you, but 2020 somehow seemed to both drag on forever and disappear in the blink of an eye. It had its joyful moments (those are always there if we look for them) but was largely weighed down with uncertainty, anxiety and many unexpected challenges. Stepping into 2021 hasn’t had the same ‘new start’ kind of feeling that New Year usually brings, has it?

I have this sense that I’m sort of feeling my way into this year. Moving with tentative hope, testing the ground, trying to be positive and purposeful but also gentle with myself and others. I have set no resolutions. No ‘new year new me’. I’m simply trying to continue navigating these strangest of times. And to trust. This too shall pass. 

I have still chosen my word(s) for the year though. Compassion and intention. These words are ones that I have kept returning to as I’ve tried to find ways to navigate recent challenges. These are things I want to hold space for this year. Moving through the day to day with intention, even in the small things. Thinking and behaving with compassion for both myself and others, as we all try to get from one day to the next in a world that – for many – often feels unrecognisable.

When lockdown 1.0 first hit us back in March last year, I was full of determination – I had ‘we can do this’ running through my veins; I was energised by the challenge of finding new ways of working with my team as we all switched to remote set ups; I looked forward to uninterrupted time at home during which I would (I was sure) write and read and draw and do yoga and take online courses and learn to cook new things and bake bread and organise my house from top to bottom. It was a little scary, sure, but I was raring to go.

It took less than a fortnight for my enthusiasm and determination to be overwhelmed with worry. For the health and wellbeing of my family and friends. For our financial security. For how on earth we were ever going to find a way out of this mess.

I barely wrote a word. My reading slumped. I didn’t draw. I managed about 2 weeks of consistent yoga practice and then…stopped. I signed up for lots of online courses that I never even started. I cooked out of necessity – so we could, you know, eat. I did bake some bread. But not very much. I did not organise my house from top to bottom. I managed one room. And although my introverted self was largely fine with staying at home and not going out other than to walk the dog, I missed being able to hug my mum and dad. I missed going for coffee with my friends. And the one time I ventured into a bookstore in between lockdowns, thinking I’d cheer myself up, I got so panicked that I hardly browsed at all and left without buying a thing.

And that’s all ok.

I survived.

I commiserated with friends over zoom. Told my family I loved them over FaceTime. Went for socially distanced walks when weather permitted (and sometimes when it didn’t). I valued my home, my husband and our dog more than ever. I breathed deep the fresh air when I got out to the fields. I noticed things in our neighbourhood that had previously passed me by. I discovered some incredible independent shops and made a new commitment to shop small and local where I could. I learnt to live more slowly, more thoughtfully, more gratefully.

These are the things I carry with me into 2021.

Last year was not all I hoped for. This year may well be the same. But I’m here and so are you. And, right now, that’s enough.

So go gently, friends, into this new year, with compassion, intention and whatever inner peace you can muster.

J x

5 thoughts on “Greeting the New Year

  1. Hi Jen,
    Would you give permission for me to post a couple of your poems on social media with your name listed?
    I loved your book and want to share, please do not feel that you have to say yes. Grateful to have had your book bought me as a gift. Much love on your joirney,
    Yvonne.

    1. Hi Yvonne, thanks so much for your message. Please do feel free to share away! I just ask that you credit me. 🙂 I’m thrilled to hear you enjoyed the book – that means a lot to me. Much love to you on yours.
      Jen

    2. Oh, and if you wish to, please also tag me wherever you share! I’m @bookwyrmdancer on Twitter and Instagram and Thrive In Chaos Blog on Facebook.☺️

  2. Hello Jen,
    I just wanted to say a thank you for your posts!
    I run a support group, where we usually have a reading, consisting of about 30 mindfulness practitioners and I read out your “hello to 2021” to them tonight (which they loved) and so have shared your Greeting the New Year post with them.

    They are all very grateful for your wise and gentle words.

    Many thanks,
    Fiona 🙏

    Fiona Smith BA MBACP
    The Conwy Counsellors
    http://www.theconwycounsellors.co.uk

    1. Hi Fiona, thank you so much for your message and for the valuable work you are doing. I’m so glad your fellow practitioners have found value in my words – I’m honoured you chose to share them.

      All the best to you all,
      Jen

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