The Gift of a New Year

Discover the WHY behind our hunger for a New Year

To say that 2020 was a challenging year is akin to claiming triple bypass surgery is a standard procedure. If someone were to enter our planet for the first time, while we might be inclined to hold their hand, inviting them to sit down as one would to see a therapist after the death of a loved one, where would we begin?? (Besides which, we can’t exactly touch this fictionalized visitor to our planet who really needs a mask–pronto;-)

The pandemic, the protests, the killer bees, the Nashville bombing—words just fail to articulate the unprecedented and harrowing past 365 days.

And yet, COVID-19 didn’t officially hit the worldwide stage until mid-March, so the mask-wearing, toilet-paper-fearing shortage, social-distancing, government-lockdowns weren’t experienced for a full calendar year.

And yet again, it feels like more than a year. After all, the Gregorian calendar began with the sudden and tragic loss of the beloved basketball player, Kobe Bryant on January 26th of the very year we are on the heels of bidding adieu.  

Any great loss plays with our sense of time. So, it’s no wonder that this year, our concept, our understanding of time seems to render us in a perceptual fog of sorts. As of this writing, 341 thousand Americans have died as a result of COVID-19; worldwide, the death toll is over one million.

Humankind is emotionally starving for a return to normal. Deep down, we wonder if we will ever return to normal. If we grow still, we wonder if our pre-COVID world was all rainbows and unicorns anyway. We revel in the silver linings found throughout this roller coaster of a year; we ask ourselves: What is normal anyway??

There is no magic switch that will turn on as we ring in this New Year. Writing 2021 on our academic papers, our checks, our contracts—none of this will stop the rising death toll, increase the limited ICU beds across the county or bring back our departed loved ones. 

So why do we need, more than ever before, to celebrate and welcome in 2021?

New Year’s is a symbol of hope, of a fresh start, of wonderful possibility. It represents turning a corner, closing a door, so we can open up a new one.

A New Year is a gift, an opportunity to try again. It is Time’s present of a new blank page. It is the closest Time offers to an actual restart button.

I encourage you to revel in the gift of possibility this New Year brings. May the symbolism and fact of a new calendar renew your spirit—and by extension, humanity.

Limbo Life

On the precipice, our perspective is heightened.

Everywhere I look these days, someone or something is “on the edge.” Listen to the media, scroll through your Twitter feed or even share a dialogue with a family member or friend, and you’ll find a wait-and-see mentality that often shows up with several audible sighs and shaking of the head.

There are societal divides–sometimes violently visible, sometimes unspoken yet loud, emanating between humanity as it holds what feels like its last inhale. This divide can be felt on the phone with an uncle or a colleague or a best friend. Politics are no longer “politics” but carry a weight like a spiritual albatross that makes the space between people feel electric.

But there is another divide existing in our pandemic, killer-hornet, presidential election world of 2020: the conflict within ourselves.

You see, it’s not just humanity that’s globally on the cusp of a major shift; it’s each of us as individuals. The pandemic is forcing us to “get real” with ourselves; it seems the more we try to skirt around the fact of it, the louder COVID-19 grows. We keep trying to adapt our pre-pandemic lens to our current pandemic reality, and based on the ever-increasing numbers around the world, we need to change our prescription, our perspective, our actions.

We can see our limbo, our very discomfort and frustration with existing in the space where we are, as a chance to gain perspective and make changes. Those changes need to start with ourselves. The backyard of humanity first gets cleaned up by the individual choosing to pick up their own figurative rake–not by forcing that rake into someone else’s hand. Limbo offers an opportunity on the ledge of possibility: to see what you see and not someone else; to respect what someone else sees yet not feel compelled to change them; to address your issues and not others’.

On the precipice of change, our perspective is heightened. Limbo is the RESTROOM pit stop on the highway of life. Embrace your respite–even its potential discomfort. There are lessons to be divined on this limbo ledge that won’t be available for long.

Serving Ourselves a Dare

The fear paradox: the greater we avoid something, the more likely it is to consume us.

Remember when you were a kid or teen and you dared your friends to do something scary? Sometimes it was something that in hindsight wasn’t so scary like going up to a police officer and asking him for the time; other times it was scary but—once again with that good ole’ hindsight—foolish and borderline dangerous, like eating something questionable like glue or a bug?

Regardless of what kind of dare you were given or gave, the intent was always the same: to get a thrill, a rise, a rush of adrenaline through our youthful veins. Even just giving someone a dare was enough to make our blood pump faster.

If you are reading this, chances are you fall into the adult demographic and your days are filled with lots of R’s (responsibilities). Time is limited while to-do lists are infinite; you are rarely in the now and more often than not, planning what needs to be accomplished or completed next.

One of my colleagues recently said, “I’m going to be like an ostrich and keep my head in the sand.” She was referring to our new virtual reality of teaching through so many new online platforms. A friend of mine shared with me this evening that she accepted a new position because “it’s safe.” As we get older—and with the uncertain backdrop of the ubiquitous pandemic—it’s understandable and downright tempting to want to cling to what is safe, to dig our head into the figurative sand until the unknown passes.

But what would happen if we, as author and professor, Brene Brown suggests in her eponymous book, DARING GREATLY, we became that young kid again (who still resides inside of us)? What if we chose to shake the sand off of our heads and see whatever is going on without judgement? What if we decided to not cling to safety so steadfast and instead, allowed ourselves to feel a little rush of fear as we considered other alternatives to earning money?

When we were children, we dared each other; as adults, we need to serve ourselves a dare: something that will reignite our soul and breathe fresh life into our lives.

Consider the pandemic, the growing violence in our world, the political tension—let’s not forget the killer hornets and potential meteor headed our way (the day before the US Election). Do we really have the control that we are so hungry for? Uncertainty is abound, and here’s the rub: the more we cling to things/people/circumstances for peace of mind, the less peace of mind we will experience. 

So what can we do? How can we serve ourselves a dish of happiness in such an uncertain world? We can find opportunities to dare ourselves—even if it’s over something that might seem small. 

My dare is often involving facing my fears. Fears embraced lose their power over us. And there’s nothing that feels more alive than meeting your fear head-on—talk about an adrenaline rush!

The great thing about being an adult is you don’t need to wait for someone to dare you. But since I’m still that kid inside who never grew up, I’ll take this moment to dare you, right now! Serve yourself a daring dish and watch your life change—dare I say, for the better!