Welcome back and belated best wishes for 2017! Having started the year with a bad cold, I am now ready to start the New Year.
As soon as midnight strikes on the 31st of December, the media frenzy begins with all the things we can do, and the miracle products we should buy, to help us look younger and healthier this year. Added to this is the pressure of setting New Year’s resolutions that will probably go out the window by the 4th or 5th of January.
The “happy” in the Happy New Year’s wishes made me reflect on what we mean by it as the festive season is not always a fun time for everyone. Shortly after the New Year BBC Radio 4 featured some recent research findings that suggest although we are aging much more healthily and living much longer than previous generations, we are not always happier.
One major reason for this is that many people find themselves on their own, as the surviving partners. As part of the programme, Radio 4 interviewed a gentleman now 95 who shared the sadness he feels on New Year’s Days as he faces another year on his own. My brother-in-law made the same comment and said that the festive time is the worst time of the year for him as it is a stark reminder of his loss.
My brother died a few years ago of terminal cancer and some of you may have read my blog, One Step at a Time, in which I shared my journey of writing a book as a tribute to my gay brother and his partner and their journey with cancer. The book was published last year and is entitled, Goodnight Doll. So, the festive season is not always a joyous occasion for everyone and for some the New Year will stretch out cold and lonely.
This time of the year is a natural time for contemplative reflection and I spent time with a client yesterday reflecting on the year gone by and what the New Year might hold for him. I invited him to think about what he wanted and needed to leave behind in 2016 and what would be of benefit for him to embrace in the New Year. It is of psychological benefit to acknowledge and give thanks for the joys and blessings we enjoyed in the year gone by before fully embracing the New Year.
Reflection is not only of benefit to students or those evaluating their performance against specific criteria. Yes, it is even of benefit to those of us who may not be a slave to the endless cycle of performance reviews. There are many benefits to be gained from reflection and the command of the Delphic Oracle namely to “Know Thyself”, is achieved through reflection. Socrates go one step further and suggest that “the unexamined life is not worth living”.
At any age, learning from experience is valuable and reflection allows us to capture this learning. It is also through reflection that our subconscious mind communicates with us and provides us with insight and inspiration. The act of reflection slows down the frenetic pace of our busy lives. It affords us the time and opportunity to put things into perspective and above all, it creates awareness of the many things we have to be grateful for.
However, instead of the mindless pursuit of New Year’s resolutions, maybe you want to reflect on aspirations you may have for the New Year. As an inspiration, I share with you a lovely posting I recently came across, by Two Southern Sweeties (source unknown).
50 Things Every Woman Should Have By Age 50
- An old boyfriend who makes you smile with melancholy when you remember him and an old boyfriend who makes you proud of how far you’ve come.
- A piece of furniture that has never been previously owned by anyone in your family that you bought with your own money and makes you happy.
- An outfit that makes you feel invincible if your future employer or man of your dreams calls to meet you in an hour.
- A set of lingerie that you would not be ashamed to be seen wearing.
- At least one scar on your heart where HE hurt you.
- A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.
- The realization that you are actually going to have an old age — and some money set aside to help fund it.
- An email address, a voice mailbox, and a bank account — all of which nobody has access to but you.
- A dream so big it scares you.
- At least One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry.
- A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a pair of totally unpractical shoes.
- Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.
- The belief that you are worthy of treating yourself with respect.
- A skin-care regime, an exercise routine, a push-up bra and a great pair of spankx.
- At least one recipe you cook well to impress the fussiest of guests.
- A place to go just to think… where you can be completely alone with your thoughts.
- At least one child who looks to you for guidance and advice…even if he or she isn’t your own.
- The knowledge on how to break-up with a man or confront a friend without losing your temper or your self respect.
- At least one lover who knew exactly how to touch you to make your toes curl.
- The memory of a kiss so powerful…just the thought of it could sustain you into old age.
- The medical history that runs in your family so you can take care of YOU!
- The ability to live on your own and not be dependent on anyone.
- An outfit that feels like you are in a cocoon and safe from the world…its usually fleece or flannel.
- The ability to let go of the hurts from your childhood and embrace the fact that your parents did the best they could with the skills they had.
- One secret that makes you smile.
- A memory that makes you cringe….because those memories were lessons that brought you to here.
- A journal full of your deepest thoughts.
- A person you can call at 4 in the morning because you’re in a bind.
- The knowledge of what you are willing to accept and what you are not in a relationship.
- Something you do that’s just for you and no one else.
- A piece of jewelry that has sentimental meaning.
- An older woman in your life who embodies the traits you wanna develop in your old age.
- A spirituality that feeds your spirit and nourishes your soul.
- A soundtrack to your life that when you hear it on the radio you sing at the top of you lungs.
- Someone or something you LOVE with your whole heart.
- A to do list that never gets completely checked off.
- Enough money to run away in case you have to.
- A purpose to rise out of bed every morning.
- The ability to look in a mirror and love the ripples and bumps and wrinkles that stare back at you….because you earned them all over time.
- The ability to say NO without having to add anything further.
- A hobby that you can get lost in for hours.
- A hole in your heart from losing someone you have loved deeply…
- Done at least one thing kind for someone that has no way to ever repay your kindness…
- A “Been there – Done that” T-shirt to starting over from scratch…whether it be from a divorce, a career change, a massive loss or surviving life’s curve ball.
- A photo album full of memories…even if it’s on a flash drive or saved to the cloud.
- A passport… Up to date and ready to be stamped for the next adventure.
- At least one grey hair, wrinkle and saggy body part…. If you don’t… Something’s wrong.
- An accomplishment that’s all yours…outside of your children, not tied to your spouse…something you have done or created all on your own.
- The knowledge of who you are as a woman. What makes you happy and what is no longer tolerated.
- The understanding that 50 is not over the hill…it’s not even close to the hill…. There is no hill even on the horizon….cuz you still have shit to do….
Which ones are you inspired to engage with this year? Alternatively, add one or two of your own.