Avoiding the New Year ‘shoulds’

It is the start of 2023, and I’m going to resist the collective habit of sharing or encouraging intentions or resolutions. And instead just acknowledge that for many, including myself, the start of the year has thrown a few curveballs and unexpected challenges.

This has meant, for me, that there’s very little space or time to really reflect on the year past or what I wish to bring in for 2023. And what I want to say about that is, it doesn’t matter.

Too often, particularly in the wellness industry, we get pulled into thinking we must do this or that thing – join that workshop, complete our journaling or vision board,  practise yoga or gratitude or breathing exercises – if we are to be happy and live the life we want.

This year I am accepting that I can’t always make the time for it, that other things get in the way or I’m simply too exhausted or distracted to join another Zoom or in-person event.

At the same time, I am also accepting that I still need to carve time out for myself to pause, be still, let go of the ‘to-do’ list and things I thought I was going to complete that have been taken over by other priorities. This was my big learning from 2022, after becoming ill from exhaustion and doing too much, and I keep coming back to it every day. I value and appreciate myself enough to accept my limitations, that I’m doing the best I can and that that is enough.

Let’s remember we are still emerging from a monumental, traumatic time in our collective history. We are still finding our feet again after a period of uncertainty, isolation, fear and – for many – devastating health setbacks that started in 2020. Can we be gentle with the pace at which we move, whether it’s in our work or any other aspect of our lives?

Photo by Jordan Sanchez on Unsplash

I write this with a smile, as I’m actually still slipping into old habits of rushing about and thinking (and over-thinking) about multiple things on a daily basis. And yet I find there is a stillpoint too, a certain centredness, that allows me to juggle all of that whilst remaining kind, slow, gentle. It has come through giving myself space to rest, to play, to cry – in whatever spaces or ways feel right for that moment. There is no need for continued rigidity in our self-care practices. All we need to do is pause, feel into our heart and our body and ask ourselves, what do we really need in that moment?

When I pause like this I am also able to restore hope, even excitement, about what is to come. I can trust that by allowing for stillness in my busy life, I am allowing the release of stored up emotions and negativities. I am opening up space for new thought patterns, new ideas and new ways of being to arise.

I’ll finish with these beautiful words from the poet Danna Faulds:

Walk Slowly

It only takes a reminder to breathe,

a moment to be still, and just like that,

something in me settles, softens, makes

space for imperfection. The harsh voice

of judgment drops to a whisper and I

remember again that life isn’t a relay

race; that we will all cross the finish

line; that waking up to life is what we

were born for. As many times as I forget,

catch myself charging forward

without even knowing where I’m going,

that many times I can make the choice

to stop, to breathe, and be, and walk

slowly into the mystery

I have a new podcast interview out! Listen here to my conversation with Elloa Phoenix Barber on The Heard Space.

My book circle is starting again in February 2023. Details here. Please write to me if you would like to join.

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