8 Ways to celebrate the unofficial New Year
“Most of us lead far more meaningful lives than we know. Often finding meaning is not about doing things differently, it is about seeing familiar things in new ways.”—Rachel Naomi Remen
I don’t know about you, although I would really like to, but I have always felt that the start of September has been more of a symbolic start to a new year than the one the world has established at the end of December. Maybe a lot of it has to do with the start of a new school year? But think about this, most vacation time ends and schedules kick in with renewed vigor, kids do go back to school starting a new grade level and/or a new school, we tend to buy new clothes for school and work, a new season begins in September, for some people new jobs start in September, in some religions it truly is the start of a new year, new cars are debuted in September, and the new season of football starts in September.
Although September is not the official New Year on the calendar why not make it one for yourself. Think of it like fourth quarter with 30 seconds to go on the 20 yard line and you just know that this time a touchdown is going to happen. Think of it like your last chance at a do over, a chance to right some wrongs before the year officially closes or before your New Year resolutions really do run out, think of it like putting all the leftover ingredients into a stew pot and making the most amazing dinner you have ever made, ever, with brownies for dessert (just in case). That is doing something different with familiar things.
Today I was thinking about the fact that my youngest, my baby boy, will be entering his final year of formal education. Unlike in years past, this momentous event takes place early September this year. Although he feels his final year starts tonight with the official start of football practice I still have yet to buy the all-important notebooks and school supplies and the one first day of school outfit he has become accustomed to, so for me I have some time until the school routine really kicks in. I did however fill out all the medical and contact paperwork that is required each new school year and yes, of course, I cried. Why does time go by so fast? When the universe asked me to be my baby’s’ mom I said, “Yes, of course” but I was never asked if I was ready for him to be a senior in high school.
The thing about doing something familiar but finding new meaning in the familiar is that it changes our perspective on what we seem to take for granted. Even though another school year is about to begin and that in itself is so familiar, this year, besides the fact that it is a new school grade level it is also the last official school year for our family, it means filling out new paperwork so that my son will get to drive to school for the first time, it means that the football year he has been looking forward to all his life is finally here, it means that he will enter this last school year looking like an underclassman but will walk out of school in June looking like he is ready for college or ready to join the real world, it means that every single day is his last day in the world he has become so familiar with, this year it means a new school principal and it means that he will have to, for the first time really, think about and plan for his future once he becomes a high school graduate. There are also some firsts that will happen for him that could not have happened at any other time for instance his prom, being honored as a senior on senior football night, winning the pep rally for being the loudest class in the school gym, simple rites of passage that although we all tend to take for granted really should be honored and celebrated. There are so many opportunities each day to take notice of what we think are so mundane and really turn them into something special and meaningful.
So how can you take the familiar things and turn them into something special and unique and meaningful?
1) Make the days stand out for their own merit. What can help make today meaningful? What would you like to do to make today meaningful? Don’t wait, do it.
2) Choose simple pleasures like baking a cake for dessert simply because you want to or because you know your family or neighbor will be so happy that you did. A “just because” action makes an ordinary day and you feel special.
3) Create a picture diary for the day, the month, or the year. If, like for me, this new school year is a milestone, then create a picture diary of every last day of this milestone year.
4) Create a new habit. Work on changing one thing that you don’t like about your day or yourself and with this “New Year” start to make changes that will better define who you want to be. For some help with creating a new habit go to tinyhabits.com. I have used this website and it really did help me create a new habit.
5) Add to your to-do list only ONE item that you really want to do that day and make sure you do it, no matter what. For me I enjoy making time for reading romance novels. Even if I only get 30 minutes at the end of my day I make sure it goes on my to-do list so that I don’t neglect what makes me happy.
6) Listen closer, see deeper, or taste more. Use your senses to create a moment that means more. “Stop and smell the roses” as the saying goes.
7) Clear the clutter. Clutter accumulates not only on our desks but also in our heads. Clear the clutter by writing it down in a journal or a daily diary, talking about it with a partner, friend or coach, or by putting it in a virtual file for later. Stop paying attention to the worry. The worry is only your energy going toward what you don’t want to happen. Create meaning by concentrating on what you do want to happen.
8) Use your words. Say “I love you” more today, tell a joke, repeat a joke, remember who you spoke to today, compliment someone, say thank you” more often today, create possibilities, and create beginnings.
I always felt a renewed sense of purpose and energy with each new school year. Now that I work I still find myself looking forward to the change that the new school year brings. There seems to be a more electric charge in the air at this “New Year” time than at the end of December. I can still take advantage of the nicer weather and look forward to wearing sweaters when the cooler weather comes along but knowing that I don’t have to wear a heavy coat yet. I can take pictures of the changing leaves and really take advantage of the visual meaning of appreciating something familiar in a different way, I can enjoy watching my calendar get filled up with my children’s activities and to-do’s and I can relax in the comfort of knowing that I still have some time left to get to work on those long ago New Year resolutions that I have been putting off facing.
So what will you do this “new year”? How will you create meaning in the familiar by doing something different with it? I’d love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts with me here.
Remember that we set our own conditions to the events of our days and our lives.
I wish you strength, resolve and a wholehearted Happy New Possibilities Day.
Lisa has been featured in Parent Magazine and in the book Stay-At-Home Mom’s Guide to Making Money by Liz Folger.
Coaching is a great vehicle to help navigate through those sticky tough, tumultuous times of parenting, career and life itself. If you would like to see how coaching can supercharge your spirit please call or write to me and let’s chat in a judgment free, empowering, uplifting space. You can reach me at 203-560-3061 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your personal discovery awaits….