Confessions,  Thriving

Letters to a New Year (Dani 2021)

Dear 2021,

Before I can properly dive into all I hope to experience with you, I think we need to backtrack a little and give 2020 its due. As Claudia mentioned in her letter, it seems everyone is ready to bid “good riddance!” to 2020 but, in all honesty, I don’t want to welcome in the new year without paying homage to everything that was GOOD about 2020.

I know this year has been difficult. I know people have lost jobs, loved ones, and sanity over these past twelve months. At the same time, I know I’m really lucky when it comes to all that. Even before the global pandemic hit, 2020 was due to be a year of big change for me—and it did not disappoint!

This past year, I quit my teaching job and embarked on my author journey, having no idea what would really come of it. As I’ve looked back on diary entries from a year ago, I realize that back then I was cautious and modest in my ambitions. I hoped to publish something at some point, but I never dreamed that by the end of July 2020 I would already be an officially self-published author! (In case you missed it, you can find my debut collection of short stories, Fairly Familiar, on Amazon.)

Because of all the quiet, alone time I needed to write my first book, I am ironically grateful for the three-month long lockdown that kept me from leaving my home in the Spring. It was emotionally challenging at the time, of course, but looking back now I think it was (personally) a blessing in disguise.

In many ways, 2020 feels like an unasked-for blessing. The uncertainty of just about everything caused us all to slow down and reevaluate how we spend our time. To take up forgotten passions. To dive into unexpected projects. To just get to know ourselves. I definitely did a bit of all of that this past year and I am thankful to have had the nudge (okay, aggressive shove) in that direction.

I’m proud to say that most of the things I set out to pursue in my Letter to 2020, I actually accomplished! Sometimes I had to get creative due to the pandemic—and consciously change plans when I recognized they couldn’t work given the circumstances—but that, too, was a part of my plan! In 2021, I intend to follow a similar path:

1.) Pursuing Passions:

This was the first goal on my list for 2020 and I want to continue to keep it front and center. At the same time, I want to expand upon it. Not only do I plan to continue my creative writing and do lots of reading, but I also want to listen out for signs from the universe. I know that sparks of joy should be acknowledged and followed, but I don’t always let them guide me.

In 2021, I intend to pay more attention to that which inspires me. There are definitely some new projects we’ll be embarking on here at Sincerely, Spain in 2021 because they not only excite us but they also scare us a bit. I believe the best things, the things that really empassion us, present themselves with pangs of both excitement and fear and so I plan to pursue those impulses.

2.) Committing to connection:

2020 has been a weird year for friendships. I simultaneously feel like I lost out since I got to spend so little time with friends here in Granada, but also that I had periods of social overload as so many people were suddenly at home all day and discovering the ease of video calls. I think this back-and-forth was a natural result of the unusual circumstances but, now that we’ve all found a new rhythm, I want to commit to connection again.

For me, that doesn’t mean planning virtual or in-person get-togethers with everyone that matters to me on a weekly basis, quite the contrary! Instead, I want to focus in on what connection really means with each person. Maybe it means a short, but meaningful chat. Maybe it means a handwritten note. Maybe it means an act of service or a small gift. I want to focus on quality over quantity, making connections feel meaningful, regardless of how often or how restrictive meet-ups can be.

3.) Honoring a holistic approach:

I’ll admit it, I like alliteration and so I specifically went looking for an ‘h’ word that went with ‘honoring’…but ‘holistic’ truly feels like the perfect summation of everything I wanted to include in this last point! If you haven’t noticed by now, we are strong proponents of the holistic approach. That’s to say, we believe it’s important to take care of your entire wellness: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and social health all together.

I think that’s why ‘consciously changing’ made my list in 2020 and why it worked out so well for me. By giving myself the grace and flexibility to check in on my goals quarterly and change those intentions to better align with where I was at, I honored all of my needs. Making concessions (or pushing ourselves more) depending on where we find ourselves emotionally, mentally, and so on is a natural, humane approach but one we don’t often grant ourselves. It might feel like we’re allowing ourselves to slack off but, if done mindfully, it’s quite the opposite! Taking more rest when we need it allows us to really thrive when our minds and bodies are recharged, instead of puttering along at half-power all the time.

In 2021, I intend to be mindful with myself, my needs, and my ever-changing process. I will continue to check in with myself regularly to ensure my goals are aligned with what I really want and that my expectations are realistic for the current situation. If nothing else, 2020 taught us how to be adaptable and I plan to employ that skill by allowing myself continuous grace to adapt in ways that allow me to reach my goals while maintaining overall wellbeing. For me, that is the definition of success.

What are your intentions for the new year? If you’ve never done it before, I highly recommend writing a letter to 2021… it’s a beautiful reflective practice!

Sincerely,
Dani

P.S. If you’d like to see my past letters to a new year you can find 2020 here, 2019 here, and 2018 here!

 

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