Many of us finish the year with indulgences and celebration, and then start the New Year with the best of intentions and sincere resolutions to do things better. Unfortunately these good intentions often end up in frustration and disappointment. Sometimes we find ourselves moving further away from our goals in the New Year rather than accomplishing our resolutions. So how do we take those good intentions and create a plan that will move our vision to reality? How do we avoid the discouragement of failed expectations that lead to avoidance and, even worse, the self-loathing that comes with the failure to achieve the lifestyle changes we want?
One of the gifts of the last Canadian election was the engagement of youth in social issues and the political process. It may have had something to do with Justin Trudeau being younger and appealing to young people — but it may also have had something to do with open discussions around issues that are close to the hearts of our Canadian youth.
As a Child and Family Therapist I have had many opportunities to talk with young people and hear their thoughts and feelings about the world. And as a mother of 17 year old twins I have my own direct conduit to observe what is relevant to young people today.
Just this morning the alarm jolted me out of my pleasant dream. As I groped around in the dark trying to find the button, I was already negotiating with myself to see if it would be possible to hide out in bed for another 10 minutes. I knew this was a dangerous negotiation which could result in me falling back to sleep and being late for work. I decided to ignore the desire to keep my eyes closed and hauled myself out of bed. It struck me that our early morning alarm is in many ways the ultimate reality check.
Most of us have our morning routines that help us transition from the comfort of our beds to the reality of the workplace. I poured my coffee, did my stretches and followed my morning routine until I was not only ready for work, but I was determined to make it a good day at the office. I walked into the office and said a cheery good morning to my co-workers, and another work day had now truly commenced.
Just the other day I had a dinner date booked with a friend whom I had not seen for some time. My work day had been a full one, and to be frank I was feeling rather distracted and overwhelmed as I rushed to meet my friend for dinner.
One part of me was thinking I should have stayed at work and finished the project I was working on, while the other part of me was yearning to return to my house and get into my pajamas after a long day. I was 15 minutes late and arrived slightly flustered, but once I saw my friend’s warm smiling face greeting me and her hand waving to me over the table, my mood shifted.
Once autumn arrives we feel the shift of the season and begin to plan our Thanksgiving dinners. The gourds and pumpkins are on display at the grocery store, and thoughts of family dinners with pie for dessert begin to fill our minds — soon to fill our stomachs as well.
Winter is coming. Traditionally this has been the time of year where people gather with their loved ones and celebrate the bounty of the harvest. This is a season for thanks and gratitude — but how do we achieve gratitude and weave this into our lives all year long and not just for one turkey-filled weekend?