September – Back to School – Reflection

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​It’s not so much the month of September that I love but what it brings combined with the back to school season. While October is my favorite month (more on that tomorrow), ultimately this is my favorite time of the year from September and Back to School until the end of the year. I find it more of a renewal time of year than the January new year or spring when we all come out of our winter cocoons and spring clean.

We have a much more focused energy on fall cleaning, getting ready for the rest of the year. Clearing out the clutter for homework spaces and new school supplies (one of my weaknesses), earlier dinner and groceries in the house, bath schedules, physical, but also mental space.

It’s time to settle down and ease into our semi-hibernation.

We’re also getting ready for the holidays. Getting it clean and straightened and maintaining it for the myriad of family gatherings that are happening between now and the end of the year. Our outside gets decorated for Halloween with pumpkins and caution tape, spiders and witches. We move our decorating talents inside for Thanksgiving. Cornucopias, squashes, oranges and browns, table runners and lap blankets. Fall is applepicking, apple pie, chutney, tarts, or just a cold, crispy snap of an apple in the orchard.

I always find the Jewish New Year a time to reflect, think, and read. No work means settling down with a cup of tea, a buttered slice of challah and a pile of books. Yom Kippur brings the fasting and the prayer; time to atone and forgive; asking for forgiveness and offering it. Forgiving ourselves.

For us politicos, especially this year, we’re gearing up for an election, getting out the vote, promoting our candidates and our values.

School supplies, the Hogwarts Express, leaves changing colors and falling gently to the browning grass, Christmas card lists, buying stamps, printing return address labels, designing Halloween costumes and cosplays, Thanksgiving shopping and organizing recipe cards.

If we could carry fall with us all year, the world (and our worlds) would be a better place.

New Beginnings

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​New year, new beginnings. For some of us this is our second or even third new year. I’ve always made my resolutions or goals list in the fall at the Rosh Hashanah holiday – the Jewish New Year.
Last year, I did a reassessment of those resolutions and goals just before Advent at the “Catholic New Year,” the beginning of the liturgical year.

And then another reassessment on January 1st.

Overkill, I know. But I  like the idea of a new start during Back to School. That could be my Jewish heritage or that I was a teacher or that I have kids i n school for the last sixteen years and there is so much focus on starting the new year for school, buying new supplies, meeting new people. After all of that, January 1st seems to be forced reconciliation of the year’s failures and how we can do better. We all go ahead with some sort of resolution and then we guess how long before we break it.

On Friday, I mentioned some goals I wanted to work on, and I’ll be starting today with two books (see resources posted this coming Wednesday).

I also plan on scheduling specific writing and planning days. That doesn’t mean I can’t make changes or miss a few for various reasons, but it’s good to see on paper where  my focus is so I can adjust and adapt along the way.

Part of new beginnings are new attitudes.

Self-care will take a higher priority.

Taking quiet time for prayer and reflection as well as recharging the writing batteries.

On a professional note, this is the month I want to get my CV in order and redo my business cards.

I’m really excited for this year.

I mentioned last week that I’m looking for a mantra – something to take me through the year and motivate and inspire me. That hasn’t come to me yet, but I did find a word. I’ll share that tomorrow.

Yr Hen Galan

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I mentioned yesterday about the plethora of New Years that I observed and set goals for in the past few months with the Chinese New Year coming in just a couple of more weeks.

Little did I know that I was forgetting one: the Welsh New Year or Hen Galan.

I discovered on Facebook that it began with the switch to the Gregorian calendar and it was yesterday! As I wrote and posted, I had no idea that I’d missed one!

Some more reading: New Year’s Traditions in  Wales

If we keep our eyes and ears open, we learn something new each day.

New Year, New You?

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​It’s not just about breaking bad habits or starting an exercise regiment. Don’t forget to nourish your soul and your spirit. That can mean spiritually, which can refer to a deeper religious mindfulness or it can be secular – something to keep your mind and body in balance as you tackle new things this new year.

For all of us, this will be a challenging year because of the new US presidential administration, regardless of who you voted for. This post is not meant to be political, but it is certainly a factor in many people’s lives. I would recommend to everyone reading this to get on your cable or dish network’s version of On Demand and watch the most recent black-ish episode entitled Lemons. It really does give a good look into what people of all backgrounds are feeling, and may help some of us who don’t understand the anxiety and fright to understand it a little bit better. It’s not even about changing minds; it’s about empathy and continued discussion.

For some of us, this is also our third new year since summer ended. Back in September and October was the Jewish New Year, and at the end of November when Advent began was the Catholic New Year and the beginning of the liturgical calendar and of course, we’ve just celebrated a global new year on January 1st. Coming up on January 28th is the Chinese New Year, celebrated by many Asian countries as well as in places like the US, Canada, and the UK where Asians live in greater numbers.

I’ve actually used each of the three previous new years to set goals and then reevaluate them when the next new year approaches. I find that setting three or six month goals, or a combination of both is a good way to not only stay on track, but also a good way to not burn myself out with too much new activity and change all at once. Another good reason is instead of just giving up on resolutions that didn’t work out too well or were to much at the start, we can reflect on what went wrong, what went right, and how do we continue down the path of change or sameness and adjust our goals accordingly.

Some suggestions that I’ve used in the past (or have been recently suggested):

1. JournalingWords, Art or both. Simple journaling can be a list of what you’ve done for the day, a list of goals and how they worked out, bullet journaling for those of us that are not into lengthy writing.

2. Jars to keep track of the good things throughout the year. I did this one year, and I loved reading all the good from the year before on New Year’s Eve.

3. Wish Jar. What are some of the things you want this year? Did you get them done?

4. Prompt jar. This is great for writers or artists who sometimes need a pick me up. It’s a good idea to drop some of our extra ideas into this jar for those dry times. We all know feast or famine.

5. Surprise Me Jar. Take a walk. Go out for coffee or tea. Go to the park with your camera. We all need spontaneity, but not all of us are spontaneous. This can often help.

6. Quotation Jar or Pouch. When you see or hear a good quotation or get a good fortune cookie, drop it into the jar or pouch and when you’re not in a good space or need a little motivating help, choose one randomly and read it. You can also use this opportunity to write about it, Instagram it, draw it, or photograph it. I was wary of Instagram, but I find that I enjoy its central visuality a lot more than I expected to. I use it nearly every day and then find a way to share those visuals here.

7. Once-a-Months. Once a month, randomly or scheduled, do something you normally don’t do. My family reads comic books, but I don’t. A few months ago, I picked up The Rough Riders. It was something different, and I enjoyed it. If you’re not an outdoors person, try a nature walk or go to a local park that’s still close to civilization. A third suggestion would be for the church-goers. If you only worship in a formal setting, look up local shrines or other religious places in your area that you’ve never been to and sit quietly, meditate, pray a rosary or something that fits into your life.

Last year, my husband proclaimed TSNTry Something New, and he and we did. It was different and we kept open minds about each other’s hobbies and interests.

TSN.