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transition 2020

Shifting Into a New Year: 2020 End of Year Journaling

Pleased to have an article featured on Insight Timer Blog — the very important topic of processing the year that was 2020, and letting it go. Enjoy the article on their website, or below. 

2020: A Year With No Transitions

Laura Stukel explores the shifting states of transition and suggests three meditative journaling practices to let go of 2020.

In a normal year’s end we start to become wistful, reflecting upon and gathering up the memories, while also looking ahead for inspiration to direct the year about to unfold. But it goes without stating. 2020 was in no way a normal year.

While we cannot wait to move away from the year 2020, it’s easier said than done. When things are shifting, we can find ourselves churning – times of transition (no matter how big or how small) create a tension between letting go of what was and accepting what will be.

Understanding Transitions

Bridges-Transitions-Model-copyright

William Bridges created a three-part model to help explain the nature of transitions. The Bridges Transition Model refers to the shifty part in the middle as the ‘neutral zone’ – a no man’s land where we live both amidst what’s ending and also in what is beginning.

It is an unsettling place, yet the heart often needs to linger here for a long while.

In fact, what makes 2020 complicated is that there were basically no transitions. From mask-wearing routines, to school or work environments to social gatherings, we found ourselves launched rapidly into one new beginning after another with no time for the neutral zone.

So, saying goodbye to 2020 is a transition and requires letting go. But in this moment, we also have the baggage of thousands of little things we had to abandon without an option to let them go. We are in a neutral zone, held by the tiny (and of course the not so tiny) threads of all the emotions from the little challenges and frustrations, the grief of milestones and special events that were not celebrated, time lost, health changes, and loved ones who suffered as well as those who passed.

We may even be held by a tinge of unprocessed guilt for pride in new hobbies or skills or strengths discovered, because of the confusion of if or how to acknowledge, or let alone celebrate or feel gratitude for these.

Mindfulness Encourages Transition

So how can we mindfully, gently, carefully, guide ourselves in this shifting moment? With the promises of a vaccine, we are likely at the beginning of the end phase of this pandemic. In order to move into a new year, we must let go of the one past. How can we process what has transpired in a way that nudges us to move into a new chapter in the best possible way?

Journal writing has been scientifically proven to invoke mindfulness, release stress, encourage processing of thoughts and emotions, and create clarity when problem-solving is needed. Journal writing creates space to practice letting go; it is a tool for shortening the indefinite time in the neutral zone.

Bringing the practice of meditation into journal writing at this particular year-end, can create even more benefits.

In another piece, Laura explains the practice and benefits of mindful journaling in more detail.

Saying Goodbye To 2020, Mindfully, In Your Journal

Some ways to process, and begin the shift from 2020 into 2021 using meditation and journal-writing include the following.

Create A Historical Recap

Christina Baldwin was a teenager during the Cuban Missile Crisis, carefully recording — and protecting — her account for future readers should a bomb destroy life as she knew it. In creating a record for others, we create a pathway for our own understanding – and healing.

Read, reflect and focus on a quote from Baldwin (now a well-known author on journal writing), and then create your own recap of the year 2020 in a paragraph for each month. Write it as a gift for someone in the future; it also becomes a gift for yourself. Include what events stood out for you personally, locally, nationally and around the world. Reflect on this quote to get started:

“Spiritual empowerment is evidenced in our lives by our willingness to tell ourselves the truth, to listen to the truth when it’s told to us, and to dispense truth as lovingly as possible, when we feel compelled to talk from the heart.”  – Christina Baldwin, Life’s Companion

Doodle For Insights

The oval is the first shape children master in any culture around the world. Reflecting on a key word for a few moments and then adding it in an oval on the center of a journal page creates an amazing writing prompt. Beginning with a prompt in an oval sets you in an open, gentle, curious place of child-like wonder.

Try sitting with the phrase “Goodbye 2020” for a few moments as you take a few deep, slow breaths. When you are ready, write the phrase in an oval and then follow your pen. Branch, sketch and jot the words, symbols, lines or whatever comes. When you feel finished, review the page and now write in words what you see – patterns, insights, struggles, opportunities.

Write An Unsent Letter To The Year 2020

Begin by watching a movie of 2020 play out in your mind. Be present as the months pass. Be careful to watch, but not to label. Be gentle in allowing yourself to express the range of emotions. When you are ready, start a letter with the prompt – ‘Dear 2020, I need to tell you…’.

Unsent letters create clarity and closure. Add a ritual of destroying the letter if you feel so moved – it adds to another element, catharsis

Here’s To The New Beginning Ahead

We are in a shifting moment. Shortening days suddenly become lengthening days. We flip the page to a new calendar. A vaccine is becoming available. Each of these moments creates a new neutral zone.

The year 2020 will be in the past soon enough. How you let this year go will help you begin the new year in a place of mindfulness, openness and healing. We cannot rush the heart through the neutral zone. But being present to the process of letting go helps us take steps into a new beginning.

 

 

Water photo created by wirestock – www.freepik.com

abc7 holiday selfcare

Self-Care This Holiday Season — Yes, Please!

Self-care is more important than ever right now. Had the honor of talking with Leah Hope from ABC7 News last week about tips for self-care this holiday season.

From ABC7 News: How to self-care, improve mental health amid pandemic holiday

The video and transcript article includes some great advice on different options for self-care. Dr. Sonya Dinizulu made a great point, “It’s not meant to be commercialized or glamorized.” Remember that splurging on a spa da is not the same as self-care!

More Holiday Self-Care Tips

Here are some additional tips I shared with Leah:

  • Be present. Be realistic. This season is going to be hard. You will get through it. You will still have great moments to enjoy.
  • Keep things simple. We’re all multi-tasking from home. We’re all juggling different types of bad news. We’re all trying to figure out a way to salvage important holiday traditions. Make time for yourself everyday. Take a few deep breaths. Enjoy the warm light of a candle. Go for a short walk.
  • Release when you need to. Don’t hold it all in. This is a ‘novel’ or first-of-its-kind virus. We are all literally figuring things out as we go. Your journal is a great place to get things out of your head when you need to release. It can be very powerful to process things first on paper.
  • Don’t overdo it. As far as journal-writing, shorter bursts of writing have a ton of impact. A timer set for five minutes is perfect. Enough time to get thoughts on paper, but not so much time that your inner-grammar nerd starts striving for words that ‘sound right’ (this is just for you anyway, right?).
  • Connect. One of the hardest aspects of the pandemic is how isolating the experience is. Connect by phone or video or texts as often as you can. But you can connect in your journal too. Just writing about a tradition or a person you care about brings along that important feeling of being connected with others.
  • Give yourself permission to feel joy. For more about the Joy Jot that I shared with Leah, please visit my blog. Or you can hear an audio version on Insight Timer.

Gather Your Friends – New Alternatives for Self-Care this Holiday Season

Friends Focus Future

What we could all use right now is more time to connect with friends. If you are looking for a fun option for self-care, in the company of your friends, please join me for a New Year workshop. I have all the tools to make it easy for you and up to 12 friends to connect in a private, virtual meeting space. You can wave goodbye to 2020 together, and provide some mutual support and encouragement as we look forward more than ever to a brand new year! You can read all about these wonderful sessions on the ‘Workshops’ page of my website.

2020 has been rough. But there’s better times ahead. You’ve got this! Best, Laura

 

 

 

 

Giving Mindset Journal

Create a Giving Mindset: The Power of Your Journal This Holiday Season

I’m thrilled to be featured once again on the Insight Timer Blog with a special article about mindfulness this holiday season.

Copy below or click to on their website.

Create a Giving Mindset: The Power of Your Journal This Holiday Season

The holiday season approaches, and it will be one like no other. Amidst a global pandemic many connections and traditions we look forward to may be a bit different this year. While not a replacement, the blended practices of meditation and journal-writing can be a beautiful alternative for this moment. And perhaps some can inspire new traditions for you going forward.

It’s no coincidence that many of the world’s major religions have traditions of connection, and of light, in what is the darkest part of the year in the northern hemisphere. And lack of connection is one of the most challenging sides of living through this pandemic. This holiday season lands at a time some believe may be in the ‘third-quarter phenomenon’ – a trend that has been noted by those that study experiences of extended isolation, such as living on the International Space Station or at the research campus on Antarctica. No matter the overall timeline of the isolation, around two-thirds to three-fourths of the way through, moods and morale hit a low-point.

With the caution of COVID-19 numbers hitting new records in many parts of the world, but the promising news of vaccine rollouts seeming imminent, it could very well be that the holiday season and the lows of the ‘third-quarter’ of the pandemic will overlap.

So what are some new ways for right now we can use to connect to traditions and others, create a giving mindset for ourselves, and celebrate what is a season of light in so many cultures? The combined practices of meditation and mindful journal-writing gives us a pathway.

Mindful Journaling In The Holiday Season

The practice of meditative and mindful journaling is a simple three-step process:

Begin — Be present: take some deep breaths, listen to an audio journal prompt, take a walk. Let your writing prompt find you.

Write – Shorter is better! 5-10 minutes is just enough.

Reflect – Take a few deep breaths, read and be present to what you have just written. What surprises or insights stand out? Now write yourself one last line of reflection.

You can learn more about reflection writing in the talk below:

Reflective Writing In Your Journal, by Laura Stukel

 

Ideas to combine meditation and mindful journal-writing in this holiday season:

Linger in a few moments of beautiful candlelight

Many different traditions draw from light in the darkness. Enjoy some deep breaths as you feel your body relax. Sit and be present to the stillness. When you are ready, begin to write, using this meditative beginning and then following your pen wherever your writing takes you.

You might want to try this candle breathing meditation by Sara Rabinovitch, Ph.D.

Use images or wording from cards given or received as a springboard into writing

Extend the tradition and the exchange by being present to any inspiration. Reflect on a selected card for a moment and take a few relaxing breaths. When you are ready, use a few words from the card as a starter and then follow your pen.

Connect in a deep way, without limitations of time or space

A Character Sketch journal write is a description of someone dear, using a moment of meditation to be together in your mind (anyone special – perhaps even someone who has passed on). Close your eyes and picture your dear one approaching, then standing near. Finally, be present with them, using all of your five senses. When you are ready, describe your dear one in your journal. To really experience a moment of a giving mindset, you may choose to conclude your session by writing a special holiday card to this person, and mailing or delivering it symbolically to a loved one passed.

Capture special holiday moments

Similar to the technique above, a Captured Moment journal write begins with quiet meditation, and an observation in your mind, using all five senses. Seasonal scents or essential oils add inspiration. To try, simply sit in quiet with your eyes closed, and picture a blank, white screen in front of you. Allow yourself to call forward holiday memories from the past, watching them pass like a movie, or as if flipping through a photo album. Then let one be fully present to you, and enjoy that moment again using all five senses. When you are ready, write, describing this holiday moment in time as if you are enjoying it again in slow motion.

Embrace the symbols, inspiration and perspective of holiday traditions

From images of the sun on the Winter Solstice, to the story of the oil lasting for eight nights, to the journey of the three wise men, we have rich connections to culture, history, traditions and nature in this time of year. Secular and pop culture adds more layers. Using music, stories, family heirlooms, religious texts, or similar inspiration, find perspective and in your journal. Travel space and time as you need to. Write as another person if it suits you. Quietly center yourself amidst your inspiration, and then write.

For example, imagine yourself being among the peoples who placed the columns at Stonehenge, then write as that person observing the season present. Or maybe enjoy the classic song, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and then write from the perspective of Bing Crosby himself, with whatever wisdom he may be able to impart into your journal. Or, Ebenezer Scroorge perhaps? Take in bubbe’s latke recipe, noting the careful way she described the steps, and then write from her perspective as if she was experiencing the present moment in time. You get the idea.

Dialogue with a Grandparent – Meditation for Journal Writing by Laura Stukel

 

Create a Mindset of Giving

Yes, this holiday season will be unlike any we have experienced before. And yes, there are challenges. Remember to take time to be present, and to create new, mindful ways to connect with traditions and loved ones during this season. Blending the practices of meditation and journal-writing will allow us to experience holiday traditions in new, creative and heart-filling ways.

 

December Inspiration

December Inspiration

I’ve always been fascinated that so many of the world’s religions honor a festival of light around the darkest time of year in the Northern Hemisphere. This year, this season feels especially dark. But there’s always a light if we look! 

For the month ahead I invite you to find ways to celebrate the light. The challenges of 2020 will be in the rearview mirror soon enough. Stay patient, stay safe, and don’t forget to take care of yourself.

Join me for journal inspiration all month long!

Dec 2 / Wednesday Wellness Writing (writing by candle light) – free drop in*   
Dec 9 / Wednesday Wellness Writing (Character Sketch writing) – free drop in*   
Dec 16 / Wednesday Wellness Writing – free drop in* 
Dec 23 / Wednesday Wellness Writing (writing an Unsent Letter) – free drop in* 
Dec 30 / Wednesday Wellness Writing (writing a Captured Moment) – free drop in* 

Celebrating Our Story Changers

Aug 16th (8/16) is what I call Story Changers Day. A day to honor ancestors known, unknown or hidden. We all come from 8️⃣ great grandparents, 1️⃣6️⃣ great greats, 3️⃣2️⃣ great great greats …
Some of their stories we know — and appreciate. Some we know, and let’s say, we’ve learned from. Others we have a sense of based on assumptions or gut instincts.
Nonetheless, for the average person ~80-100 years back we’re connected to 1️⃣6️⃣ amazing people who lived so that we could be here today.
In those 8️⃣ or 1️⃣6️⃣ or even 3️⃣2️⃣ people you have your ‘Story Changers’. People who faced poverty, or war, or slavery, or discrimination and thru determination, or luck, or hope beyond hope you live — with a tiny bit of their DNA inside you!

Celebrating & Honoring Story Changers

If you have a moment , write a note of thanks to one of these folks, or sit and be present to any that might call to you.
Each and everyone of us has their magic inside!