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


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 –

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





Find a Balance for 2020

Happy New Year! This quiet time of year, plus a fresh start calls us to think about what we want to make of the next 365 opportunities ahead. It’s a great time to take a snapshot of the different elements of your life, assess where you are, where you want to be, and action steps to tune up the areas that need attention, or tame the areas that feel overloaded.

Personally, I like a two-step process. But try just one or the other if that suits you better.

Coming out of the ‘busy-ness’ of Christmas I like to start with a doodle step, so my creative brain has some space to pause and stretch and think. I like the Balance Wheel diagram from the Chopra Center – it’s simple and useful.


My own balance wheel was delightfully messy with spontaneous doodles. One gap area really surprised me. Acknowledging it inspires me for the year ahead.

Just grab a dull colored pencil and a bolder pencil. Then go around the wheel, starting with the dull color to represent where you feel you are on that life element at this moment. Connect all the individual lines to get a background shape. The irregularity is a picture of where you are overall — some areas with a lot of attention, others with less. Now grab the brighter color to indicate where you wish to spend your energy in 2020. I like to make these lines smaller and color them in, so the overall picture is more like a star coming out of the background shape. Don’t worry about the math and science of your diagram. It’s more about areas that surprise you — such as an area that feels much lower than where you want to be. Capture in words any takeaways from the picture — celebrate the balanced areas, be curious about the unbalanced areas, notice which areas call for your focus in the coming year. Then look at the diagrams again, read your recap and write a reflection. This might be in the form of more curiosities you have about a certain area, some ideas on daily habits for the coming year or other ways to explore taking the story of your diagram into action for 2020. 


Now you can go a bit deeper on 2-4 life areas from the wheel. These might just jump out at you. Or you might want to mix one area with a large gap between current and desired, one that you want to celebrate and one that you want to work on. Whatever your mix, explore these areas more in your journal. Give yourself five minutes to explore each selected area. Then use the same three questions to write about each one:

Where am I now?

Where do I want to be?

What will it take to get from ‘here’ to ‘there’ – or to maintain levels current satisfaction?

When you’ve finished the questions for your selected life areas, reread them all and write one last reflection. Now take a moment to celebrate your work. You’ve set yourself up to work on the things in 2020 that really matter to you! Wishing you the best for this New Year and beyond!














Let Go of 2019

Whether 2019 was amazing, or you want to forget it, it’s time to let it go. There are lessons in letting go – what hurts, what’s easy, things to repeat, things to never try again. The process of mentally letting go is a great activity for your journal.

List of 100 from Journal to the Self is a great technique for this. (You can read more about this clever and trusty tool in a previous post.) Write the inspiration for your list at the top — try:

100 ways to let go of 2019

Remember the tips: Write very quickly. Number as you go. Repeat, repeat, repeat is ok! If you get stuck, just write ‘stuck’ until the next thing comes.

Once you have a list of 100, reread it all — look for categories, patterns, themes and insights. Later in the list you will probably see an overall gift of wise ideas, look beyond the actual ink on the page for the insightful meaning and lessons. Synthesize this wisdom in a brief write to capture the ideas from the list.

Now write a reflection. What are your takeaways and next steps?

List of 100 is just one of 18 amazing techniques I teach during Journal to the Self workshops. Learn more on the Workshops page (online and in-person session). Or, if you prefer to sample first, try a free technique, or let’s schedule a no obligation phone call to chat about how I can support your own change journey.


Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash.

Lessons from Stillness

The longest day of the year is here. Today is a reminder of the power of the stillness. The quiet of the winter manifests as an eruption of spring. One is not possible without the other.

What can you learn from the stillness?

This is a great Springboard for your journal. Just write the prompt and follow your pen. Don’t forget to finish by re-reading and jotting down a reflection.

Springboard is just one of 18 amazing techniques I teach during Journal to the Self workshops. Learn more on the Workshops page (online and in-person session). Or, same page has info if you prefer to sample first, try a free technique, or let’s schedule a no obligation phone call to chat about how I can support your own change journey.



Photo by Pixabay from Pexels.

Capture Time Past…to Jump Forward

Capricorn season is upon us – the sign of discipline, resourcefulness, and practical ambition. Time to get things done! Horoscopes may be unscientific, but I always seem to get just the inspiration I need. The traits of Capricorn set us up for the can-do spirit of a New Year. And what a fantastic time to move forward, based on what’s happened in the year just wrapping up.

What a great prompt for your journal — a Time Capsule of the year just past. Get cozy and recall the highlights, as well as the lessons learned in the year just past. Scan photos, emails, calendar notes, whatever prompts your memories. Once you have a recap, write a reflection.

An outstanding launching point into setting priorities and defining goals that really matter to you in 2020. Time Capsule is just one of 18 amazing techniques I teach during Journal to the Self workshops. Learn more on the Workshops page (online and in-person session). Or, if you prefer to sample first, try a free technique, or let’s schedule a no obligation phone call to chat about how I can support your own change journey.

Defeat Nagging Thoughts

Happens to all of us. Nagging thoughts that just won’t go away. The ones that wake us up. Or pop in at the stop light. Betcha didn’t know there was a term for this — it’s known as the Zeigarnik Effect. Basically, researchers have found that if you tell someone not to focus on a white bear, they end up focusing on white bears!

Journal-writing can be a powerful tool for working with these inevitable nagging thoughts, so they can become constructive instead of distracting. A bullet journal works great for managing, prioritizing and completing nagging to do’s.

But what about the nagging thoughts of tough conversations, unexpected goodbyes, creative sparks, or those vague ‘tip of my tongue’ instincts? Experience shows that reflective journal writing is a great way to define, explore, process these kinds of nagging thoughts. Telling yourself the truth about what’s nagging, to yourself first is a great way to understand, experiment, preview possible next steps.

Ready to be proactive next time nagging thoughts take over your brain? Try a free sample of my Head/Heart/Gut journal prompt.

And if you want to be proactive about how you shape the New Year for yourself, visit my Envision 2020 page for information on workshops and other resources. It’s your year to shine. And if you’re proactive about what the voice inside is saying you will make it a year of constructive thoughts!


Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Envision 2020: The honesty of your own voice

How do you create a mindset for a New Year, and build simple practices? It starts by giving a regular voice to your very own truth. And there’s no better place to do this than in a journal.

Have you made New Year’s resolutions before, but not followed through? Or does setting goals take you to a place of frustration and distraction? It’s possible that you’ve been focused on a concept of your dreams, but not your own truth.

Goals that come from someone else’s voice (especially our own ‘Inner Critic’) are counter-productive. Goals that come from a place of ‘should’ instead of ‘will’ don’t move very far. Goals that sound good only on the outside don’t have traction.

It’s hard to sit down with the blank calendar ahead and prioritize what you want the next 365 days to look like.

Your Personal Call to Action: Empower Your Own Truth

  • Do what you need to and protect the privacy of your journal. Add a ‘do not enter’ sticker in the front. Put a password on online work.
  • When you get started writing, remind yourself — the only audience is you. Come as you are, write as you are, reread as you are.

Remember it’s your voice — your own truth:

  • To define
  • To celebrate
  • To love

Want to start sampling how you can work in your journal to Envision 2020? Check out my special page dedicated to just this topic!

Envision 2020 – What’s within for you?

Let’s face it. Anyone can set a resolution for the New Year. But what’s the difference among those that bring that January vision to life during the next 365 days?

The key is voice, poise and growth. Together you can create a new mindset, and simple practices that equip you to do the things that really set your heart on fire! And it can all be designed, refined, celebrated and boosted through your journal.

Watch my blog leading up to New Year’s Day for resources, inspiration and ideas on how you can Envision 2020 for yourself! Or take a peek on your favorite social media channel.

To start, let’s look at the core concepts:

Voice: your own truth

  • To define
  • To celebrate
  • To love

Poise: resiliency in each step

  • Turtle, then hare
  • Start slow, go big
  • Mindful, confident, patient

Growth: the start, the goal and the journey

  • Create a journal practice
  • Create the map
  • Embrace the path

It’s time for your own personal call to action: tell yourself the whole truth, faster; then go after it slowly, savoring each step,

Want to start sampling how you can work in your journal to Envision 2020? Check out my special page dedicated to just this topic!

Background image by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.