A New Year

It’s hard to believe it is January 4, 2022. Time is such a strange concept. It boggles my mind how it can be fast and slow all at the same time. To the exact day, my partner found a job in his field three months after we arrived. That was the last piece we were waiting on before things felt like they have fallen into place and we can start to settle. It feels like we have been here longer than three months.

I do not get leave time from work my first year here, but luckily the holidays gave us 9 days off to travel. It has been the first time we were able to explore parts of the country that were more than an hour or two away and it did not disappoint. The weather was spectacular and we kept ourselves plenty busy. We touched in with family during the holidays, and being away from home wasn’t as hard as I was expecting. Technology helps a lot.

View on our hike to Mueller Hut in Mt. Cook/Aroaki National Park

However, I was keenly aware that 2021 was coming to an end. For the past 16 years I have kept a tradition on the New Year’s. It started back in Nashville at my favorite coffee shop in Hillsboro Village, called Fido. It was before I decided to go to grad school and also before I had gotten my undergraduate degree. I began this process of personal growth and development, which involved creating space for introspection and self-awareness. I would take my journal, order a glass of tea punch (a.k.a “fruit tea,” my favorite southern drink), and I would sit in the funky atmosphere and reflect. How had my year gone? Was my life out of balance anywhere (health, finances, emotions, relationships, intellectual)? What did I learn from the past year, what was I celebrating, and what did I want to adjust for the next year? What wasn’t working? The first time I did this process I created both long-term goals and short-term goals. The following years I would see where I was and adjust accordingly.

This process proved to be profoundly effective. That was also the first year I created a vision board that reflected all of the goals I had created and the things that I wanted to become reality in my life. I had heard that the more you put your goals into awareness, the more likely you are to make choices every day to help get you there. Made sense to me, and I love a good art project. On my first board I put all kinds of things. A lot of the words, quotes, and pictures had to do with the type of person I wanted to be, or the character traits I wanted to develop. I also included my long-term goals and things that evoked passion in me that I wanted to cultivate. I carried this board with me for over 10 years. It survived multiple cross country moves and was always hung somewhere in my new home. Then one day I looked at the board and it registered how many of the things I had put on there had become a reality in my life. It’s not magic, it’s hard work, but it reminded me of what in life is important to me. I created a new one shortly before I left Oklahoma, but it didn’t make it into the “things I can fit in a suitcase” list.

For New Year’s this year, we camped at Mt. Cook. As it came time for my annual check in and reflection, my partner asked me what I wanted for this year (and the future). I didn’t know what to say. For so long I have worked towards the same goals. Over the past couple years, the things I had invested so much in started to become reality. Moving to New Zealand, in this role, with a partner and my professional license was as far as that old board went! While I know I’d love to be a part of systemic change or something towards a shift in how mental health is viewed, I have no idea what that looks like or what my next steps are (other than it will most likely have something to do with the Dept. of Corrections). It’s a weird place. I feel like I’ve been on a ladder climbing up for a very long time and now I’m at a flat space. What happens next?

We got back home two days before I have to go back to work, so today has been my reflection day. I got my journal, lit some incense, got stuff for a new vision board and I turned my focus inward. The tattoo on my inner forearm reads, “Who do you choose to be?” as a reminder that there is a choice for how I show up in the world in every moment. I sat back and asked myself this question again. Below is the answer I got:

I’m not sure how much of that you are able to read, but it is full of my favorite quotes, things that bring me joy, remind me of my passion and that I aspire to be. I’m not sure what happens in 2022. So much of life has been out of our control, unpredictable and downright hard in moments. All I know is that I am going to hang this in my hallway, look at it every day, and see where the next ten years takes me. Happy New Year’s everyone. I hope the year brings you hope, growth and warmth.

Until next time.

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