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Happy New Year!

Dec 30, 2020 ● By Peggy Malecki
Headshot of publisher Peggy Malecki

Peggy Malecki

With the Solstice behind us and the concept of post-5 p.m. sunsets arriving by month’s end on this eastern edge of the Central time zone, it’s a time when many of us set some goals and intentions for positive changes in our lives. This will definitely be a year of change and growth for most everyone, and I believe how we choose to approach our goals can make all the difference in what we perceive as success, what we give up on or what leaves us unfulfilled when we reach the target. Perhaps this new year, we all need to be more gentle and forgiving of a slower pace, more loving and more accepting that our first forays may fall short of what we envisioned at the start. Small celebrations of personal progress can make the journey easier for everyone involved. Or we may surprise ourselves with what we’re able to accomplish—and that deserves celebration as well!

Whether your goal is to eat more plant-based foods, lose weight, change a relationship or employment situation, reduce closet clutter, learn a new language, grow vegetables in your backyard, build resiliency, give back to the community—or whatever is meaningful to you—the goals we stick with tend to reflect our current pain or perceived shortfall, and a desire to become a better version of ourselves in the coming year.

Each goal really is a moving target, and often the endpoint will change as perspective alters over the year and events unfold beyond our personal control. Life is a work in progress, and a goal is often just a starting point to the next chapter. Embrace this as a guiding principle and you likely won’t be disappointed in the long run. If we resolve to grow at our own pace, we may just enjoy the experience a bit more, bumps and all. Take a few moments to absorb the daily signs of progress, perhaps journaling or otherwise noting the change with kindness and positivity.

Perhaps most importantly, enjoy the journey. I think it’s important to consciously allow ourselves the time to review the path and absorb what we’re learning about our subject matter and ourselves. Take a proverbial coffee break to skim mental notes. And don’t be afraid of perceived missteps, delays and side trips, because they may open up new doors and other directions that we could have missed in the rush to completion.

There are a few actions I feel we would all do well to continue doing from the 2020 holidays. First, please continue to regularly support local businesses, services, restaurants and the like as best you are able. Continue to help those in need in our communities, no matter the weather or season. Support local nonprofits, environmental groups and others with which you share a common vision. Share a smile or laugh every day (even on Zoom). Be mindful and caring of all the lives with which we share this planet, and the Earth they live on. Looking forward, start planning your spring garden.

I leave you this month with my usual request to step outside your door every day and revel in the natural world that surrounds us. Listen for crackling ice or the sound of gently falling snow. Observe the wonders of a softly colored January sunset. Look for bird tracks in the snow on your sidewalk. Notice the unique patterns of frost on a kitchen window. And mindfully observe something new each day of the new year.

From all of us here at Natural Awakenings  Chicago, we wish you a happy, healthy, safe and peaceful New Year!