I don’t know about for you, but ringing in 2021 for me was rather anticlimactic. Some of my friends and I had this plan to have a college reunion for New Years Eve 2020, but as the ripple of the COVID19 pandemic grew wider and stronger through the U.S. Midwest this season, we decided not to do it after all. For me, I celebrated the new year quietly and simply. With immediate family in the living room, it reminded me of my childhood new years eves when I would be so excited to stay up until midnight and as much as I tried to preserve my energy, I grew sleepier and sleepier as it got later and later. To be honest, not much changed with how I felt this New Years Eve. However, in addition to the steadfast nature of my inability to be a nigh owl, I also felt the same childlike liberty to feel protected, loved, cared for, and secure; feelings that at other times this year ebbed and flowed with challenges and changes.

I don’t know about you, but in 2020, I had more feelings of disorientation, displacement, and discouragement more than feelings of hope, purpose, and gratitude. Burnt out on the virtual and as I am still reeling from cancelled plans, parties, and participating in in-person programs, it’s a difficult year to reconcile. And I imagine we are all still feeling the ongoing waves of grief.

As I reflect on 2020, I want to remember the positives as well. Not each of those 365 2020 days were negative. These are the questions I’m reflecting on in the early days of 2021:

  • What was a good memory I made in 2020?
  • What progress did I make?
  • What is an affirmation I received?
  • What self-care routine worked? What didn’t?

And as I prepare for 2021, I’m concretely considering my choices. My choices to set boundaries, to create healthy rhythms, and to be ok to change what doesn’t work for me. And may I encourage you to be gentle with yourself and to (re)evaluate the expectations you set for you and others as we begin this new year.

One approach to do this is to consider and reflect on why you commit to the things you commit to, how you structure a routine, and where you can take small steps to meet the requirements of your work or school. This may look like deciding for you:

  • What and when are exceptions ok?
  • What questions can I ask for more clarity?
  • What does kindness look like for self and others?
  • What is one thing I can do today that’ll be good for my body, mind, and soul?

As we step into 2021, with its new changes, challenges, and celebrations, may we be empowered to respect our personal needs and to articulate graciously what we have time for and what we don’t have time for. It’s ok to say “no” and it’s ok to rest. It’s really important that we do both, actually.

One way I feel recentered and grounded is in nature and what I’m finding living in West Michigan is that there are so many outrageously beautiful sunsets on Lake Michigan. I find so much peace and renewal when I have the opportunity to witness one of our sunsets. I’ve travelled a lot in my life (like 30 plus countries a lot) and have also lived in 10 countries. And I wholeheartedly believe that our Michigan sunsets are the best in the world. In 2021, I want to commit to taking more time to watch our lakeshore sunsets. When things I can’t control come my way, I can control my reaction and will probably go out to a pier to process and to protect my mind from “what ifs” and unexplainable “whys?!”. As each sunset is different, so is each day of our life. Let’s reflect on each one and prepare for each next one. May we enjoy the places of peace — the ones that give us peace and the places of peace we create.

Life is a series of trade offs and as we decide what to do in 2021, may we consider these questions every morning:

  • What is in my heart today?
  • What do I need to do today to feel healthy in body, mind, and soul?
  • What is one way to practice patience today?
  • What is the most important thing for me to do today?

Perhaps see you at sunset. Still socially-distanced, of course.