How to Start Another Year


This may seem like a strange post to be popping up in February, but everyone should know by now that I tend to operate on my own schedule. To be honest, this New Year was a hell of a pill to swallow for me, and I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one who feels that way. For one thing, there was the lingering bitterness of the memory of ringing in the New Year in 2020, and all of the naive hopes that came along with that, which were crushed in no short order once the virus came bursting onto the scene a couple of months later.

2020 was not the year we expected it to be, but the hard part of 2021 for a lot of us, I think, is that we no longer feel safe having any expectations at all. That point was driven home less than a week into the new year, when…. well. Let’s just say that waking up to frantic messages from friends begging me to get up because the Capitol Building is under siege wasn’t a bucket list item I was looking to check off, but there have been more of a few of those at this point, haven’t there?

There’s a constant humming undertone running through the days now, especially as a small business owner, that sounds an awful lot like thousands of tiny devils chanting the words “Fuck it! Just give up!” over and over again in unison. It’s always just there, in the background. And some days I do. But in an — in my opinion — gallant attempt to keep those days to a minimum, I’ve recently taken a lot of comfort in the ritual act of chopping the year down into seasons, carving those into months and then shaving those months down into weeks and finally days. And a day — just one day — is small enough that I can just about choke it down.

When it’s hard to feel like you can hope or should bother to plan for the future, a day is a thing you can still almost wrap your fingers around, and I think that’s the way that 2021 is going to have to be. I do believe that most of the chaos is behind us, but I also know that I am not the only one still living with the ghosts of the past year(s). Smack a dog on its nose enough times when it tries to eat, and eventually it will give into starving, even after the owner of the offending hand is long gone. We make jokes because we have to, to survive, but there are a lot of people around the world right now dealing with a kind of collective shell shock, better known today as PTSD.

So the seasons and the months and the weeks and the days is where I’m building my little nest for this year. For the first time ever, I’m doing an even semi-decent job at keeping a planner, and have relaunched a long-lost habit of journaling to boot. I make daily schedules for the month and stick them up on the wall above my desk. I am learning to check in with myself several times throughout the day to see if I’m happy with myself for whatever it is I am using my time to do. Often I’m not. But that’s okay. We will see where we are when the next check-in comes.

In other words, 2021 is going to be the year of putting one foot in front of the other. And along those lines, I’m planning to treat every month like it’s a new year. Because some of these months recently have felt like a year, anyway.

February, in traditional societies around the world, is all about leaving behind the dark sleepy days of deep winter, dusting off the snow and getting to work planning and preparing for the year to come. The first seeds the year are started around this time, and that’s my inspiration for this month. For me, February’s got big owl energy — it may still be snowy, quiet and dark, but it’s time to open our eyes wide and start looking around, getting the lay of the land and plotting the hunt for the months to come. And, yes, dusting off this old clunker of a blog is a part of that process. So let’s see where it leads.

I’d love to hear from you all how you’re planning on taking on this year, and what your strategies are for dealing with the trauma fatigue we’ve all got going on. Let me know in the comments what you’re focusing on for February and beyond.

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