New beginnings: take one empty jar

I had a couple of tough conversations over the winter break – that basically went like this: “January actually might be just as hard.” Or, according to today’s email update via Wired magazine, “researchers warn that 2021 will look at lot like 2020. We’re not out of the woods yet.” I was feeling a combination of New Year/new slate hope and pandemic fatigue… so I hadn’t really wanted to hear those things – that the fairy godmother of 2021 wasn’t going to magic away all the things that have made 2020 a challenging time. Doh.

So I started thinking again about the ways I resource myself… and about how to build capacity to hold uncertainty and grief and discomfort, so instead of running away, numbing, or denying things, I can make change, contribute positively, and appreciate the life I’m in the midst of living… and how we can get inventive and create new rituals and ceremonies for ourselves, to fill our craving for connection and meaning, in the absence of ways we’re used to doing that (turkey, cake, hug, gathering.)

This popped up on my feed and I appreciated the simplicity of it…

Maybe it will inspire you to make space on your windowsill or shelf?

All it takes is one empty jar. Or shoebox. Anything from the recycling container really. Let it’s emptiness be an invitation. It holds space for all your noticing.

I had a friend, a brilliant and very funny journalist, who would write out little moments that made her laugh, crazy things her friends did or said, onto scraps of paper and she’d store them in an old box. The day she was leaving town, for a new job, at a farewell dinner, she read some of them out loud. It was a memory box, dedicated to hilarity and ridiculousness.

I keep orienting back to the power of gratitude – the shift that comes when you task yourself with noticing something that makes your heart soften, expand. That could be a theme too.

At a couple of my workplaces, whenever I heard colleagues say hilarious things, I’d jot them down. Mostly no one noticed, because part of my job was usually to be constantly jotting things down. But one astute friend would notice – as the laughter was fading, “oh there she goes, writing it down.” At the end of the year, I’d pull out my chicken scratch and send around an All Team email, of my favourite ridiculous jokes and moments, trying to find at least one from everyone…

I remember seeing someone locally who shared that her little family kept a jar like this, and would review the moments a a New Year’s Even tradition. Given most of our lives are documented via iPhone, this old school analogue documenting made me so happy…

Whether or not the fairy godmother of blank slates and easy days dropped in with 2021 blessings, we can create dedicated spaces, blank pages or empty jars, for noticing and celebrating what brings us joy – funny jokes, hilarious things your kids say, a daily blessing, a quote that just catches your breath for a moment… Notice. Capture. Make a deposit. And then one day, when you need a pick-me-up, and two cups of coffee aren’t doing the trick, crack it open and pull out a random handful of good moments and memories, and see if you can decipher your handwriting and be reminded of the ordinary beauty of ordinary days, even when we’re in the midst of strange things like a pandemic.

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