On picking up the pieces and moving forward

What is this week? Specifically, what’s the middle of this week? 

It’s the moment when the balance shifts, from Solstice-and- Christmas-stuff toward New-Year thinking.

It’s the time of the week when, if we’re back at work from a break, we’re picking up the projects we’d temporarily laid aside, and gearing back up for business-as-usual. Many of us are dealing with a pile of deferred work that’s been stacking up while we were gone, just waiting for our return to trigger the avalanche.

If we’re still on holiday break, we’re cleaning up the shreds of wrapping paper and ribbon, and deciding if it’s time to start taking down the decorations yet. If we had a live Christmas tree, it’s probably turning into a dry, brittle fire hazard. We’re living on leftovers (and more than a little bored with them by now). If the Christmas jigsaw hasn’t been fully pieced together yet it might be time to give up and put it back in its box.

The Unfinished Puzzle, by Daniel McLean

Some of us are traveling home. Some of us are still trying to figure out where to put stuff. Some of us are relieved that we survived for another year, while others are so depressed we’re not sure we did survive.

But the one thing about this point in the week is that while we’re making our Gotta-Go Soup* or Googling eco-friendly things to do with our old Christmas tree, we’re also shifting gears and moving toward the dawn of a New Year. What will 2017 bring? 

Well, some things are a given. A new Presidential administration, for example. That there will be more winter in the Northern Hemisphere before we get started on spring. That time passes and change happens.

Other stuff is less predictable, but when things happen they must be dealt with (even “good” stress is still stress). Perhaps a loss or gain in your family (or your waistline), a change in jobs, locations, or marital status. A new opportunity. A health issue.

Stuff happens. What we do about the stuff that happens is the test.

I hope you’ll move into the New Year from a place of wholeness and peace, but not all of us are so blessed. Whatever place you’re in, today, there are things you can do, steps you can take, plans you can make (although always with at least a Plan B, because life is like that).

I hope your plans will include two things:

(1) Being good to yourself

No one is as big a screw-up as they sometimes think they are, and everyone deserves a break sometimes. I don’t mean just pampering yourself, as with a “spa day,” though if that’s really what you need I hope you can find a way to manage it. I mean choosing good paths for yourself that lead to a better-for-you way of life, whether that’s an improvement in diet, a set of priorities that allow more exercise, or the setting of healthier personal boundaries.

(2) Finding or nurturing a passion

Without meaningful purpose in your life nothing is worth the effort. The needs of the world are many, and the challenges are great. We cannot solve all problems, but we can work with like-minded others to solve the particular problems that call to our hearts. We’ve recently had Boxing Day as a reason to consider what causes we value and believe in; now, more than ever, we must find ways to support and protect the things, the people, and the foundational principles we cherish the most.

So take this middle-of-the-week, picking-up-the-pieces day, and consider well how you will meet the New Year. We can go forward in despair, repeating old patterns hopelessly, or we can go forward with determination to hold the line on certain things and push forward for improvement on others.

Each of us gets to choose.

***

*Gotta-Go Soup:

If it’s Got To Go, it’s a candidate for Gotta-Go Soup (a variation on Leftovers Supreme). This is my grandmother’s recipe:

(1) FLAVOR-MATCHING: Assemble your leftovers. Evaluate what flavors would go together best, and separate them out (put the others in the fridge or the compost/garbage, as appropriate). Figure out what kind of stock or base would best compliment the flavors you’ve assembled.

(2) COOKING: Get out a big pot. Put it on the back burner filled with said stock or soup base. Reduce all your other selections to small, bite-size pieces, and put them in the pot, too. Heat it all up and simmer for at least an hour (smell up the house real good). Season to taste.

(3) EATING: Serve with warm, crusty French bread or other favored accompaniment. You might be surprised how good it tastes!

IMAGES: Many thanks to Life on the Buy Side for the photo of the daunting office paperwork backup, to the blog Meanders for the wrapping-paper wreckage photo, and to Daniel McLean and his Flickr Photostream for the image The Unfinished Puzzle (permission granted via a Creative Commons License). 

I appreciate the availability of the snowy highway photo (in Eden Prairie, MN–doesn’t look quite so Edenic in this photo, though) from Minnesota Public Radio’s Updraft blog. Many thanks also to the Buy a House Club for the image of the discarded Christmas Tree (from an article on better things to do with them), and to Inspiring Buzz for the quotation image about changes in one’s life.

I greatly appreciate the quotation image about being tender with oneself from Helen Hirst’s “Self Nurturing” Pinterest board, and to The Huffington Post for the Fabienne Fredrickson quote on passions as our calling. Finally, many thanks to Video Blocks for the photo of the soup pot.

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jansgephardt

Kansas City-based Jan S. Gephardt is a writer, artist, and teacher. She makes nationally-recognized paper sculpture and writes sf mystery novels about a sapient police dog.

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