Happy New Year! I’m quite late for a New Year post, I know, and believe me, that’s actually a good thing. You see, 2016 is the year when I make good on my promise to be good to myself.
“You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” – Eleanor Brownn
Historically, I have run in the new year and then spent hours poring over journal entries and blog posts from the previous year, decade, etc. to see where I’ve come from, and what track my life is taking. This year was different – the clock struck midnight and my husband and I shared a sparkling grape juice toast with our youngest son before heading upstairs – together – and falling peacefully asleep. There was no attempt to review the past – no tears shed at past hurts, and only one resolution: to be good to myself.
2016 is the year of comfort and joy. This is the year of self care and learning to say, “no,” when necessary. I’m taking time (and making time) to do the things that bring me joy. I’m allowing myself to enjoy the things that bring me comfort.
This is the year of silly songs at the break of dawn, loose leaf tea in fancy teacups, essential oils that smell like liquid joy or comfort in a bottle, and beautiful fibers that wind themselves into scarves and blankets while my eyes watch the television.
Thanks to the efforts of my husband and children, I once again have a “sacred space,” (named the Betty Room by my hubby) where I can sit quietly to read, pray, meditate, and contemplate. I’m also getting a new bathtub with enough depth to soak – more comfort (and some joy, too).
My first bit of advice for 2016 is to make room for comfort and joy in your own life. Experiences that comfort us and that allow us to feel joyful replenish the energy that we deplete when we give. Although giving to others without expectation of receiving anything in return brings its own rewards, when people take from us without giving, over and over, it can take a spiritual and physical toll. Seek out joy. Seek out comfort. Make your own happiness, and then share from that vessel that is no longer empty.
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” – Psalm 23:5
We can pray for comfort and joy, or we can seek it out. I had a difficult Monday with a difficult adversary in a difficult proceeding at work. It was bitterly cold, and when I stopped my car for gasoline, I opened my back door to retrieve a hat. When I went to shut the door, it would not latch. Believing it to be frozen, I took it to a local auto repair place hoping they could quickly thaw it so that I could be on my way to a court proceeding. It turned out to be a broken latch, not a frozen one, and replacement parts had to be ordered. There was no way to fasten the door shut (except, possibly the rope and duct tape that my cousin suggested) for the 45 mile drive, so I had to beg for mercy from the party with all of the power in that situation. The tone for the tense email exchange that followed was probably largely imaginary. The tone of the voice in my head as I read the email response was set by the morning I had already had.
I wouldn’t go nearly so far as call that person an enemy, but it nevertheless the terse nature of the exchange (real or imagined) created a drain on my joy. I set my little table with one of my favorite teacups as I brewed a fragrant pot of tea. I rubbed a few drops of my favorite essential oil blends on my temples, and I allowed the aromas from the tea and the oil to surround me with beauty, comfort and joy. That’s probably not what the Psalmist had in mind, but soon I was singing again.
My husband said, “boy, you’re in a good mood!” I explained my quest for comfort and joy. Sometimes you have to “fake it until you make it.” When you’re faking joy, though, it quickly becomes real as it infects others with smiles (or even laughs).
I’ve had a tough week so far, but my cup runneth over. Being good to myself is my only resolution for 2016. Actively seeking comfort and joy is the first step toward achieving success.