It’s that time of year again! The time when we sit around with our family and friends and make New Year’s resolutions. As in years past, we will be deeply committed to these resolutions for the first two weeks of the year and then forget about all the promises we made to ourselves and others.
For the past ten New Year’s, I have made the resolution of “this year will be about me”. Every year I say it with good intention but never really manage to stick with it. I may get a massage or go to a yoga class and feel like I am doing what I have declared to do. But this year, I have decided to really think about what I am declaring. I decided to really define “the year of me”.
This year, I will be turning 40, yikes! Instead of being annoyed or sad about it, I am going to see this birthday as a blessing for me and others. Again, I say this year will be about me, but this time it’s different, it’s more than just me…it’s WE. As a marriage and family therapist I work with many great people in search of something. I started to listen to what my clients were searching for; not what they thought they needed but what their souls were searching for. I then noticed that I organically started speaking to my clients about the importance of self-care and kindness in the healing process We started to talk more about how self-care and kindness can lead to true self love, which leads to healthy love towards others. I learned how important these two actions are when learning to truly love yourself and when learning to love others in a healthy way. How? you ask. I started to practice what I was telling my clients and I noticed a profound change in me.
Self-care and kindness can help you deal with stress and anxiety in a much more productive way. My clients and I, together came up with self-care ideas that work for them. When my clients started engaging in productive self-care acts, they were amazed at how much happier they started to feel. They also found it much easier to do kind things for others; small acts of kindness without even thinking about it. Watching my clients transform in this way has made my work very rewarding.
I believe that I have found my life’s purpose in doing the work that I do with my clients. Helping others provides meaning to my life. This is why I want 2017 to be “the year of me…WE”! Every month of 2017 I will be celebrating my 40th year of life by doing one of two things: a solo self-care activity or a group (family and friends) self-care activity AND an act of kindness. I will be celebrating the “year of me” by doing good things for myself but also doing good things for others, making it “the year of me…WE”. To ensure that this will not just be another failed New Year’s resolution, I am constructing a list of activities for every month. I am creating of list of 2-3 activities per month in order to have options and make sure that I do at least one of these activities. Here is my list so far:
- Vacation for my birthday
- Road Trip to Canada
- Trip to Sedona
- Cross country drive
I know some of these ideas may be expensive but self-care does not have to cost anything…
- Create a daily affirmations box/file, change your negative internal script into a positive one
- Rock Climbing Gym, challenge yourself out of your comfort zone
- Weekly Hike, connecting with nature is very relaxing
- Let Go Bond Fire, start a bond fire with friends write down your worries, fears and negative thoughts and burn them in the fire
- Volunteer for a charitable organization, it is good for you and others
- Habitat for Humanity, nothing better than helping others obtain a basic need that many take for granted
- Volunteer at Soup kitchen, it feeds the soul
- Make care bags for the homeless, helps them see someone cares and they matter
- Volunteer at dog shelter/pound, because dogs are awesome and really have this love thing down way better than humans
- Pay for another person’s coffee when buying your own, because it is cool when someone does it for you
- Speak only kind words for a week, you will feel happier and lighter
- Spend a day leaving positive affirmation sticky notes in random places, the person who really needs it will find it
This is an ongoing list, please feel free to add any ideas you may have.
The goal is to learn to love Whole Heartedly by becoming better at self-care and at the same time becoming better at giving back to others, even in the smallest ways. To make it easier, I have provided some links to help with act of kindness and some additional self-care ideas. Remember even the smallest act of kindness can mean a lot to someone.
I will be keeping a journal of my thoughts and feelings throughout this year long journey. I know that through this journey, I will continue to become a better person and learn how to love others in a healthier way. I ask you to join in on this idea and make 2017 the year of me…WE! We need this now more than ever!!
With Whole Hearted Love,
Jessica Alejandro, LMFT