Dec 302011

I don’t know how this year has been for you. The general consensus among my friends, family and clients is that 2011 cannot end soon enough.

I live in the Hudson Valley and we here are no strangers to snowstorms and blizzards but we usually only get one or two big ones a season. Starting after Christmas last year we were hit with at least half a dozen. We skipped right over Spring into a very hot, wet Summer which ended with Hurricane Irene followed a week later by Tropical Storm Lee. That one-two punch destroyed roads, bridges, powerlines, large portions of a few towns up here and many of the local farms. Somewhere in there we had a 5.8 earthquake that by our standards was unheard of but California would consider a minor annoyance. An F2 tornado touched down in our town destroying one house and dozens of big old trees in a one mile swath. Tornadoes like that almost never happen. The hot weather continued into October tricking the trees into forgetting it was Autumn so they still had all their leaves when we had eighteen inches of snow fall on them. All that afternoon and into the night we could hear boughs and limbs breaking and crashing to the ground. By Halloween most of the folks in town were a bit frazzled. There were even a few jokes about keeping an eye out for plagues of frogs and locusts. Folks are bracing themselves for what this Winter might bring.

It’s not just the weather that is rattling everyone. The economy hasn’t bounced back as hoped. There are many vacant shops in town and quite a few people are still out of work. It’s difficult not to get caught up in the low-grade anxiety that seems to be everywhere. Each person who has wished me a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holiday has added that they can’t wait for this year to be over. I completely understand.

I don’t do New Year’s Eve parties. It’s just not my thing. I spend New Year’s Eve cleaning my house, catching up on my laundry and generally making sure I don’t bring unfinished business from one year into the next. Another thing I do, that seems to be a common practice for many, is to take an inventory of the outgoing year. Some people do this in a very involved way but I’m partial to Chris Guillebeau‘s practice. He simply asks what worked and what didn’t.  Truthfully I don’t even write this down. It’s more of a mental exercise for me and I go through it for a few weeks leading up to New Year’s Eve.

While I was thinking about this and how best to get out from under the anxiety it occurred to me you may want to join in. January is usually a down month for people. Business is slow. The weather is harsh. The excitement of the holidays is gone and there is the inevitable crash that comes afterward. Instead of New Year’s resolutions I prefer to come up with ideas to explore in the coming year. There is much less pressure with this approach and much more joy. What better way to start this off than to make January be about joy.

This will be simple and we can do it together. Little things every day or so to shift our focus. Rethinking exercises to bring us back to joy and squash the anxiety. Are you in?

Great! On January 1st I will post the 25 things I am grateful for from 2011. I invite you to do the same either here in the comments, on my Facebook Page or on your own blog (please link back here so everyone knows what’s going on). In keeping with the theme of Joyful January  I will be using the Joie de Vivre Tarot as my deck of the month. Here’s to making it a very happy new year.

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