I love this time of year...but not for the reasons you might think.
Sure, the lights and the festivities bring a special sort of joy and beauty that moves me. But what I love more is how reflective I feel during this season. The longer nights, the crisp cold, the traditions that bring forward memories of years past--it all makes it easy for me to curl up on the couch with a hot cup of tea and sink deep into an awareness of just how much has happened in this year that is about to turn.
If you think about it, a year is long enough to bring real changes, challenges, and growth but still short enough to wrap your arms around. It’s a chunk of time sizable enough to hold an intricate symphony of events, yet small enough we can make sense out of the movements, patterns, and transitions, revealing important insights about where we’ve been and who we’re becoming.
To be honest, this last year wasn’t particularly momentous for me. It held no major life changes or the sudden onslaught of a pandemic (thank goodness). There were moments of small triumph, but nothing to brag about. There were moments of significant struggle, but each was easy enough to weather. I gained nothing significant--I lost nothing significant.
Yet if I really look at myself, long and hard, I know that something subtle but so important has happened inside of me this year.
This was the year I listened to myself, accepted myself and even loved myself with a gentle ease that’s new to me. Relating well to myself is something I’ve worked very hard at for years, through many journal entries and therapy sessions and lessons learned and relearned (and learned again). But in 2021, treating myself with kindness felt less like work and more like...well, just my normal state of being.
The wonder I feel when I let myself really take that in is as thrilling as a dazzling display of lights or the taste of a fresh-baked gingersnap cookie.
Whatever the past year has been like for you, I hope this month provides you with time to cozy up to yourself and your journal to ponder all that you’ve experienced. Whether you’ve had triumphs or struggles, seismic shifts or steady constancy, gains or losses--I promise there is something so important that has happened inside of you that’s worth noticing, naming, and celebrating.
I’ve crafted a few journal prompts to help you do just that, you’ll find them below, ready to move you toward the special sort of joy and beauty that heart-felt reflection can bring.
In our prompts for this month, I'm inviting you to look back on the year behind to help you notice important movements and meanings in your life.
1) As you look back on the past year, what are you most proud about? This could be an area of personal growth, a challenge you overcame, a personal or professional accomplishment, knowledge you gained--or anything else that is meaningful to you. If you could create a certificate to celebrate this, what would it say?
2) As you look back on the past year, what relationship (or set of relationships) offered you the most support and connection? What difference did this person (or people) make in your life?
3) What is one positive change within you, big or small, that took place this year? What might that change tell you about who you are becoming?
4) Try to remember your hopes for 2021 at the end of 2020. In what ways have these hopes come to fruition? What surprise gifts did this year bring that went above or beyond your hopes?
5) If you've journaled this past year, take a look back at your earliest journal entry for 2021 and read through it slowly. What stands out to you? What might this help you notice about what you've been through and who you're becoming?
Hi there, I'm Laurie, a private practice therapist and an avid journaler. I write about the intersection between journaling and therapy, helping you cultivate greater emotional and relational wellness via journaling pathways filled with self-compassion, self-nurture, self-discovery, & self-trust.