Monday, January 2, 2017

Starting the New Year Off Right

Happy New Year! As we ring in the new year, I have had a lot to think about. 2017 looks to offer exciting changes and growth for me. More on that later. I promise. Seriously.  Soon. But back to my "thinking'.  I'm a part of numerous organizations, and each year, whether it's the transitioning of the calendar year, or passing the baton from one leader to the next, a theme is chosen.  That theme is designed to inspire and motivate the decisions and actions of the leader, as well as the rest of the organization, throughout the year.

As you probably know by now, I don't believe in resolutions. I have made a few goals to help me focus on my mental health more this year, which I'm posting on my Instagram each day this week. But I also wanted to have a focus for my life as a whole - which of course, mental health is a huge part of, admittedly.  Still, while it's an important focus, I don't want it to be the sole focus. So I wondered, "What if I created a theme for my year, as organizations do?" I thought about my goals for mental health, my potential career goals, my love of helping others, and the kind of person that I want to be, and how I could incorporate all of this, and I came up with a theme.

Make everyone feel as loved and as special as possible this year. 

And there's a key component here. Everyone means everyone.  Including myself. Because of everyone I might slack on making feel special from time to time, I do so the most with myself. And by making sure I credit myself with my own worth, I am better able to serve others. Because it's a self fulfilling prophecy - if you think of yourself as unimportant and un-special, you often don't feel you can influence others, and you give up. But I'm not self-serving and I can't focus only on me (it's just not who I am), so this is just a part - just a piece that I have to make sure not to overlook.

So how do I plan to follow this theme? There are plenty of ways.  Often, it's the littlest things that are really the biggest things.  Some examples:

  • Sending (or giving if nearby and I see them often) actual birthday/special occasion cards. Not the kind that involve a Facebook post or a link to click on. The kind with an envelope that require paper and pencil to fill out.  Because that takes time and effort. And showing someone that they're worth your time and effort makes them feel special. 
  • Tell people what they mean to me.  One of my closest friends, who sadly passed away all too young in 2015, used to send me texts that said, "Just wanted to to let you know how much I value our friendship." She did this for seemingly no reason at all. Although of course there was a reason - she valued our friendship.  These days, most people seem to need an acute reason to say things like this. Someone helped us get through a bad time, or helped us with a big project, or listened to us vent. And of course, you shouldn't let these go unappreciated.  But how nice would it be to just hear out of the blue and for no specific reason that you mean a lot to someone and they value you? How much could that brighten your day when you're particularly down and feeling bad about yourself?  And so, as a tribute to my friend who I lost so sadly and so suddenly, who always made me feel so special, I vow to do this more in 2017. 
  • Helping friends with their projects, charity events, and more. I have a couple of friends who, no matter what project or charity or whatever it is, go above and beyond. They retweet, repost, volunteer to help out, donate, participate in fundraising events, help me brainstorm, all of the above - every single time. And these aren't friends rolling in dough, with tons of free time on their hands.  They have to squeeze in the time to do these things. They are often strapped for cash themselves, but still manage to donate to my causes. And I need to do more of this. Whether it's a toy drive or a charity walk or a project you're starting that you need me to share on social media. (Caveat: Guys, I love you dearly but if I attended every LulaRoe and makeup and jewelry party I was invited to I'd literally never be at work and couldn't pay my bills, plus I'd have an anxiety attack being in a group of people I don't know, so unless it's for charity I may well decline).  But if you have a cause that you're raising money for or are starting a new business or are gathering toys/books for a toy/book drive or need me to volunteer at a charity event, please, let me know.  I'll do everything I can to help out, even if it's just sharing it on social media or posting about it or helping brainstorm ideas or whatever. 
  • Spread Hope Project. I'll be posting more about this on my blog later, but the idea is that, to start with, I'm going to be taking photos in as many places with as many different people as I can with my Hope shirts (or accessories or signs or whatever I can), to literally Spread Hope, particularly to those battling mental health conditions or chronic illness, but also just in general. There's more to come down the road, but that's the start. In the mean time, you can see some photos on Instagram. And by all means, if you have a destination suggestion or want to be in a pic, let me know!
As I start 2017, I hope to keep this theme of making people feel loved and special in mind when considering my actions and decisions and words.  As I mentioned, I also need to take care of myself, and my health to make sure I can continue to do this. So there may be times I need to decline do to being ill, and I hope those that I love will understand. But I will do my best, even if all I can muster with the few spoons I have for a day is a text or a card or to share your tweet or post in hopes of helping you to promote your efforts. And if there is a way I can make you feel special that I've not mentioned, please, let me know, and I'll do my best. Because after all, it's the people who will be holding your hand at the end, it's how people will remember you as a person, that matters most. Love (familial, platonic, romantic) is everything - the rest is just frosting. 

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