Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year! 2017 -- We Have Been Waiting for You!

New Year Happy New Year New Year Celebrati
Let’s be honest.  This was a brutal year for many.  Social media recorded people stating that they wanted this year to be over.  One person whom I have admired for years eloquently stated on his Facebook page  that “2016 can eat my [expletive].”  

Looking back on 2016, the year was strikingly hard as we lost many iconic celebrities who were still artistically prolific.  The year started with artists such as David Bowie’s unexpected death from cancer followed by many other high profiled deaths throughout the year such as Prince’s relationship to Fentanyl.

Perhaps the close of the year was hauntingly symbolic with George Michael’s Last Christmas -- as he died on Christmas Day.  Yet, of all his songs, arguably the most memorable waltz of his career was the beautifully poetic ballad Jesus to a Child which was

his tribute to Anselmo Feleppa, his lover who died in 1993.  He had introduced this song to the world on Christmas many years prior.  Thus, the holidays can be a significant contributor for deaths and bereavements.

Celebrity deaths any time of year are particularly hard for the citizens of this country as the USA is so young in comparison to our parental Western Europe or maternal Native America. Moreover, with this naivete we have no monarch system in place.  No royalty, nor connection to place, nor at times to ancestors.  Thus, we as a nation over time developed an obsession with our celebrities as they are the closest thing to god-like royalty figures which we possess.  So our celebrities live bigger, die harder and love brighter.
New Year'S Eve, Leipzig, Fireworks, Fire, Fireworks Art
As we wrapped up the past 12 months the final days seemed to never stop challenging us with bigger, harder or brighter, as Carrie Fisher started to show her life’s purpose through psychoeducation in mental illness.  

One could argue that the brightest of curtain calls was the Demeter/Persephone mythos of Debbie Reynolds. Perhaps, to fully understand the dynamics of the Reynolds Fisher union a recommendation of Christine Downey's The Long Journey Home is warranted. So much of Ms. Reynold's relationship with her daughter throughout the years pulled their forces together as her son, Todd Fisher, quoted Ms. Reynolds before her death as saying “I want to be with Carrie.”  The Postcards from the Edge mother daughter relationship proved to be a mesh of fiction, foreshadowing, and reality.  A review of past interviews with Fisher and Reynolds are telling.  Even Fisher’s reveal of her relationship with Harrison Ford questions our unconscious’ knowledge of life’s future as we live in the present; preparing for our death.  But perhaps Reynolds was the star to upstage them all, leaving literally one day after her daughter’s highly publicized death.
One could argue if we need any evidence in questioning and justifying Reynolds’ timing of her death (or Michaels’); and does this inquiry help us become even more connected to the Unsinkable Debbie Reynolds?  Throughout her career she was Singin’ in the Rain of tears through her well publicized break up of her day.  Imagine Eddie Fisher as Brad Pitt and Elizabeth Taylor as Angelina Jolie?  But in this case imagine Jennifer Aniston married to Brad with two infant children when Brangelina exploded?  And imagine an era where infidelity and divorce was socially unaccepted?  But Reynolds successfully survived this public rupture, and went on to engage with her golden years becoming one of the few untarnished favored icons of our Golden Hollywood era.  So yes, the Goddess Demeter had died a mortal death.  She was heartbroken, or to be more clinical she might have suffered from Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy. And yes, the cliche of dying from a broken heart has now become legitimized through science.

This uneasiness with last year's deaths surpassed artistic expression. We saw deaths in sports elites such as Arnold Palmer, and the butterflying sting of Muhammad Ali.  Famed astronauts, famed (or inafmous) politicians, including Fidel Castro,, famed news correspondents, transgendered pioneers, and esteemed novelist and playwrights.   It was not the list of deaths that can be so damning.  It was the complexities of 2016 at large, in conjunction with artistically and socially and politically significant transitions.  If one cares to explore the death of a Supreme Court Justice we could find that Associate Justice Scalia had rippling waves on the American psyche, because of the climate, timing and context of his death and its impact for months to follow.  Thus, the event of his death produced anxiety in the social nature of our judicial system and the public at large.   Specifically there were two concerns worth meshing with the earlier discussion.  

The first theme of Orlando Florida’s 49 victims of June 12, 2016 which brought debate on sensitive themes across our social conscious:  Gun control. GLBTQ.  Immigration, partial list.  The second theme of the political election between Secretary of State Clinton and reality TV, businessman, real estate mogul Trump brought to the American public the most visible venomous election in the past century.  So, when we say it is a difficult year what is meant is 2016 was the most complex, gymnastically jarring, polarized provoking emotional year that we have witnessed and experienced in this lifetime.   How do we recover from this?  Even if last  year was your best productive socially gratifying year, you still have friends, co-workers, and family who took a psychic and emotional hit.  Thus, you were affected.  So, would it be worth our time to work toward a positive outcome for 2017?

There are so many visually captivating images for the New Year witnessed by the New Year’s Eve celebration.  That is our start.  Looking for visuals that we find beautiful.  What definitions of beauty did you find in 2016? With such beauty is it possible to look for beauty and good in 2017?  

I wanted to choose a few topics that might warrant discussion to start the new year.  These were previously mentioned a few years ago in this blog:

Many of us might benefit with positive talks about setting short term and/or long term goals.  This topic of goal setting is primarily designed to help construct a thinking pathway to reaching possible positive future outcomes.  Dreaming, or setting ambitious plans, can sometime be a starting point for structured reachable goals that provide you with quick validation.  This dreaming ideology might be the visionary coal miner not wanting his children to work in the coal mines so that his children can have a better life.  Or the passionate Crystal Lee Sutton or Cesar Chavez advocating for better working conditions for fellow workers.  Setting goals in the formally mention context is more individual and tangible.  This is where the traditional New Year’s Resolution is so promising.  If used correctly it is a manageable life intervention to straighten out what might need tweaking the following year.  We often get into trouble when we set New Year’s resolution goals that are too ambitious.

Failed resolution lists places us into a cycle of feeling letdown and we have a negative, or resistance, to accomplishing goals because we perceive that we will not succeed.  
When making resolutions:  

1. Be specific in setting goals to ensure completion.  Make it a goal, make it fun and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t fully accomplishment it.  If you don’t complete it just readjust.  Praise yourself if you come close to your goal.  For example: "I want to go back to school."  Too vague.  "I want to go to school so I will do all the research and understand the cost and financial aid options by march 31; I will pick a degree or subject or major and understand the requirements needed to start school; I will pick two schools and one alternate to attend. The more specific you are the better chances you have to success.

2.  Keep the goal simple and in perspective.  Maybe a Junior college is easier and doable?  Maybe you have children and a job so part-time might be more conducive to your lifestyle.

3. Make sure you are telling others.  Accountability goes along way!  It puts you in an obligatory role.  But also, if you get stuck or if you are having difficulty a support system and others can be strong allies in helping you reach your goals.  If you are planning to be healthier and if you blog about it or put it on your social media page you might find others that are open to your ideas.  Maybe you stumble upon hiking through your discussions with your support system which you normally would never have thought to do.  While your friends are bringing over the cheese cake and beer against your wishes your new hiking friends can share their similar frustrations and give tips on how to help with such struggles that you are facing.

4. treat your Self emotionally or with tangible gifts for your success!  Make it fun!  If you are broke go to the 99 Cents store and buy gold stickers and buy a calendar.  Every day you feel successful about this goal put a gold star on the calendar.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money or time to praise yourself for reaching your goals.

If you are like most of us and have too much on your plate and unable to get everything done you might need to do the priority list.  So often we might feel frustrated if we don’t write down the “new year’s resolution list by January 1st only leading to not doing the list at all.  Why not set the deadline for January 31 to complete the resolution list?  This gives you time to think about the list and make any necessary adjustments.

If you decide to do your New Year’s Resolution list think about your personal 10 best moments of 2016.  This is an interpersonal and intrapersonal reflection.   This is the opportunity to build on what was successful from the year.  Some moments we only have once and are not to be duplicated; however, we can learn from our mistakes, as well as, from our fortunes.    

The second key topic of this discussion is building your career or your future.  Know the difference between a job and a career.  Chris Rock actually describes your job vs. your career perfectly using humour.  Use your time to build for your future and your happiness.  A job ain’t gonna do it.  A career can.  Use this year to strengthen your career, whether through networking, longer hours for a payoff, or more diversification in job skillsets.  If you have a job this is the year to make it your transition into a career.  Figure it out!

The third topic is understanding your spirituality and your moral and political platform.  This is not churchianity or religion.  This is having an understanding of what you believe in and connecting closer to your Self as you fit with mankind.  Are you at the stage in your life's growth where you know your belief about something but you can be in the room with someone of that polared belief? Moreover, are you able to embrace their presence and listen to them without judgment and with an open mind?  Can you not agree with them but love them as a fellow human being?  If so then that might suggest that you understand you spirituality and moral platform and that you do not feel threatened by others.  

New Year'S Eve, New Year'S Greetings
The fourth topic is Relationships and its importance to the Self.  The past 20 years have raised arguments that social skills are a form of intelligence.  More significant is the fact that social and family relationships just give you more life options and strengthens your potential happiness. If your family of origin is not a positive influence you can define your family.

You must continue to work on strengthening your relationships regardless of how hard it might be. If you try and with some creativity you can create many ways to solidify your relationships.  My mother’s college friend sent me a birthday card with a tea bag wishing me a happy birthday several years ago.  She suggested I use the tea bag on a night when I wanted to relax.  I not only remembered this but her creativity and her efforts were greatly appreciated.

Lastly, I would like to say “health better.”  We don’t have to be perfect.  But exercise more.  We don’t have to be superhero Thor.  Get a used bike and bike to the post office. Walk around the block after dinner.  A popular one is using the flight of stairs instead of the elevator.  Park further away from the building in the parking lot to walk a bit more.  You don’t have to have a gym membership.

Holiday health is always difficult.  If you had difficulty this holiday season put this holiday food concern on your list to manage throughout the year with the upcoming holidays. And with that being said, Happy New Year and drink and drive safely throughout the year. If you are reading this you made it to the finish line! And you survived 2016! Welcome 2017!!!!!!!!!!!

Read more about Dr. Strayhorn's practice and philosophy...

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