Last year proved to be a year of overwhelming sadness, anger, frustration, violence and destruction. It is sometimes difficult to feel hope for a better future when we are experiencing so much turmoil individually and as a whole. I can get mired down in the terrible news and feel helpless in watching the world around me continue to fall apart. However, I am a silver-lining kind of person and I need to find the light, no matter how small, to continue to move forward and keep on keeping on. I am choosing to find things to be both hopeful and joyful for in 2018.
My first hope is that you can find things to be hopeful for too.
1. Twelve More Months to Embrace Radical Self Love
You can care for others better when you have taken the time to care for yourself. Radical self love looks different for everyone, but it is incredibly important. I have been working on it for a while, yet my work is never done. It is a constant dance of intimacy, vulnerability and communication with myself about energy coming in and energy going out.
I have to be brutally honest about how I spend my time, who I give time to, what my body and mind are telling me, how to navigate the world with physical, mental and emotional safety, build healthy boundaries and relationships, find meaning and purpose and a balance of action and rest.
I am hopeful and grateful for another year to listen to my heart and do what is best for myself, in radical and loving ways.
2. Find Beauty and Peace
Author Cheryl Strayed writes in her book Wild about how her mother made a choice everyday to find peace, even when things were difficult. Her mother said, “There’s always a sunrise and always a sunset and it’s up to you to choose to be there for it. Put yourself in the way of beauty.”
When I am feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed with anxiety or fear, it helps to make things as simple as possible. That often boils down to self care like eating something nourishing or reaching out to a friend. It can also mean finding something beautiful or something small that brings even a moment of peace. I will stop to pet every dog I see or smile at a child. Listen to my favorite song on repeat or dance around the living room until I’m out of breath.
When nothing else comes to mind, I am hopeful and grateful that there are 365 more chances to see a sunrise or sunset and put myself in the way of beauty.
More Radical Reads: 5 Ways to Find Radical Self Love & Joy When Your Body Says Otherwise
3. Answer the Daily Call to Kindness
It has been difficult to feel kindness toward people who seem to be hell-bent on making our world more difficult and violent and dangerous. We are bombarded with the reality of inequality and injustice everyday. I struggle to find forgiveness and grace, and am often so angry that I can actually feel my blood boiling. That said, the stress and anxiety we’ve carried this past year has to be taking its toll.
Research shows that practicing kindness lowers our blood pressure, prolongs our lives, brings us more energy and decreases our pain and stress. It doesn’t need to be grand gestures either. Just the act of smiling at people releases Oxytocin that helps to protect your heart. This kindness extends to yourself as well. We have a clean slate every morning to be a beacon of kindness and grace to the people around us and ourselves.
I know there will still be plenty in 2018 to anger me and cause pain and frustration, but I am hopeful that pushing myself to practice radical kindness will do me good and benefit the world around me. I hope to use that anger as fuel for change.
More Radical Reads: “How Do You Love Your Body On Bad Days?:” 6 Lessons to Surviving Illness & Resurfacing Self Love
4. Be a Better Ally and Use Your Voice
Last year burst my bubble in many ways around acknowledging privilege and learning more about a variety of issues and injustice. Learning these truths was often uncomfortable, but growth and change are just that. It is a radical act to look at things, straight on and say, “I am going to listen and learn, even if it is hard.” I know I still have a lot of work to do, but I am committed to doing it. I am committed to continuing to show up and be better.
One thing I am most hopeful for in 2018 is the midterm elections.
We just witnessed the power of voting in Alabama and I am extremely grateful for all African-American voters, especially women, who made their voices heard. There are still obstacles for many communities when it comes to voting and that is something I hope we can work to resolve or make better before the election in November. These past elections in 2017 brought more diversity in candidates than we’ve seen and I am hopeful we will see that continue to midterms in 2018.
There is much to be upset about, including the tax bill, issues of access to healthcare and affordable housing and continued injustice, we have so much still to work on. However, I am hopeful we can continue to build community and use our voices together to be the change we wish to see in the world.
Let us work together to make it possible.[Feature Image: Two individuals sit outdoors on a curb in front of a wall full of graffiti. They both have long brown hair and are leaning on one another smiling. Pexels.com]