I went to a department store this week. To me, it’s a whole different feeling to shop for clothes or gifts than it is shopping for groceries, and I felt like a bird out of a cage! I hummed along with the piped in music, smiled at people behind my mask, then realized I needed to speak the words, “Hi, how’re you?” I even caught myself rambling on and on with the poor girl at the checkout. In reflection, I think I had been so looking forward to going someplace fun, just to have fun, that the experience was even more pleasant than it may have been otherwise.
It dawned on me that it had been a very long time since I had given myself a reason – or even permission for that matter – to look forward to something. The realization changed me, it reminded me what life before COVID was like and that I had stopped being hopeful; stopped creating things to look forward to. I wondered if our seniors felt the same way, and what they did to maintain resilience and hope. A lot, as it turns out! Here’s what they suggest for a New Year and new you!
Plan things you can look forward to. I should’ve remembered this! As a kid, sometimes going to school seemed endless and plain awful. To get through some of the longest dry spells, each night at bedtime, I would make myself find at least one thing I could look forward to the next day. Sometimes, I scraped the bottom of the barrel and just looked forward to the lunch menu, other days it was wearing something new, or getting my hair done. I did this religiously, though, and it worked!
Rather than making Monday laundry day – how about making it the day you’re going to treat yourself to your favorite dessert or meal at a drive through? Maybe before your online weekly Bible Study, make yourself a plate of refreshments that you would’ve had if you’d gone in person. Was shopping something you did on Fridays? If you’re anxious about getting out to shop, ask your favorite local shops if they have websites, hop online and use one of my new favorite buttons, “Add to Cart”! You can even buy yourself or your favorite shopping buddy gift cards to use later to give each other something to look forward to! Have a favorite restaurant that you frequented? Set yourself up a day to order carry out. It’ll help the restaurant, and satisfy cravings, too!
Finding something to look forward to doesn’t have to be costly, just creative. I can’t get out to go see my favorite new releases at the movies, but I’ve watched with great anticipation, the return of some of my favorite series and book releases! It can even be as simple as taking a day and committing to not doing a single thing. Not cooking, not cleaning … zip! I realize we’re a nation of workaholics, but this new stress we’re under is a job in and of itself. Take a break from the stress and pamper yourself, you’ve earned it!
Plan reunions and parties! Plan them with your friends. Plan them with your families. Plan every detail – make it a fantastic event because when we can all get back together – and we will – it will truly be cause to celebrate. Involve everyone – make calls, write letters, emails … every single detail. If you’re worried about having to change it, plan for that!
Has your travel been squelched? Mine, too. Rather than focus on what we’re lacking, let’s plan that vacation! Plan your wardrobe, make arrangements for your pets, make lists, and make notes on your calendar. Did you know most airlines are offering no-fee changes and cancellations, some for up to 18 months from January, 2021? Hotels, condo and house rentals are all offering no-fee changes so that you focus on the fun of the trip. Look online or give them a call to see what their policies are.
While we’re planning for 2021, let’s also sprinkle in large amounts of gratitude. It is natural for us to get into the cycle of talking about the disappointments of 2020. I was encouraged to acknowledge those disappointments, but to match each one with something I am grateful for. It could just be a review of your day and realizing all you accomplished. It was hard at first, but after trying it, I have to say, it changed my focus and left me feeling more positive and hopeful. Again, some days I have to fall head first into that deep barrel, legs sticking straight up in the air, to dig out something I’m grateful for, but I promise you, if you commit to coming up with just one thing, you’ll find two, then three, and then your focus will shift from heartache to hope. Personally, each and every day, I’m thankful for everyone who has made an effort to sacrifice their own comfort for the safety of our seniors and our community. We have all changed for the better – I truly believe this! That should give us all hope for a much, MUCH better New Year!