2021: 12 tips for making it a wonderful year

2021: 12 tips for making it a wonderful year

Don’t look now, but 2020 is all but history. That’s just fine by me. But what really matters is how we’re feeling about 2021. I’m looking forward to it, and really believe it can be a wonderful year. Here are 12 tips to help make it just that… 

Come to understand your life’s meaning and purpose. Let it define your journey, and work toward fulfillment everyday.

A quirky thought hit me as I was putting this piece together. Let me run it by you…

Do you find it interesting that we make such a big deal about drawing lines between years on our calendars and in our lives? I know it goes way back, and serves multiple purposes, but I think it’s a curious practice. After all, time knows no boundaries. 

Speaking of time, here’s a fascinating take from Albert Einstein. In a letter of condolence to the sister of his best friend, who had died, he included this…

For us believing physicists the distinction between past, present, and future only has the meaning of an illusion, though a persistent one.

Seems as though Einstein’s calendar had no lines.

New year’s resolutions?

So, do you have your new year’s resolutions at least thought-out, if not carved in stone?

I don’t.

See, I don’t do new year’s resolutions. And I don’t encourage others to rack their brains over them. Nah, they’re often loaded with unrealistic expectations, which end-up making the “resolutioner/expecter” feel defeated and inferior when one or more don’t pan out.

Do you agree?  

12 tips for making 2021 a wonderful year

new years resolution

“I’m feelin’ really good about 2021.”

Okay, so new year’s resolutions don’t float my boat. But that doesn’t mean I don’t ponder and adopt custom strategies and goals for the coming year.

And I’ll tell you something: I believe doing so is absolutely essential for anyone trying to manage a mood or anxiety disorder. I mean, seat-of-the-pants living doesn’t work well for us.

With that in mind, here are 12 tips for making 2021 a wonderful year for anyone dealing with a mood or anxiety disorder…

  1. Consider acceptance when it comes to your mood or anxiety woes. Some things will change, some won’t. Internal fighting generates stress and depletes energy. 
  2. Expectations can be devastating. Carefully choose what you want of, and for, yourself. And apply gently. 
  3. COVID-19 isn’t going to magically disappear, so go easy on thoughts of returning to “normal.” 
  4. Come to believe that every day is a gift and strive to make the best of each and every one. 
  5. Don’t lose the forest for the trees. Looking after fine details may be important, but trouble awaits if we lose sight of the big picture.
  6. Make lending someone a hand a daily priority, So many are suffering. If anyone knows what that feels like, it’s us.
  7. Be thankful. If you can’t find anything worthy of gratitude, look harder.  
  8. Learn to catch feeling and behavior altering thinking – especially cognitive distortions – and make indicated adjustments.
  9. Don’t turn your back on healthy living habits – self-care. If your body and mind fail, you’re in deep weeds.
  10. Come to understand your life’s meaning and purpose. Let it define your journey, and work toward fulfillment everyday.
  11. Find and nurture a relationship with a spiritual power. We need to know there’s a bigger and more mighty being than us.
  12. Never let go of hope. It’s real, and at times it may be all we have.

Think those will help? Give some of them a go and see how they positively impact your life.

Pop the cork

So bye-bye 2020, it’s time to embrace 2021. Again, I’m looking forward to it because I really believe it can be a wonderful year. I’m hoping you feel the same.

Yeah, pop the cork…  

Happy New Year!

help for depression

How to become self-aware. It’s not about finding yourself.

How to become self-aware. It’s not about finding yourself.

Who am I? The question is as old as life itself. And coming up with satisfactory answers can be an ongoing struggle. How ’bout we turn to our guest poster, Claire, for some meaningful insight?

It was at this time that I realised that I never had to find myself. I was always here. I was just changing, growing and learning.

She sent me an introductory email not too long ago. And before you know it we were chatting about guest posting.

Now, if you’ve hung around Chipur for any length of time, you know I rarely accept guest posts. But Claire’s approach, background, and message felt right, so I was happy to welcome her work.

Speaking of her background…

Claire has suffered from anxiety and depression for most of her life. She also deals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Fortunately, she’s at a stage in her life where things are finally feeling good.

Claire has always been driven to help people. She loves to put a smile on others’ faces and know that with some deed – small or large – she’s helped make someone’s life a little bit better.

Claire blogs from the UK at Miss Serenity, where her aim is to grow a community of like-minded people who can feel like they have a safe space to be themselves – and not be told to “pull themselves together” or be judged for how they feel.

So let’s get after it. The floor’s yours, Claire…

Claire’s personal intro

When I was first told that I had anxiety and depression, it made a lot of sense to me. It explained so many of the things I had going on, from IBS to constant worrying, to catastrophising and everything else besides. But it left me feeling like I didn’t really know who I was anymore.

I felt lost. I needed to learn how to become self-aware.

Being diagnosed with a mental illness makes you question everything. What does this mean about what you’ve believed about yourself for years up until now? Who are you? Where do you go from here?

What does it mean to find yourself?

how to find yourself

“Guess I don’t really have to ‘find myself,’ after all.”

For me, it was trying to figure out who I was before I knew I had anxiety – the carefree girl from “way back when” who was the life and soul of the party, was always surrounded by people and didn’t worry about EVERYTHING.

I tried to go back, to start dressing how I used to dress, (even if it was dated now!) get my hair cut the way I used to, wear the old makeup. It didn’t help, it felt like I was trying to be someone else.

So then I tried to re-invent myself, maybe I was hiding under someone new. I tried different clothing styles, listened to music I had never heard before, wore my hair longer, tried different makeup.

I still didn’t feel like “me.” So I stumbled through life, in a cycle of ups and downs, not sure where I was headed or what I was supposed to do in life.

I tried out different business ideas, maybe I’m supposed to be an entrepreneur that changes the world!!!

My “aha” moment

Fast forward many years to 2020, and like everyone else in the world, I’m in lockdown because of COVID-19. Time for some reflection!

I found myself alone a lot, while my husband was still working; thinking a lot about an old friend, who I no longer have contact with. I realised that she would no longer recognise me. Not because I look any different, but because I am a different person.

Through my journey with anxiety, depression and IBS, I have changed. My values are different. But they are my values and no one else’s. I became vegan, found a style that worked for me, and have grown in confidence about what I believe.

The person I used to be was quick to change to suit the people around her, to be liked. I felt like a hypocrite when it came to my love of animals – eating meat and dairy. I was in a relationship with someone who emotionally abused me.

It was at this time that I realised that I never had to find myself. I was always here. I was just changing, growing and learning.

You don’t need to find yourself

This is why I believe that so many people struggle with trying to find themselves. Becoming self-aware is not about “finding yourself,” it’s about understanding that everything changes. Friendships come and go, styles change, jobs evolve, and we are no different. We adapt to our situations, and we learn as we grow.

So as soon as you reach that point, where you think you have “found yourself,” something may change, and you will feel lost again; as you adapt to your new situation.

How to become self-aware

The most beneficial thing I have found is how to become self-aware of who I am NOW.  What do I believe in right now? Am I living a life that aligns with my current values?

When we do this, it makes us feel more in sync with ourselves; and as we learn new things, we can adjust our self-awareness too. We just need to make sure we are living in line with our values.

So take the time to think about what you believe in. Write down your values. Does your life reflect those beliefs? If not, make changes and see how you feel. Whenever you feel like you’re falling out of sync, revisit those values, are they still the same?

Adapt to your new beliefs as you grow and learn, and you will feel more balanced.

Thank you, Claire

Nothing I could I possibly add, except to say, “Thank you, Claire.”

Be sure to visit her at Miss Serenity, okay? I know you’ll find all sorts of meaningful – helpful – goodies.

Hey, plenty more where this baby came from. Be sure to peruse those hundreds of Chipur titles.

Love: Don’t give up and never let it go

Love: Don’t give up and never let it go

If there was ever a time love really mattered, it’s now. That’s because if there was ever a time love seems to have vanished, it’s now. If there was ever a time we need to talk about the warmth and hope of love, it’s now. Don’t give up on it, and never let it go…

But if we can somehow keep our hearts and minds open, the power of love holds the potential to work wonders for us…

Maybe it’s just me. I mean, maybe I’m hypersensitive and hyperemotional. Maybe it’s because I live alone. Maybe I pay too much attention to the news. Whatever the reason, what I’m feeling is real – legit. At least it is for me.

I’m not liking what’s going-on around me. And I care enough – not only for myself – that it hurts. Maybe our friend just above is feeling the same.

Yes, I understand a lot of people aren’t showing their best faces, given the virus and disturbing social and political unrest. But that’s precisely my point. I’m stunned by those faces and the accompanying behavior – coldness, meanness, and hate.

People need to take a long look in the mirror. And I can’t be the only one who feels that way.

Being trained as a counselor it comes naturally to focus upon solutions – relief. Cute sidebar: my daughter calls on occasion with a pressing issue. Good old dad used to listen and blend-in potential solutions. Well, that was until she told me she just needs me to let her vent. Lesson learned (but I still toss-in ideas).

Anyway, when it comes to our current state of upheaval, I really do ponder solutions throughout any given day. And the only thing I can come up with – that all parties may at least understand – is love. 

Truth be told, what I really believe we need is something of a spiritual nature. But I can envision millions turning-away at its mention.

The power of love

power of love

I have always believed in the power of love. Perhaps we’re in the same boat. Still, there are so many that need to come aboard. And we’d “love” to have them, right?

Sure, the power of love can be one tough concept to embrace. Heck, who hasn’t had their share of love rejections and letdowns?

But if we can somehow keep our hearts and minds open, the power of love holds the potential to work wonders for us. It can help us feel so good – by ourselves and collectively.

But, of course, the absence of love can take us down to the depths of anguish and despair. And, to a great degree, that’s what’s going-on these days.

What can we do?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to take this societal, as well as very personal, misery sitting-down.

The first order of business on my side of the fence is self-protection. What good am I to anyone if I’m all dinged-up? I simply cannot allow the coldness, meanness, and hate to eat me alive.

None of us can.

Hey, if that means cutting-back on following the news, so be it. And when it comes to encounters with those of opposing views and closed minds? Why would I sign-up for that? I’m sure there are things you may want to ease-up on.

But you know what? Whether it’s within the context of personal protection or positively influencing others, I’m going to continue to believe in the power of love and exist in that belief. Knowing there’s something more mighty than the world and setting an example is an honorable way to live.

People, we can’t give-up on love, nor can we let it go.

One of my poems

If you follow Chipur you likely know I’ve written a lot of poetry over the years. I’d like to share one of my “love” poems…

Love Is Here

Trust me now
Hold me near
Let me kiss away that tear
‘Cause I’d be giving you my best
A solid rock among the rest

Quiet now and never fear
Fate would never leave you here
Where painful sorts could track you down
And masquerade would run abound

Stable world
Easy sound
Restless likes won’t be around
To complicate the darkest day

For love is here
To show
The way

For my money, that’s just one example of the power of love. I’m sure you can come up with more.

Let’s wrap it up

These are tremendously difficult times, aren’t they? And I wonder if you’ve gotten to a point where you’re thinking love – warm and hopeful – has vanished. Please don’t buy-in to that.

I continue to believe in the power – the presence – of love. Again (and again), don’t give up on it, and never let it go 

The poem I shared comes from my eBook, Feelings & Rhymes Through Treacherous Times

Maybe you’d love reading more Chipur articles. Going on 800 titles.

How ‘Bout We Shake Hands and Move on With Life – Together?

How ‘Bout We Shake Hands and Move on With Life – Together?

Our guy looks friendly, doesn’t he? Downright welcoming, if you ask me. Could you refuse his gesture? I’d shake his hand, even if I knew we disagreed on the issues of the day. If you’d take him up on his offer, maybe we’re the exception. Sadly, I’m beginning to think so…

In my opinion, society has been navigating with a broken moral compass for quite some time. In addition, coveting money and power has gotten way out of hand.

So I make my move to get in line at the convenience store yesterday, as another guy did the same. It was a draw. But the man took a step back, looked me right in the eye, smiled, and said, “Go ahead. People get so upset over the silliest things these days.”

I returned the smile, thanked him, and took my place. We went on to shoot the breeze as I waited for my turn to visit the cashier. Sure, the encounter was brief, but it was warming.

Naturally, it got me to thinking…

The Times: They Have Changed

At 65-years-old, I’ve been around the block a time or two (or ten). I can tell you the way we’ve treated each other during difficult times hasn’t always been pretty. Significant trigger events you may not have been around to experience? The assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, the Viet Nam War, the beginnings of the civil rights movement – to name a few.

But as threatening, scary, and mean as things got during those times, none of it compares to the cold and hateful rage we’re seeing – feeling and reeling from – these days. Believe me, it’s different.

The Polarized Madness

I don’t think it takes a PhD in sociology to figure out that politics is the driving force behind the tornadic circumstances we’re trying to survive. Now, my context is one of living in the United States, but I don’t think it’s terribly different elsewhere.

We’re all so polarized, aren’t we? So either/or, good/bad. I mean, it’s left or right, liberal or conservative, democrat or republican. And, of course, the interpretation of the issues – climate change, impeachment, immigration, abortion, and so on – is largely based upon one’s either/or.

Thing is, there’s no middle ground, no compromise. You’re in or you’re out. And if you’re out, you’re stupid and scorned.

So Why Is This Happening?

I can’t count the number of times I’ve wondered how it came to this. Of course, there’s also the matter of how it’s sustained. Funny, I suppose the answers depend upon who you ask. I mean, where are they in the either/or of it all?

But maybe someone who’s striving to play it more down the middle can provide some worthy answers. And maybe, just maybe in a fleeting moment of clarity the either/or’s will open their minds and hearts to reason. Yes, maybe there’s another way to perceive and subsequently make decisions.

social media and depressionWell, I’m going to stick my neck out and suggest there are three biggie culprits driving the mess we’re in: a broken moral compass, coveting money and power, and social media.

(Man, did I just open one gigantic can of worms, or what?)

Now, one could write a book about any of the three, but I’m just going to make a statement or two. And, again, my point of view is life in the U.S. I’ll also add that I’m speaking in societal generalities.

Let’s dig deeper…

Moral Compass, Money and Power, Social Media

In my opinion, society has been navigating with a broken moral compass for quite some time. In addition, coveting money and power has gotten way out of hand. Each of these culprits influences the other in a cycling chain reaction.

Sad thing is, there’s an endless supply of fuel when it comes to the mobility and growth of these two. And that means an illusion is created that’s there’s so much to lose, so much at stake. That being the case, winning is the only option, because in a society of polarization, yes, one is either a winner or a loser.

Hey, by no means am I a participation trophy kind of guy. However, I strongly believe that “winning” can occur on middle ground.

Social media? What can I say? Where else can you coldly and cruelly rip someone open without having to look them in the eye? Accountability? You’ve got to be kidding. If you want to take a cheap shot, you’re good to go.

And think about what social media has done to our motivation and ability to personally and effectively engage with another human being. It’s become a lost art.

For Mood & Anxiety Disorder Sufferers

What we’ve just reviewed is tough for most anyone to take. However, it can be especially difficult and disruptive for someone enduring a mood or anxiety disorder. Believe me, I see and hear it all the time.

What to do? There’s no shame in turning it all off. Just stay away from the news and social media if you need to. Find other things to entertain yourself and fill your time. No, I don’t believe you’d be burying your head in the sand.

Finally, monitor your own take and behavior when it comes to opposing opinions. If there’s an issue, a little restraint and kindness go a long way.

Let’s Wrap It Up

It’s a tough world, isn’t it? Things can be so cold and hard anymore.

Take a look at our guy again. Could you refuse his gesture? I sure hope not, because we really do need each other. Now more than ever…

Please accept my invitation to join the private Facebook group Chipur: Living With the Mood & Anxiety Disorders.

And don’t forget to peruse the hundreds of Chipur titles.

A Personal Story of Insight, Acceptance – and Solitude

A Personal Story of Insight, Acceptance – and Solitude

Acceptance: it doesn’t come without a ton of personal examination and insight. And I don’t see how anyone can live peacefully with their emotional or mental circumstances without it. Our guest post writer, J.D., brings the point home with his story of insight, acceptance – and solitude…

I preferred a sort of emotional solitude and, once I accepted this fact, I was then completely free to be my true self.

Man, those guest post requests. I get ’em all the time, and 99% of them get turned away. But, every so often…

Jaron (J.D.) Vail dropped me a line asking if he could contribute to Chipur. J.D. is a Master of Fine Arts in Writing and refers to himself as a creative journalist. All well and good, but you’re about to read what he has to say because J.D. endures an emotional/mental disorder and is willing to share. I’ll set you up with his website at the end.

‘Nuff said. Let’s get into J.D.’s work…

For Me, Life With SPD Is a Choice

When we are young – at least for me, grown-ups and society instill in us the value of relationships and community. Making friends. Turning acquaintances into future friends. Love. But, why? Why this need for constant feedback and approval from others?

I knew there was something going on mentally after losing my mother in 2016. My father died 12 years before her. My oldest brother a year before that. And, my uncle – a second father really – four years before my mother passed in 2012.

These four people were my rock. My inspiration. The ones I went to with any problem and the first people I contacted for all my successes. They took care of me. Nurtured me. And, most of all, listened to me. Now, my circle is gone. Where do I go from here?

how to accept a mental illness

J.D. Vail

By the time my mother died, I had gotten married and a year later I had a daughter. That same year in 2017, I got so drunk one night that I contemplated suicide. I had everything planned. A large ceiling fan hangs in our living room. My plan was to hang myself with a belt but I passed out.

When I woke several hours later, I was scared out of my mind. How could I contemplate something so horrible? What would have happened to my daughter? My wife? I knew then, I needed help.

Behavioral talk therapy is where I discovered I had been suffering from depression and the isolation I was feeling was due to the trauma I experienced losing the people closest to me and the anxiety of not being able to trust anyone outside of my “circle”, that was now all dead.

I was diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder (SPD). But, as I continued to see my therapist, I discovered that my current suburban existence, the friends and the seeking of gratitude from others that encompassed this stage in my life was a mask. In fact, without the masks, I was totally immune from praise or criticism of others.

I preferred a sort of emotional solitude and, once I accepted this fact, I was then completely free to be my true self. This meant that I had to reorganize my life and my relationships. What I have discovered so far about myself, my true self, is that the only relationships that matter are with the two people I am responsible for: my daughter and my wife.

I am responsible for my daughter’s emotional, physical and financial wellbeing, and my wife and I are partners in this journey. For that, I am grateful. Outside of these two relationships, everyone else are just outsiders looking in. Therefore, I ask nothing of the other individuals in this world and/or in my family and I hope they request nothing of me.

Because of my new found freedom, I am exceling at my career. I take risks that I wasn’t able to take before and I take ownership for every action I make and how I respond to issues put before me. I am my own master. The future is in my hands alone.

However, this has put a strain on my marriage and other relationships. I am so dedicated to my mental and emotional solitude that I have become emotionless to the rest of the world – even to the sufferings of those close to me. But, I would rather have total independence of thought and action than a variety of intimate relationships.

Where the future goes from here? I’m still figuring that out. What is a life without connection and emotions, other than what you can self-regulate? I don’t know. But, I do know this: this is the first time I can look myself in the mirror and be happy with who I am.

No, SPD is not a disease that needs to be cured. It is part of me. The sum of who I am. Therefore, I will learn to live with it and expect those close to me to live with it too.

The real. Me.

Thanks, J.D.

Insight and acceptance, which happened to manifest in chosen solitude for J.D. And the best part is, when he looks in the mirror he feels happy with who he is. Doesn’t get much better than that, right?

And now you know why J.D. is a guest post 1%’er.

Thank you, J.D…

Take the time to learn more about J.D. and his work.

And then there are those hundreds of Chipur titles.