We have just entered into the year of 2020! Happy! Happy! There is some controversy over whether or not we are just entering into a new decade or ending one but either way… we, here at Life’s Patina, hope that you had a beautiful Christmas season and it’s beauty carries on well into your new year.
At the beginning of a new year, there is so much talk of starting with a clean slate, so much focus on change, identifying a key word for the year, starting a diet or a better work out routine. All things to improve the living you did in the prior year. While all of this is wonderful, since these actions inspire and propel us to change not-so-great-for-us habits, we do have to be careful not to forget the lessons we have learned from the “old.” In other words, new is not always better than old. Lessons can be taken from both.
Planning your new year, filling out the calendar pages, creating goals for the year ahead and all of the activities that come with January 1st are cathartic and exciting. Creating and dwelling on the possibilities and activities in the days to come brings excitement and a “look forward to” mentality. Take it from a confirmed calendar addict! I have an electronic calendar on my computer and phone, but it is my paper planner that makes my heart sing.
Truly, I LOVE filling its blank pages with activities and events to come in this new year. I record daily happenings in my planner, little events that I might want to reflect back on. I use it almost like a diary but a diary of the day’s events, not deep thoughts, dreams and introspections. Those get penned into another journal type planner. I have a fettish for paper journals, notebooks, planners and anything related to them. They accompany me on any travel that I do and on road trips they are often found clogging up my foot space, as my husband likes to comment on. Keying something into my computer does not hold the same sensory experience as putting pen to paper. Along with paper journals and planners, I am an eternal list maker. I sometimes add items on the list that I have already completed just as to have the satisfaction of crossing it OFF the list… anyone else feel me on this one? Pardon my digression! I could keep gushing on about my love affair with paper writing accoutrements and anything having to do with them but I will get to the message at hand.
Do any of you remember putting candles with bulbs of green, red, or orange in your windows when you were younger? It was the 70’s… Not the clear bulbs that are in vogue today but the hue above? When I was a young girl, I took great delight in putting the candles in the windows with my mom and it was my job to turn the bulbs each night to make sure they were glowing. There were no on/ off switches on those models. When I see a candle with a green bulb in it, I am instantly transported back to the bedroom of a 10 year old girl, whose walls were clothed in a pale blue color (shocker!). There I was, turning the bulb ever so gently and something caused the bulb to explode. It was a small explosion but the glass shattered in my hands and the sparks caused me to jump back. Even though that experience startled me and frightened me at the time, for small flames had jumped out, I continued to turn those bulbs each night for there was something about that glow that symbolized the season for which we were lighting those candles… the season of anticipation, excitement, and time spent with people I loved.
By the time I had my own home, the colored bulbs were out of style so even though I put clear bulbed candles in my windows, I plugged in a few candles with the colored bulbs in my bedroom and the kid’s bedrooms and I still do today. Gazing upon their glow brings me back to those peaceful memories and moments in my mind. I have been accused of being a nostalgic being. What does that word actually mean? By definition it is a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal association. Going back to these places in one’s mind has been connected with a dissatisfaction for the present. I would disagree. I think that of all of our memories that are conjured up, the good ones or the happy places and times in which we have lived, when remembered, often lift us up, enabling us to give thanks for having them and spurring us on to want to create more of them. The difficulty lies in not living in only those moments.
These images on these Christmas cards that I could not resist are certainly based on designs of the past, vintage designs that for many, conjure up many feelings of nostalgia. Why do we think that new designs keep pulling from past designs? It is the feeling that these designs create. Yes, there are new designs that occur right alongside vintage but vintage and the affinity for it often hinges on nostalgia or a yearning for what people think were days of a simpler time.
My husband just passed an article in the Wall Street Journal on to our family that speaks to this topic. It is a great read, entitled For the New Year, Say No to Negativity. The article explains that we are affected much more by negative events and emotions than positive ones so they recommend going on a LOW-BAD diet. In dealing with negativity, the authors tell us to, “Capitalize on the good moments – and then relive them.” They reveal that, “sharing good news makes the triumph more significant, so it’s more likely to be recalled later, which is another proven way to boost happiness.” In engaging in nostalgia, you are recalling the good moments, experiences and happenings in life which researchers are showing are valid in boosting positivity in life. By appreciating the past which brightens both the present and the future, they state that, “happiness increases beyond middle age for older people spend more time savoring good memories instead of obsessing about today’s worries.” It was a read well worth it and had come right after I had decided that my New Year’s post was going to center on nostalgia and focusing on the positive. How apropos!
How do you do this with living life in the present? I use little tactics when living with nostalgia as we age. A Susan Branch calendar has hung in my kitchen since my children were little. On it, I would write their initials on the daily calendar blocks to show them who was the kitchen helper for dinner, the clean up person, and the cook. I still, to this day, hang one in my kitchen. The calendar blocks are no longer filled in daily with their initials and their little hands have grown into big hands, but when I see it hanging there, it brings back warm memories of those days. Ones where we gathered as a family every night for dinner around one table. Precious memories indeed. I have torn those pages out of the calendar over the years and now at least one hangs seasonally in my office as well.
Of course, I am not inferring that you can live in the past. I am inferring that we can carry on traditions that help keep the past alive for there are moments, people and places who resided in that past who have made an impact. People who participated in those good moments and helped make them happen… who help you create those positive thoughts and moments. It is in carrying on those traditions that we are grounded and connected to those people, moments and places.
So here’s to nostalgia in the new year! Bring it on baby, for while it is not what one typically wishes for in the new year, may we reflect on that nostalgia and use it as a spring board for gratitude that you experienced such events in your lifetime. Gratitude that you had people who helped you to create those feel-good moments. May you use that nostalgia to inspire you to create more positive, feel-good moments and actions in your life and for those around you. For you just might be the center of the “remember when” reflections of those who come after you, who you will have helped to create their own nostalgic moments… thus boosting positivity in their lives.
May the beauty of the new growth in your life this year live right alongside the old growth which when combined, create the most beautiful of blossoms! Happy New Year!
~ Meg and the team at Life’s Patina ~