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IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A close up photo of a wildflower in a meadow, with blue sky in the background
Beth Anstandig's picture

Winter has been whispering at our closed doors and windows for a few months now. Frigid air, cloud cover, fewer rays of sunshine. The colder weather and shorter days affect us, whether we are aware of it or not. Our bodies have instinctively been instructed to pull the curtains hunker down. There is this palpable closure in nature that tracks our human calendar year. This year, we’re feeling this even more as we stay especially close to home and in barely tolerable isolation. Yet, a new year, a new month, still calls upon us to make meaning of what we have walked through and to think ahead to what we will encounter. 

This is a powerful time to take stock and to do some personal and/or professional inventory. Inventory is a simple practice! You do it each time you look at your kitchen cabinets and refrigerator before you get groceries. You throw out of all of the food that you can’t eat, look at what you have left, and decide what you need. 

Self-reflective inventory is quite similar. Before we do the work of setting intentions and thinking ahead, we really need some closure.  It helps to take stock, do some inventory work, get organized, and clear the path for ourselves. Sometimes that means cleaning a closet or creating order in our makeshift pandemic workspaces. Other times we need to repair a relationship or amend a misstep with other people. It can make a huge difference in starting a new year feeling fresh and more inspired. 

Perhaps more than ever before, this past year has strained our lives. Most of us are carrying emotional and relational baggage. The natural rhythm of a new year offers us an opportunity to reflect and repair. 2020 was a painful and traumatic year for the world. Each of us has suffered in our own ways and we have also felt a collective agony. 

There is healing to be done, even while we continue to face the hardships of health crises, political unrest, and social inequities. We can’t fix it all, but we can each do our part. We can feel the natural slow-down of winter and lean into the pause. Change and culture evolution begins one person at a time. One honest inventory can create a healing ripple into the world. 

Here are a few tips on how to do some inventory work:

  1. Letting Go. Start with THINGS you want to let go of in your material world. It’s a great time to look through your closets and discard or recycle things you don’t use or need. A tidy workspace can make a huge difference in keeping our minds clear of clutter. This is especially needed right now as we share space in our homes in such a unique way. Close quarters can cause strain and conflict. Look for ways to clear a physical path around you.
  2.  Personal Growth. Do a bit of quiet reflection and ask yourself if there are any personality traits or relationship behaviors that aren’t working for you. Make a list of just a couple of character traits you want to let go of and identify the areas of your life where they show up most. Sometimes, just putting them down on paper can give us some clarity and relief. What kind of support do you need to hold yourself accountable? Who can hold you to this? How can you stay committed to working on yourself?
  3.  Relationship Repair. Are there any relational snags that leave you feeling shame or sadness? Now is a great time to clean that up! Pay off a debt. Return a favor. Write that belated thank you note. Correct a mistake or betrayal. Owning your part of life’s mistakes can take a huge weight off your chest, help others to feel more peace, and give you some extra positive energy. Amends can be so hard but on the other side of the repair, is immense freedom.
  4.  Declutter Your Mind. Set aside some time, maybe 2-3 hours, to do a brainstorm. Use a whiteboard if you have one. Go through every area of your life and write things you have been wanting to do. It could range from scheduling a carpet cleaner to starting those archery classes you’ve been wanting to take. Try to capture all of it. Projects, mundane tasks, stuff for your kids, work goals. It will help if you create categories in your writing space so that you keep the different life areas a bit separate. All of the things you write down are taking up space in your mind, even when you aren’t consciously thinking of them. With this brainstorm, you are putting it all in one place and capturing it so that your brain can have more free space. It’s like cleaning a hard drive. Once you have it all on paper, you can take to organizing the projects and creating some priorities.

Doing this work first, creates a beautiful runway for a vision take off and sets us up for Spring’s season of renewal and re-awakening. 

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