New Year, New You

Now that the holidays are over, all the family festivities have died down, our Elf on the Shelf has gone back to the North Pole, the Christmas cookies have disappeared (while still leaving those lbs on the scale) and the credit card bills remind us that we spent too much on presents that will often be forgotten. We read articles about Seasonal Affective Disorder and pray for spring as we run from work to house to stay warm. Winter can be a challenging time for all of us, but the truth is it doesn’t have to be.

When I was studying martial arts years ago I learned a valuable lesson about my approach to life. My sensei had an interesting approach to teaching children katas. Katas were the least favorite part of the class for the kids, but we put a spin on it to make it a fun approach. Every day when it was “kata time” we would yell (in an excited voice) “It’s KATA TIME!” and the kids knew to yell back “Oh boy, sir!” and jump up and down in an excited fashion. You see, it’s all about habits. How do we train our brain to approach different situations? How do we respond?

I used to say that I was “not a morning person” and that I had seasonal affective disorder, but the experience working with the karate school taught me to change my thinking. I decided that I needed to change my approach and embrace things that were not easy for me, such as mornings and winter. So here I am at 530am in January, forcing myself to wake up early and think about how I want to start my day while drinking my coffee and saying a prayer. I could have stayed in bed til the kids woke up, when they would shake me and begin asking me for all the things that they needed . . . but I know that starting the day that way doesn’t work well for me (or for anyone, for that matter).

So as the new year kicks in I am encouraged to pray for a good perspective and healthy habits, habits that allow me to see Mondays as a fresh start to my week (instead of a dreaded day of going back to work) and the new year as an exciting time for reflection and of course opportunities for growth. I pray for the ability to recognize that my life is a result of my choices and my perspective. I can choose to blame others for my challenges or I can see that my life is the sum of my habits. There are always opportunities for change and a better life if I choose it.

So instead about agonizing over Christmas being over and those long winter days, I choose to celebrate the chance chance to embrace choices and habits that create a better life.

Toni Langdon is a stay-at-home mom of two daughters and an in-home child care provider. She is a black belt in martial arts and has worked with Chester County, PA children with special needs. This post is adapted from her blog, Tickles and Time Outs.

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