This is the first Like a Prayer Yoga weekly email for 2018. I wish I could start the year on a positive note. Ideally I would write about hopes, dreams and wishes for the future year. But it’s cold here. The weather experts are actually calling what we are currently experiencing a cyclone bomb –two words I’ve never heard put together like that before – and the truth is I’m grumpy. (For those of you who are new to the Like a Prayer Yoga email please don’t think all emails will be like this.) The lightness, the optimism will return (I hope).

So we survived the holiday season and all I can feel right now is relief that this time of year is over. Maybe me even more so than you because on top of Christmas and New Years, it was also my bloody birthday yesterday.

There is an idea that this time of year should feel positive. And with all the emphasis on food and togetherness, of course we should all be feeling great. I think it’s hard when how you feel doesn’t match how you think you should feel. We think we should feel a certain way on occasions (happy, content, relaxed) and if we don’t it’s hard not to believe there’s something wrong with us. It can actually feel quite isolating if we don’t feel positive at this time of year because ostensibly everyone around us is.

Events like Christmas where families come together can be a mixed bag. If you’re with your family or without, this time can bring up a lot of nostalgic feelings, maybe yearnings for years passed, for the good old rose-coloured days or conversely a sad reminder of people no longer with you.  It can also be hard to automatically feel togetherness if there is underlying tension every other day of the year. And if you don’t feel good about yourself or your life, it can be hard to bring it altogether and be with other people and act joyful, contained, content, secure with your life and future and everything.

Then with New Years Eve and the New Year, there are all these other proscribed feelings we should feel like elation, joy, grateful for the year that has passed, excited about the year ahead. But what if you really feel uncertain, confused or traumatised about the year that passed and scared about the year coming? We are encouraged to make resolutions and goals to lose weight, to quit smoking, to stop drinking to find that perfect job, relationship, place to live. So much pressure on one simple day. And sometimes resolutions or firm goals can feel like a recipe for disaster as we set ourselves ridiculous challenges and then feel worse about ourselves when we’re smoking and drinking while eating chocolate two weeks later.

If you aren’t feeling secure or sure of yourself, a birthday really is the last thing you need. With the spotlight on you it can be hard to have answers to questions, to know what you want, to keep up a façade of happiness for the people around you. It almost feels like a day spent reassuring loved ones, yes I’m ok, yes I’m ok, yes I’m ok. Let’s face it, despite the balloons and the cake, birthdays are just bloody confronting. Another year passes and what have you got to show for it? Heavy huh.

 I don’t think it’s just me that has been struggling through the holiday season. You can feel the tension at supermarkets. Angry, grumpy, frustrated people stressed out of their minds pushing trolleys around. I swear it’s not just me. A thought did cross my cynical mind that in an ideal world we could hibernate for the whole holiday period. We could wake up around the 10th of January and then just get on with it. No fanfare, no celebrations and definitely no roast turkey. Maybe that is a little extreme though and not quite the answer.

These events do mark time, mark occasions and offer a chance for celebration of ourselves and each other that we don’t generally get a lot of opportunity for. Maybe it’s more about taking the pressure down, for yourself, for each other. Maybe it’s ok to feel grumpy this time of year. To feel scared. Maybe we can allow other people to feel grumpy too, knowing that the time of year does put pressure on people that really shouldn’t be there. So a few complaints or gloominess from the people around us is really ok. Also it seems important to separate yourself from the feeling. Just because you might feel hopeless doesn’t mean that you are hopeless or that your future is hopeless. Just because you aren’t where you want to be in your life doesn’t mean that things can’t change and that you aren’t on your way there. I guess what Im trying to say is be kind to yourself if you didn’t have the holidays you wanted, it’s not your fault and for better or worse there’s always next year.