Setting Aunt-entions for the New Year
Dr. Tara Cousineau is a clinical psychologist, mother, and Aunt. She is founder of BodiMojo.com for teenagers, a health engagement platform for teens leveraging web and mobile technologies to inspire healthy living. The use of BodiMojo.com by teen girls has shown to have a significant effect on improving girls’ attitudes about their own body image. Tara also blogs at BodiMojo.com/blog and TeensInBalance.com.
Every once in a while I take delight in the collective hysteria about the end of the world dates based on some ancient prophecy or calendar. Really, I love receiving astrological emails even though I pay no mind to most. When the girl at the local market exclaims, “Oh, it's the end of world today!” as she rings up an order, I sneak a moment to dig into my inbox. Inevitably, the cosmic emails are about some planetary configuration – the new Moon is in Sagittarius (sounds poetic) – or there is a mystical call to mindful action: “Set up to 10 intentions before noon Eastern time!” I love that these astrological messages offer something hopeful.
Then there are stark reminders that life serves up many joys and many sorrows, as the heart-wrenching tragedy in Newton, CT, demonstrates so achingly. At times like these, the fragility of life and the need for love and connection become amplified. Nothing can be taken for granted. We hug our little niece or nephew more closely or give a call to say “Hi” – well, just because.
No matter what dates may hold meaning – Hanukkah, the Sundays in advent, 12/21/12, the Winter Solstice, Christmas, or New Year’s – there is upon us an opportunity to push the emotional reset button. It need not be about New Year’s resolutions, as we know where most of those end up. But how about creating a story about renewal just for you? What’s the story you want to create for yourself? A story you want your nieces and nephews to come to know about you?
Take a moment to reflect. Set an intention for something you wish for yourself – an idea, a story, or an affirmation that you can put to practice starting right now. Here are some intentions to consider:
-I will not be by own worst critic.
-I intend to treat myself with the same kindness and respect I bestow on the people I love most in my life.
Walk the Talk
-I will be the person I hope my nieces and nephews will grow up to be. I will show kindness, understanding, forgiveness, and fortitude.
-I’m not always right. I will acknowledge my mistakes and model the courage it takes to make amends and take responsibility.
-I will be brave. I will take risks to do things I believe in and am passionate about.
-I will engage fully in the world and with my nieces and nephews because I know in my heart that belonging, loving, and feeling loved matter most.
-I will hold the world in wonder just as a child does and embrace the joyful moments as they arrive.
-I will treat my body as sacred no matter what its shape, size, or ability.
-I will push aside self-comparisons and model for my young nieces and nephews that the beauty culture does not define who I am. Fitting in is not important, but believing I am worthy is. (If I have good taste and a knack with fashion, that’s because I’m creative, unique, and self-confident!)
-I intend to be present in my life every day to notice and be aware of my world and how I engage in it.
-I have clarity on my values and my goals. I live by them.
-I will take time to witness, to be present, and to allow positive growth to unfold.
-I will take time to rest and restore.
-I intend to shower my nieces and nephews with love and spoil them when I want because I’m the Auntie and that’s my job.
Sometimes, we Aunties need to remind ourselves just how important we are even when we don’t live near our nieces and nephews or only see them a few times a year, if that. I had a great Aunt Juanita once. I only met her a few times when I was very little, and her story became family lore. What I remember about her was that she was an artist, traveled the world, and got a pilot license in her 60s. She even wrote a book about the family history and immigration to the American Midwest. She was bit of a renegade. And as children are apt to do – as they seek heroes and role models – I merged her story with that of Amelia Earhart. She left such an impression on me as being a strong, independent woman. I thought, wow, I can really be brave and do anything I want. I see her as a soul sister.
Our presence as Aunties in the scheme of family life, the way we live our lives, and our belief in the children will do more to sustain connection to them than anything else. First, believe in yourself, and then others will, too.
So, what are your intentions?
Published: December 25, 2012