...and humbly receiving the gift of a new year.
With breath in our lungs (breathe in… breathe out…) and a flicker of peace within (peace being my word for 2023), it is my most sincere honor to receive the gift of this new year with you.
Welcome, welcome 2023.
I know you were never promised to any of us, and am so glad you’re here.
Yes, we may be a couple of weeks into the month, but there’s no need to rush past the mark of a new year. There’s no need to begin the year with a posture of hustling and hurrying at our own being’s expense. It’s ok to practice moving at a sustainable pace, especially as we close out 2022 and look toward 2023.
After battling sickness over the holiday break, I realized the heaviness of losing the late December rhythms that I so desperately needed after the whirlwind of the fall semester and, truthfully, the whirlwind of 2022. This last year held so much good and so many memories within it and was surprisingly hard on my mind, body, heart, and soul for reasons I’ve shared and reasons reserved for loved ones and therapy sessions. I found myself returning to an honest, humble need to check in often these first couple of weeks of 2023, to slow down, and to let things I’ve sat down for a bit continue to sit (nodding to this post in December) while turning toward a deep recovery from all I’ve been carrying that’s both within and outside of my control.
Despite the ongoing current surrounding us, ushering us onto the next thing, and the next thing, and the next, and the next…
We have permission to take the time we need and go slow through transitions that allow (and truthfully, demand) slow and steady movement…
We have permission to move at the pace our souls beg for us to operate.
We have permission for stillness to be an act of resistance.
Perhaps you’ve jumped into 2023 filled with tons of energy, motivation, and goals… and maybe they’ve all held up these first couple of weeks.
Perhaps you’ve wobbled into the year feeling heavy, tired, and languishing a bit, fighting the urge to compare with others’ goals and accomplishments.
Perhaps you’re somewhere in between the two scenarios above, with some days inviting celebration for the day, and others inviting you to try again tomorrow, remembering that you are on your unique journey.
Perhaps the start of the year has actually been a lot more full than you’ve realized as you look back through your photos (🙋♀️...whew… it’s hard to see how busy we are when we’re in the midst of busyness), and you extend grace toward yourself — honoring your finite energy and mindful that transitions always require extra energy and attention to move through.
Perhaps you’re simply grateful to see another day. Or grateful for another day sober. (12/26/22 marked 3 years of my own sobriety — thank God for that nudge to quit.)
Regardless of how you are moving into 2023, I hope and pray you pause to take note of what you need deep within and do your very best to honor those needs to the best of your ability. And as you do, may you nonjudgmentally note all that you find around you and within you.
To help us orient to the new year together and take note of what’s around and within, I’m threading The Welcoming Prayer into this month’s newsletter. Before you rush on to read it, pause……… (really, pause)……… take a few deep breaths, settle into your seat and space, let your muscles unwind, and tune in to the emotions/thoughts/sensations humming beneath… don’t try to change them, just notice…
Now, I invite you to read the following prayer aloud:
The Welcoming Prayer, by Mary Mrzowski*
*This version of the prayer is from the Center for Action and Contemplation’s Aug 17, 2019 newsletter. You can learn more about this practice and prayer here.
Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me in this moment
because I know it is for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions,
persons, situations and conditions.
I let go of my desire for security.
I let go of my desire for affection.
I let go of my desire for control.
I let go of my desire to change any
person, or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and
the healing action and grace within.
Friend, as we move into this new year, may we pause often to tend to our honest and humble needs within. May we approach this year with a posture of lovingkindness toward ourselves and those around us. May we reconnect with that flicker of peace within (again, nodding to peace being my word of the year), even if it’s a teeny tiny glow. And may we meet our honest needs with compassion, remembering that our life is a gift worth stewarding and tending to with gentleness, kindness, and love.
A Few Other Updates…
CXMH podcast is doing a Q&A episode about The Soul of the Helper for its one year anniversary, and we want to hear your questions!! If you’ve had questions about the book, research, seven stages, any of the practices, the writing or publishing process, or want to share your “so what” or takeaways from the book, we want to hear them!
Suzanne Stabile is giving away signed copies of The Soul of the Helper and her beautiful book, The Journey Toward Wholeness! Visit here for more details — good luck, y’all! (And thank you, Suzanne!)
If you’ve read The Soul of the Helper, please leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon, or wherever you buy your books — your honest reviews help others with similar interests find this book and helps this book reach more fellow helpers!
And if you haven’t yet read it, add it to your Goodreads reading challenge for 2023! (ps. You can always request a copy through your local library, and there’s an audiobook version if you prefer to listen to it instead!)
Seeking the Sacred is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Spirituality + Mental Health
Each month, you’ll find miscellaneous resources here on the intersection of spirituality + mental health that I’ve recently been reminded of or come across! Most are general resources, but I’ll add some research-focused ones every now and then.
Peer-Learning Cohorts: Building Resilient Congregations
From the website: The Center for Church and Community Impact (C3I) is now taking applications from congregations across the country for a free consultation opportunity! C3I will consult with 15-20 diverse congregations around the following topics: Accompaniment, Trauma Care, and LGBTQ+ Discernment. The consultation will be a peer-learning cohort model with the goal of developing online certificate programs in each of the focus areas. For more information about the topics and the application process, please visit: https://bit.ly/gsswc3icohorts.
The Center for Integrative Counseling and Psychology’s OLOGY event (Jan 27, Dallas)
From the website: This OLOGY session is available to faith leaders, educators, and mental health care providers and all others interested in-person at First UMC Richardson, seating is limited. Registration is $85 per person. 3.5 CEUs provided to licensed clinical professionals.
Keynote: Dr. Lisa Miller - The Spiritual Child; Science on the Opportunity for Mental Health and Wellness
Spiritual First Aid’s 101 Ways to Overcome Burnout
From the website: Helpers like you make a big difference in the lives of others, but research shows that people who serve selflessly are at greater risk for compassion fatigue and burnout. For that reason, we’re offering a free e-book: 101 Ways to Overcome Burnout.
NOTE: This pairs really well with the Self-Care for Helper’s Guide I’ve offered over the years, which paid subscribers of this newsletter (monthly or yearly) can access from August 2020.
This info has been in a few months’ emails, recognizing this time of year can be difficult for those who struggle with addiction to alcohol, as well as other foods/substances/behaviors. Seek the support you need. You may also consider following the daily reflections on AA’s website.
The following are some upcoming events in which I’ll be presenting and invite you to attend! Descriptions from the event websites, if available.
Today Matters Mental Health Ministries — Jan 21 (Punta Gorda, FL)
Baylor’s Garland School of Social Work - Meet the Author: The Soul of the Helper: A Conversation with Author Dr. Holly Oxhandler — Jan 27 (Waco, TX)
This event is free! Lunch will be provided and CEUs are available. Please see the registration link for more information. Event description: Professional helpers are at risk of burnout. Come learn with us about self-care and why it is essential for helpers through a faith and spirituality lens. Learn about ways to honor and protect the “sacred spark” within yourself while continuing to honor it in others through your work and your life. 1 hour of CEU credit will be available and lunch will be provided. Registration is required for attending (the deadline to register is 12:00 p.m. CT on Tuesday, January 24th).
After a much-needed pause in Fall 2022 to deeply rest after 6 seasons, CXMH is *back*! Our first episode for Season 7 will be released soon — subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts, follow along on IG FB or Twitter, and leave a review if you’re a longtime listener!
REMINDER- If you missed it above, submit your questions here for The Soul of the Helper Q&A episode!
A Couple of Books for Your Journey
Things That Matter: Overcoming Distraction to Pursue a More Meaningful Life by Joshua Becker
The Lazy Genius Way: Embrace What Matters, Ditch What Doesn't, and Get Stuff Done by Kendra Adachi
Check out December’s newsletter that compiled all books elevated in 2022!
Also, I want to elevate Robert Monson’s recent post — Slow Down and Read — which both inspired me to once again pick up my daily(ish) practice of reading before bed and left me humbled with his generous reflection of The Soul of the Helper. I hope his words encourage and inspire you, too.
Want MORE book recommendations? Check out my bookshop page!
(I get a tiny portion of purchases made through that link, but feel free to buy the book wherever you prefer. I mostly prefer the layout for recommending books to others!)
What I’m Listening To These Days
Truthfully… a lot of quiet… and some ocean sound playlists. This has been a season of welcoming quiet and rest, reducing sounds + over-stimulation + stuff as much as possible. The quiet has been helpful with the start of the new year as I lean into and practice a lot of discernment through so many adjustments.
Circling back to What is it that you need as you move into 2023?, I want to wrap this month’s benediction around this question…
May we pause to express deep gratitude for the gift of another day, another week, another month, another year.
May we excavate what is within our inner landscape throughout this month, honoring the rhythms of new seasons and fresh starts, even if nothing is drastically new.
May the new season stir a sense of vulnerable hope and tender joy for what’s to come.
May we continuously check in on the pace at which our souls need us to operate, and may we slow down (as best as we can) to be present to the gift of another day and the gift of our life.
May we tend to this question — What do you need? — with care and urgency and we pick, practice, and prioritize the answer(s) to that question, meeting our honest, human needs to the best of our ability.
May we lean into what best supports our unique spiritual and mental health journeys (practices, boundaries, readings, appointments, treatments, connection, movement, etc.), pairing each with the necessary margin and humble priority to honor these supports within our lives as we serve others.
May we remember that we are Beloved.
Be well, friends. Breathe deep and remember how truly loved you are as you are in this moment.
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