*Gather your thoughts*.

It’s 14th July 2020, and we’ve well passed the half way point of this year. I’ve no doubt at all that our thoughts at the start of this year as to what we might be doing or what the world would look like were very different to what has actually transpired in our personal and collective experiences.

I remember, at the start of the year, writing down a list of EU countries that I haven’t been to that I’d like to travel to before the practical changes related to ‘Brexit’ (remember that?!) come into force. We may well make plans, but we cannot put our Trust in those plans. This year has definitely been a collective lesson in that.

I don’t know anyone who thought we’d be living through a pandemic in 2020. The year ‘2020’ sounded much too ‘perfect’, too well rounded, ‘visionary’, and aspirational for anything like that. How wrong we all were.

However, let’s not ‘right this year off’ just yet, if that’s what you feel inclined to do. While there have been challenges and struggles and disappointments, there have also been opportunities to learn, grow, reflect and change.

We’re at a change point (in UK at least), where having been in lockdown for the past 4 months, restrictions are beginning to ease and society is gradually ‘opening up’ once more. Yet, what we are phasing back into isn’t quite the same as what we knew before. We now inhabit a world of the infamous ‘new normal’ that we’re all still trying to adjust to – a world of facemasks, social / physical distancing, R numbers, ‘coughing etiquette’, ‘elbow bumps’ as greetings, planned and limited interactions, and other changes to our daily lives.

Some people are excited to get back out into the world, while others find the prospect daunting, especially as the coronavirus is not yet a thing of the past.

I think at this point in time, especially if we are struggling with anxiety, apprehension, uncertainty and reluctance, it is important to take time to reframe our thoughts.

I’ve been doing this, in part, by putting together a little craft / keepsake journal to help me process and make sense of this year. Something that helps me see the positives, the lessons learned and the accomplishments that have blossomed through an otherwise collectively concerning and challenging year. By looking back to reframe our view of the year so far, we will be in a better position to look forwards as we approach what lies ahead.

We face unknowns and uncertainties as we ease out of lockdown – however, we also faced unknowns and uncertainties at the start of this process, and we have all made it through, despite the ups and downs we might have faced along the way.

While for some, reintegrating into society sounds exciting and appealing, for others, especially with underlying and pre-existing conditions in which anxiety plays a part, change can be daunting.

We’ve learned to plan, to take one step at a time, to put one foot in front of another, to encourage each other. As we approach more changes, we still have time to reflect on what we have learned so far, how we have grown, and how these lessons will help us as we take the next steps.

Taking a bit of time to gather your thoughts will help as we make our way through the muddle that we often may feel we are in. Structuring these times of reflections to think about one issue at a time will help to make things feel more manageable. Bringing creativity into the process can help us to think more positively about how we will approach what comes next, with wisdom, intention, and with care, hopefully in a way that will equip us to help other people too.