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Happy New Year! by Jeanne Rosner, MD

Happy New Year! No, not like an actual new year, but it's the start of the school year and the beginning of another season of offerings from SOUL Food Salon. For as long as I can remember, I've associated September with renewal, fresh starts and light, even as the days start to get noticeably shorter. It's a nod to those back-to-school vibes from my childhood. I loved getting new school supplies, sharpening my pencils and gearing up for the forthcoming year. All these years later, it feels like the perfect time for turning over a new leaf.

As with all new beginnings, it may be a good time to reflect on what is working for you, inspiring you, bringing you joy… and to think about what isn’t working for you, what’s draining you, not inspiring you or making you feel small. At the end of the calendar year, we often spend time reflecting and considering goals and resolutions for the new year to come. Since I feel that sense of beginning more keenly at the end of summer, I thought we could try to do that now—in September. I'd like to acknowledge that for many of us, this time of year can feel somber, thanks to the end of our carefree summer days. And it can be anxiety-provoking with thoughts of tight schedules, commitments, etc. that come with the return to school. If that's how September "hits" you, it's still a good time to take stock of how your year is progressing and perhaps make some necessary adjustments.

Here are some reflective questions as we all begin our September New Year. I invite you to take this opportunity to find some quiet time to think and see what answers arise. You may want to write down or type out your reflections. This can be helpful because it allows you to look back upon your responses later.

  • Does ­­­_____ support the life I am trying to create? How you spend your time shows you what you care most about. This question may help you focus on something you regularly do that truly does or doesn’t enhance your life. The bottom line is: do your best to spend your time intentionally.

  • What makes you feel most alive? What excites you? What motivates you to get up in the morning? Foster whatever this is. Nourish it, water it and watch it grow.

  • What is something you want to do more of? Perhaps something crafty? Or cerebral? Or maybe you want more time for self-care? Create space for these activities.

  • What is something you need to do less of? What takes away your joy? Is it a toxic relationship? Ruminating about the past and/or future? What changes could you make so you’re doing less of this?

  • What is your favorite way to refuel? Spending time with friends and family? Spending time alone? Spending time out in nature? Resting? Reading? Refueling is critically important for our overall well-being. If you don’t have enough energy for yourself, you won’t be helpful to others.

  • What is something you want to learn this year? What are you curious about? Learning something new and exploring novel terrain can take you on a trip of expansive possibilities.

Take a moment to sit back and think about what you notice in your responses to these questions. Have your answers surprised you? If so, maybe you can make some changes or tweaks to your patterns of behavior. I encourage you to focus more on growth setting rather than goal setting. Can you be more intentional about engaging in activities that make you feel alive and aligned?

So, sharpen your pencils and gear up for a beautiful New Year! May it be interesting, engaging and full of joy.

Jeanne Rosner is a board-certified anesthesiologist who practiced pediatric anesthesia at Stanford Medical Center for nearly 20 years. In 2011, she began teaching nutrition classes in her son's 5th-grade science class. It was an "aha" moment for her. She realized that learning and teaching about nutrition, health and wellness in her community was her destiny.

Since retiring from anesthesia, she has been a nutrition educator at local middle and high schools throughout the Bay Area. She teaches students about the importance of eating food closest to the source, making good food choices and eating in a balanced and moderate way.

Jeanne started SOUL (seasonal, organic, unprocessed, local) Food Salon in 2014. SOUL Food Salon's mission is to educate and empower people to be healthier. She holds events (salons) at which experts in the health and wellness community share their knowledge on how to lead a healthier life.

Instagram: @soulfoodsalon

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