Here we are, at the end of 2018. One week away from the beginning of a new year. As the days have gotten shorter and the tasks have gotten fewer, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about seasons.

“For everything there is a season,” the ecclesiastical adage goes. This year, more than any year previous, I have leaned into the truth of this statement.

Living in NYC as a young artist, I usually strive to fill every waking moment with activity. If I’m not hustling, constantly filling my brain with knowledge or filling my day with work of one variety or another, then I’m not doing enough.

Having recently begun several new endeavors—from publicizing a concert, to starting this blog, and even to teaching—I have felt my energy waning. Where in the past I would have fought this feeling and tried to push through it, this year I’m trying a different approach.

I’m hibernating.

Not to say that I’m completely shutting down and falling asleep, literally or metaphorically, for any length of time. Rather, I’m taking the next two weeks to avoid work in the traditional sense. I’m going to step away from the hustle and focus on reflection.

It’s been a long year. There’s been so much anger and hurt in the world. Feelings of certainty and security are in short supply across the board.

To push through this and force myself to hustle would be to spiral toward burnout in the new year. Instead, as Jen Waldman puts so beautifully in her blog, I want to sit back, be still, and contemplate how I can contribute in the new year. I want to look back at 2018 and assess not only what I’m grateful for, but also what I did to contribute to others’ wellbeing, as well as how I could have contributed more.

A quick Christmas Eve story to close: earlier today, I was at the Columbus Circle holiday market, doing some last-minute Christmas shopping before I fly home to Iowa tomorrow. On the subway back uptown, a woman with a large suitcase entered the train and sat next to me. Per typical subway etiquette, I didn’t look up or notice her face—however, the girl sitting across from me did.

As the girl across from me was getting ready to leave the train a couple stops later, she came over to the woman sitting next to me and said, “Have you heard about NYC Well? If you need someone to talk to, you can call them and talk for free.”

This struck me as odd, until I finally looked at the woman’s face and realized she had tears streaming down her cheeks. The other girl proceeded to say, “I saw that you were crying and didn’t know what to say, but I wanted to say something. Do you have anyone to be with during the holiday?”

The woman didn’t say more than a few mumbled words, but even so, her energy palpably shifted as she grasped the girl’s arm and thanked her for asking. I witnessed in that moment the power of contributing even a few caring words to a stranger.

I want to take the next couple weeks to consider my willingness—or current lack thereof—to seek out opportunities to share humanity with those around me, both in my work as an artist and in my everyday, mundane activities.

Wishing you all happy and safe holidays. ❤️💚❤️💚