Holiday Envision-ings!

Winter Illuminations in Hiroshima, Japan- Winter 2014
Winter Illuminations in Hiroshima, Japan- Winter 2014

Happy Holidays!
The holiday season is always a time of great reflection for me. As I begin preparing for the New Year and setting my goals, I think about what happened over the last year and what I hope for in the next. This year, in addition to my goals I will be setting some intentions for 2015. Unlike goals which are measurable and concrete, intentions are hopes and desires, more feeling than fact. I’ve decided that I’m great at setting goals and achieving, but I’ve been asking myself more and more, “How do I want to feel while I’m working towards my goals?”. That’s where intention comes in. So in 2015, I set my intention for the following:

Beach at Onna, Okinawa, Japan-Summer 2014
Beach at Onna, Okinawa, Japan-Summer 2014


This year I want to focus on what it means to be in relationship with others–the people I am in direct connection with and humanity as a whole. In 2014, I was blessed to live in Japan for much of the year and I have begin thinking about what it means to fully love myself and share that love with others. Despite the language barrier, I have come to meet wonderful people that have touched my life and I hope that I have touched them, as well. I have also come to love a different culture and way of being. Japanese society has taught me the value of simultaneously respecting tradition while being forward-thinking and innovative. In 2015, I hope to give love by being open and accepting of new people, new places, and new experiences. I will love myself and others by setting healthy boundaries.

In the meditation garden at Tenryu-ji Zen Temple. Kyoto, Japan-Autumn 2014
In the meditation garden at Tenryu-ji Zen Temple.
Kyoto, Japan-Autumn 2014

Joy is wonderment combined with gratitude. Fully experiencing each moment by being present and thankful for the gift and/or lesson of the moment is my focus for 2015. Over the course of 2014, I learned that life without joy is a chore. I also learned that being filled with joy is a choice. I want to continue to choose a life of gratitude and wonder as much as possible in the new year. Confession, joy is not my default setting. Left to my own devices, I can easily become pessimistic and just plain icky, so I will be striving towards joy all year, hoping that by 2016, I will be joy expert!


My intention for community goes hand-in-hand with love. In love, we give and we take. We share intimacy by knowing the other person and allowing ourselves to be known. Community is love on a bigger scale. Being in community means giving recognition and support to a group of people that have something in common with you and receiving recognition and support from that group.

Living in Japan has meant physical separation from my family, friends, and the organizations and clubs that I am a part of. I have had to find and form new groups of people to belong with. In the process of “getting in where I fit in”, I’ve had to think a lot about the pieces that make up the whole me. I’ve had to decide which pieces of me need nurturing and recognition from others with similar pieces and which parts of myself I can care for on my own. As protests have erupted all over the US in response to police brutality and a demand for justice for all, I have contemplated what I can do about an issue that effects me and the members of my community, despite being a world away from it all. I would like to discover more ways to give back to my community when I am apart from it.

The Diabutsu in Kamakura, Japan-Spring 2014
The Diabutsu in Kamakura, Japan-Spring 2014

My experiences in Japan have also made me think about what it means to be a responsible member of a new community. I am an outsider that hopes to get in. I am struggling to learn the language and customs with the hope that at the very least I will demonstrate polite manners and social grace, while maintaining faith that I can come a little bit closer to being a part of the community in which I am living and creating lasting relationships with people I live among.  In the new year, I want to continue to explore what I bring to the communities in which I am physically present and what I can contribute to those communities that I am absent from.

Are you setting intentions for the new year. If so, how do your intentions connect with your goals?  Here’s to sending 2014 off with a blast and welcoming 2015 with a bang!


Published by Envision-ings

Aziza E. Jones is a licensed clinical social worker with 10 years of experience working in elite medical institutions, community based mental health and Military communities in the United States and abroad. Her work in Europe and Asia has had a profound impact on how she views herself and the role she plays in both her local and global community. She is passionate about improving the lives of individuals and communities as they journey towards wholeness and well-being while striving to secure social justice. Ms. Jones is a highly skilled mental health clinician, an innovative thought leader in understanding cultural competence as it relates to mental health, and an educator of new and established mental health service providers. She holds a MSW degree from the premier Smith College School for Social Work and has been recognized by the Smith College Executive Standing Committee for originality and exploring new perspectives in Clinical Social Work research with her Master's Thesis entitled, Humor as Resilience: African-American Stand-up Comedy and Collective Identity. Aziza is a native of Maryland and was reared in the suburbs of Washington, DC.

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