January 1st comes around each year, regardless of what you did
or didn't do on December 31st. You can think of it as just another
day on the calendar, or it can represent an intriguing new beginning.
I love the idea of newness, freshness, blank pages just waiting
to be written upon. For me, it's not about the maintenance of
resolutions as much as learning to take each day as it comes;
trying to remember that each day and each moment is all we really
have. It's knowing that the choices we make in the moment drive
the momentum of a new year.
So what can do you to make the most of a blank slate?
For starters, you can imagine that you just moved to Earth from
Mars. That's what I had my daughter do one summer when she was
fearful about going to summer camp. She had just had a rough year
in school and didn't want to take that baggage with her, but didn't
know how to leave it behind. I suggested that she pretend that
she had recently arrived on this planet and that no one at camp
knew anything about her. She could comfortably be exactly who
she really was, while at the same time endeavoring to learn about
her companions and new environment.
Lauren has told me since, that this was an incredibly freeing
idea. It was like I had given her permission to be herself, while
simultaneously encouraging her to be her best self. I believe
that we all need this - acceptance of who we are, and championship
of who we'd like to be.
Over the holidays we took a long car trip to visit family. We
drove through bad weather and backed-up highways and it was very
frustrating at times. But my husband, Roy, kept reminding us that
there were only two questions that we should be thinking about:
1) Were we moving?
2) Were we headed in the right direction?
He was absolutely right. When we weren't moving we took a detour,
and occasionally, when we found ourselves headed the wrong way,
we made a u-turn.
This is also good advice for navigating a new year. If you have
some idea of where you'd like to go, it's easier to get there.
But also, if you can manage to enjoy the trip, you're not missing
out on a lot of your life. Because we spent hours crawling along
in traffic, I was able to have some in-depth conversations with
my family that are not usually possible on the phone.
For instance, AJ is a biology major so I was able to get answers
to my cow questions - Why do cows come in so many colors on the
outside, if they all produce the same thing on the inside? Why
are there no blue cows? And Lauren was able to share the details
of her experiences being part of a large university's administrative
system. Of greater importance, we got to share our feelings on
subjects that we'd never had the opportunity to explore before.
This is something I'd like to do more of in the coming year -
to seek out times and places to learn more about people I think
I know already. Over 20 years ago, I recorded audio cassette interviews
with my grandparents. I talked to them about their lives, and
asked my grandmothers to sing the songs that they had sung to
my parents when my parents were children. I then interviewed my
parents. Today they're all gone. I'm so glad I was able to have
those conversations and pass them on to future generations.
Even though we can technically do these things at any time of
our choosing, the start of a new year is a good time to remind
ourselves of what's essential to our being. It's more about becoming
who we really are than jettisoning parts of ourselves we don't
I suggest that you use the first day in January to take a new
look at yourself and the things that make you feel most alive
Think about ways you can bring more of these things into your
life. Make the commitment to keep moving and make sure you're
headed in the right direction.
You've just landed, and it's all new. Make the most of it.