Here we are again on the threshold of a new year. When the door opens we’ll enter a new, clean room, uncluttered by the past and holding nothing but hope.
One of the bags I want to unpack first is the one carrying lessons learned from this past year:
1) Creativity can be dormant for years and still resurface.
This is a biggie for me. I tested some waters this year in writing and in photography. In both cases, I have found those waters to be warm and welcoming. The swims will still be long, but the motions of each stroke feel good and they are stretching some long forgotten muscles. I look forward to navigating these previously uncharted waters each step of the way.
2) I need to count my blessings more often.
It’s so easy to get bogged down in what we don’t have and what we want. But I have my health, mostly. I have a wonderful family and friends. I have a job. I have a pleasant home, food on the table, and decent clothes. I have my mind and lots of ways to use it. While some friends and family members have faced some pretty serious issues this past year including major illnesses and loss of jobs, I have been fortunate.
3) Savor each moment of your child’s growth, even when they are young adults.
Our children don’t walk through developmental stages. They actually run. This year we celebrated the college graduation of our eldest. It’s a huge rite of passage for her, and has been for us in some ways as well. Savor each moment and take time to appropriately observe the milestones. That graduation weekend is one of my fondest memories of 2013.
4) When you raise your children to be strong and independent that is what they become.
This is what parents really want for their children, but then it happens and we need to step back for a moment and allow ourselves to look on in wonder. We always felt that our job as parents was to lay some firm groundwork and set expectations, and then get out of their way. We showed them how we conduct our lives, and now it’s up to them to conduct their own in places we don’t know with people we don’t know. Make no mistake – ours haven’t QUITE made a full leap to independence yet – but they are well on their way.
5) Keep your memories alive, but don’t live in the past.
This year forced us to say goodbye to some wonderful and influential people in our lives. The loss of friends and family always stings, but we carry very good memories. We are made stronger by our pain. Each loss challenges us to move forward and to do good things.
So here we are about to step through the doorway. I have tried very hard to pack away the “I can’ts” and will work hard to leave them where they are in the past. I am carrying brand new “I cans” into the new year. There is no illusion of perfection and I will make mistakes. But even as we bring along the baggage of the past and some of the problems we just can’t shake, we can still make this new room what we want it to be. We can rearrange the furniture to make it either comfortable or challenging – or a mixture of both. We have choices about how we spend our fleeting time and we can work to make the best of what a fresh new year has to offer.
For me, I am longing to see where my creative pursuits will lead, and will redouble my efforts to focus on family, friends, and community. Those are my main goals.
I wish you hope, joy, health, peace and happiness as you step into 2014. Happy New Year!