This time last year, I was back in the chemo chair. I believe I had an anti-nausea pill with a ginger ale chaser instead of a cocktail on New Year’s Eve. Now, I am in a better position to celebrate, to focus on the empty calendar, the story yet to be written. Let’s face it: none of us know what awaits us over the next twelve months, but that can be incredibility exciting, filled with the possibilities to do better and be better.
The new year is a ceremonial attempt to eliminate the old while embracing the new, a time to be a bit introspective, to count our blessings as we look forward to the future. We all begin with a blank slate handed to us when the ball drops at midnight. We are filled with hopes to become an improved version of ourselves in the twelve months which follow. It is interesting how that annual dose of optimism gives us the ambition to tackle our dreams and goals with gusto, and the faith to believe that we will succeed. There are platitudes, cutesy sayings from the internet admonishing us to reach for the stars, love with pure passion, develop our talents. And somehow, at the bewitching hour when the clock strikes twelve, ushering in a new year, we are confident that we can. That is, until it gets difficult.
The gyms are filled to capacity in January with people committed to getting fit; grocery stores run out of kale instead of eggnog; the shelves in the liquor stores remain stocked. Everyone seems to try a little harder to achieve something significant. But by March, much of that resolve fades as the reality sets in. Change is never easy, and old habits are tough to break. Trust me, I know. And when family, friends, and coworkers test our patience, we forget our vow to smile and let it go. Projects don’t go as planned; vacations are spoiled; tragedy knocks on our doors. So, we reach for the bag of chips and open a bottle of wine and whisper “maybe next year.” Because life can’t be wrapped up in a neat little package, because it is messy and sometimes, difficult, our best intentions fall by the wayside.
I have thought of my own resolutions and my ability to persevere long enough to accomplish them, for them to become as much a part of my daily existence as brushing my teeth and feeding the dog. Yes, I would like to lose those last ten pounds, to declutter my attic and basement, to shop less and volunteer my time and talent. I’d like to plant a garden and go to the gym on a regular basis. I even want to write another book. But while this laundry list of measurable life changes is noble, perhaps for me, a better way to approach this new year might be to embrace something more intangible in nature, to look past the superficial into that which is designed to make me a better person.
So this year, I will:
· Choose to believe in myself, to trust in the strength and resilience that will get me through the hard times
· Let go of what no longer serves me, release that which brings me stress or discord
· Surrender to the will of He who knows every moment of my past, and who has already written my future
· Live my life in truth and honor, to fearlessly embrace my tomorrows
· Talk to myself instead of listening to myself
· Become committed to my own spiritual and intellectual growth
· Safeguard my physical health and emotional wellbeing
· Laugh whenever possible, finding joy in moments both big and small
· Remember to be grateful for each blessing
· Appreciate every breath I take, each sunrise and sunset I get to witness.
· Love with a patient, open heart
· Be kind to and accepting of others as well as myself
· Never alter who I am because of another’s opinion
· Vow that injustice will not deter me or make me bitter, understanding that the unforgiveable must be forgiven for my own peace of mind.
· Rejoice in each day added to my life, praising God for His goodness and mercy.
Life is measured in the time we have on this earth until one day we take that big step which leads us from this mortal plane. In those final moments, we will look back on our existence and wonder if we could have been better, done more, made sensible choices and used our time more wisely. Maybe resolutions help guide us so that we live without regret. It’s a nice thought, isn’t it?