It is in your hands now, and always.

by Jan on December 30, 2011

Every day is a new beginning. Treat it that way. Stay away from what might have been, and look at what can be. ~ Marsha Petrie Sue (author)

A Portal to the New Year

One way to look at the promise and possibility of the New Year is to think about it is as the ancients did—in particular the Romans—as a portal or gate to the future.

It was Janus, the Roman two-headed god (after whom January was later named) who looked in two directions, to the past and to the future. He represents both the year past and the new-year, the old way of being and the transition into a new beginning — and that has carried through in many religious and cultural beliefs.

I resonate with the Janus image. I have lived my life often looking back to the past and forward to the future — but not as often being present in the moment. Janus sees things differently because he has a different view. Sometimes by looking in two directions we can gain a new perspective of what is really going on in the moment (and sometimes it distracts us from what is really going on in the moment).

The newness of the moment

The turning of the new year has also been depicted as an image of father time looking old, with his long white beard and sickle, greeting a young child – a symbol of the newness possible in the coming year. We pass on the wisdom and lessons of the past year, and start anew with the wide eyes and “beginner’s mind” of a young child.

Our New Year’s Resolutions are an extension of this idea, our promise to ourselves to live our life in alignment with what we most want.

These resolutions are a way of reflecting upon ourselves and considering what might be better ways to live a healthier and more fulfilling life. The life that you were meant to live.

The New Year is an especially good time to pause, reflect (or meditate, if you are so inclined), and wonder what the lessons of last year might be, and what this coming year, 2012, can be for us. Make this the moment to develop a plan, with hope as its core.

  1. Decide what we really want. That means something that adds a value to our lives, to our health, to our relationships and to the planet. Collect your visions and ideas—they don’t have to be really big, just important to you. Remember that often the most important things in life are family, friends and good health.  All the rest is great, but these are the most important — at least to me.
  2. Make a 30 day plan. Write out in a small journal or notebook what you want, a simple plan of how to achieve your goal. 30 days is a good start on a life long plan.
  3. Take action every day. You don’t have to do anything big, just take some action. One thing a day really will build toward fulfilling your dream. Do it until you own it — pick one thing to do as a habit and repeat it each day.

Here are some other things to keep in mind as you create your plan and take action in the new year:

  1. Take small steps. Every time I start to change something really big, it is overwhelming and difficult.  So as you make your plan keep it simple and in the smallest steps you can.  Baby steps, and then you can run.
  2. Be aware that outcomes are unpredictable. No matter what you dream or how you plan, know that all dreams create great challenges and also provide some of our greatest opportunities. As Rabbi Harold Kushner says in, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, sometimes life can be a windstorm. Sometimes it is life’s challenges that create the greatest reward.
  3. Try or learn something new.  Get out of that rut, the Groundhogs Day way of living, and step out of the box –the old status quo.  Imagine a different outcome, and place an intention around it. Even a small act can lead to the greatest of experiences. We never know what life has in store for us (and that’s a wonderful thing)!
  4. Take care of you health and well being. This is the one I need reminding about. The old “put myself last “scenario does not work.  Remember, the urgings of the airline steward(ess) about the oxygen mask—put it on before you help others!
  5. Add the spark of hope to each moment. Breathe in hope with every aspect of your plan every day. It seems like nothing—but it is really powerful. I have added hope to many aspects of my life. In only one year I am a much more fulfilled and joyful person. People tell me I look younger. I am appreciating life more and worrying less–all very good outcomes – and such a small thing to do.

May today there be peace within.
May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others.
May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content with yourself just the way you are.
Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.

~ A version of St. Theresa of Lisieux’s prayer.