New Year’s Eve is usually a time when friends gather together to celebrate, eat and drink (and sometimes overdo it). For me, on that special night, rather than go out, I choose to “go in,” to become introspective and investigate or “wring out” the old year, before ringing in the new.
I remind myself of the key points, both the lows and the highs. What were the new opportunities and the successes? What were my challenges, and how did I come through the losses and the disappointments? How did I do with it all? And what do I want to see in the coming year?
I recently heard someone quote a celebrity whose wisdom I do respect, Oprah Winfrey. She said, “The new year offers us another chance to get it right.”
I have been considering her statement ever since. What does “right” mean anyway? What am I supposed to “get”? And why does it even matter to me?
An important spiritual teacher, Paramahansa Yogananda, greatly influenced me when he wrote about our longing for our lost perfection, the urge to do and to be that which is the noblest of which we are capable while we are on this earth.
It seems that no matter what age I reach, I do want to be better. Since getting better seems such a huge topic to exam and tackle, I divided my life into a pie with three parts: work, body/mind and relationships.
First, I looked at my work life. Like many boomers, I am in no position to retire. My savings fund is abysmally low, and besides, I am fortunate to take pleasure in the work I do, and so am not motivated to give up this part of my life. But earning “right livelihood” is the challenge.
I often think of the advice, “If you do the work you love, the money will then follow.” Well, this has not exactly born true for me. Being self-employed requires constant self-marketing, and most of us are not good at this particular task. For me, getting better in my work life means conquering procrastination and doing some more outreach, the selling of my skills and talents.
Thinking about the body/mind is even more of an obstacle course. The beginning of the new year brings many resolutions in this category. We want to improve our bodies; we want to look and feel better.
We decide we must lose or gain weight, eat better for our health, keep up an exercise program, find a way to get enough sleep. We make promises to ourselves, and most often, our resolve breaks down before January is over. I find it helpful in this regard to think in terms of progress and not perfection. Can I do just a little bit better and take it one day at a time instead of beating myself up for my failure to carry through?
When considering “the mind,” I know I must catch myself going down the dead-end street of worry and doubt, for anxiety brings stress and stress affects the body’s health in so many detrimental ways. I can resolve to become more aware of my negative thought patterns and improve on a positive and optimistic attitude.
It is good in a new year to consider relationships. How can my close relationships with my friends, extended family, parents/children and partners get better? Is there anything wrong that needs fixing? Am I blaming the other person and holding onto resentments? I have learned that when I want a relationship to get better, it is up to me to do something different. Maybe we need some professional counseling, or to find ways to improve how we communicate our feelings, in a nonthreatening way. Or, in some cases, it may be best to leave the relationship behind when it is harmful and cannot be fixed.
Even more importantly is our relationship with our self, and from this point, pretty much all else evolves. Becoming right with your self is an inside job and a hard-won prize for some late bloomers who have finally learned self-love, appreciation and respect.
The celebration of a new year is but another marker to notice on our life’s journey. As the year turns to 2014, I am not sure I can say “I am all better” or that I have arrived at my destination, but I can take the time to stop and pause to remind myself just how far I have come.
Angelena Craig of Newburyport teaches Wellness Workshops, Kripalu Slow Flow Yoga, and “Sit Down and Move” classes to boomers and beyond. Visit her website at www.thenewagingmovement.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.