Much More Than a Happy New Year

Can I share a secret with you?  I kind of hate saying "Happy New Year!"  First, it means Christmas is already over (boo!).  Second, if you could actually make someone's year happier by just saying it, we'd all be living in a blissful paradise.

That is clearly not the case.  New Year is hard, for a lot of reasons. It makes us look back at the previous year. 2015 was epically crappy for a lot of people I know.  Mental and physical illnesses, surgeries, cancer, bereavements, miscarriages, jobs lost, houses foreclosed, homes damaged by natural disasters.  The list could go on.

But 2015, if you ask some of those people was also an amazing year.  Some of those people who had miscarriages or infertility now have amazing, gorgeous babies.  Some of those people took job losses and financial problems and turned them into new ventures and adventures in life.  A friend who struggled with a divorce is now happily engaged to an brilliant new fiance.

Basically, what I'm saying is that a lot can happen in a year.  You are without a doubt going to have some hugely challenging things come your way in 2016, but you are probably going to have some of the sweetest, life-changing, precious ones as well.

Last January, I got sick with an unending stomach bug which actually left me so depressed that I was having out-of-body experiences.  It was horrible and it felt like I would never feel normal again.

But I did.  And in November, I wrote nearly all of a novel.  If you had asked me in February whether those two things would occur in the same year, I would not have believed you.

I had some moments where I despaired of being able to parent my toddler, and some moments which were so sweet they make my heart ache thinking of them.

I met some goals and I didn't meet some goals.

I started the year with a family, a home, some pets and thankfully still have all of them mostly in one piece.

Do I have regrets?  Of course.  I lost touch with a couple of people who might have needed me at times.  But I've also supported other people and done as well as I can to love others and tried to listen more and be kinder.

I saw this photo today, and realized that it doesn't matter whether 2016 is happy or not.

Texas had a rough Christmas with flooding, and tornadoes took out this family's home of 30 years.  Then, they found this sign in the rubble.  It struck me powerfully as I realized that 2015 might have been a crappy year, but my soul is actually stronger than it was a year ago.  And that matters more to me.

I'm not saying that everyone has to go on retreat, or have a terrible experience then suddenly say it's okay.  But having a resilient soul means that we can go into 2016 with open eyes and hearts.  I don't have to be afraid because I know that my spirit gets full after reading some books and walking by the sea and cuddling under a blanket with my little girly.  I also learned in 2015 that I can be useful to people just by cooking for them and being present.  The really important things I did in 2015 didn't have anything to do with kale smoothies, weight loss or personal trainers.  I spent time riding up a big hill on my bike with Ella so that we could visit Josh's granny regularly.  And when she died on my birthday, I didn't feel any regrets.  Although she didn't really know we were there at the end, those visits meant something to all three of us.

Being present for each other is probably the most important goal we can set for ourselves, and thankfully, it's actually one of the simplest.  Sit by someone, send them a note, tell people you love them, hold hands with friends and look people in the eye.  Cuddle their babies and make them cups of tea.

I really love the song that everyone sings on New Year's Eve as the clock chimes midnight, but I thought you might like to read the later verses (in the English translation, because I didn't think you'd know any more 18th century Scottish than I do).  It's a song about friendship and auld lang syne (roughly translated times long since).

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we've wandered many a weary foot
since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

And there's a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o' thine!
And we'll take a right good-will draught
for auld lang syne.

And that's what I wish for you.  That we would hold hands and carry our burdens together but also remind each other of good things.  I wish for you resilience in the difficult things you will no doubt face in 2016, and I wish for you gratefulness in the good things.  I pray that your problems will be halved by friends and family and your joys doubled with them.  I hope that when you feel alone, you will be reminded of the love so many people have for you.  My dream for you is that your goals for your body would be the least of your New Year's resolutions and that the wellness of your soul would be your priority.

Much More than a Happy New Year!


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