Tag Archive | New Year

A New Year… A New Word!

2018 is the fifth year that I’ve chosen a special word to be my focus for the new year. Unlike making up new year’s resolutions, choosing a special word can be an inspiration for the whole year, not something to measure yourself against until you fail, and then forget about. At least that’s how it’s been for me.

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Last year my special word was HOPE. I chose that word because I was worried about the future. The 2016 elections were so negative. How would our politicians ever be able to work together again for the good of the country? National and even local politics are not usually such a strong influence in my personal, everyday life, but last year was different. I was really scared about many things happening in our country. I needed to have HOPE that things could get better.

One of the first things I did to try to better understand what was going on nationally, was to read Hillary Clinton’s book, What Happened. It was a fascinating book, and much to my surprise, it was the first thing to begin to restore HOPE for me. To view her perspective on what some of the opportunities are for making the world a better place for everyone to live in – all countries, all races, all religions, all socio-economic groups – was inspiring. Even though she lost the election, she didn’t give up HOPE. She realized that she needed to refocus, to figure out how else she could bring about some of the improvements our world needs. And she kept her HOPE that improvements could happen, even with the political situation as it was. Definitely an inspiring book!

2017 ended for me with another great book on HOPE, Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope, by Joan Chittister. This book is actually more about struggle than HOPE, because struggle is where HOPE is born. There’s a lot to think about in this book, and I’m sure I’ll read the book more than once.

I actually considered holding onto the word HOPE as my special word for another year so that I could study in greater depth the relationship between struggle and HOPE in my own life personally, as well as in the political, economic, and moral struggles our society is engaged in these days. But, then I remembered that every word I’ve had as my special word for a year stays in my mind with heightened awareness – I think forever! I still look for JOY in every day (my 2014 word). My 2015 word of GRATITUDE comes to mind every night when I go to bed and think of what things I’m especially grateful for that day. My 2016 word of KINDNESS has me thinking every morning about what opportunities I may have that day to be especially kind to someone. There’s every reason to believe that I’ll continue to think about the relationships between the struggles I’m facing and how they will strengthen the HOPE I want to see grow. I’ve decided to choose a new word for 2018. I may come back to HOPE, or any of my other special words some year, but not yet.

A special word that’s been creeping into my thoughts that last few weeks is PEACE. Not so much “peace” in the Middle East, or with North Korea, or Russia, (although that would be great), but “PEACE” – the word that I used as a closing on my Christmas Cards. The PEACE that is the calmness that I feel when I sense that God really is in control of everything. The PEACE that St. Paul wrote about to the Philippians:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:4-7 NRSV]

I guess these verses really encompass all the special words I’ve been focusing on over these 5 years. Maybe I need to spend some time thinking about my “special word vocabulary” as it continues to grow.

May God’s PEACE be with you. Happy New Year!

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Winter sunset at Christmas Mountain

Another Year-End Conversation with Abbey

Abbey-Marian

Abbey had been sitting on the floor next to the patio door, staring out at the pond for a long time. It was snowing again. Big flakes were drifting down, adding to the eight inches already on the ground. I wondered if she was as tired of the snow as I was.

Marian-Abbey faces bronzeI called to her, “Hey, Abbey. A penny for your thoughts.”

“Oh, hi, Mom. My thoughts are pretty deep today, just like the snow.” She smiled with that comment. “It’s New Year’s Eve today, and I’ve been thinking back over all that’s happened over the past year.”

“That’s a lot to think about, Abbey.”

“It sure is, Mom. It’s been quite a year for all of us. Have you been thinking about everything that’s happened, too?”

“I sure have. A year ago, as I anticipated what both the highlights and the challenges of 2013 might be, I thought a lot about getting my first two books published, but I had no idea that I’d get married!”

“Yeah. That was quite a surprise!” Abbey continued, “State and national politics really do affect us on a personal level. Just think, Mom, you and Mim lived together 40 years before you could get legally married. I bet you’re really thankful that you’re finally married.”

“That’s for sure!  But you know what, Abbey? You’re very right about how much politics on the national and state level really affect our personal lives – even beyond the gay marriage issue. I think almost everyone in our country – at least most of the people I know, including most of the people in my family, have very strong opinions on almost every issue that’s in the news. That includes religious, social, environmental, economic, health care, and education issues – you name the topic, and everyone holds a different opinion. What’s so sad is that the local, state, and national news coverage of these issues seems to encourage polarization rather than understanding. Very few people are interested in trying to understand why someone thinks differently than they think.”

Cousin Piper

Cousin Piper

“You have a point, Mom. Piper is so Republican, it’s no longer fun to play with her. Just because she gets all the treats she wants, and she’s in perfectly good health, she thinks it’s okay to be oblivious to the needs of all the other dogs in the world who don’t have a home and loving family.”

“But, Abbey. That’s my point. You and Cousin Piper used to have fun playing together. You should try to understand why Piper feels the way she does. You don’t have to agree with her, but you should at least try to understand how she feels. And, even if you don’t agree with her, you can still love her and play with her.”

“I suppose, Mom. But she’s so arrogant – thinking she’s so right and I’m so wrong.”

“Well, how about you? Don’t you think you are right and she is wrong about everything?”

“Well, yes. But that’s different. I really am right!”

“I think you need to try a little harder to really understand why Piper thinks like she does – and why you think differently. Some of the highlights of 2013 for me are conversations I have had with some of my nieces and nephews. I hate to say it, but most of them are Republican, too. But we have had some really good conversations – both face-to-face and by email – about why we each believe some of the things we feel very strongly about. It amazes me that we all share the same cultural and religious backgrounds, yet we hold such different opinions on every issue that’s in the news. But it’s good to talk about our shared values and differing opinions. The more we talk, the better we understand each other, even if we all “stick to our guns” on every issue. The more we understand each other, the more we can respect each other’s opinions. And, most important, the more we can love each other, and not be distracted by our differences.”

“Wow, Mom. You really feel strongly about trying to understand each other, even when you know you’ll never agree.”

“Yes, I do, Abbey. But most important, we need to keep loving each other. I hope you and Piper can get back to playing together, and still be friends. The Bible says that love is the greatest gift. The most important thing for us to do in our lives is to love God and to love each other.”

“You’re right, Mom.”

“But Abbey, I’ve been doing most of the talking. Tell me about your deep thoughts – the one’s I’m paying you a penny for.”

Tucker - our next door neighbor

Tucker – our next door neighbor

“Well, my thoughts are kind of related to your thoughts. Over the past year, I’ve gained quite an important new insight. You know how I sometimes bark aggressively at other dogs. I’m just trying to let them know that I’m the boss around here. They need to know that. That’s all. I’m not mad at them. Well, Tucker, the dog who moved in next door last summer, he barks a lot and sounds pretty aggressive. Whenever I go out the front door, if he’s already out in the yard, he barks ferociously at me. I don’t want to fight him, so I just ignore him. But that made me realize – I really don’t like being barked at. And that made me think – I bet all the dogs I bark at don’t like being barked at either. I never thought about that before. Seeing a barking dog from the perspective of the dog being barked at, gave me new insights. I think I might try to be a little more soft-spoken to the other dogs in the neighborhood. That’s my biggest new insight of 2013, and my resolution for 2014.”

“That’s good, Abbey. 2013 has been a very good year for both of us. Now onward to 2014.”

Happy New Year!

Mim, Marian and Abbey wish you a Happy New Year!

Mim, Marian and Abbey wish you a Happy New Year!