Our New Year began with letting go of Chinese lanterns as they floated towards the sky; only to come crashing down the moment the string left our hands. Perhaps we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let us explain.
The greeting of a New Year offers precious moments of reflection, the opportunity to reassess life goals and craft new plans in order to achieve our dreams. Many Americans draft large lists filled with numerous New Year’s resolutions, attempting to create the motivation necessary to change. Sadly, most of these resolutions go unmet, leaving us with a sense of unrealized potential.
We ourselves wrote a list of resolutions. Things we want to improve upon and things we hope to change. Samuel hopes to lose a few extra pounds gained as a result of his surgery last month, while Kate hopes to declutter some areas around the house. Goals were compartmentalized into both personal and professional, with some overlap. Expectations we hope to meet and changes we hope to both implement and to keep.
“It is recommended not to try to implement all your New Years’ resolutions at once,” Kate said at a recent dinner party with friends. “Experts advise attempting to implement one change a month. After thirty days of developing a new habit, you add another goal at the first of every month.”
As the year 2018 unfolds, there is no doubt the one resolution that will be atop both of our lists. Our desire to see our work in print - to share the written words we have spent years crafting with the world - only grows more urgent with each passing day. For we know that the joy 2018 brings is also accompanied by sorrow. The visible and invisible scars present in our daily lives will only grow stronger for some, leaving many in desperate need of healing.
Each year our family engages in an activity to cultivate hope, meant to sustain each of us in the weeks, months and years ahead. We sit down at the kitchen table with a box of colored pencils. Blank paper is placed in front of each member of the family, and a sense of quiet envelopes the table. A rarity in our home. We sit and color, furiously. On the first sheet we draw the things we are thankful for - the most meaningful elements that helped make up the previous year. Then we turn the page and draw all that we are working toward in the coming year.
After a few minutes, each member of the family presents their creation, detailing each item and explaining the reason for its inclusion. Some of these items on the future page come true, while others fail to come to fruition. Karynna’s hope for a dog has never been realized despite her repeated pleas. There are other unmet desires, some eliciting an increased sense of loss with each passing year.
Once this exercise is complete, all entries are gathered and placed into a binder, kept for the sake of posterity. As one looks through papers from years’ past, one gets a sense of gratefulness. For the life lived, and for what is still to come. For things hoped for and things realized. For a family that treasures each member above all other material things, knowing that even if the coming year is filled with great challenges, each will be loved and supported along the way.
The New Year’s Eve exercise was originally intended to be a visualization of never knowing where life is going to take us; but, no matter the twists and turns, our light can shine wherever it goes. The point was well made with the precipitous drop of the lanterns. Unexpected things happen, and the light still shines, the circumstances even providing a bit of humor as a result. Thankfully, a back up plan for our New Year’s Eve photo was in place - candles were employed to show the light remains bright.
Our gratefulness extends far beyond our family and to each and every one of you. For loyal readers who absorb our words and offer encouraging ones of their own. For those willing to put up with changes as we navigate these early stages of igniting a movement towards the redefinition of scars. For your prayers and support, words of advice and wisdom. And Hope. May 2018 be a year filled with much joy for each one of you; and most of all, a year filled with an indescribable and unchanging practice of cultivated hope.