Time to begin anew.

January always marks a new beginning for me. Forget the snow, the ice and the dreary gray skies. We in Ohio have no choice about the winter weather, so we just trudge through it. The most exciting thing about the January is the new year. We can take the time to review the past year and plan for the one that has just been born.

Our family finishes the New Year 's Day meal of pork and sauerkraut by sharing what we want for ourselves as the year begins. My daughters shared they wanted to be more patient with their children. One of the men said they wanted to be kinder. Another said he wanted to smile more. A grandson said he wanted to stop breaking his toys while his cousin vowed to be nicer to him. Our granddaughter said she wanted to spend more time doing works of charity. I said I wanted to work smarter, not harder.

This tradition is meaningful to me because it implies a willingness to let go of what happened during the previous year. The door closes and as we focus on looking forward with an eye to improving our lives, another door opens. We get to begin, again. Start all over. Starting puts a spring in our step and hope in our heart as we create a vision and let it unfold.

As we let go of what was, it's helpful to reflect upon what might not have gone the way we expected and take a good, hard look at why. What was our part in the disappointment? We also might want to consider whether we have any apologies to offer for the disappointment: hurtful words or pain we might have caused others. Offering apologies to people in our lives is a great way to "start over" with compassion and an ability to admit our own inherent failings. And we all have them.

Most importantly is an ability to look at the past year and see what went right. Our health, our family, our ability to see, to walk, to have warmth and food, to have people who love us and care about us. Great books to read, movies to seehaving grocery stores with more choices than most of the world could comprehend. The list of good stuff could go on and on. We just have to remember to look for it.

Have fun with your own family deciding what this new year will be like. And remember, it's not about money or the economy. The only true thing that matters is how much we love each other and how we share that love.

Happy New Year!


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