Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year!

It is almost the New Year! There is something about celebrating the new year that I love and I don't just mean the midnight champagne toasts! The idea of newness, fresh starts, change and beginnings. Out with the old and in with the new- it really is sort of a "do-over" opportunity for adults. Birthdays have the same sort of magical power, marking a new year of life. I am lucky in that we will celebrate the new year twice in my house - the traditional date this week-end and Chinese New Year during the first week of February.

It is the time for those resolutions that so many of us make and break within the month of January - eat healthier, exercise more, get in better shape, get organized, write more, get published, get more sleep, deepen my spiritual growth... I have made them all over the years. Lily said to me once after I rattled off some resolutions when I turned 47- "Isn't that what you were going to do last year." I did not stangle her...just chucked at her wisdom (OK - I admit part of me wanted to...)

This year is going to be different and I am NOT going to make a long list of resolutions. I will simply have one - finding and creating more joy in my life, in all areas of my life. 2010 has been a stressful time for me on a lot of fronts and and I am honestly just out of energy/juice/interest in operating at the same level of angst and pressure (self induced and externally created) in the new year. Being drained is just not healthy and when that means the joy has seeped out of your life- you are in trouble. I want to replace level of high anxiety with joy....with more laughter, with more lightness of spirit. This joy diet will result in some changes (big and small in my life) and will also mean having a new, lighter attitude and approach and a reminder of the humor and absurdity of what I consider challenges. Joy begets joy, optimism begets positive circumstances and gratitude begets growth.

I believe that the influx of joy will impact all the other parts of my life that I wish to improve....if not, at least I will have a good laugh along the way.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Holidays, escape and hope

I sit tonight in a warm, cozy home cuddled with my amazing daughters, munching on popcorn and watching Elf on television. In the corner is our beautiful Christmas tree, lit and glowing with colored lights. Under the tree are gifts given in love and joy. We are happy, healthy, content and blessed. Upstairs my mom packs for her trip home - she has spent ten days with us. My niece and her fiance left yesterday- it was a joy to have them with us for the holidays this year. My sister and her boyfriend were with us as well and are now safe in Philadelphia, having made it through the blizzard.

I am alternately tired and content- a week of cooking, baking, entertaining, shopping, wrapping, eating big meals, listening to well meaning but sometimes frustrating "advice" and most of all, making my home a welcoming place for visiting family and friends have taken a toll. I love entertaining and caring for those whom I love so while not a burden, the experience was a bit exhausting. And since I have a 7 year old daughter who has not yet lost the glorious belief in Santa - it was also quite magical.

I must say that in spite of the fatigue of the last week or so, I am enjoying this escape from reality. Of course, part of me wonders why my reality is something to escape from... Of course I watched the weather reports of winter storms across the country. I am amazed as always at the resilience of the human spirit and the ability to find joy, fun and adventure even in dire circumstances.

That idea struck a chord with me- no matter what the circumstance, culture or situation, we humans find a way to comfort one another, create traditions and celebrate. There is a wonderful movie called "City of Joy" with Patrick Swayze that came out about ten years ago. It is based in the poorest of the poor slums of Calcutta and follows the lives of locals and the foreign doctors and missionaries who inhabit the city. The ending follows one family and their struggle and ultimately their joy and bliss as they celebrate a daughter's wedding. The whole community comes together to continue their beautiful traditions and bring two young people together. Surrounded by abject poverty, disease and dirt, the "city of joy" is lit with thousands of lights, food, drink, music, dancing and passion. Maybe it is these moments, these special times that help us re-charge our lives and passions and become hopeful for the future.

We human beings seems to have a need- or is it a wonderful abililty, a connection with the divine- to come together and rejoice. Rejoice in our ties to one another, rejoice in our connection to God, rejoice in love, rejoice in the moment. The holidays are a great opportunity to do that one thing that we all seem to talk about - living in the moment. They offer us an opportunity to truly escape from our everyday stresses and find joy.

Oh to take some of that joy, passion and connection back into the real world next week...I will surely try to do so...