For many years, the New Year presented another opportunity to make a resolution and forget all about it weeks later; choosing a word of the year and then forgetting the word itself; and a bunch of other things destined for the internal scrap pile. But over the last several years, I’ve realized a tendency to look at things more globally. What would I want an entire year to look like? And what would it take to make it that way?
I called 2016 “The Gift of a Year.” I gave myself an entire year to explore, internally and externally. I read a great deal (from paleontology to poetry), hired a business mentor to create a project that I decided to shelve for the time-being (since I didn’t feel the timing was right and details weren’t quite nailed down); moved away from a very toxic work environment into one that would simply prove itself to be a slightly less toxic work environment. I began carrying a small notebook with me (Best thing!) in order to jot down sentences and thoughts that percolated up on my early Saturday morning “dates” with myself at First Watch. (I now know most of the staff well enough at each location that they have coffee waiting for me and my order put in.) I gave myself some space and grace to deal with a great deal (think ginormous) of baggage from years of dealing with my father-in-law and a lingering sense of having to prove myself in a male-dominated world. And, as a result, ultimately realized resolutions come in their own time
Last year, 2017, became “The Year of Watchfulness and Listening.” Watching and listening require presence-in-the moment, as well as a storing up of things learned so I could benefit from them at a future point of “present.” What I learned throughout the year seemed random: a lesson here, a lesson there, all seemingly unconnected until October brought one great, big “POW.” An incident so small that it shouldn’t have mattered. Except that it did. One small atom of incident meeting up with a number of atoms of vulnerability, then nuclear explosion inside. Fortunately, I remembered what cognitive therapy had taught me years ago and I was able to use those tools to untangle the knots, smooth the threads, and see the messages: “I will not be silent” was the first. “I will not empower men as my go-to response,” the second. I felt bruised and battered when the explosion happened; as the year concluded, I felt nothing short of grounded, girded, and moving forward. I’m here to tell you that good really can come from bad.
So now 2018 has landed. This year has two themes, one of which is so personal and new and vulnerable that I’m not sharing it just yet. It is just too fragile to risk being placed into the world. It needs a little age and has to be held close for its sake and my own, at least for now. The second theme, though, is “The Year of Recognition.” It’s my year of recognizing the worth of each person, each place, and each thing in the world. It’s about making the way a little better for anyone I meet and anything I contact. The goal isn’t complicated: a hello and smile; sitting with someone who is in pain and needs an ear; paying for someone’s order in the line at Dunkin’ Donuts; dropping off cookies or biscuits to the homeless person on the street corner; complimenting someone’s tattoo or dress or tie; composting; planting flowers for the bees and creating shelter for the wild ones. It doesn’t have to cost a lot - maybe not even at all - but the rewards are huge, both to the giver and the receiver. It really is about realizing we are all sister and brother species after all, in a world we all share, and recognizing we all have something inside of us worthy of recognition and celebration.
I hope you’ll join me in my attempts at recognition. I’m so grateful you are here to share this with. Happy New Year.