So it begins, a new year. I love New Years day. Not because of the festivities the night before, or the meal to be served at noon, or even the parade and fanfare you see on TV. I like New Years because it is in essence…a redo.
I start every New Year’s Day with organization. It is basically my spring cleaning. But unlike most it isn’t just my house I am purging. It is all the excess baggage I seemed to have collected over the past year. I am a person that likes to throw things out, get rid of it…good riddance. It was one of the few lessons my mother taught me. “Debra, don’t weigh yourself down with all that stuff.” No truer words were ever spoken. My mother, of course, was referring to my room as a teenager. Today, it has so much more meaning.
“STUFF” it is an interesting word that’s meaning varies from person to person. Everyone has their own “stuff” to contend with. It could be physical clutter or emotional clutter. For some it is both. Because it is easier to remove the physical clutter than it is to purge the emotional, I let the pure act of throwing things away guide me to the final goal of ridding my life of all my unwanted misgivings. With every item I toss…random office papers…clothes I haven’t worn in a year…I think of them as having a corresponding emotional item. Perhaps past issues of your favorite magazines could also symbolize issues from the written pages of your own life that is finally time to let go of. A worn out pair of jeans may be a symbolic connection to a relationship that has been wearing you down. An old pair of running shoes could be the equivalent representation of a task you have been trying to accomplish that seems to go nowhere. Outdated spices that no longer have their strength are suddenly the thing in your life you once desired that has lost its vigor and therefore its importance. With every toss of an item a space is reserved for new concentration and other goals. By the end of the day you are tired yet renewed and ready for the New Year.
Every Christmas my family gives me a new Moleskin brand notebook. These are pocket size sketch books found in an art supply store. In this Moleskin, I can draw, make lists, and reflect. Sometimes I will write a sentence that comes to me at the most unexpected times, and refer back to it later in something I am writing. On New years I take this book and first write the date and then I record all the things I would like to accomplish in the coming year. I find myself revising it through the year and on December 31st I go back and review it. I laugh at the things I felt I should have done and I sit fulfilled at the items I did accomplish. I revisit the drawings and phrases I have written and see myself again for the first time as an observer rather than a self criticizing being. At the end of my New Year’s Day, with a clean slate, I am ready to begin this process again.
Some may call these New Year’s resolutions. I have never liked that word. To resolve to do something sounds to me like finally agreeing to do a difficult task, in which you dread. In the end when you don’t “loose those ten ponds” or “paint those ten paintings” all you’ve accomplished is a feeling of failure. I ask you, how can that be good for anyone? On my list for 2011 was to read from cover to cover, “War and Peace” I got to page 100 and decided to put it down. Then I picked up “Life on the Mississippi” by Mark Twain, and read it for the fifth time. Upon its completion I set it on the table next to me and picked up my netbook computer and I began to write. In the end my failure to read “War and Peace” was an accomplishment in other ways. This is how I wish to live my life. To take the bumps in the road of unaccomplished deeds, and search a way to turn it around. I wasn’t always this way. It took a conscious decision, on my part, to take control of my own attitude and therefore destiny. It was actually an item on my list from 2007; one year after I came down with lupus.
So, how do you achieve this? It takes practice to accomplish this mission of “turning things around.” First you must acknowledge the unfinished task; and then ask yourself why? Glance back at the time in your life when you were supposed to have achieved this goal and really think about what stopped you. Then look at what you did instead. Once you have done all that…find an item in your life not worth keeping, name it that unfinished task, and toss it in the trash. The weight that will be lifted will make you lighter both in heart and spirit.