Happy New Year, friends!
I’m actually writing this at the end of December, from a 2017 vantage point. Right on the cusp of the new beginning. Perhaps it’s a paradigm shift, but I’m noticing so many “endings” around me; from end of the holiday season to the obituaries I read in the newspaper to the news of someone’s recent diagnosis or end of a union.
I’ve been there before.
At the seemingly end of life as we know it. But then again, I like to remember that nothing really ends without something new beginning. I often refer to this as end-beginnings.
And, truth be told, I’m pretty unsure what 2018 will bring. I’ve made no resolutions, really. A massive deviation from what I normally put myself through as the New Year approaches. Typically, I would get myself organized to clean out the fridge and clean up my diet. I tend to put a freeze on my spending and weed out my closets. I like to make thoughtful goals around my relationships with my husband and each of my girls.
But this year feels different. I look around my house and there’s nothing to purge. I’m feeling pretty good about my diet, though there’s always room for improvement. My relationships are good. My friendships are good. I’ve thought about doing a Dry January, but then I thought...better not.
This year, I feel the overarching desire to clear away the clutter…. of my soul.
Just last week, my daughter Sally and I went to pick up my other daughter Amelia from college in Philadelphia. It was a long, tiring 24 hours of driving round trip, packing Amelia up for her holiday break, delivering her to a two hour interview in New Jersey, then driving back to Connecticut in time for a concert we were attending that evening. We made the very best of the road trip, sipping hot drinks and scream-singing to the soundtracks of Mama Mia and both Pitch Perfect movies.
But the honeymoon phase of our little 3-person reunion ended rather abruptly when HANGER struck; the girls got in a nasty fight in a parking lot style traffic jam on I-84. Hair was pulled, low blows were dealt and there was a good bit of shouting and punching to be seen and heard.
This was a scene.
I wanted to get out of the car and hitch a ride with the wide-eyed strangers in the car next to us.
Realizing I had to feed them like...Right. Now. I pulled off at a Subway at the very next exit.
It was a cute, charming little New England town all decorated for Christmas with their fresh balsam garlands, red ribbons and twinkling white lights. Magic was in the air, but, even this beautiful wintry scene couldn’t break the ice in the car. That only happened when we realized just where we were.
The village of Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut. We were just up the road from the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
It’s hard to stay mad when you’re humbled in the presence of a community that has endured such tremendous loss and suffering.
You just can’t.
Looking back 5 years ago, I remember how moved we were, as a nation, by the traumatic events of the Sandy Hook School shooting. Such loss. Such senselessness. So devastatingly tragic. We all hugged our kids a little tighter and appreciated our teachers a little more.
It makes me think of the quiet, private, less known suffering of others around us. When we meet the angry lady at the grocery store, when the guy cuts you off in traffic or snatches your parking spot. The neighbor who never bothers to say hello and whose dog poops in your yard on a regular basis. What suffering or loss have they endured? And if it were made known to you, if you knew their story, could you maintain your anger and resentfulness in the presence of it? I ask this of myself.
This year, I’d like to clear away the clutter of resentment and judgement to make more room for love and compassion. Maybe that sounds too vague, too unmeasurable or even a bit pollyanna for some. But for me, I just can’t shake the healing that the stillness of deep compassion brought our little 3-ring circus in Newtown that day.
We apologized, we forgave, we laughed and loved and went on to appreciate, so deeply, the time we had together.
I think I'd like more of that this year, in 2018. And I'm wishing that for all of you...to be shown more and to find more compassion as we move through this brand new year together.
Jeanmare and Cristy are creators and contributors of the Living Simply Nourished Blog. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee!), find a cozy spot, scroll around, read some stories, find some inspiration, and enjoy!
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