Awwww…a brand-new year. Always a time to look back and look forward as we wrap up another holiday season both literally and figuratively. Whether you’re still celebrating or are moving on, you’re probably also thinking ahead to the new year now upon us and perhaps even all those New Year’s Resolutions you might have made. I prefer calling them “intentions,” as I always have right and good intentions to make them happen. One of my annual New Year’s resolutions is to learn something new and I’ve been pretty successful following through. Last year I boogie-boarded for the first time. I also choose a word for the year. For 2022, my word was “pause,” which worked so well for me I might even keep it around this year.
Speaking of words, have you seen the above pic making its way around social media and the internet? Did you see your four words? Mine are Connect, Strength, Change, and Lessons. Love them all but as a creature of habit, the third one might be the most challenging. Here’s hoping the second and fourth ones will help me through it all!
If I’m being real, I really don’t like change. I like routine and plans. But, when necessary, I have and can adapt. I recently just had to actually…in a big way. My family had Christmas travel plans and we were so excited to spend Christmas in Hilton Head, SC. But, two days before our trip we were checking the weather and it looked really cold and really not fun…especially for a beach locale and for my husband the golfer. So….he called an audible and we changed everything in a matter of hours: our flight and that of our daughter, our hotel, dinner reservations, rental car, tee times, visits with friends…the works. Yes, it freaked me out but lists are my friends so once I had a “change” list; I was on. Truth be told, it was secretly kinda exciting!
The trip will be one that I’ll remember forever…for multiple reasons. I’ll remember how spontaneous we were in changing everything to sunny Scottsdale, AZ and the fun we had the first few days we were there. I’ll remember visiting our daughter’s old stomping grounds from living there after graduating from college and I’ll remember our wonderful casita room. I unfortunately, will also remember getting hit with an upper respiratory infection and finding my health deserted me in the desert. The fun and excitement didn’t end there. Long story made short: we got stuck in the Southwest Airlines flight cancellation debacle of 2022 and had to drive home. Thankfully we already had a rental car, had friends to stay the night with halfway through the drive, and our daughter’s flight made it back to her home safely. I was never so happy to be in my own bed, albeit sick for five more days. Yep, memorable indeed.
Last year was full of memorable people, places, and things and as we reflect on our experiences over the past 12 months I read about a great little idea. Author and happiness expert Gretchen Rubin asked her followers and readers “what would you put in your time capsule for 2022?” and of course it got be thinking. If I’m anything I’m a thinker and a very sentimental one. My time capsule might be pretty big!
Rubin suggested things like photos, travel souvenirs, and maybe a letter to your future self. What you put it all in is of your choosing and creativity. Or, you could even have a time capsule that’s only in your head or perhaps just a list of what you’d put in it. As with anything, have fun with it!
Another idea is to have a year of reflections instead of resolutions. Take time this week and month to reflect on your life: how it’s going, what’s great, what could be better, and whether you’re the person you believe you should or can be. Then, look ahead and hammer out ideas on how to make improvements or to simply be grateful. Ask yourself what you wish you’d have done more or less of, what made you proud last year, what values do you want to uphold or increase, and maybe even what your hopes are for 2023. You don’t have to go crazy or solve all the planet’s problems; just start small but meaningful and see where it goes from there.
That’s the problem. We all try to do too much as a new year arrives. Resolutions like “I want to lose 20 pounds” or “I need to exercise every day” might be more attainable if reworded to “I want to eat healthier” and “I hope to exercise 30 minutes at least 3-4 times a week.” Make them achievable. Make them attainable.
And don’t try to fix everything. In fact, sometimes the broken is where healing is found.
The Japanese have a beautiful concept called “Kintsugi.” It’s a form of ceramics that, when a vase or bowl or cup is broken, artists gather up the pieces and glue them back together using glue mixed with gold dust. In this way, they don’t hide the cracks they actually honor and own them, even accentuate them, knowing cracks are often where the light gets in.
I read about this in Matthew Kelly’s book “Life Is Messy” and found it so powerful. Kelly reminds us that our imperfections are what make us perfectly ourselves and that even when something is broken, it can indeed be beautiful again. It may not be exactly the same as before, but it can still be good. This includes people and it includes you.
In this way, the Japanese don’t pretend the vase was never broken and they don’t pretend they’re not broken. They accept that life is indeed messy and know that when we pretend to be someone other than who we are, our true self hides in fear and shame. We may appear shiny and new on the outside, but on the inside we are cracked and broken.
Kintsugi also teaches us that we can be other’s healers and glue each other back together using the gold dust that is love, connection, empathy, patience, forgiveness, acceptance, generosity, community, and kindness. Believing that something that has been broken can’t be beautiful inhibits us not only of joy, but of hope. Believing brokenness can be put back together is both liberating and healthy and just might be the perfect way to start out the new year. Whatever was broken last year can very well be healed and glued back together this year. Maybe my word this year will be “glue.” Maybe it will be “heal.” And maybe it will just be “pause” again as I work to heal, glue, love, and learn.
Happy 2023 everyone!