As the new year is upon us and we all pause to reflect on the things that took place in our lives in 2013, it seems everyone is yet again making resolutions they hope will positively affect things in 2014. Resolutions are an interesting thing to me because of the word itself. “Resolution” is defined by Webster as “the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc ; the act of resolving something.” We use the word in more of a sense of intent to do “better” than we did in the previous year. We say we are going to be better people, nicer, kinder, more generous. We tell ourselves we are going to be more patient and less angry. We say we are going to eat right and exercise more. We have all kinds of things we call “resolutions” when really they aren’t resolutions at all. If the word means the act of finding an answer or solution to a problem, then a resolution is the product of a process that comes only after we have been willing to take a very honest look at a situation, clear the fog around it and see it for what it is. That means seeing US as we really are. No one likes to take a long hard look in the mirror because it often reveals things we spend most of our time and energy trying to reason away. But if we will NOT take that very difficult look in the mirror, then our resolutions are nothing more than empty promises we use in order to make ourselves feel better for a little while. Remember, a resolution means you have resolved a dilemma. It means you have an answer to the issue. Whether or not you ACT on that resolution is another matter altogether.
We all search for answers in life. We want to have certainty on what to do rather than fly by the seat of our pants, but certainty is often hard to come by. Sometimes our problems or circumstances are such that we aren’t able to find an answer we can act on. Sometimes the “answer” is to wait instead of acting. Sometimes the answers come with time but most of us are too impatient to take the journey. We want instant results. We want “resolutions.” We want a new beginning! There’s nothing wrong with desiring a new perspective or direction in life but we don’t get it by simply making a promise we THINK we should make. We get it by being willing to take the journey necessary to finally have the answer that is right for us…not the answer we THINK we should have, but the one that is actually the truth. When we reach that point in a situation, it is the moment we have a true resolution. We know which way we are supposed to go or what we are supposed to do. It has been said that “knowing is half the battle,” which means reaching the point of resolution is only half the battle. The rest of the battle is acting on it.
So here’s the challenge: Don’t get caught up in the hype of “new year’s resolutions” and focus instead on the truth you see in the mirror each day. Be willing to not only see the things you want to change, but to ask God to show you the reason you do them in the first place. Strive for understanding, not answers. Strive for purpose, not plans. When you let go of trying to find the answers, the answers will come. And when you have that clarity for the direction of your life or circumstance, be willing to step out on faith and follow, no matter how much it scares you or how difficult the change may be. Don’t make resolutions, LIVE THEM!
Every year I get out my Christmas decorations and put them up the weekend after Thanksgiving. In the midst of my decorations each year sits a framed letter I wrote to Santa when I was only nine years old. I don’t always stop to re-read it but this year I took a few extra moments to do so and decided to share it with all of you.
As cute as I find that letter, it strikes me how much I can see my adult self in that little girl’s note. I loved Christmas…and still do. Even though I was starting to get older, I still chose to hold to the truth there was a Santa Claus out there who spread love and joy around the world. I had a wonderful childhood and it wasn’t that I was trying to live in some fantasy world, but I just loved Santa and what he represented. I’ve often said I was not a normal kid and it’s so true! I remember writing that letter and truly believing everything I said. First of all, I knew that I could always be a better person. I didn’t care about material gifts but gifts of the heart. To me, love was the greatest gift you could give or receive. Love also meant you were honest, which is why I couldn’t even get through my letter to Santa without correcting my opening statement that I had been “good.” I felt like I didn’t deserve anything not because I was so terrible, but because I felt like I hadn’t done enough to help others. I wanted “stuff” for other people (or animals)! Yeah…I was a sappy child. All I wanted was for Santa to know that he was important to me and that I loved him. And if there was something he could bring me, I didn’t want stuff because it didn’t matter to me at all. More than anything, I just wanted him to know that I was grateful and that I cared about him and loved him with all my heart. It’s interesting to me that what I said or asked for in my letter is still reflective of the way I think today. Material things still don’t matter to me. Sure, they are nice to have, but what really matters is the connections and relationships we have with the people around us. What matters is love. THAT is the true magic of Christmas.
So in this season of overspending and over-committing to activities, let us remember to stop and show our love to the people in our lives…not with gifts we can buy but with the gift of ourselves and our time. In a season where the world tries to distract us from the true reason why there IS a Christmas, let us be thankful to our Father who IS love.
And may my grown up Christmas letter always be filled with the same sentiment it had when I was nine. Blessings!
This post is the sharing of something personal because today was a huge day in my world. For over a year now, I have been working toward completing a book that tells the story of the journey I took with my best friend, Annette Christophe, as she fought brain cancer. It has been an interesting process for me as I relived every moment, every joy and pain. There were times I thought I couldn’t stand the emotional toll any longer and feared I would have to abandon the project, but my soul wouldn’t let me quit. As a result, I got to take a new journey with her spirit that affected me in so many ways. Today that book was published and made available to the public. I thought I was prepared for the emotions of the book finally becoming reality, but I underestimated it all.The moment I found out the book was published early and was now in the public realm, I was elated! In some ways it was like a huge weight was lifted and I was overwhelmingly joyful. I wanted to shout from the mountain tops and share the moment with those closest to me! Then things started to settle a bit, and I became extremely weepy and unable to control my tears. I suddenly missed Annette terribly and at the same time felt her presence stronger than ever. I feel like she is looking down right now, so proud of the accomplishment and endurance of what it took to bring our story to life. I believe she is celebrating with me in spirit and I would swear I feel her hugging me. When I stop and get quiet, it is almost more than I am able to stand or wrap my heart around.
How We Said Goodbye is, to date, my greatest creative accomplishment…for so many reasons. But it’s more than that. It is a journey that has changed my life once again. It has opened me up completely again to Annette’s spirit and what she represents in my life. It has been almost 17 years since she passed and the telling of our story felt long overdue…until I understood that God’s timing is perfect. Even if I had tackled the writing of the book years ago, I would have been swallowed up in the intense emotions that accompanied its creation. Instead, it happened when it was supposed to happen, and I am thankful for the fact it has finally come to fruition.
So I guess I want to say thank you to those of you who have been with me on this journey. Some of you knew Annette and have known of our journey from the very beginning. Some of you feel like you know Annette through knowing me and hearing me talk about her over the years. Some of you never knew Annette and some of you have never met me….but ALL of you have been a part of this process in one way or another. Whether through your support of me by simply reading this blog or by being someone in my literal world who has held my hand or my heart throughout the process in the past year…I would not be here without you and I am overwhelmed by your support. Annette would love to see how she has brought so many people together…even those she never met.
It’s a beautiful and emotional day. And today, I celebrate Annette’s spirit and thank God for the gift of her presence in the most amazing ways. I will carry her with me always.
p.s. You can read about the book by clicking on the “Books” tab at the top of the page.