By Alice Valdal
Ah! January. The Christmas play has been performed, the Christmas Pageant staged, the Christmas "Messiah" sung, the Christmas dinner eaten, the Christmas toasts drunk and the Christmas indulgences have made our waistbands too tight. The time of year when we make resolutions (lose ten pounds by February), and plunge into the new year with gusto. Or . . .
We can take some time to refresh our minds and bodies from the whirlwind of the last few weeks.
I'm all for the rest and reflect option.
For me, that means, get outdoors and breathe. My husband and I have a New Year's tradition of taking a walk some place new. Since we've lived here for over twenty years, the "new" part is getting harder, still, we've had fun searching out untrodden trails. Sometimes, we're charmed with beautiful views, or surprised by a spray of red berries. Sometimes we get wet and muddy and cold. The adventure is still refreshing to body and spirit.
Once I've cleared away the Christmas decorations, restored order to my disordered rooms and calm to my mind, it is time to reflect on the year that has passed and to make plans for the months to come. That's where I'm at today. Note: these are not resolutions -- resolutions are hard-edged and unforgiving, often doomed to failure. Rather, these are areas where I will seek opportunities in the new year.
-- Improve my writing. All writers dream of being published, seeing their words on the printed (or electronic) page, seeing our work on the shelves of our favourite bookstore, receiving a royalty statement -- hopefully one with a cheque attached. Sometimes we rail at the fickleness of the publishing industry which brings out ( in our opinion) poorly written books, while ignoring our masterpieces. I've done that, but in this time of reflection, I am at peace with the fact that I can't control what publishers do. I can control what I do. To see that dream of publication come true, I need to be a writer who is impossible to ignore. So, I will study to improve my writing. To read and re-read, work and re-work my prose until it shines. Published or not, I will have grown in my craft.
-- Keep a prayer list. I've made attempts at this in the past, but I hope to be more diligent in recording what I pray for and when and what God answers. All too often, I grumble because God hasn't fallen in with my plans and provided the people and resources I want the moment I ask. I can become so fixated on the times I've been disappointed that I forget all the times when God has shown His love to me and responded to my needs -- often with extravagance. A written list will remind me.
-- Sing more. I've been blessed with a singing voice. This talent brings me joy and fulfilment. Singing gives me a voice to praise God, to find new friends and to give light in dark places. But, all too often, I don't sing because I have chores to do. I don't sing, because the piano is out of tune. I don't sing because I'm too tired. Yet, I know, if I sing while I work, the chores are easier. If I sing without the piano, I'm free to explore the sound of singing. If I sing when I'm tired, I am refreshed.
So there, are three areas of life where I will be alert to opportunities in 2011. What about you? I won't ask for resolutions, but what of your hopes and plans. Anything you care to share?
Happy New Year everyone.