When I reflect on the year past, it is easy to become anxious about the future.  2017  wasn’t  easy.    Disasters  hit  in rapid succession, their combined effect making each more daunting than the one before.   Floods, fires, earthquakes.   Simmering racial tensions heated and boiled over into the streets.  We were shocked to learn that our country, even our families were sharply divided by our social and political beliefs.   Social media became a national forum for proclaiming unsubstantiated “facts” and venting unfiltered frustrations.    Scientists were discounted and their hard work dismissed by  government spokespersons on the basis of undocumented claims  based on personal belief as best, or worse, vested interests.  One after another trusted leader tumbled from power as as  entrenched patterns of sexual harassment in the workplace came to light.   All of this served up to us as “Breaking News”   24/7 in HD Surround Sound, by newscasters scrambling  frantically  for the latest sensational tidbit.

Sadly, rather than becoming unified  against our common problems,  for the most part, we seemed to have been pulled apart.  I am exhausted by all of it.

2017 was indeed a challenging year.   However, it was not the only challenging year we have faced as a nation.  We have weathered  far greater  storms and we will come through this one. There has always been darkness.  Darkness in the world, darkness in me, in each one of us.   But there is also light. And to stay in that light and avoid slipping into disillusionment, I am going to need  spiritual nourishment,  Lots of it.

So here are some of my New Year’s resolutions to feed my spirit.

Spend  more time  with kids.

If we are watching, children will teach us how to enjoy the beauty of  ordinary things;  the intricate design of a daisy petal,  the magic of dew fall on  blue bonnets,  how to dream.

Dreaming comes naturally to children.  They have no battle scars yet, anything is still possible. Inevitably, as the years go by,  dreams are lost along the way.  It is easy to become cynical, to lose hope.   But without it  our spirits wither and die.  Dreams are  spiritual food.  They are the crucibles in  which  hope  is formed.  It is the dream that is important, not the outcome.  Children know that.

Make time for art.  

Edouard Manet “Boating” 1874

We Americans tend to think of art as a luxury, an activity only to be indulged when there is surplus money and time.   Art programs are the first to be cut from our educational and personal budgets.  But we are deluding ourselves. Art has dramatic healing power.

Odilon Redon, Ophelia Among the Flowers, 1905

A painting is more than  an image on a canvas.  It is an invitation to escape our world to another of our choosing, to be calmed, inspired, challenged;   to emerge recharged and refreshed.


Keep  friends close

I am blessed to have good friends. We are there for each other; for comfort, encouragement, support, or just a good laugh.  We “get” each other.  Each new conversation begins where the last one left off, even after years have intervened.   And yet it’s so easy to postpone that call or visit “until I’m not so busy;”   to tell myself I’m keeping in touch on Facebook or by text.  But I know better.  I’m cheating myself.  My friends  are not mine forever.  They are on loan.  Each moment with one of them  is a gift to be treasured.

    Hang out with animals.  No explanation needed.  




Rethinking New Year’s Resolutions

hand-1030574__180 Most of my New Year’s Resolutions  over the years haven’t lasted past  the last winter’s frost.  So last year I  finally decided to avoid the guilt and let myself off the hook (Post 1/1/15).

But it didn’t feel quite right.  It isn’t just that New Year’s resolutions are a tradition, like the ball on Times Square on New Year’s Eve.  There’s something more.  Writing  new year’s resolutions requires that I take the time to  thoughtfully review the past year and to look forward into the new one.  Each resolve is  the hope to become something better than I am.  This brand new year will provide fresh opportunities to be a kinder, more compassionate, more balanced person.  In this new year there will be times to smile more; to be more playful and less anxious; ways to spend more energy on the people in my life and less on the“busyness” of life.   To forgive more and worry less.

So this year I’m giving it another try.  Maybe I’ll be more successful this time.   But  even if my resolutions last only three months; three weeks, or three days, it will be  time well spent. Happy New Year!

New Year’s Hope



UnknownI’m done with New Year’s “Resolutions.”   I think the reason they seldom worked was because  they  targeted the wrong behavior.  For example, my resolution to “be on time”  never worked because the root cause is my stubborn obsession on the (any) task at hand and therefore no sense of time.  Is there a 12 step program for that?  Probably.  But I’m not resolving  to join it.

As for losing 10 pounds, well.  If  I had kept THAT New Year’s resolution, I would have disappeared completely by 1985.   Again, the problem wasn’t that I couldn’t stick to a diet,  but that I loved delicious food more than I loved to be thin.  And at my age, I’m not even going to TRY to fix that!images-2

Instead, I’m going for New Years’ Hopes this year.  And only three. Another reason my New Years resolutions typically went awry – there were often so many that I needed a clip board to remember them.

First of all, I hope to spend more time with people, especially with the ones I love and that love me. I love solitude.  I love the time alone to write, quilt, play piano, or read. But these are not team sports and if the years have taught me anything,  it is is that all our lives are very very fragile.  I need to cherish the moments I have with the people in my life.

Secondly, I hope to live in the moment.  It’s really all I have.  In addition to being fragile, life is astonishingly unpredictable.  How many babies’ smiles, bees on blossoms, lightning bugs, puppies tumbling, lavender sunsets and full moons have I missed in my frantic rush to be…. somewhere.

Third, I hope I will be more attentive to the needs of other people.  Helping others greatly enriches my life and most of the time,  requires very little from me.  Sometimes all that’s needed is a smile for the harried cashier or a conversation with a lonely person.  I have time for that.  I always have had.  And while I’m at it, I hope to do a better job of accepting and loving others as they are.

So I’m not resolving to do anything this year.  But these are my hopes.   And who knows, those pounds might finally get lost in the process.