"Happy New Year."
As we cross the threshold into a New Year, greeting one another cheerfully with these words, we are reminded of the clean slate before us - the opportunity to make THIS year better than ever before.
And this particular New Year, we are facing a whole new decade! (Please don't write in about how NEXT Jan. 1 is actually the beginning of the next decade. It's part of a debate that has been going for - well - decades.)
Some of us make a list of resolutions - promises to ourselves to do better, to be better, to ditch bad old habits and create new ones. We want to transform ourselves into smarter, healthier, nicer people. It's as if we aren't good enough as we are - a topic for personal debate only.
Others make goals, whether for health or learning or work or family, to enhance the good habits we already have, to improve how we have behaved or interacted previously.
Some folks set intentions, which to me are similar to goals, but on a more transcendent level. Each day, we should concentrate, meditate and repeat our intentions to bring them to fruition.
I've read a couple of blogs that suggest reflecting on our passions rather than our past before making an intention. One suggested creating a vision board to remind of us our intentions for our priorities and passions. This sounds like a good idea for any of the ways we approach the newness of the year.
For me, looking toward the New Year is not as complicated or intense as some of the previous methods. Sometime in February last year, I discovered a book, "The Magic," that explains how one word can change everything. The word is "gratitude."
While I didn't practice the daily guidelines for more than a few weeks, I did claim the word as my guide for living my life. It became a sort of focal point, a guiding star, to remind myself of blessings received.
I found myself often saying the words out loud: "Thank you" -to God, the universe, to those around me, and to no one in particular.
This year, I wanted to choose another word. While I pondered, I asked a few friends (and random strangers) for their immediate thoughts on a "focus" word for the coming year.
Our artist friend Cheryl was the first to say "vision." Paulie said "magic," and Joanne said "karma." My husband's word is "onward," likely addressing his desire to push forward with new artistic endeavors. Another friend claimed "strength."
You can read what some of your neighbors had to say in our Sun on the Street comments on page 6A.
After looking backward and forward, and addressing a deep-seated yearning (primarily, FINALLY writing the book that has lived for years in my head) to break out of my "ordinary" and try new things, I have chosen my word for 2020: Courage.
I have recognized that fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of "What if ...?" has been holding me back from even trying a few things - particularly where the unwritten book is concerned. To overcome that fear, I'll have to fight it, and for that I'll need a healthy dose of courage.
I want to re-learn basic photography, so I won't have to rely on auto-focus and auto-this-and-that. Back in college (well into the last century, mind you), I learned about f-stops and apertures. I want to reacquaint myself with those details, and embrace megapixels, to capture images of the beauty I see around me. I'll need courage to start studying again.
Soldiers need courage to fight, kids need courage to face up to bullies, grown-ups need courage to deal with all sorts of uncertainties. I need courage to put pen to paper.
What's your word?