New Year, New Life

Part 1: Sleepless in Emmaus

It was 4:40 on this last day of 2022 when I woke up. Thankfully, the early rising wasn’t because of a full-blown nightmare like I had the previous night, where it physically felt like I had a heart attack. Frantic and powerless, I was pushing back against a reality I was unwilling to accept….until I did and made peace with it.

Later, in a calmer, meditative state, I could step back and figure out what was behind the fear-filled thoughts that streamed through my mind. Through a fair amount of dream research over the years, I know that night visions or terrors are rarely interpretations of something literal. We can experience nocturnal panic attacks and lucid dreaming.

Because of that experience, I started my quiet time with not only my usual “Thank You, God, for all I have and for all the joy I experience” but also, “thank you for the abilities I, much too often, take for granted.”

I often feel like I’m metaphorically paralyzed by what if:
this doesn’t work;
I’m not supposed to choose this path or
I’ll never accomplish my goals or live up to the belief that others have in me.
What if, despite my desire, I just can’t do or be enough?

Part 2: Words

The words we use can be tossed around like a ball on a playing field or held tightly, never spoken. They can express love or spew hate and have enough power to lift up a spirit lost in darkness or create wounds too deep to ever heal. Our words—simply combinations of letters—are often carried for the rest of another’s human life.

Words can move metaphorically, move mountains or create sorrow so abysmal that life is forever altered. Solace can be found in them, and their power can metastasize an already breaking soul.

What words bring you peace and instill in you a sense of your value? (You have that regardless of how you’ve been treated or despite what another human expresses about you). How often do you tap into the awareness of how amazing you are—that sacred place where you know, deep inside your being, that you matter? Value has to be found inside yourself. (I’m a work in progress.)

Part 3: Life Rules

I’ve been thinking about the “rules” that we live by—bullet points in life that become the framework within which we believe we should exist. For some folks, there may be just one or two; for others, there may be a hundred; so much depends on your experience to this point in time. I embrace many guidelines fundamental to how I try to live. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. So much has value, and I’m sometimes paralyzed by the fear of not being enough. These “Seven Cardinal Mores for Life” have been widely accepted in our culture:

1: Make peace with your past.
When you are not defined by your past, you’re free to create a life that reflects who you are now. What has happened up to this moment can no longer negatively influence the future, so, with intentionality, you choose to move forward as your best self.

2: Don’t worry so much about what others think.
From a big-picture perspective, I agree, but this is much easier said than done! It takes work, but when you recognize the value you add to our world—it becomes easier to let go of others’ opinions of you.

3: Time heals almost everything.
Given enough time, most pain/hurt/loss will have less power. There have been times that I was “hanging on by a thread,” believing I’d never experience the earlier version of me again, but I found myself, sometimes different but still present. The scars we have—both physical and non-physical—are testaments to having lived.

4: No one except yourself is the reason for your happiness.
Find your joy and passion, find what feeds your soul, and then move into that space. Happiness is self-created and inextricably linked to the life being played out. You can’t find happiness unless you believe in the possibility of it being part of your life.

5: Don’t compare your life with the lives of others.
What we “see” of another’s life is just a glimpse of it, not the totality of it. What’s played out in public is often not an accurate representation of what’s happening behind closed doors. Your life is a creation of the environment you were born in and the choices you’ve made. Don’t assume that someone else’s reality is any different.

6: Stop thinking so much.
Disclaimer—completely guilty! This is next to impossible for me. I’ve been overthinking my entire life. Having admitted that, I also know that no matter how much I speculate, I’ll never have all the answers, and that’s as it should be. It’s okay to be in the moment without second-guessing, analyzing, or managing it.

7: Smile.
Smiling has a positive psychological impact on both the smile-wearer and anyone he or she comes into contact with. If there’s even one thing to smile about, do it! Who knows when that opportunity will come again or if that expression of joy might just be what’s needed to change another person’s day?

And, I’d like to add these to the traditionally accepted “cardinal rules:
• Help others—especially those in need.
• Don’t keep doing the same thing repeatedly, expecting a different result.
• Answer a person when he/she speaks to you.
• Try to forgive and not let another’s unkindness or selfishness lessen who you are.
• Make time for the people most important to you—life is fragile.
• Don’t long for what others have.
• Tell the truth, especially to yourself.
• Follow your heart, not the crowd.
• Treat your body with respect.
Don’t assume you know what someone else is thinking.
• When given a choice, take the high road.
• Dream big.
• Think before you speak.
• Don’t judge others.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
• Be the person you want to be.
• Remember, always, your self-worth.

Part 4: Moving Forward

As this last day of this year ends, I am hopeful for a bright and peace-full 2023.
I know that spring will come again.
I know that there will be more calm nights than frightening nights.
I know that I have a compass to guide me.
I know that dreaming big is always an option.
I know that my life is blessed.
I know that if I take it day-by-day and step-by-step, it’ll all work out.

Today I pray that this last day of this year brings you peace and love.
Thank you for taking this journey with me,


4 thoughts on “New Year, New Life

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