A Happy New Year–Redefined!

A Happy New Year–Redefined!

Hard to believe that it’s well into the first few weeks of the new year; hopefully it’s a happy one for everyone so far!  I decided to go in search of a more clever way to introduce a few thoughts and wishes for a Happy New Year, without making it feel too cumbersome with a lengthy list of lofty goals or typical outlines for a life changing overhaul!  Quite honestly, New Year’s resolutions make me feel a little bit grumpy.  I realize that says a lot more about my character than it does about this age old tradition.  Anyway, in an attempt to switch things up a bit, I decided to look up synonyms for each of the individual words that make up this familiar “Auld Lang Syne” message!  (I now have considerably more empathy for the seemingly daunting task of greeting card writers!)

      Here are my findings: 

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In reviewing these definitions, I’d now like to wish you a “pleasurable, confident, satisfying, and fresh twelve months!”  Perhaps like me, you’ll want to revamp your New Year’s greeting and even set out to redefine the year ahead for yourself!

A Happy New Year Comes From Using Good Judgment!

I don’t necessarily recall that my parents were of the mindset of being committed to making New Year’s resolutions.  I mostly remember that they usually taught from the school of thought that life ought to be lived so that the general trend was that you tried to improve upon each day–making the next day better than the day before.  My dad was always good to apply this philosophy in his life.  His personal history reflects this train of thought quite often.

“…Merle and I try each day to use good judgment in all areas of our living.  This includes good food, exercise, rest and the other things which add up to wholesome and balanced lives.”

I get a kick out of the fact that my parents got a jump on the fitness craze and set up a treadmill and stationary exercise bike in their sun room long before it was customary to have them in most homes, like many do now.  They also enjoyed hot cereal for breakfast a few times each week.  “Mush” is something I’m still not too fond of to this day!  New Year’s resolutions aside, my dad was a big proponent of moderation in all things!   In keeping with his lifestyle habits, my dad usually encouraged seeking out a variety of experiences; the end goal being no more complicated than realizing that this usually provided the best opportunities to develop a well rounded personality.

Both my dad and mom had many interests, and when I was growing up, I observed how they cultivated them by being active participants in our neighborhood and community.  They enjoyed associations with a broad range of endearing friends and acquaintances as a result.  My parents tried to instill in me the ability to recognize and appreciate the many opportunities that were available to me, and if feasible, I should jump at the chance to enjoy them.  More importantly though, my dad and mom just wanted me to be aware of the fact that I was fortunate to have so many wonderful choices accessible to me.  Even now, when I take advantage of interesting and unique experiences, I’m able to grow and expand my horizons, so to speak!

What I’m learning now is…

When I tend my cute granddaughter, Makena, we often spend our days together either playing house and dress-ups, reading story books in a makeshift couch tent, or cutting and gluing odds and ends from my sewing kit to make cards for her dad and mom.  When it’s time for her to go home, Makena often hugs me good-bye and says, “This was the best day ever!”  What I’m learning now is that the years really do go by much faster than you ever imagine they will when you’re deep in the trenches of young parenthood!  I can hear the the resounding sighs and visualize the collective eye rolls of those of you who are thinking, “Oh no, here we go again, someone else reminiscing about days gone by!”  (Believe me, I felt the same way when I was younger.)  With this in mind, perhaps an ongoing aspiration for all of us would be to always try to truly enjoy the experiences we have each day that help us live our lives to the fullest–however we choose to define that!  To be sure, life will always be a balancing act; thank goodness we have a lifetime to work at it!!

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How would you like to define the new year?  What are some of the things you’d like to do in the next 365 days minus a couple of weeks? 

When country singer, Brad Paisley, was asked in this month’s Reader’s Digest to finish the sentence, “Tomorrow is…” He answered, “…the first blank page of a 365-page book.  Write a good one.”  I say we do our best to really enjoy this year and make a great story collection!

 –Mary

Be Bright-Eyed And Bushy-Tailed–A Light Hearted Carpe Diem!

Be Bright-Eyed and Bushy-Tailed–A Lighthearted Carpe Diem!

Like most children, when I was younger, I hit the floor running early each morning with a boundless reservoir of energy.  What I didn’t fully appreciate at the time, was that my parents were usually up and dressed as well, preparing breakfast and making plans for the day.  I’d skip down the hallway after waking up, and as I rounded the doorway to the kitchen. my dad would spy me as he glanced over the rim of his glasses.  He would then clap his hands and shuffle his feet back and forth in a little two-step dance while saying, “You’re looking especially bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning!”  Sometimes he’d even take my mom by the waist and have her join in his jig.  As a child I never seemed to tire of that greeting and the silly giggles and hugs that followed!  It was also very influential in helping the creative juices of my youthful imagination flow more freely throughout the rest of my day!

As you can guess, this type of greeting wasn’t as endearing during my teenage years.  In fact, during that time I was a bit hesitant to ever let on that my parents could inspire any great productive ambition.  Still, my dad prevailed with his glad tidings most mornings!  Both my dad and mom were usually quite generous with other forms of support and encouragement during a typical day too.  My father’s antics weren’t necessarily ones that paid homage to the proverbial message of “Seize the Day”!  However, they did nurture the attitude that at the very least, I should embrace each day, accomplish a few meaningful things and even have some measure of fun while doing it!  

I may not amble out of bed nearly so spryly as in my youth, and the routine of my days can feel a little boggy at times.  However, the example my dad and mom set, combined with the unconditional love they extended to me through the years, continues to remind me that I truly do have some say as to how my day unfolds!  Looking back now, I realize more than ever before, that my parents seemed to make everyday life look really, really good!

As a young adult in college, I can remember coming home late some evenings after long days at school or work feeling somewhat forlorn.  My dad would often be sitting in his favorite wingback chair.  When I came through the door, he’d look up from reading the newspaper or a lesson manual he was reviewing in preparation for the university classes he taught.  He always offered a warm smile accompanied by a little wink and would ask why I wasn’t looking so “chipper”.  That kind of response could have sent me over the edge into full blown woefulness, but my dad always drew me in to share with him a highlight from my day, as well as any concerns.  If time allowed, we’d discuss the most pressing tasks at hand and the best ways to set about accomplishing them.  My dad was good to never downplay my worries, rather he’d try and help shed a different light on them, which in turn helped me put them in better perspective.  Sometimes at the end of our visits, he’d share with me what other family members were doing as well.

As much as my parents seemed to have an uncanny knack of knowing how to help their children navigate the concerns and worries of various aspects of their lives, they also seemed equally intuitive in knowing how to help all of us as family members be informed about each other’s responsibilities.  By so doing, we were made aware of their pressing concerns and could offer our help and support.  It’s a good rule of thumb, and indeed wise counsel, to learn to be more aware of others, then we can shift our focus from being fully centered on ourselves; that in and of itself, seems to make any day go better!

The inspiring words from my father’s history are again a kind reminder for me to appreciate all the “typical” and “everyday” things life has to offer!

“I have noticed that some people seem always to be looking for some spectacular job or opportunity–lucky number or whatnot–which will bring them great wealth or an exciting adventure; then they can relax on easy street for the rest of their lives–only concerned each day with what they can do that will be exciting and fun!  This attitude has had little appeal for me.  It seems so much of life’s pleasure comes from caring for the small and even mundane tasks.  Unless a person can learn to enjoy these, much of what life has to offer is lost.”

This same sentiment is uniquely echoed in the book, I Knew Their Hearts, another wonderful book I just read by Jeff Olsen.  In his book, the author shares the grueling process of recovering from a horrific car accident that took the lives of his wife and youngest son.  He describes how enduring multiple medical procedures and surgeries often proved to be almost too overwhelming at times.  He tells how he was once encouraged by one of his insightful caretakers, to go to a “peaceful place” during tests and blood draws.  This is how he describes one such scenerio:

“I immediately went home…it was a Saturday evening several years earlier when Spencer was only three or four years old.  He and I were sitting out on the deck enjoying lemonade and licorice whips.  I remember watching the sprinklers water the grass and listening to Tamara inside the house…I breathed deeply and forgot about the woman poking at my hands to find a good vein.  My thoughts remained on my deck at home.  Time stood still for me in that instant.  My heart was filled with the clear certainty that being on the deck there with my son was as good as life gets.  Tears welled up in my eyes.  I could not hold back the warm feelings of joy and gratitude.  This perfect, happy place was nothing special.  It was found in the simple, everyday pleasure of being a husband and dad.”   If you are interested in learning more about Jeff Olsen and his new book, check out this interview of him online:

In the final chapter of my father’s history entitled, “Life Goes On  dad states:

“As I look into the faces of my grandchildren, each one healthy in body and mind, and note their enthusiasm for life, my sincere hope for each of them is that their lives can turn out for them as well as mine has for me.”

I’m so grateful that my children had the neat example of their grandparents, who seemed to make the choice so readily to really enjoy and learn from all of life’s experiences!

What I’m learning now is… 

I was fortunate to be blessed with parents who took a keen interest in my life, and yet they thoroughly enjoyed their own lives as well.  As parents it’s easy to feign disinterest in our children’s lives when they do not respond in the ways we think they should when we are so willing to expound on our “vast” knowledge of how to handle all of life’s experiences.  What I’m learning now is that regardless of the response, consistency in showing interest and concern for our children is the key to strong relationships and good bonds with them, hopefully making both our everyday lives all the more richer!

What “everyday” things make you excited to greet a new day?  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s to hoping we can be happier with the usual routine of our lives!

–Mary