Happy New Year!

I love saying that and hearing it, but I always forget about it until the first time I say it or the first time I hear it in the new year. Inevitably, a good mood shows up in January, along with some good news. It’s as if everyone has simultaneously forgotten all the bad news that accumulated in the previous 365 days. This year, the good news is about the economy getting better, the unemployment rate going down, and Gabrielle Gifford getting better. On top of that, we’re having unseasonably warm, sunny weather here in the Bay Area and in diverse locations around the country that are normally inclement by now.

I, for one, am relishing the feeling I get once the December celebrations are done, the decorations are down, and I open one of my new-smelling calendars for the first time. I feel as if the blackboard in my head has not only been erased, but wiped clean. I have a sense of anticipation that the new year will bring something different, something better, something new. I embrace the deliberate demarcation of time that the whole world seems to agree upon at once.

Prior to January 1, I savor my search for the calendars I will enjoy throughout the new year: one for my desktop at the office, another to carry around, another for the wall next to my desk, another for the kitchen at home. I insist on having aesthetically-pleasing wall calendars with images that inspire me with incredible photos of birds and other wildlife, familiar scenes of some of my favorite places in the world, or images of great art and architecture. Last year I had one of palaces, for some reason.

For the wall in my office, that I look at many times a day, I always want one to go along with our Asian décor and something that inspires me— glorious stanzas of poetry or adages of the sages and ages. I usually enjoy them so much throughout the year that I can’t bear to throw them away at the end. I always think I will frame them or do some other creative thing with them, but I don’t. And I don’t let go of them either.

The brand new 2012 calendar I have on the wall next to me right now is called Nirvana’s Dream. (Since when did calendars start having titles?) It was created by a man named Gwynn Goodner, of Studio Voltaire, “a consortium of artists and photographers dedicated to creating beautiful and accessible work. “ It’s published by an outfit called Brush Dance (www.brushdance.com). Goodner is a lover of Asian art and philosophy who hopes to inspire viewers to a more positive way of living. Right on. The exquisite images have a look that transcends time: pressed leaves, a lotus blossom, a hand-painted Oriental fan, a white, long necked crane. Along with the peaceful images for a given month is a wisdom saying. One that especially caught my eye today is from Lao Tsu: Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment. Interesting. . . Ancient wisdom somehow puts the press of current and future obligations into perspective.

I am not one to come up with Resolutions. The typical New Year’s Resolution tends to center on something people really don’t want to do – like lose weight or exercise more. Yeh, yeh, but that’s such a lazy catch-all. What about taking your new year’s thinking to new heights? What about your life? How’s it going? What’s working? What’s not? Are you satisfied with the quality of the content of your life? Your work? Your relationships? Do you have a sense of meaning? Purpose? Intention? Commitment? Are you cultivating your gifts and talents? Do you have a sense of being fully alive?

Instead of establishing some more short-lived, guilt-laden resolutions that the evil twin within won’t allow you to keep beyond the 15th, how about doing some gentle, self-loving reflection on the year just past, and focus for awhile on the big picture. You will find meaning and purpose in doing whatever you can to make your life as good as possible. And you don’t have to be perfect at it, just focused on it.

Happy New Year! Really. . . as it progresses, let me know how it’s going. I’d love to hear how you might live this year a little differently— and better.



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