What I learned in 2014

It’s that time of year when my heart is full, I am at least five pounds heavier than when December started, and the tree is still up. Running around in my head are many thoughts and little stories, but there is not a particular one that rises to the surface. So here I am, in good faith, fingers on the keypad of my laptop, the setting on my mind still on vacation mode, my dad enjoying his lunch beside me.

What do I write about? Maybe I can start with three of the many lessons that 2014 has taught me; the first being the many rewards of spontaneity, the second having to do with always choosing the beautiful way, and the third which is to consent to every moment, regardless of the content, something I have tried to consciously practice since 2003 when I first attended a seminar on Centering Prayer. The past two years especially has been a series of constant, if little, steps towards that.

In terms of being spontaneous, I have learned that there is no such thing as a perfect time (as we sometimes define it) to take on most any task, and that there are many (chores, dreams, everything else in between) that you fail to do just by waiting for that “perfect time” to come along. Often, life calls us to do what we need to do, spur of the moment. So just go for it, give it the best you’ve got, as it calls you. If I waited for the “perfect time,” I would not have been able to experience half of the many kinds of wonderful and beautiful I did last year — visiting beautiful places, making beautiful friendships and connecting with wonderful people, finally jumpstarting a childhood dream, de-cluttering and organizing, conquering a fear, among many others. There are too many to mention, and there are quite a few I would like to keep to myself. But trust me when I say you get many things done when, after praying about something, you listen to your instincts, you do not over-analyze, and you just make a go at whatever feels right for the heart. You will be rewarded on many levels just by taking that first step.

As for the second lesson, if I were to size up the many moments in 2014, I know I would be happy to note that through many of them I was able to choose the beautiful way. Superficially, I now know that as far as homekeeping goes, not having an ugly corner anywhere at home is as simple, really, as making all corners (even the busiest and most obscure) beautiful to begin with. And people will respect and maintain the order of that space. You set the peg, and all else follows. Now isn’t that true for most things? In other layers, I do not know if it has anything to do with age; I just woke up one day last year with an even deeper appreciation of the intangibles. Traveling for me now is not so much about shopping as it is about experiencing the place, making memories with the people you’re with, marking that time in your life. There was also a peace that came with not making a mad dash to experience all the musts in a beautiful place, but instead going through each day gently, beautifully. I made a choice to always go the beautiful way, looking up and around me, being very aware of all the blessings that would otherwise have gone unnoticed because they are so constant. When going through a crisis as a family, for instance, it is easy to just focus on the challenge being faced, but on the sidelines is the gift of togetherness, knowing that each one is fully there for the other, and that it has been, and always will be, that way.

Intertwined with this is the third lesson, which is living in the present moment, consenting to it. I have learned not to label things or people as bad or good, it/they just is/are. And when you hit a bump on the road, for every challenge faced, I know I can always choose to consciously shape my thoughts, take it by the horns and face the situation head-on, knowing — no, more like trusting — that God will give me the right amount of grace needed to do just that. I can also always take comfort in the fact that today is all I have to get through. One day at a time. All I have to get through is today. Tomorrow, God’s grace is new and I will again have a full tank of it to fuel me through.

Summed up, I pray that the gift of 2014 may also be the blessing of 2015 — for both heart and body to remember the privilege of every moment — live it, accept it, love it. And as a postscript, between all that I hope to be able to make friends again with wheatgrass and many other green vegetables I never quite liked, even as I eat butter and cake (lots of it) and bask in the “happy” that every day always brings — feeling life and joy, calories and hope, having dreams and working to make them come true, always.

May your 2015 be joyful, in every way that matters.

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