I loved this graphic when I saw it on Facebook the other day because I think it perfectly states all the reasons why we celebrate the coming of a new year.
It’s sparkly clean. We get a do-over. It’s shiny and fresh. A blank canvas for us to paint with all new inspiration. The days lie ahead of us full of promise. It’s a brand spankin’ new year, and we are grateful to have made it, to put last year’s mess ups and undone’s and broken resolutions behind us and begin again.
The problem is that the new year often only feels that way for about eight and half hours. And then we remember the one thing that we did carry over into the wide blank space with us — ourselves.
And after the first few glimpses of the old year following us into the new, we tend to lose a bit of our new year swagger.
Our resolve turns to mush all too soon and the sparkle fades way too quickly.
You don’t just get a one blank slate. You get 365 of them.
One of my commitments to living LIGHT in 2015 is not to let myself give in to the thought that I can’t start over, that my failures are cumulative and that I will forever be shackled to the burden of sin I carry over from day to day. I want to wake up in the morning, sit down with God, and offer Him a blank slate.
I want to feel light again every day.
I want that new year sparkle to carry over to each new day instead of the mud of my cumulative messes.
How about you? Do you love the glittery shine of a fresh new year? Would you like to live each day with a bit of that hopeful sparkle?
Let’s talk about some ways we can remind ourselves every day that we can start over. That the canvas is blank once more. That we can begin again.
1. Make something sparkle.
Gosh, we like to put a little glitz on the new year, don’t we?
Our decorations glitter. Our clothes sparkle. We even light up the skies with a bit of pyrotechnic bling. There is something hopeful about a bit of sparkle.
It’s like a little spark of confidence lights up in us when we shine just a bit. We walk a little more sure. We wear our fancy shoes. We risk looking just a little silly and over the top for the sake of the party.
What if you gave yourself permission to add a bit of that sparkle to your everyday life?
It sounds silly because it is. It’s fun. It’s celebratory. It’s whimsical. And that is why it works. It’s just those things that inspire hope and confidence in us.
Wear a bit of shine everyday. Stack up the bling on your wrists or ears. Put on your fancy shoes and dance. Sprinkle some shiny confetti around your office or on your dining table. Wear a light up necklace to the grocery store (okay, maybe don’t, but think about it and smile). Wear tiara to mop. Put on funny glasses while you pay the bills.
Celebrate the day with a bit of sparkle, shine, and silliness. Get your swag back.
Then do it again tomorrow. Imagine how fun your year could be with 365 sparkly days chalked up!
2. Resolve to try again.
So maybe yesterday you were a mess. Maybe you tried but got it all wrong. Maybe you didn’t even try at all. Maybe you totally forgot that it was a new year and there were promises to keep.
The day dawned and the miles to go before you slept stretched long and curved hard and climbed steep and you lost your steam and your way a little.
It’s okay. Take some time today to gather your resolve and begin again.
I love the quote from St. Benedict, ” Always we begin again.” Really, it is the key to this life as a human, isn’t it?
We are prone to fall, to make a mess of things, to forget who we are and who we want to be. But always we can begin again. Therein lies our hope.
So today, sip your coffee or brush your teeth or drive to work or school and think about all the hopes you had for the new year. Exhale yesterday. Inhale today. And begin again to live your resolutions.
You have another blank slate. And tomorrow you’ll have another. Take up your brush and paint something good.
If you don’t love it tonight, resolve to try again tomorrow.
3. Embrace the imperfection. Lose the expectations.
I think one reason we lose steam so quickly is because we have a tendency to heap so many expectations on our hopes.
It’s like we get handed this lovely little box–a gift–it is dainty and little and beautifully wrapped.
And instead of holding it gingerly in grateful hands and savoring its unwrapping, we shove it into our military issue backpack full of last year’s half-eaten ideals and wrappers of unrealized dreams.
We stuff that pack full of weighty expectations and pull the straps of perfectionism too tight over our shoulders. Heave up the burden and start to climb.
And then we wonder why we got tired so quickly.
Listen, you have a whole year of blank pages ahead. 365 stories to write. Without a doubt, in some of them you will be the hero and in some you will be tragically flawed. You might even be the villain of your own story occasionally. And sometimes you’ll be the fat guy on the curb who knows everything but never actually does anything.
You’re not going to be perfect. But that doesn’t mean the story won’t be good. Don’t bow out too early because you’ve loaded the year with expectations that you can’t even carry for a day.
Don’t stuff the gift of this new year under expectations and perfectionism.
Cup it in your hands. Appreciate all the details of its beauty. Unwrap it slowly and enjoy the process.
4. Toot your horn.
Those little blowers that are curled up and pop out when you blow them? You know what’s funny about them? We know what’s going to happen.
Every time. The horn is going to sound, the thing is going to pop out straight. And yet they never cease to be entertaining, especially on New Year’s Eve.
I have a fairly high noise tolerance after living with five little boys for all these years, but I still can’t stand party horns being blown incessantly in my house. But I make an exception for the new year.
You’ve got to let people toot their horns. It’s a rule.
It’s like a celebratory sigh of relief. We did it. We made it to the end of another year. It might not have been perfect but it was good. And we were part of that good. We did some good stuff. And so we give ourselves a little congratulatory cheer.
Why don’t we adapt that practice for all our days this year? As darkness settles and the work of the day is done, toot your own horn a bit.
The day might not have been perfect. You may not have been perfect. But was it good? Toot for that.
Maybe it wasn’t good at all. Maybe it was a terrible, horrible, no good day. But were you good? Did you do something good in the mess? Blow it out and watch the little thingy pop up for you. Good job.
Maybe it was a really, truly tragic day and there is honestly nothing worth celebrating. Maybe you are in deep pain emotionally, physically, or spiritually. Do you still have breath? Exhale. Hear the cheering in the distance? The horns blowing? That is the people who love you. We’ll cheer for you until you can do it for yourself.
5. Count down to another fresh start.
So the day is done. One more blank slate covered in whatever it was the day brought. Maybe it’s a masterpiece. Maybe it’s a crappy imitation of your vision. Maybe you didn’t even pick up the brush.
Oh well. It’s the end. Make like Elsa and let it go.
New years make us reflective. We ponder the past days and think of how to be better in the days ahead.
Do that tonight.
Don’t think about your whole life. Just today. How can you do a little better tomorrow?
Now, pour yourself a glass of something that tickles your nose and makes you giggle. Sip it slowly and count down to tomorrow. Kiss someone you love for longer than usual.
And begin again.
With some sparkle.