I’m excited for the New Year; I love the idea of a brand new chance to do things better, maybe even get things right. Invariably, I’m disappointed that I don’t actually “get things right” completely, but usually they are more right than the last time I tried; that’s something.
Also, tomorrow, I will open a gift to myself. It’s some kind of physical manifestation of the way I have done things well during the previous year, evidence that I’m making a difference in the lives of others.
On my desk at home sits a large glass vase, and in it are a dozen or more notes I received during the year. Many are from students, but some are from friends or colleagues, and some from people I love. Each time I receive some special written message, I read it, savoring the message and the knowledge that I will read it again on January 1st and experience the same sense of joy as the first time I read it. It’s surprising, really, how I forget throughout the year which messages are there—I do not allow myself to look or reread the messages until January 1st—and each message carries an incredible, emotional charge, greater even than the first time I read it.
This January 1st gift to myself reawakens my sense of optimism and gratitude; it reminds me that resolutions can be kept and effective. Through this little activity, I relive moments during the year that I had forgotten, important moments that often spring from unimportant, everyday events, like a student writing an email to express his gratitude for my class rigor (shocking, I know!), or someone I hardly know telling me that I’ve made a difference in his or her life. Sometimes, it might be painful events, like last spring when a favorite student died. I won’t know for sure until tomorrow, but I am prepared to be overwhelmed with wonder.
I have some goals for next year: I will continue (reengage) my weight loss and fitness efforts, including a half marathon in March; I will limit my consumption of wine, more fully savoring each precious sip; I will spend more time in my beloved kayak and more of that on moving water; I will more seriously seek publication venues—oh, and make more effort to write something worth publishing; I will continue to grow and improve as an educator; I will be kinder and more loving, especially to my family; and finally, on January 1, 2016, I will gift myself again with the loving messages of 2015, inspiring me to continue to seek excellence on this journey we call life.