Thursday, January 5, 2012

Looking Back to See Ahead Clearly: Processing 2011

At the end of a year and the beginning of another, it is a great time to look back and process your experience. Our goal here is to move ahead with clarity and gratitude and insure a new year of progress, joy, enlightenment, abundance and health. In that vein let us take time to consider the past year.

As we process the theme, lessons, and opportunities from 2011, we will be prepared to receive the gift of 2012. Answer the following questions, to process your year.

1. What did 2011 mean to you? What did you see as the predominant theme throughout the year? What experiences were most important and meaningful for you and how did they shape you? (What did you learn and how did you change?)

A. Predominant theme throughout the year was
B. Most important events, experiences were
C. What did you learn; how did you change?
D. What do your current lessons look like? (What are they?)
E. How did these experiences and lessons shape you? (What did you learn and how did you change?

2. What do you want to experience in 2010? (Experiences, desires, dreams, etc.) (These statements will determine your lessons and opportunities.)

3. What steps/goals will I need to commit myself to in order to achieve the above (2)? (This can be your resolutions or commitments to your self for the year.)

4. Your purpose in wanting the above (2) is

5. Appreciation of past experiences, opportunities and lessons puts them in perspective and also allow you to be open to the next situation, opportunity, and lesson. With this in mind, what do you most appreciate about your experiences in the past year?

6. Is there anything that you need to do to put closure to the year and be ready for a new year of exciting, grow-oriented, opportunity?
Anything else you need to add….

Resolution means to resolve or promise. Resolutions for the new year can work for you if you establish a bigger picture of why you want them By keeping in touch with your growth through the years, you can, with lucidity, calculate future steps. Then, as you maintain purpose, your resolutions become promises or commitments to yourself. and thus are easier to remember and keep.

Appreciation is a big part of growth. It paves the way for positive experiences. Without occasionally looking back, it’s hard to know where you’ve been or where you’re going. Do this with joy, acceptance, and appreciation.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Reason for the Season

This is a story originally appearing in Woman’s Day Magazine in 1982 by Nancy Gavin. It portrays perfectly the spirit of the season.

It's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas – oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it --- overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma, the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.

Our 12 year old son Kevin was wrestling in a non-league match at the school he attended shortly before Christmas. The other team was sponsored by an inner-city church.

These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.

As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears.

It was obviously a luxury the ragtag team could not afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around with false bravado, a kind of street pride, unable to acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, "I wish just one of them could have won," he said. "They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them."

Mike loved kids-all kids-and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That's when the idea for his present came.

That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church.

On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me.
His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years.

For each Christmas, I followed the tradition – one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.

The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal it's contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn't end there.
You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad.

The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope. Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.

May we all remember each other, and the Real reason for the season, and God's true Spirit this year and always.