Goodbye 2016. Hello New Year.

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The New Year has a way of haunting me as January 1 draws nearer. I know it’s just another day, but for me it’s a time of looking back, taking stock of where I am right now, and gazing ahead for perhaps a glimpse of what is in store for me in the coming year.

The past few nights I have been awakened by dreams reminding me of my past and filling me with a mixture of regrets, feelings of accomplishments, and memories of pure joy, deep sadness, and even loss – all jumbled together in a sleep-depriving slide show of my history. As I contemplated all that is part of who I am, I reached out to God in gratitude for delivering me from evil, for walking beside me during trying times, for teaching me about what real love is all about, and for giving me my life.

And now, today, on New Year’s Eve, I turn the final page of 2016, the pages filled to overflowing with my words, thoughts, prayers, and wishes. I close the book, but I don’t seal it. I can always return to this year in my memories, and be reminded of this great and wonderful gift called life and of the year of 2016. A new book awaits me, its pages blank and ready to receive whatever each day decides to grant me.

Last year I wrote a list of things to NOT DO in the New Year. I didn’t accomplish my goals entirely, but I can report proudly that I have not put on a sports bra backwards in 2016. (See my blog from last year to read my list: https://jennielousdays.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/my-to-dont-do-list/ ). But I also have to admit that I fell off the chocolate wagon over the Christmas holidays, and I enjoyed far too much candy and cookies. The New Year is a good time to re-group, get back into good habits, and take a bold step forward.

2016 is waving goodbye as she approaches the door into years past. She is taking with her tender memories of dear friends I have had to say farewell to this year, of great personal accomplishments that at times seemed daunting and unattainable, of prayers for healing and those answered prayers, of fears over the fate of our nation during the most disturbing political race I’ve ever experienced, and a plethora of moments and days that brought tears to my eyes merely from the pure joy of being alive and acknowledging my small place in this remarkable universe.

As she moves closer to that door, 2016 pauses to glance back at me and with thumbs up and a broad smile, she wishes me Godspeed into 2017.

I pull out my book with blank pages, and I am ready to write!

As I Bid Farewell to 2015 (and also 2014)

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My collection of days for 2015 is at an end. My journal book that I began in January of 2014 is full. I have three pages left in it, which I will fill up before 2016 begins. A new journal book waits quietly on my bedside table, full of empty pages, ready for my words to embrace it. A new year beckons.

Over the past two nights, I have gone back and read my journal of the past two years. Interesting! Oh, the journey I have been on! I can now see the road map clearly as I read what was not in focus at the time of my writing. I re-live the smooth paths as well as the rocky ones, the sunny days and the stormy ones, and feel the scrapes on my knees as I recall my falls and miss-steps. I hear the laughter in my voice over joyous days, and the gut-wrenching sobs over days that brought anger, fear, loneliness, and confusion to my life.

What is eye opening to me as I recall the days of the past two years are the changes in me and the growth that has taken place. When I began the journal, I was at the end of a 20-year marriage that had left me reeling from personal tragedy and loss, unsure of who I was or what my purpose in life was. I was testing the waters on a new relationship, one just as toxic and dangerous as the one I had just been freed from. I didn’t see it as 2014 began, but as those first journal pages turned, I saw myself quickly realizing the darkness bearing down on me, and ending the relationship within the first month of the year. It was tough and venomous-appearing, but deep in my heart, I knew it was what I had to do. It was at that moment in January of 2014 that the little girl who once had stomped her foot and declared to her mother, “I can do it myself,” returned and took control of her life.

As 2014 and 2015 unfolded in my journal book, I saw threads of growth and transition within myself. Frustrations repeated themselves over and over, as I maneuvered my way through my days, figuring out the best way to travel through them. Joy returned to my heart, in many different forms; I let go of the old and embraced the new. I saw patterns of growth, spiritual and mental, as I read my own words from the days of these two years. Indecision and confusion led to answers and revelations. I could actually see myself “becoming” – change was written on almost every page. These two years have been pivotal. I grew up. I accepted myself for who I am and where I’ve been- scars and all. I discovered and owned up to myself as a flawed, bruised, and damaged person, but also as a flower opening up to bloom. As Fran, the main character in the novel I wrote, kept harping on, I learned how to “bloom where I am planted.”

The end of 2015 is days away. My journal book is completed. These two years are over, and I will tuck this book away in my drawer of personal treasures.

A new collection of days eagerly awaits my footsteps. My new journal book rests next to my bed. Her pages are blank today.

I am ready.

NOTE: If you haven’t read my novel, Fishbowls and Birdcages, I invite you to take a look. This has been one of my most fulfilling accomplishments of these past two years. It is available in paperback and Kindle version on Amazon.com.

It’s Just Another Day – Or Is It?

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When you think about it, New Year’s Day is just another day. It is kind of like a birthday, when we really aren’t a year older than we were the day before, but just one day older. But, like a birthday, New Year’s Day is special.  It represents a milestone, a road marker, a blank page, a chance for a new beginning or fresh start.

Last January I bought a journal book – you know, the kind of book that has blank pages and no writing. While I didn’t write in it every day, I recorded most days, writing my thoughts, feelings, observations, and other items of interest at the time as the days of the year ticked by. I really tried to be honest and truthful in my writing. I remember keeping a journal many years ago where I wrote what I thought people would want to read if they were to stumble across it after I left this life.  I happened to find the journal among some of my possessions that made their way to my new home, and was astounded that I actually wrote some of the things I did. I didn’t remember thinking or feeling the way the pages described my life at that time. I didn’t even recognize the author! How could I have been so dishonest? In a display of setting things straight, I threw away the old journal, knowing that it definitely wasn’t something I wanted another person to someday read, and began on a new adventure in journal writing.

On New Year’s Day morning, I sat down with a cup of coffee in a spot of the living room that was sunlit, letting the sunbeams warm my back, and wrote down my thoughts for the new year. I then went back to Page 1 and began reviewing 2014. As I read, I remembered my feelings as I had written them down, and laughed at some of the funny things I chose to include in this compilation of days. I also began seeing the growth and changes that happened day by day to me as I traveled through 2014. I entered the year badly scarred and battered from the worst two years of my life. I was newly divorced, setting up a home for myself and my little dog, Sunshine, and trying to make ends meet on a very limited budget. I had tried my luck at a new relationship, only to come to the realization at the beginning of the year that it was not what I wanted, he was not who I wanted, and the relationship wasn’t a healthy one. As my journal reminded me, January was truly a month of endings and beginnings. Continuing reading, I saw myself with fresh eyes, as I recalled the days of loneliness and fear, as well as the days of serendipitous discoveries and surprises. I witnessed through my own words my healing and centering. As I finished reading my journal, I closed the book and my eyes, and contemplated the blank pages that would be filled with my words and thoughts in this new year.

Yes, it is just another day. But New Year’s invites us to examine where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. Like every day, it begins with a blank page that we will fill with life and with living.  It is a time to pause to examine our course, make adjustments if needed in the direction we are pointed in, and to plan for this next leg of our trip. It is indeed a milestone and a road marker. It is a day to take a deep breath and set our course.

I am going to continue my journal. There are still plenty of empty pages in my book. It will be interesting to see next January where my path has led me during 2015.

A new year, a new day, a blank page, and honesty. It’s going to be interesting.