Saturday, December 31, 2011

COMMENTARY: "2012--Here We Come!"

Well, 2011 has drawn to a close…..finally! It’s been a rough year with health issues, surgeries, family concerns, work stress, school stress and everything in between, but I survived. And I’m now looking forward to the new adventures coming in 2012.

There’s something rather cathartic about these New Beginnings we are lucky enough to experience on the first day of January every year; a fresh start, a clean slate, a renewal of life. There are times when the day-to-day stresses are so overwhelming that they smother any ability to see the big picture of life. These New Beginnings are, in a way, an apology from life for the crap we’ve had to deal with every day. Sometimes just being able to take a deep breath and let go of the tough times and the sad times and the mistakes we’ve made is a necessary step in moving forward and progressing as human beings.

If there were no clean slates, we would be constantly bogged down by those negative experiences and life would surely become an extremely unpleasant undertaking.

I did two small activities this year that made me realize just how stuck I’ve been in that negative mindset. First, every day during the month of November, I posted on my Facebook status something I’m thankful for. You’d think that would be a pretty easy task, but it was not. There were days I really had to reach into the depths of my brain to find something “good” to say. I realized that forcing myself to see the good in life when I sure didn’t think there was any actually did make the day better. So, in December, I decided to keep the good thoughts coming and I posted one of my “favorite things” every day. Those days when I felt stumped trying to think of something to say made me realize I need to have more favorite things in my life.

But really, the thing that made it so apparently obvious that I need to be more positive, was a gift my daughter gave me for Christmas. She called it an “Optimism Box”. In reality, it was just a simple Kleenex box on which she had written in marker a message on each side: “If you are stressed, just be optimistic”, “Sometimes it’s good to be optimistic”, “Don’t worry, be optimistic”. On top she had written “The Optimism Eater” and inside the box she had several little notes including “If black cats were bad luck…I wouldn’t be alive. So proves they are not!” and my favorite: “Bear hugs are good….just not from a bear.” (Okay, so she may not have the exact definition of optimism down, but I got her point). Opening that gift, I laughed until I cried. Partially from overwhelming love at my sweet little kid who noticed I had a tough time this year and was trying to make things better. And partially from sadness that my sweet little kid was obviously affected by my reactions to life.

So as 2012 peaks his squeaky clean little head around the corner, I will be making a concerted effort to bring the positive around me. To show my little mini-me that life is good and that happiness is free. So if you catch me being a complainer this year, just give me a smile and quick reminder, “Don’t worry, be optimistic!”

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