A New Start – Reflections from New Year’s 2014

Andrea Chilcoteby Andrea Chilcote

I was preparing (no, actually exhaling for five minutes after a harried morning) for my annual New Year’s ritual with old friends. We, who are not physically close, gather by conference line each New Year’s Day to reflect back and visualize the year ahead.

Sometimes one or more of us offers gifts in the form of a poem or reading before the official agenda. It has evolved each year, and there are no expectations. But this time I wanted to give something, and yet had nothing prepared. At my desk for those brief five minutes, I made a request – said a prayer – and … well, you know what happened next. Ask and you shall receive.

I opened my email and found an old yet very timely post from Martha Beck. In “Minding What Really Matters,” she talked about the importance of really living every moment, and how that mattered – one of my lifelong pursuits. And then paradoxically, she offered a poem which suggested (to me at least) – that because we live forever, we always get a do-over. No matter what the past contained. No matter if we squandered the moment.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half perfect?
I will keep my mind on what matters, which is my work,
Which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished… timthumb.php
Which is gratitude,
to have been given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleep dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

Mary Oliver, Thirst

We six convened our conference call at the appointed time. Well, in truth, the call started 10 minutes late because I repeatedly dialed a wrong number (Am I still not half perfect?).

I read the poem and cried. One of the group, our unofficial leader and guide, our matriarch, asked: “Would you read that again?”

So I choked through it a second time, (keeping my mind on what matters, which is my work), and soon enough we got to the business of the morning – (Which was mostly standing still and learning to be astonished).

The lessons of that special ritual will evolve for me over the coming weeks and months. Today, I can offer the following from my experience, as a start to each and every one of you this New Year.

  • Every ounce of wisdom you need is inside. Trust it, and even if you don’t understand its message, sit with it, nurture it, and it will reveal itself.
  • Care for yourself first, if you wish to give to others.
  • This earth experience contains the capacity for joy. Seek and you will find it. It’s waiting.

We live (and love) forever. Start anew, today.

Happy New Year.


The following post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. Enjoy it!