A New Year?

Salutations and celebrations of the new year are everywhere you look in the past few days. With the onset of 2016, there's the possibility of a new look, a new car, a new diet, a new way of being a new you! There's a blank slate of 366 days just awaiting you (yep, 2016 is a leap year!).

It may be cynicism setting in after the onslaught of holiday marketing or it might be my Quaker foundation beginning to rumble, but I find myself resisting the NEW and IMPROVED! promises that the new year seems to offer. After all, isn't it just a flip of the page on the calendar? Other than my 2015 Louise Hay daily calendar being on its last page, isn't tomorrow going to look and feel pretty much like today?!

Well, if I stayed in cynic mode, it would sound as though I'm feeling bitter. I promise--I'm not! In fact, for me, every day is a new day, a new opportunity to make decisions that take me closer and closer to unconditional self-love. Every dawn is a new chance to feel better about my life and to observe the beauty that surrounds me. Michael Bublé knows how I feel! ♪♫  (click on the music notes to listen)

For that matter, every second offers the possibility of new choices. We can decide to listen to the voices in our heads. We can choose to hear the whispers in our hearts. With each tick of the clock, we can say, "I'm sorry" to our neglected inner selves and "Yes" to the things that we know--deep down--are worth a nod of acceptance.

Then again, one of the most frequent concerns I hear on the topic becoming our best selves is also about the clock. A harried mother said to me, "I don't have time to sit down and reflect on loving myself. I'm lucky enough to sit down alone in the bathroom!" With all there is to do each day and each night, who's got "me" time? It's like Rabbi Hillel said and Carrie Newcomer sings, though, "If not you, then who? If not now, then when?" ♪♫

This is where we just need a little reframing. You may be thinking that you have to go from 0% self-love to 110% in, like, a week. What if you start withgoing from 0% to .5% or maybe 1% in the coming week? What if you gave yourself a few seconds of self-love whenever you remember to think of it?

The journey to self-love is much like the art of journaling. Just start where you are. Wherever you are. Start with what you know. You know how to be kind, don't you? Just begin by including yourself in the kindness you extend. Look yourself in the eyes when you walk past the mirror. Smile and say, "Hi there." You'd do it for a stranger. Why not do it for yourself?

You know how to slow down, don't you? If you need to slow down in the car, you just left off the gas. Begin showing yourself some love by letting off the gas. Slow down your chewing. Slow down your speaking. Take a deep breath as you open a door or whenever you check the time. Pause when you see something beautiful - the sky, your beloved's hands, the colors in another's clothing.

Most likely, you know how to listen, too. Really listen. Your kids tell you fascinating stories; your friend tells you about her crazy family. You know how to listen. You may even know how to ask sincere questions that let them know they were heard well. What if you were to listen to yourself in a judgment-free zone? No answers, no wise insights needed. Just ears. When you're ready to move to 2% self-love, you might find curious questions surfacing. Maybe not.

The truth is, we don't need an overwhelming 366 days of new possibilities to move into a space of self-love! We don't need the clean slate of a new year to start over. With each breath, with each moment, we can be grateful for the chance to start afresh. We can begin to move gently toward beginning a lifelong journey toward loving ourselves, one minute, one second at a time. Now, I can say, "Have a happy new year!"