In With The New

by Ana L. Palles

Out with the Old ... My friend Susan and I sat across from each other enjoying our mimosas during our holiday brunch. We recently stumbled into our own tradition of celebrating our friendship. Sometimes we marked out a particular calendar date of birthdays or anniversaries. Other times it was to applaud one another for getting through a trying period with grace, even if it cost us a few gray hairs and sleepless nights along the way.

Mimosas always made an appearance when our celebrating was particularly intense. This occasion was a combination of both holiday whimsy and serious review We took deep sighs with our eyes mirroring the past twelve months in a series of flashing images. Glasses raised, we toasted ourselves with meaning, “Merry Christmas and a Happy 2008!”

The New Year was rapidly approaching and neither of us could help but notice the warning light illuminating the 31st – a flashing yellow glow through the mist of a curving, twisting road. The fog was particularly thick this year and I wondered what was in store for both of us.

Four out of five of my closest friends had filed for divorce this year. If I were a researcher, I would say this was statistically significant. The bad news is that in each case, the separations had been quite painful even if it was easy for all of us on the outside to see that the couple had long ago left the marriage. “There is no such thing as a happy marriage where one person is happy and the other is miserable,” a mutual friend observed. And the more I thought about it, the more I agreed.

The good news is that with each of my friends, the divorce was bringing them to a greater realization of themselves, who they are and their own power over their life. To my happy surprise, most were taking on full responsibility for their situations. The blaming and the bitterness – the little there was of it – was nowhere to be found in our day to day conversations of late.

My friends were looking at their lives, acknowledging the things that needed working on and didn’t bother with the anger. It was time to move forward and create the things they wanted in their lives. One person had recently purchased their own home, a lovely little healing place all her own. It was a beautiful and cozy place just right for her to begin her new life.

Another had created a plan for herself to leave her prestigious corporate role. The visions were still formulating, sometimes they looked like a year of study in the UK for her, other times they looked like a spiritual journey through the world’s sacred sites. It wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out to be both.

A third friend was clearing and closing out half finished chapters in her life. Already the year ahead was punctuated with deliverables for her and her children. She had freed herself from the lethargy and was intent on driving her life forward. I knew that before long, she would wondering where 2008 had gone!

Only one of the four was struggling with a mixture of self reproachment and fear, unable to see anything out of the window on their life. Perhaps in this coming New Year, they’d realize that maybe it was time to open that window and get some fresh air in the room.

Our glasses clinked and we sipped contentedly while the bubbles still raced to the top of our flutes. We drank in celebration of our accomplishments and of the new skills we discovered and were looking forward to developing in the coming year. We toasted to the fact that we made a choice this year. We agreed that the time for sitting frozen in the mud feeling the victim had come to a close for us this 2007. Most of our group decided to take action. If we didn’t like something in our lives, we would simply name it and change it. Already the shift was afoot. January of 2008 was coming in with an entirely different set of assumptions and truths for us. We made a short list of lessons learned.

It’s never too late to feel happy in one’s life. It’s not too late to change career directions to something that feeds one’s heart. Taking ownership over our life brings a deep, indescribable satisfaction. Being afraid of success is harder to recognize but just as damaging as fear of failure. Facing our fears directly is never as hard as avoiding them.

Susan and I laughed as we finished off the last of our mimosas and pushed away our brunch plates. The old year saw us accomplish much and find strength in ourselves we didn’t know we possessed. Even though we still occasionally sported a bit of that glazed, shell-shocked look, we were ready to jump into the New Year.

As I walked to my car, I wondered briefly how distance would characterize the old year for us. Would we stop and say, that was the year that was? Or would we barely remember it as a blip? It is time for a new chapter.

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