Sleep, little ones, sleep. Rest and let the earth take care of you. Grow strong, deep roots, and I’ll see you in the Spring.
Just as snowflakes started to swirl on the day after Christmas, I gently pressed the last of my tulip bulbs into soft beds of carefully-prepared soil. It’s a tradition I started years ago, when I found all sorts of gorgeous bulbs—hyacinth, tulip, daffodil, crocus, iris, and others—on sale at a garden center while shopping for evergreen wreathes. Sometimes I plant on the solstice, other times on Christmas eve, but this year I was busy and I put it off. When I heard a big snowstorm was coming, I had to hurry.
This is how I celebrate the closing of one year and the beginning of the next.
It’s a time to plant intentions, a time of rebirth and hope and rejuvenation, even in the darkness. It’s a time to reflect over the previous year and dream of what’s to come in the next.
Since I’m always setting goals and trying new ways to do things or improve myself and my life situation, I don’t draw up a list of New Year’s resolutions.
I do like to have a theme, though. For 2010, my theme revolved around courage, confidence, and determination, mostly because I quit my job in January with only vague plans to restart business as a freelance writer and editor. As the year closes, I’m not gloating over an expanding savings account yet (what savings account?), but I did it. 2010 was tough, but I’m right where I need to be. I’ve planted lots of seeds (and bulbs), improved the soil, grew a lot, and I’m really excited about my business in 2011 (and putting some money in my savings account!).
So it’s on to other stuff. What’s the theme for 2011?
2011 is The Year of Love. Want to join me?
It was going to be the year of “How can I help you?” but that felt too narrow and too business-focused. “Love” covers everything.
What would happen if love is the theme for 365 days? 8760 hours? 525,600 minutes?
Let’s imagine what our days are like, for a moment. Everyone is different, of course (I work in a home office, for example), but I’m imagining an “average” scenario here. Add your own details and ignore others to think about your typical day.
In the morning, before work and school, we say “good morning” to our spouses, children, and pets (or do we?). We share bathrooms and a kitchen. We shower, dress, eat, and rush off into the world or start our daily routines at home. If you could watch a video of it, what would your morning look like? How are we caring for ourselves and others as we start the day? How can we be more loving?
Love impacts how we speak with one another, act toward one another, and how we care for each other and even ourselves.
On our way to work, we might have long, potentially-stressful commutes. Maybe you drop off the kids at school or daycare or make sure they’re on the bus. You might have an elderly parent to look in on or take somewhere. Even if you work at home, you’re also starting your day. Are those few hours filled with love? If not, what’s the current theme?
At work, most of us interact with many other people in one way or another. What guides you or motivates your interactions? Try breaking up the day into smaller bits and see whether love is present in meetings, phone calls, email, or lunch. What’s the dominant force?
I don’t mean gushy, smooshy, lovey-dovey-huggy stuff. Love can mean compassion, respect, empathy, kindness, and consideration.
Thoughtfulness. Gentleness. Thinking of others before self. Silence so others can speak. Listening. Smiling at someone.
After work, there might be another commute. Errands, dinner, family, friends. What are evenings like in your world? Of the many things you do, which ones are filled with love and which aren’t? How can love make a difference while driving, on a train, at the gas station or grocery store, at a restaurant? Dinner with the family, cleaning up afterward. Before-bedtime activities, homework, relaxation. Is love present?
If love is not present, what is the driving force, dominant emotion, or spirit in each of your daily activities?
Most of us—whether we make New Year’s resolution lists or not—have areas in our lives that we want to improve: quit smoking, eat better, or exercise more are at the top of many lists. And adopting better habits can require hard work or practical solutions. I’m working on time management and eating better—just because I’m a vegetarian doesn’t mean I always eat lots of veggies! I could easily live on pizza and spaghetti for days right here at my desk. But that’s not love. Loving myself means taking good care of myself, and when I do that I’m much more prepared to love others.
2010 is over. It’s done. Whatever happened last year no longer exists. Why not live a different way or build on what you’re already living?
Try adding love to all your daily routines and activities—or identifying areas that could use a little more—and see what a difference love makes.
My tulip, hyacinth, daffodil, and muscari bulbs are in the cold earth, patted down with loving hands and covered with mulch. They’ve braved cold temperatures already and a foot of snow, but they were planted carefully, and love is already at work. The weather is warming up, and roots are growing. In March, little leaves will emerge, and in late April and May, love will blossom.
What are you planting in 2011? What can love grow? What will our harvest be?
Comments are always welcome, and I wish you a wonderful, love-filled new year.