Martha Carr’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail her at Martha@caglecartoons.com.
It’s time for my annual New Year’s tradition, where my readers and I get to take a different kind of look at the big picture of our lives. Every year, we start out with a less traditional approach to change and come up with a personal theme for the New Year. Last year, mine was abundance, and another year, it was balance.
The old New Year’s method is to create resolutions, which means doing something that requires strength and fortitude. That already sounds like a tough year is just ahead. We’ve all had enough of that lately. No need to create more of it.
However, people everywhere, right now, are pulling out a list of things they aren’t doing right with some kind of wavering hope that this time they’ll make a measurable kind of progress. The gyms are packed in January and the dating sites will be overrun with new faces.
But we all know that come February there will finally be space in the spinning class again. It’s such a grand American gesture of insanity. As a nation, we resolve to make a big change and then we back away just a few weeks later. The cycle gets repeated every year as if the outcome could somehow magically be different this year.
That’s why my readers and I decided to try something new, and every year our numbers are growing.
Since we started this idea of embracing an idea, instead of a list, a lot of readers have been writing in to say that change snuck up on them. They’re always surprised and delighted and not quite sure how it happened. Weight actually comes off or old debt goes down. College courses get taken and careers shift.
It all goes back to the idea of who’s really in charge. I spent a lot of years trying to make sure I was in charge of my own life. After all, if I’m not looking out for me, no one else will. That was my old line of thinking, at least. All it got me though was a lot of frustration.
My focus was completely out of kilter. It wasn’t until I was worn out enough to stop trying so hard that I found a solution that works every time.
I became willing to let God be in charge, and I just do the one small step that’s right in front of me to do. Some days, I’m cranky or tired and don’t really feel like it, but I get up and go to work or do the dishes or write another page.
There are even days when I wonder if all of these seemingly disconnected actions are going to add up to anything, much less be part of the bigger picture I have for myself.
But all of that willingness that’s been broken down into small, doable pieces has added up to a constant state of metamorphosis. Things keep unfolding in my life and this growing sense of faith gives me the courage to hang in there. I’m no longer trying to constantly fix them into what I’m sure has to happen.
Instead, ideas get a chance to grow.
In 2011, I pondered abundance a lot, which ended up being a practice of gratitude for everything that’s been going right in my life. Look long enough and the good seems to grow and multiply on its own, while the bad breaks fade into the background. It made it easier to make small changes every day that added up to running in a 5k after learning how to walk again just two years ago.
This year, my theme is humility, which a great man once described as a quietness of heart. It’s the ability to see how we fit in relation to each other and to God. It also means setting out to find what might come next without so much expectation.
In other words, to always know that who you are already is enough for the task at hand, so get on with things and see what great surprises are just ahead.
Keep writing to me and let me know what your theme is for 2012. Happy New Year everyone. More adventures to follow. Tweet me @MarthaRandolph.
Martha’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail her at Martha@caglecartoons.com.