New Year - Endless Opportunities

Thursday, January 7, 2016



How do you usher in the New Year?  Do you say goodbye to the old and ring in the new energized? Do you sit on the sidelines, exhausted from the holiday season, just barely aware that a new year has begun?   Do you embrace the opportunity for washing the slate clean and wholeheartedly welcome the chance to tackle life altering changes and improvements?   I fall somewhere in the middle of these scenarios.  After enjoying two weeks of non-stop activity and four extra house guests, I pretty much welcome the New Year in a state of happy exhaustion.  Sad to see the family leave but happy to have our quiet, calm life back, it takes me a bit of time to get excited to think about the New Year.  In fact, the first couple of days I don't think about much of anything except savoring the quiet, sleeping past 7:00 a.m., slowly sipping my morning coffee and going to sleep at night knowing there are only two humans in the house and one thankful feline who I'm pretty sure is appreciating the quiet as much as we are.  It's a little like the satisfied exhaustion one feels after doing your spring yard clean-up, if you know what I mean.  You're dead tired, but you feel accomplished and content.

That accounts for my first few days of the New Year.  Then comes the tiring task of de-Christmasing the house.  If you read my post, http://www.lifeasiseeitphotography.net/2015/12/merry-christmas-from-our-home-to-yours.html, you know that returning the house to it's everyday state is a big undertaking.   Finally feeling a bit energized after a few days of rest, we tackled that job yesterday and after several trips up to the attic (thank God I married the energizer bunny), the house is back to it's everyday self.  It is now, with the holidays officially over and packed away, that I begin to gaze forward and contemplate the year ahead.  It is now that I feel the energy, formulate the plans, make the lists and plot my attack on the possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead.   It is now that I say a prayer of thanks for the year that has ended, the blessings it bestowed, the obstacles we have overcome, the joys we have shared.  It is now that I say a prayer of thanks for the opportunity to embrace another year with grateful anticipation of what lies ahead and ask for strength for challenges that may come our way.

On a less philosophical and more practical front, I always find myself in an organizing and cleaning mood at the beginning of a new year.  As I put the house back in order after the holidays and for a day or so while it looks sort of naked, I am encouraged to continue with that uncluttered look and am inspired to clean out drawers or closets.  I think most of us tend to accumulate stuff....especially paper stuff.  A few years ago I came up with a great plan for eliminating paperwork clean-up at the end of the year.   Any papers that will be kept beyond the year end, I file in their proper files.  Papers I feel I can't dispose of immediately, but know I will shred later, are just filed away into a big box.   I know I'll be shredding them at the end of the year, so rather than file them only to retrieve them at year's end, they spend the year in a box, accessible if necessary, but ready for quick disposal when their time comes.  If for some reason I ever need to refer to them, it's not difficult to find them in the box which is added to chronologically, and at the end of the year, I just take the whole box of paper and shred it.  So simple!  The other thing I do now, rather than shredding everything myself, I take our shredding to 3N Document Destruction on Pierce Road in Clifton Park.  For pennies you can have pounds of paper shredded.  It saves time and wear and tear on your personal shredder.  3N isn't the only place that offers this service, but I mention them because they are very generous to the local community.  When I worked at a senior housing complex, each year 3N brought in locked containers where my residents could get rid of their papers for free shredding.  Nice folks!

Each year I have a goal to clean out photo files - both digital and prints.  As you can imagine I have way too many of both.  Winter is a good time to go through old albums and weed out repeats and stuff that's irrelevant.  It's a good time to put loose photos into albums - or scan them if you're so inclined, and label them with dates and names of people in the photos.  I'm a big believer in creating a family history for future generations so high on my 'to-do' list is to document things like where family members are buried, write stories about earlier generations, photograph and write stories about family treasures.  I've figured out as I get older that when we are young, artifacts and heirlooms don't mean so much, but as we approach the later seasons of our own lives, people and things that came before us seem more precious.  Aunt Harriet's 90 year old tea pot might mean more to my kids when I die if they have a story to go along with it.   So this winter, I'll be taking photos of memorabilia and writing short stories explaining who owned said memorabilia and why the piece is still hanging around after 80+ years.  I've learned the hard way that once people are gone, there's no one left to tell these stories or answer those burning questions.  So, if you have elderly relatives, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.....talk to them now.  Look at old family photos with them and hear their stories.  I promise it's way more interesting than any reality TV.



Finally take time to inventory.  We live in such a materialistic society.  We all have too many 'things', whether it be clothes or kitchen gadgets, books or tools, I think we could all stand to do with less. The more we have, the less we use what we have.  You know that we wear the same stuff over and over again.  Half the stuff in our closets either doesn't fit or we don't like how it looks, yet we hang on to it.  Why????  Because we live in a more-is-better society!   How many times have you gone into a drawer or corner of your closet and found something you forgot you had?  Get rid of those items that you don't use on a regular basis.  If you haven't worn an item come the end of a season, don't pack it away for next season, get rid of it.  If you have kitchen utensils that you had to have but have never used....get rid of them.   That junk box or junk drawer filled with miscellaneous items from the last 10 years that you have never once needed - get rid of it.  Stuff weighs you down and makes your life cluttered.    I bet if you tackle one drawer a week, it will be painless and you'll be amazed at how much you can lighten your load.  The same goes for the stuff in our bathroom cabinets - hotel samples, products we bought and didn't like but can't throw away, old towels, old back-up hair appliances.........  Get rid of them!!!!  This year......resolve to lighten your load and create order and space in your world - one corner at a time.

So....as you enter 2016, enter with a positive attitude.  Believe that good things are coming your way and invest the time and energy to ensure they do.  Embrace the future while preserving your past. Clean out the clutter and appreciate the things in life that really mean something to you.  Like the byline on my blog - Collect Moments Instead of Things and Turn Moments Into Memories.  You know what they say - You can't take it with you!  But you can sure enjoy it while you're here.  Here's to enjoying and embracing a brand New Year with endless possibilities!

The key to happiness is to recognize when we have enough and then to appreciate what we have!

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