Saturday, December 31, 2011

Take It Easy

As a teacher, I celebrate the new year each September. That beginning (meeting new students, introducing new curriculum, and sliding away from summer and back into the routine of school days) is often much more significant to me than this one approaching tonight at midnight. But whether it’s August or December 31st, I recognize that the happy anticipation of a new year signifies renewed promise. As the ball drops, we hold onto the hope that this year, we’ll seize opportunities to make our lives better. We’ll eat healthier, exercise more often, spend less, and get organized. We’ll reconnect with friends and family or we’ll tackle some new hobby. That is all well and good, as long as we do not dwell too long on our faults, berating what we believe we’ve done wrong in the previous year. So tormented we are, at times, by our high expectations of ourselves (and perhaps others) that too often, we look at new year’s as our way to escape, to refashion our very identities. So, although I still appreciate the chance to make a few resolutions to remind myself of certain goals I have, I do believe I have done better to put the new year in perspective.

Last year I held onto a particular mantra that guided me throughout 2011. “No fear. No expectations. Let’s just see what happens”. These words served me well. I am not letting those go simply because it will soon be 2012, but over the past few days I have been contemplating the adoption of another phrase. I’ve thought of it from different perspectives and I am pretty sure I am going to use it this next year. It consists of three words: Take It Easy.

I immediately hear the song by The Eagles. It’s a song I grew up with, hearing it often on the radio, but although not all of its lyrics apply, the phrase reminds me that I need to “lighten up while I still can” and that I cannot “let the sound of (my) own wheels make (me) crazy”. I’ve long been a worrier and I know that I cannot change overnight for my personality is what it is, but I do think I can work towards putting those concerns away on a shelf more often.

Last year’s mantra helped me look at situations and loved ones in a healthier light. I eased up on expectations I had of others and I began doing the same within myself. But I need to continue with that. And rather than berate myself for what I am or how I think, it’s time for me to give myself a break. It’s time to “take it easy”. I’ll keep working on those goals of mine but the best thing I can do for myself is to give myself a pat on the back for all that I have achieved already. I’ll continue to strive to better myself but I will stop and appreciate who and what I am today. It’s time to turn the corner, to focus less on my faults and to focus more on what I have inside of me that is there so I can better serve others. In the words of Leo C. Rosten, “The purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter and to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all”.

I want 2012 to give me opportunities to make a difference for others. And it’s only by easing up on myself that I will be able to do that more effectively. 2011 was a challenging year but it made me a stronger and wiser woman. I grew in my appreciation and satisfaction of the present time. Now I believe it is time to “loosen my load” so I can carry others’ burdens more effectively in the future.

“We may lose and we may win, though we will never be here open up, I'm climbin' in, so take it easy”.

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