We’re a week into 2014.  I like the sound of it: Twenty Fourteen.  Kind of even, balanced.  Still young, promising, but no longer a baby millennium, as in 2003, or so.  We’re into it now! The words Happy New Year still roll off my tongue in greeting.  I’ve completed my year-end practice of composing a gratitude list for the 12 months just past — counting my many blessings, reviewing the events, connections, memorable moments, learnings, and unexpected gifts of 2013. My practice also includes writing down some intentions and possibilities for the coming year.  I plan to review various pieces of paper work, make sure they are all current, that sort of stuff.  Not the most fun, but it needs to be done.   More exciting:  I want to keep trying new things, ones that push my edges a bit. This year I plan go Sky Diving with a friend!  She’s done it before and says it’s great. Tandem with an instructor, of course.  Not alone.  I’d never do that, I’m not totally crazy after all!  But I am thrilled even thinking about the prospects and perspectives that a sky dive is likely to bring! But what about the bigger picture?  What am I going to do with what remains of my  “one wild and precious life,” as Mary Oliver puts it?   That’s one big question, for sure!  And poignant.  At 71, or at any age, we never know how much time is left. Whether it’s many years, or a few days, for me, it’s also important to factor in what the Dalai Lama has said: “Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized by a sense of Universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life.” As I was taking my shower this morning, and pondering this partially written piece, I realized I wanted to include Balance and Alignment… among and between Body, Mind, Spirit, and the Mystery — the Something Larger Than Ourselves that holds us, in which we are embedded.   This too must be part of the discussion about happiness and the new year. Then I opened my e-mail and read this:  “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”   – Gandhi   Yes!  it is indeed a Happy New Year when we are living our lives in harmony — or at least moving toward it, in our stumbling, halting ways, and accepting ourselves as we go :-).  Easier said than done, no doubt, but a worthy focus.  And a kind of neat triple bottom line to reflect on as we begin and end our days.  And when I am in doubt and struggling with the balance, more and more I’m learning that the key is love.  (More about this anon.) There is, of course, also the question of whether it’s OK, appropriate for us to be happy when there’s so much awry, so much suffering and injustice.  Is that allowed, appropriate?   The Dalai Lama speaks to that as well, explicitly and in his lived life.  His laughter, his joy, his forgiveness, in the face of what’s happening in the world, may well be the ultimate model for this.  It might again be that Love is the secret, the open secret. And I like this one: a brother-in-law was recently doing some volunteer work in Washington State at a Lutheran retreat center, and one of the prayers said was this:  “May we be joyous, even when we know the facts.”   🙂 May your new year be happy.  Yes!  And healthy, abundant in blessings, large and small, successful in ways meaningful to you.  And may we move toward harmony, in our lives and on the planet, among nations, humans, and all life.

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, andgrowth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook :-)

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