Have Faith: New year, new ideas

Whatever you take on, remember to go easy on yourself.


A new year means we can take some time to reset our priorities and goals, large or small. I learned long ago to stick with small changes, because I’m much more likely to follow through if I don’t feel overwhelmed by the challenge. Baby steps.

For something a little different, I started listening to the 15th century classic book “The Imitation of Christ” on my phone a few weeks ago. I take in a single short chapter at a time, and it is amazing to think that it was written so long ago and yet the words are still relevant. The beginning gets into leaving worldly things behind and focusing on your relationship with the divine as the most important aspect of your life. That’s a tall order, especially when I think about all the “stuff” I worry about unnecessarily. And every time I try to be still and meditate on anything, my brain hops around all over the place. What am I going to make for dinner tonight? Is my daughter going to find a job she really enjoys? Should I call DeBettencourt’s about that noise the car is making? Why can’t I keep my mind still? You get the picture. This time, though, I’m trying to focus on the words as they’re read aloud. If nothing else, the reader’s voice is calming. I considered reading the Bible cover to cover, but decided a shorter book might be a good idea. Maybe I’ll try the big book next year. Baby steps.

One of the benefits of writing something that appears regularly in the newspaper is that it can make you feel a connection to the reader. Sometimes they send emails, or if you happen to be introduced when you’re out someplace, they’ll mention reading your column or articles. I always enjoy knowing that people read (or sometimes don’t read) what I write. It’s like putting something out there in the universe and hoping that it resonates with people, because I never know if it will or not as I’m writing it.

In October, Pam Hoopes reached out to me about her experience finding that marble on the beach at West Chop. She lives in Pittsburgh, but her family stayed in a house on West Chop in the ’70s. More recently, she had lost her mom, and was visiting the Island when she found a marble on the beach right when she was thinking about her mom, and all the memories from so long ago. She’s a social worker with her own practice, and has also launched her own spiritual journey the past couple of years. Pam asked if I would share some of what she wrote on grief, in hopes that it might have meaning for other people. She wrote about the word “missing” and all the connotations that come with it. Pam says she loves the French translation of the word — “tu me manques,” or “you are missing from me.” I like that too. Pam wrote about grief and missing those who are now gone from us, whether it’s a deceased relative or a lost love. It was good to read her words about the balance between feeling loss and yet also not getting lost in that feeling.

Pam wrote at the end of her piece, “We may not fall in love again, be young again, or even be the same person we used to be, but there are more people to meet, connections to create, experiences to be had, and things to learn. Be present, create loving energy, be compassionate toward yourself and others. Breathe in joy! Live life with abundant optimism, curiosity, and an open heart.”

That sounds like good advice going into a new year.