I am always excited at this time of year, not just because I love Christmas, the opportunity to be with friends and to share gifts. Mostly, it is my chance to deliberately reflect on the past year and to purposefully embrace another beginning.
There was a time when reflection seemed too painful. That may have been because I focused on what had not happened: My bank account remained meager casting me as poor or only one rung above. I didn’t make that trip to some romantic place in the world to which I have envisioned myself traveling since I was a teen. Mr. Right proved Mr. Wrong or maybe he had been right, but I could not grasp the fine art of relationship building; in either case, I was alone and lonely. What’s more, the creative projects I had pledged to finish were scattered across my desk, quietly assaulting me with names like procrastinator.
Somewhere on my journey, I came to realize that I was not the sum total of my unfinished to-do list. Nor was I the originator or perpetrator of incomplete or failed relationships. Equally important, I should not be measured against what I hadn’t accomplished but rather the things, small and large, I had done during those 365 days or 366, if it were Leap Year.
That epiphany altered by approach, resulting in reflecting practice that was no longer anchored in materialism, although to be honest, I saw no shame in wanting to improve my financial lot in the world. Reaching those fiscal goals meant I could more comfortably devote myself to the things that mattered to me.
Still, it wasn’t all about “the Benjamins.”
My spirit and soul required me to assess what I had done that year to strengthen them. Had I spent time understanding and engaging in true spiritual development activities, not superficial ones that sometimes tie us to some empty ritual or some building where the collection plate is passed for the pastor—not the people.
In other words, my reflection centered around my humanity. What had I done to shape myself into a more caring loving person, sharing with others my talents and skills? Using that measure, there were some years when I came up short; years when I had been too impatience with the frailties of others, the challenges they had but refused to address, or the learned selfishness that can misdirect someone’s goodness or bury it so deep it requires assistance from a search and rescue team.
That led me to jettison historic emotional baggage, toxic thoughts, energies and useless other items. Those are not likely to serve me well as I embrace the new beginning.
New Year isn’t just the time we flip our calendars. It’s actually the opportunity for us to embrace our new selves. An opportunity for us to recognize that we have grown that we are becoming the people we imagined we would be or that we wanted to be. That journey of becoming is never complete, but there are signs that we are advancing. Just this past week, I became frustrated with a work project. In the past, I would have spent the day throwing darts in my mind at the target of my discontent, which surely meant sending negative energy in the universe that didn’t serve me or that person. Instead of entering that dark mood, I pulled back the drape to allow more sun to enter my room, turned on one of my favorite CDs and smiled at the distance I had traveled.
What signs do you see in your life that indicate you are advancing? How has your spirit and soul reacted? What is your plan in 2022 to keep feeding your humanity and expanding your prosperity? Whatever you decide, remember to lead with love.
jonetta rose barras is the founder and executive director of Esther Productions Inc.