Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

January is the nativity of order in my house and an end to the surfeit of decorations celebrating the birth of Christ. Time to pop the whimsical bubble of comfort and joy, get back to reality, and my preferred form of daily toil. Traditionally Christmas lasts from Eve to Epiphany on January sixth. Which I consider my personal ancillary time, a relevant excuse to procrastinate on retiring the red, I say kudos to John the Baptist, and the wisemen for those twelve extra days. It is time to remove the mystical landscapes, the unrelenting obligations of advent, and take on a little restoration of self. I’m puffy, tired, and I have a major spending hangover. I’ll admit to feeling a bit dull, the weather outside is frightful, and the sun is totally awol. 

January is named after the Roman god Janus, who was commonly shown as having two heads. He looks back to last year and forward to the new one. Brilliant. Charles Lamb claims, “No one ever regarded the first of January with indifference. It is that from which all date their time, and call upon what is left. It is the nativity of our common Adam.” I’m already feeling much better.

I give myself a few days to meander around the house, shift through the memories, box up the decorations, and mentally claim the space for something austere, inspirational, new. When I look back to last year, I try to accept the things that went wrong, and stay focused on the good. I’ve made adjustments to accomondate illness, frustration, fear, and loss, but there was also much to celebrate in 2016. 

With perseverance, courage, and grace all my children and husband started new adventures last year. That was totally unplanned, but I cheered them on from the sidelines, cried on occasion, and supported them when I could. I am extremely proud of their pursuits, here’s what went down. 

  1. Created new life so the world will soon have two new people to love in the spring of 2017. Julie and Nic Jensen
  2. Moved to a new country, immersed himself in a unique cultural experience, secured a job, joined a rugby team, but promises to come home. Tony Oreglia
  3. Took on new occupations, acquired specialized skills, showed up, made an impression, leaving their mark on the world. Larry, Kelley and Dante Oreglia
I think it might be my turn to try something new in 2017, just writing that down sends a jolt of fear rippling across the surface of my skin. See, I like to stay in the rut I’ve created, like those play cars at Disneyland, that never go off track. It’s safe, comfortable, and predictable. That’s how I like it. My way of rectifying this situation is to read. The answers are always in the words. I’ve been perusing blogs, essays, and twitter in search of a few inspiring ideas. “Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!”

  1. Take one of your many talents and put it to good use. Cook a meal for someone in need, give a new parent a babysitting break, write a note of encouragement, be present to someone who needs you, donate if you have the means, be generous with your kindness, and smiles. Patrick Kiger
  2. Forgive one person who is in need of the gift of your grace. Toni Bernhard J.D.
  3. Surprise someone who serves you with a generous tip. Sanjay Sanghoee
  4. Spruce up your wardrobe by signing up for a fashion service like Stitch Fix, Trunk Club, Stylist in a box. You decide when you want a shipment, what you want to purchase, send the rest back. Jaleh Behtash
  5. Plan a mystery trip for your significant other, friend, traveling buddy, family, neighbor, kids, or grandkids. Keep the details a secret, build anticipation, but keep it simple. Rachelle Doorley
  6. Do a 30-day social media detox. Document the experience. When you feel weak, call a friend. Jason Zook 
  7. Write yourself love notes and affirmations, then tuck them away in a book, drawer, car, couch, purse, pocket, or pillow and wait. They’ll resurface when you need them most. Shawna Ayoub Ainslie 
  8. Take a class to improve your talent, gain insights, expand knowledge, satisfy a curiosity, build community. Find a buddy or you’ll never go. Melissa Masinter
  9. Reduce stress by sleeping more, eating healthy, and moderate exercise. Jamie Long (I tried this last year, total fail)
  10. Leave a note with your Christmas decorations that will make you smile next December. Like a genie, allot yourself three wishes, see if they come true. Cheryl Oreglia

Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” January is our chance to write a new chapter, empower the heroine, and hopefully end up on an exotic island, with a Pina Colada in hand. We have the inherent and inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (Declaration of Independence). I will not be the victim, but the heroine of my story, because I am the only one who can save myself. This is true freedom. Sarah Ban Breathnach says, “Only dreams give birth to change.” I say dream big…

A late addition because I’m being nudged from above. 

     11. Prayer. God

Many more at Living in the Gap, come on by when you need a pit stop. 

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