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New Year, Fresh Start

It’s that time of year again. The time when most of us take time off from our busy schedules to spend time with our families and loved ones. What I enjoy about this period is the downtime. Not the actual resting (which is good but I have 3 small kids so resting doesn’t happen😁) but when we stop and pause we have time to reflect a little more on our lives. It’s a time when many of us start to make resolutions for the new year ahead. One of my majors when I studied was Anthropology (the study of human culture) and so I enjoy looking at where many of our traditions come from. I’m not sure if you know but the ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the new year—though for them the year began not in January but in mid-March, when the crops were planted. They made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return anything they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions. If the Babylonians kept to their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor—a place no one wanted to be. A similar practice occurred in ancient Rome, after the reform-minded emperor Julius Caesar tinkered with the calendar and established January 1 as the beginning of the new year circa 46 B.C. Named for Janus, the two-faced god whose spirit inhabited doorways and arches, January had special significance for the Romans. Believing that Janus symbolically looked backwards into the previous year and ahead into the future, the Romans offered sacrifices to the deity and made promises of good conduct for the coming year. For early Christians, the first day of the new year became the traditional occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future. This isn’t meant to be a history lesson but as I come to start looking ahead to 2020, instead of just looking forward I'm trying hard to look back on 2019 withe the clarity that only hindsight provides. After all if we don’t know where we’ve come from, we won’t know where we’re heading If I revue my year there are many changes that I’m looking at making in 2020. I want to work and put my effort only into areas of my life that allow me to flourish. I feel at times this year I’ve focused on low yield, low return activities and when you focus on areas low on your priorities, you feel burdened, stressed and drained. If you focus on things high on your personal priority list, you feel energized, in flow and life is happy. Diluted focus will give you diluted results. Moderate energy will give you moderate results. I hope however you choose to spend the holiday period you look back critically on 2019 so that you can look forward with hope to 2020. Enjoy the holiday period. We’ll chat again in 2020

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