• Dr. Jill Bakke

New Year Resolutions

I decided to post this early since New Year Resolutions typically go into effect on New Year’s Eve. In the past, my resolutions usually found themselves stashed in my desk drawer. Even so, they fell into place without much else needing to be done. This year, however, feels different.

Everyone appears to have faced major challenges this year in at least one area of life. Some had serious health issues, others became entangled in relationship issues. Work demands ran rampant for a lot of individuals, while many people experienced a drain of finances. Depression became more of a norm than an occasional state. Many of my friends stop listening to the news. Time moved faster and faster, and keeping up became difficult. The world seemed out of control, turning and turning, upside down and around. The world felt like it was on edge, and we were ready to slip off.

I kept asking myself what can I learn from this chaos, what is my part at this juncture? I pulled out my journal and began working on those two questions. After much thought, coupled with a little frustration and discontent, I made some clear and important discoveries.

My major challenges were in finances. The last six months became a constant unexpected drain of money and energy: my car totaled and a new car to purchase, computer issues and replacement, remodeling of a shower, new glasses, cell phone death and replacement, upgrading an insufficient electrical panel, problems with the illustrations for my new book, and my list went on. But looking at the end results gave me some peace and hope, even if I wasn’t always excited about the money bleeding away.

I could l have been killed or seriously injured in the car accident, as the truck hit my vehicle immediately behind the driver’s door. One inch further right and I’d have had damage too, but I escaped without a bruise or scratch. The new car provides me with a safer vehicle, and I financed it at no interest.

The cell phone incident ultimately gave me a gift as well. My old phone hadn’t been holding power and finally it flashed the words “critical incident” across its face and went dark. Two weeks later the worst storm of the season hit the Oregon Coast and electric power went out in my building for 15 hours. If it hadn’t been for the new phone my daughter, who lives in Portland, would have been unable to contact me, and she’d have driven over the mountain and arrived on my doorstep. As it was, we could communicate. And because she was still concerned that I had no heat or hot food, and the storm was forecast to get worse that evening, I headed inland to her rather than have her running into rain and heavy winds.

The new idea for my book illustrations is unusual, perfect, and surprisingly was less costly than I expected. I love my new computer, and I knew at some point I would have to improve the electrical panel. I was just thankful that I had not burned the house down when my dryer fried its plug and connection box. Every difficult event came to an improved ending. I was reminded not to panic but to give problems time to breathe and unravel. I came away remembering to trust the Universe.

As we move into 2017 with a new President in the United States and our country divided, we need to assume those same attitudes of waiting and not panicking. We need to wait for the solutions to appear and to spend our time tackling what we can.

For me, returning to Colorado as October ended, meant dealing with my own chaos, such as finding the top of my work table, which was piled high with projects, and working upon issues that were in front of me like preparing for the series of holidays I would host, and simplifying everything that I could.

As I worked with those intentions, I found myself seriously considering what New Year’s resolutions I wanted to make. I ended up with just one: to move through the days of 2017 in peace, patience and love.

Love is such a nebulous word. It goes beyond the familial and sexual tones we often associate with it. It is reflected in what we do in the world around us. Each morning, as I have my first cup of coffee, I feed the birds. For me, this is one way to live in companionship with nature. I write a letter or two each month to a sister-in-law who is in a care facility and to a friend far away as she battles to regain her health. I toss a dollar in the Salvation Army kettle or hand it to someone who needs it. I don’t have to do “BIG” things. Big and small are labels we apply. The thing we consider small can be very important to another. I don’t need to judge; all I need to do is to be peaceful and show caring.

I am posting this early, just in case you too are thinking about New Year’s resolutions. If you are reading this in January, it isn’t too late to write them. Despite the fact tradition calls us to make them on New Year’s doorstep, it is never too late. Everyone’s journey is different. Your resolutions will be your own. You may resolve to be more present for your children, to get out of debt or to smile more.

Whatever comes to you to be handled, meet it without panic. Meet it with patience. Meet it with trust there is a solution and that the solution will come. Meet it in love.

Happy New Year. I wish you all a wonderful 2017.

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