The best part about a new year is the focus on reflection, growth, and change. I'm lucky because I get to do this twice a year, which really increases the likelihood that I will actually do something with my new found inner wisdom! For those of you who think it's cheating to celebrate twice (once for the Jewish new year and again on January 1st), I welcome you to join me. Some cultures even celebrate the end and beginning of each new week, taking time to appreciate all the goodness that came to them, while also acknowledging the challenges that they faced. This gives them an opportunity to express gratitude, but also an opportunity to let go. I think it is very easy to get bogged down with the challenges and hardships of life, but starting each week with a clean slate my help us all get past these bumps and find a smoother path.
Another great part about this new year is that it comes as I am about to return to school for a new quarter with my kids. This is also the halfway mark in their 8th grade year. Although it may seem more like an ending (the end of the year, the end of their middle school experience, etc...), I'm thinking about it more in terms of preparing them for a new beginning. I don't just mean in terms of the work load they should expect in high school, or the types of teachers they may encounter (none as wonderful as me, of course). I mean preparing them to be part of the discussion. To know what's going on in the world, and ask questions when they don't. To speak up when they have an idea, but also to listen so they can learn from someone else's ideas. To not just "play" the game of school, but to be calling the plays. And this is my last shot! I have two more quarters, and then it is up to fate. Ok, that may be a bit dramatic, but I do feel some pressure.
A major roadblock in helping kids get to a point where they really feel capable of joining the conversation and taking charge of their educational life, is self esteem. I was in an amazing yoga class a few days ago, with one of my favorite instructors, who was talking about the difference between a new year's resolutions and a san culpa. She explained that a san culpa is an intention, but that is stems from something that is already inside of you. She continued by discussing the idea that yogis believe we already have everything we need inside. The challenge is discovering your inner strength, and finding a way to share it with others. I want my kids to realize that they are knowledgeable, capable and strong enough to do whatever it is they dream to do. I want them to learn that they have more inner strength than they could possibly imagine. And that they were put on this planet to do something with that knowledge and strength. I hope that as we continue learning about injustices that plague our world, as well as the upstanders who fight to make change, my kids will realize they are part of this discussion.
So, now for my san culpa. At the end of the summer, my mom shared a letter with me and my sisters that my Grandpa Milton had written to her when she was 13 years old. She shared this with us on what would have been his 100th birthday. In this letter, he shares his thoughts about the world, which was not looking so good at the time. The Cold War was taking place, and it seemed that they was very little to be optimistic about. Amidst all of this negativity, he shared his ideas about how to live a positive, happy, worthwhile life. One particular thought stuck out for me. He wrote:
"Be a happy warrior. Fight with your heart and your soul and your might, but never become bitter."
This is my san culpa - to be a happy warrior. I know I already have this in me. I am happy, and I have always been blessed with a level of inner strength. But this year, I will be working to bring this out of myself.
I hope this year brings excitement, happiness, adventure, joy, learning and love to you all!