Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Turn over a new leaf—Carolyn Wilker

After an upset, some unkind behaviour for which we [children] had been scolded, my mother would say, “Let’s start over.” Maybe there had been tears and feeling sorry for saying mean words in anger or hurting a sibling in some way.  After some time apart, there’d been a hand extended with an invitation to come back and try again. How glad my sad heart was that my mother could forgive my behaviour and provide the chance to dry my tears and go back to play.
This was my early understanding of starting over. It could come in a new morning, in the middle of the day, or even at the end of a day before bedtime.
Starting over can happen any time. How glad my heart that my friends love me still, in spite of mistakes I’ve made.

 In L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, red-haired Anne, the orphan, talks a lot, acts without thinking of the outcome, and is challenged to better behaviour by her benefactor, Marilla. Picture young Anne after such an episode, sighing. Then she says, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” 

Montgomery expressed that so well in her character. Who has never been in such a place and wishes a fresh start, as Anne did?
In the Oxford Dictionary of Idioms, there are several entries under the title of “leaf.” There’s shake or tremble like a leaf that represents an element of fear; take a leaf out of someone’s book, meaning “ to closely imitate or emulate someone in a particular way;” and turn over a new leaf, to “improve your conduct or performance.”
A fresh start, starting over, turning over a new leaf are all terms that mean the same thing—the desire to try again.
At this time each year, many people set New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps they want to do better and leave mistakes behind—except that some of the resolutions are made in the moment without a lot of thought or direction on how to accomplish them.
A plan of achieving better fitness or losing weight—two common goals after turkey dinners and holiday treats—will have a stronger chance of success if there are built-in supports than a statement made on the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Make changes for the better any time of year, not just at New Years. In fact too many changes at once are invitations to failure, since humans are creatures of habit and habits are hard to break.
Sarah Hilton, a professional speaker and coach who has studied human behaviour and communications styles, quotes Craig Valentine when she says, "Change small, change often." That means to make small changes often, ones that we’re more likely to remember and put into practice. It’s true of life as well as learning to speak professionally.
There’s another path to new life. It’s not just at New Year’s, nor just the beginning or end of a day. Jesus Christ invites you to start over with him. Invites you to be forgiven, extending the hand that accepts you with all your mistakes and imperfections. He invites you to mend your ways and to accept him as Saviour. And if you’ve already done that, to continue travelling with him along the road of your life.
 Whatever your motive or need for change, think on these words: Change often, change small; forgiveness; and “Let’s start over.”
May 2013 be a year of new adventures for you. Most of all, I wish you joy and peace. Happy New Year!


Janet Sketchley said...

Here's to fresh starts! Happy new year to you and yours, Carolyn!

Donna Mann said...

I love your mom's words. I was raised with them too and I remember using that phrase with my own children. Thanks for reminding me.

Peter Black said...

A fine New Year focus, Carolyn, providing helpful handles for the journey.
L.M. Montgomery certainly had a gift for bringing forth wisdom from the mouth of the young among her characters.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Janet, Donna and Peter, for your best wishes, and for your encouragement this beginning of the year 2013.

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