Monday, January 11, 2016

Bringing in the New Year—Carolyn R. Wilker

We’re nearly two weeks into 2016, but for a few moments I want to reflect on the old year that we’ve just put aside.
This past year was momentous in so many ways and sad in others. Three people in my circle of acquaintances and friends—some for as long as 30 years—died in 2015, plus one young teen who attended our church. As I mourned the loss, I also felt grateful to have known Kathy, Susan and Patricia, and Samantha. I reflected on the blessings they brought to my life. Susan was part of my early writing life and edited my first book, Once Upon a Sandbox. Kathy had invited us to her place when we were new members at the church and then to the Bible Study she often hosted. Patricia was a kind and generous neighbour who became a friend, and Samantha is gone too soon at the age of 16.
 Even while I mourn the loss, there were good times aplenty. My husband and I gained a new granddaughter, an addition to the two small grandchildren we already have. I had new publishing credits (Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon and Tower Poetry) and requests for a column in our national denominational magazine, Canada Lutheran, and publication therein, but also invitations to do my memoir workshop in new locations to new organizations. There have also been new friendships in the making and a fabulous writer’s critique group in my corner.
 Perhaps you’ve read the verse in the Bible about “putting your hand to the plough” and not looking back. The analogy works well for ploughing where you need to keep your eye on the furrows ahead and turn carefully. I think there’s much value in assessing what you’ve brought with you from the year in order to move ahead to the next.
On December 24th, Vitaliy Fursov, a fellow Toastmaster and acquaintance, offered his planning guide to fellow Facebook friends. He wrote, “This time of the year I usually take a quiet moment and enjoy a planning session for my next year. Well, that's what I've learned to do as a professional PM (project manager?). If one fails to plan, one plans to fail. I call it a year design.”
I downloaded his year design and began to think through the categories one at a time. Among the categories were things we’ve learned, challenges we’ve faced, and things that happened during the year that we’re proud of.  Then looking toward the new year the lessons we want to take with us. Those included things we perhaps need to delegate, keep, or leave behind (which might mean quitting something).
Going through the plan gave me some clarity, especially when I needed to make a decision this week. I looked at my notes and realized what needed to stay, what I must set aside and what I wanted to accomplish this year—which is not a resolution made on the spur of New Year’s Eve, but a longer range plan for using abilities and gifts.Perhaps even continuing on with a goal not yet achieved but what is on its way to completion.
There is value in looking back in order to move ahead. Specialists in mental health and therapy have done this for ages to help their clients. We can gain from it too. It doesn’t exclude praying for guidance or letting God help us make decisions. We can make plans and sometimes the goalpost moves and alters things even while we’re serving. With those items more clearly in focus, we can move ahead.
 I know what my goals are, but do you know yours?


Glynis said...

Sounds like a clear path for you - well right now at least. But we know that there is the occasional detour, but with God in the lead, all will be well. One thing we do know! ;)

As long as when we look back, we realize we have learned something - that is the merit that I find in evaluating past.

Good, thoughtful post, Carolyn. Thanks.

Peter Black said...

Thanks Carolyn. A thought-provoking and helpful post. Many times - too numerous, it seems - I found myself at funeral visitations and attending memorial services last year. One extended family member (my wife's sister) passed away in the UK, early in 2015. And so, we were truly grateful that we had gotten to visit with her in 2014.
The year (2015) had many lovely moments - meeting new friends in the wider Christian family, as well as in the larger community. I'm grateful and consider myself privileged to be granted a safe 'delivery' into this new year. The planning & prioritization? - that's always a challenge for me. However, *'Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.* :) ~~+~~

David Kitz said...

Carolyn, thanks for your thoughts on looking back and planning ahead. I've been doing a good bit of that as the year begins. God bless you in 2016.

Tracy Krauss said...

Some excellent thoughts here on using reflection to move forward. Thanks Carolyn.

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