A New Hope

A few years ago we experienced a particularly frigid winter here in New Hampshire.  The kind of cold that makes your face hurt and your children actually wear coats to school without being nagged.  Temperatures were in the double digits below zero for several nights in a row and day times barely reached zero.  My house at the time wasn’t well insulated and the furnace was running almost constantly.  I checked the little gauge that peered out of the snow on top of the oil tank outside twice a day to make sure we weren’t too close to running out of oil because I didn’t have enough money to fill it just yet.  Every night I worried about frozen pipes.  Many mornings me and my pink hairdryer would be under the house thawing out pipes so we could take morning showers.  One night before bed I noticed the furnace sounded a little…..strange.  I wasn’t exactly sure what it was, but I knew it wasn’t normal.  As long as it stayed running I could try to close my eyes for a few minutes, but that sound kept me getting up every hour on the hour checking to make sure it was still running.  When I wasn’t up checking on it my ears stayed focused on the sick, angry goat sounds coming from down the hall and I didn’t sleep a wink.  At 4 a.m. the furnace stopped working.  Temperatures outside were hovering around -20.

I moved quickly, calling the repair guy.  Within twenty minutes he showed up, finds that the line from tank is gelled up, fixes it and saves the day.  He teaches me how to prevent it from happening in the future.  Two hundred dollars later life is back to normal (or as normal as it can get when it’s that freaking cold).

Winter stinks.  I think most people agree with this.  I think another thing we are all on the same page about is that 2016 was a particularly rough one.

Raise your hand if you can relate:


So what was it that made 2016 a particularly tough one for so many people?

Fighting.  Break-ups.  Divorce.  Cars dying.  Struggling to pay bills.  Bankruptcy.  Frozen pipes.  Losing your home.  Accidents.  Sickness.  Death.  Losing jobs.  Hating your job.  Natural disasters.  Shootings.   Acts of terrorism.  Mean people.  Loud, opinionated people.  The election.

LIFE…..  it’s hard sometimes.

This time of year we tend to notice all of the bad stuff that has happened throughout the year and hope for a better one coming up.   A fresh start.  A do-over.  I’m on Facebook, I see your posts.  You feel me, I know you do.  We all focus on the things that have gone down that have had the biggest impact on us, the things that brought us to our knees begging for mercy, the things that keep us praying for daylight.   Heaped up in a big pile, added, subtracted, and divided up at year end these thoughts can cripple even the strongest of people.   We spend so much time focusing on the bad, the furnace-ready-to-die-thoughts, than we do on the solution and the good.

WE FOCUS ON THE BAD STUFF!  Why do we do this?

2016 can easily be summed up as the year I lost my job.

BUT it could also just as easily be summed up as the summer I kayaked, hiked, and camped more than I have ever been able to (because I had TIME!).

The summer I got to spend a lot more time with grandchildren #1 and #2.


As the year grandchild #3 and #4 were born.

The year I auditioned for Survivor.

The year I started writing again.

Another Star Wars movie was released.

This is all INCREDIBLY AWESOME STUFF that has happened and I feel more like me than I have in a very long time and yet my first inclination when I think about 2016 is remembering the bad.

I am a follower of Elizabeth Gilbert.   She is not only my favorite author, but I admire her approach to life.  She’s real, she’s honest, she is an amazing writer and I aspire to be like her.  A few years ago she posted about her Happiness Jar project and although I have yet to do it, I loved the idea:


Every night you write down a happy moment from the day on a piece of paper, deposit it into a jar, and you can pull out these wonderful, joyful memories on New Year’s Eve or whenever you need a little burst of happiness.  At year’s end when you’re focusing on all of the things that made your year terrible you can relive of all of these simple, happy moments that have fallen into the big, bad cracks and gotten lost.  As we close on this brutal, messy, belligerent year why not make a promise to stay focused on all of the wonderful moments that are bound to come your way in 2017?  Let’s have a new hope for a new and different kind of year, one that leaves us remembering the good and leaving the bad behind and forgotten.

Focus on the good and make happiness a priority.

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