There it goes, 2017 fading from our rearview mirrors. Just like that, 2018 is upon us and we greet the coming days with fresh optimism and intentions. But I have to be straight with you, creating a January editor’s note brimming with gleaming perspectives has always been my annual struggle - I certainly apologize for that. Nearly unavoidable, the new year transition signals a major and seemingly mandatory expectation of a personal overhaul.
First, resolving to improve yourself should be ever-present, not marked by the anniversary of a calendar change. Secondly and in my humble opinion, fresh beginnings are counterintuitive this time of year. While I love the crisp days of winter, the New England landscape in the weeks ahead doesn’t positively lend itself as an encouraging backdrop for renewal and rejuvenation. Sure, I’ll eat more kale and fewer cookies, but I resolve NOT to occupy my brain with the idea of change, but rather contemplation and anticipation. This is my quiet time, the opportunity to hunker down and think about what lies ahead.
2018 is the Year of the Dog, the eleventh in the twelve-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac sign. Intelligence, protection, positive change, determination and achievement, the year is marked by intense energy and purpose. Not bad! In searching for January content I took these traits to heart, searching for characters who personify this sentiment. That’s when I discovered author Denise “Jane” Ashworth and illustrator/artist, Shannon McCarthy. The two recently collaborated to create “Zoa and the Fawn,” a children’s book about the adventures of a little kitten and his new fawn friend in the natural wonders of Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest. Each page is a beautiful display of talent and joy, but it’s truly their own personal journeys that shine in this story. In Ellington, we looked to start the New Year off in a positive way, so we stopped by Thistle Glass Crafts to meet Mary Thompson, whose shop is a local destination for healing crystals, minerals, stone jewelry and Reiki energy work. With the idea of purpose in mind, we chatted with Kelly Robinson from East Longmeadow. Both a mother of two and 20 year Air Force veteran, she invented “SchKIDules,” one-of-a-kind magnetic visual aids to help with everything from toddler communication, teaching routines, introducing chores, to helping children with ADHD or Autism. We also discovered opportunities for personal growth within our local libraries, dined at Casa Bella in Hampden and offered a healthy eating option for the days ahead.
I strayed from obligatory resolutions this year - aside from organizing a closet or two and improving communication with long-distance friends - my objective is to simply pursue joy. For me, it’s doing what creates true happiness, abandoning what does not and hopefully offering meaningful contributions to someone else’s life. I’ll live in the moment, but dream for the future. If the path gets bumpy, I hope it’s followed by a realization of how truly blessed I already am and a thankfulness for who I have in my life - not what I have. I wish you well in this new year, with days that deliver peace, positivity and whatever it is that invigorates your happiness.