A Clean Slate

2014Guest Author:  Susanne Skinner

The New Year has dawned. It’s a fresh start, a clean slate, and a chance to get it right. We jump in with both feet and make promises to ourselves that begin to fade by February and are gone by March. Sixty percent of the population makes New Year’s resolutions but only eight percent succeed at keeping them. Why do we start out with such conviction only to lose sight of the very things we want to happen? I’m in agreement with Aline. We go about it the wrong way.

The tradition of making promises on the first day of the year is not new. It is a custom started by our Roman ancestors. On the first day of the New Year they celebrated Janus, the god of new beginnings. Janus had two faces. One looked backward into the old year and one looked forward into the new. Janus was the patron of arches, gates, doorways, endings and beginnings. The Romans named the month of January in his honor and believed he brought good fortune. We can learn something from Janus.

The Puritans held similar beliefs and set aside the first month to make commitments that would make good use of their talents, encourage charity, and avoid behaviors that would lead them down the wrong path. There is nothing wrong with a look behind you before moving forward. It offers wider perspective on the year ahead and better definition to the commitments we make.

The Rear-View Mirror

Begin the New Year by looking at the old one. Ask yourself: what went well, what could have gone better, and what should be done differently or not at all? When I do this, unexpected joys and serendipity are revealed. It reminds me that even if my year did not turn out as planned, it turned out as it was intended. By looking in the rear view mirror, I see a richer plan than the one I envisioned when my year began.

Based on my rear view perspective, I make directional changes. I am not talking Extreme Life Makeover, just small but meaningful course corrections. Not revolutionary, not world-transforming, but real. Instead of resolutions for a year, consider weekly or monthly goals. Create manageable blocks of time and effort and do not be afraid to set some easy targets. Six years ago when I tackled a weight loss challenge it was much easier to set a goal of one pound a week than the 50-pound loss I needed to achieve. That’s how it went on, and that’s how it came off.

Every New Year arrives with hope, inspiration and 365 brand new days to get it right. Start each of those days with a grateful heart. There is good in each day and acknowledging it provides a mental, physical and spiritual benefit. Believe that you deserve good things. Imagine them, speak them out loud or write them in a journal and channel a positive attitude. If you must make a resolution, banish negative thinking.

Open Your Third Eye

Third EyeI am learning to incorporate an approach that calls upon my third eye–also called the mind’s eye. The third eye is our ability to see potential. It has been said that the third eye is a natural part of every person: it consists of all the senses and mind working together as a larger more powerful sensory organ. Ancient cultural histories and new age spiritualism are filled with stories of three-eyed beings wielding great power, including visions, clairvoyance, auras, and out-of-body experiences.

Tradition says it is situated between our two physical eyes, and expands up to the middle of the forehead when opened. In many religions the third eye is considered one of the main energy centers of the body. When we open our third eye, our mind, and our body are simultaneously open and nonresistant. It symbolizes positive thinking and energy, elements that work best with an open heart and mind. If you practice meditation, this is an excellent way to develop your third eye. It connects with the deepest part of you and helps release negative energy. Visualize what you want, make it part of you and the life you want to lead. It’s not easy and it’s not for everyone, but those that practice it have good results.

It’s All About Me

My New Year focus includes something that is all about me. It is something – large or small – that I want. It can be a place to visit, a skill to learn, or a behavior I want to change. It must have an element of fun embedded in the challenge. I like to stretch myself and see results. I am a Leo – there is no other way. This year I have chosen a skill that is part art and part science. I will master the French Macaron.

French macaronsThis culinary confection has no equal. I have eaten many a Macaron but Thomas Keller’s magnificent confections, showcased at Bouchon Bakery in Yountville California, is where my bar has been set. For foodies like me, it is a bucket-list destination.

Macarons are French cookies made with ground almonds and egg whites, beautifully tinted and sandwiched around an exquisite cream filling. The flavor combinations are endless. A Macaron is finicky and not to be confused with a macaroon. It does not like intense heat or humidity, likewise for cold and damp. This is a recipe that embodies precision, timing, patience and elegance. I live in New England–we have weather. My window of opportunity begins in April, skips July and August, and ends in October. That gives me roughly five months to accomplish this feat, all of them weather dependent. There is research and reading to be done, for many have gone before me. I am intimidated, excited and determined.

Those of you that know me and live nearby are welcome in the test kitchen. I am visualizing the results. I see their rainbow beauty and come October, victory will be mine.

May 2014 bless you in unexpected ways and reveal joy in places you never thought to look.



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