Do you remember a toy called the Etch-A-Sketch? It was an 8 x 10 screen encased in red plastic with two knobs that, when turned, created thin graphite lines on the screen. It was one of my favorite childhood toys. The downside was that you could only draw vertical lines - but since I wasn't much of an artist, it didn't really matter to me. One of my favorite things to do was twist and turn those knobs almost maniacally, until the entire screen was black with graphite shavings. Then I'd turn the Etch-A-Sketch upside down, give it couple of swift shakes, and all the lines would disappear.
I feel somewhat the same way on the days leading up to January 1 each year. I scurry around trying to tie up all the loose ends of the Old Year before I turn my life upside down and shake it to start January 1 with a clean slate.
This year was one of new beginnings - I left my job while my husband returned to his. I started spending more time on my writing, and took a writing class which was exciting and enlightening. My son and daughter in law moved from Florida to Texas, and promptly embarked upon the ultimate fresh start - a new baby, our grandson Connor, who was born on November 14.
Although there weren't a lot of things in 2011 that need erasing, the idea of starting fresh is still very appealing. Brand new years inspire the kind of shake up I used to do with my Etch-A-Sketch, the kind that wipes away all the messiness and ugliness of the year gone by. Clean pages on the calendar spark ideas for ways to fill them with satisfying experiences,
I want 2012 to be a year of more new beginnings. I want to find my way into more creative outlets, especially musical ones. We hope to move to a new home in 2012, a major undertaking that we've put off for our entire adult lives and one that is long overdue. I want to be excited about that, and embrace the idea of this change with enthusiasm and positive energy.
There is likely to be sadness and loss during 2012. When you reach our stage of life, it seems almost inevitable. But I hope whatever losses do come are tempered with enough joy to make them bearable.
On this last weekend of 2011, I hope you are reflecting on the positive elements of this past year, and looking forward with eager anticipation to new challenges and experiences in the year ahead.
Go ahead - shake it up and turn it over.