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Self-Renewal in
the New Year

Natalia J. Garland

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Remember Y2K? It was only five years ago that many of us were concerned about what kind of world we would encounter on January 1, 2000. When I awoke on the morning of the New Millennium and found the world still intact, I celebrated by going out and buying my first computer. That purchase changed my life. By June of that year I had learned enough about computers and the internet that I could manage my own website.

The New Year is a good time for self-renewal. I believe that periodic self-renewal is essential to a meaningful and authentic life. We can either go forward or go backward, but standing still is impossible. Each year I try to do something that will propel my personal journey toward greater fulfillment. This year I began by sketching out some ideas about self-renewal.


Learning can happen in many ways. For me it is not a matter of whether I take a college course for credit or try a new recipe, so long as I increase my knowledge of the world and my ability to participate in it. Learning enables me to apply a positive focus to living. I enjoy discovering solutions to problems and the endings to stories. The learning process involves reflection. Under this heading I would include the use of logic, evaluation, analysis, and constructive criticism. The result is a feeling of self-confidence that I can make informed decisions and find my way through our complicated world.

My quest as a writer requires a certain level of solitude. Despite my hours on the computer, however, I thrive on human nurture. Relationships provide an arena of connection in which we can grow to greater maturity. Family, friends, and neighbors give us ample opportunity to practice the skills of empathy and harmony, perhaps as a lifelong endeavor. The reward of developing loving relationships is good self-esteem. When we know that we have been loved, if only by someone at sometime, these acts of love are unforgettable.

Some people seek spirituality for its transcendent quality. I value the spiritual life for the structure that it imparts to our earthly existence. Spirituality provides an alternate way to measure time. Most religions have a cycle of holy days that divide the year into various opportunities for self-renewal, fellowship with others, and communion with a deity. Some of this structure is rooted in tradition as well as in theology. Although repetitive, these annual traditions are adaptable to whatever my needs are at the moment. Within the security of a familiar tradition I can process new growth.

We can all be creative in daily tasks. Some people will excel in the fine arts, but each of us can express our uniqueness in the things we do every day. To be creative means to have an awareness of our individual style and to be able to use this style deliberately and constructively. Creativity also involves risk. The creative product opens the individual to rejection. Society does not always appreciate creative people. Creativity demands internal conviction and self-motivated perseverance.

The concept of patriotism involves our relationship to our nation and to other citizens. Without patriotism there is no national survival. The pursuit of knowledge and self-expression, with equality for all, depends on the protection of our rights and values as a nation. Taking pride in a national identity is a source of empowerment. Since September 11th, I have come to regard patriotism as a sort of free-floating psychosocial stage of development that we all must master at some point in our life. Patriotism requires courage, personally and nationally, to face enemies and to face the reality that enemies do exist.

It always helps me to clear my mind if I get out of the house (or office) and take a walk. The sensuousness of nature, the colors and fragrances, freshens my labored intellect. If you live or work in an unsafe area, even tending to some indoor potted plants can keep you close to the earth. Taking a walk also provides a fair amount of exercise. Whether strolling through a park in spring or trampling through snow in winter, it is a way to stay physically active. An appreciation of nature promotes an ecological perspective on life. In other words, we share this earth with the plants and animals.

Self-renewal does not necessarily require money. Nor does it have to drastically alter life. It does, however, require effort. It is an investment in oneself. Each step forward prevents a lapse backward into self-decay. Have a Happy New Year. (Written 01/03/05)

Until we meet again..............stay sane.

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Copyright 2005 Natalia J. Garland