Raise Your Glass to a Safer, Saner New Year

Everyone everywhere agrees that 2020 has been a bad year in so many ways, so don’t look back, focus on the future, bring it on 2021!

With one foot in 2 continents my heart always aches with longings, but when I said goodbye to one country to fly to the other, I endure the tug at my heartstrings by keeping my eyes looking forward.

When I arrive at a new destination, I leave my luggage at the door. No one reaches middle age without accumulating baggage — regrets, disappointments, resentment, misgivings, mistakes, misunderstandings, and misfortunes. Let it go.

The grass is not greener on the other side. Skies are not bluer. Life is not easier. All expats play this mental game thinking maybe things would be better if they lived in my their passport country, in the land where they grew up understanding the language, customs and culture by osmosis as a birthright. But no matter where in the world one resides storms prevail. Turbulence is an inherent part of the human existence

In the artificial world of FB, instagram and social media it looks like everyone is having a great time all the time - winning championships, getting married, traveling the world, having babies. In reality, low moments that we don’t post about, weigh heavy between those highs. We endure hardships blinking back tears with gritted teeth.

In this journey, no one gets a free ride. We each face our own lifetime of physical pain, emotional despair, spiritual crisis, devastating loss and unbearable deception.

At the end of the day we must choose peace. As my yoga teacher repeats on-line in her calming voice, “Stretch. Breathe. Accept. Allow. Release. Let go. Namastè.”

“We are all divine and we are all ultimately connected.”

Forgive. Absolve. Free.

Do not blame yourself. Women especially tend to be self critical. After all of my accidents, I berated myself.

If only I had stopped that seizure, broken that fall, ridden in a different car, taken another route at some other time.

If only I had been more careful, more cautious, more fearful. But noooo! I threw myself into the whirlwind of life chasing new experiences, traveling to unchartered territories, and competing in sports at the highest level with the most intensity.

If only I had protected my body back then would I be in less pain now? How do you save your body from life? The act of living is being fully engaged.

Forgiveness starts with the self, but ultimately must extend to others. Do not blame. Do not condemn. Do not judge. We all act in ways and say things, intentionally or not, that are hurtful. All feelings matter. To harbor ill will and hatred toward others leads to our own destruction by eating away at our thoughts and energy.

“ To learn to forgive is one of God’s greatest lessons,” says my mom, who has great faith and even greater wisdom. “ It liberates your soul.”

2020 has been a long, unbearable year. We are restless, ready to move on. We want to go where we want, when we want, with whoever we want. We long to travel freely. We patiently waited to gather in groups, to celebrate together, to see loved ones again. We ache with longing.

Take an extra dose of patience heading into the new year. Keep wearing a mask, maintain social distancing, get the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it is available. Our individual rights to regain our freedom depends on respecting others rights to remain safe.

Believe brighter days lie ahead. Hold onto hope. Spread kindness. Share inspiration. Bring it on 2021. We await with open arms.