Friday, January 8, 2010

New Year, Full Moon, Smile of the Tiger

Out with the old . . .
New Year, Full Moon, Smile of the Tiger
“What are your New Year’s resolutions?” My friend Sharon was on the phone.

“I don’t make resolutions,” I snorted.

“But this is a very auspicious New Year, ushered in beneath a full moon. We leave the plodding Year of the Ox behind and enter the dynamic Year of the Tiger.”

“Is that good?” I asked.

“It is neither good nor bad,” she replied. “Things happen quickly in a Tiger year. So be prepared to make quick decisions, to pounce on opportunity.”

“Or leap aside from danger?”

“Exactly.” We laughed. “But why no resolutions?” Sharon persisted.

Memory flashed me back thirty years to when a friend, I’ll call him James, stood in front of my bookshelves reading the titles. “You don’t like yourself much, do you?”

His question stunned me. “What do you mean?”

“These are all self-help books. If you liked yourself, you would not be trying to change who you are.”

Ouch. That hurt. He was right. I wanted to change everything about myself. I was not enough. Not beautiful enough, not graceful enough, not smart enough, not happy enough, not accomplished enough, not skinny enough. I had the wrong skin, the wrong hair, the wrong feet, the wrong clothes.

James’s words stuck on me like an ink blotch on my best silk blouse. I couldn’t scrub his words out of my mind. He was right. But I wanted to be perfect. And I wanted to like myself. Eventually I decided I could live without my stacks of self-help books but it took me five years to get rid of all of them. It took longer than that for me to begin to find peace with who I am. There was no magic wand, no quick tricks. I worked hard at a process that took recognition, acceptance and gratitude. Along the way I picked up a great gift, the ability to laugh at myself. I never did get perfect. But I got to liking myself right well.

“So that’s the story, Sharon . To me, resolutions feel like self-help books. When I make resolutions, I feel like I am telling myself something is wrong with me. Of course I always look to better myself. That is who I am. I like to look for ways to make changes, to try new things, but that doesn’t require a special day. That can happen all year long. It starts with knowing who we are. Just like you, Sharon, are a beacon of light to all who are around you. You don’t have to try to be one. You just are.”

I heard a funny noise over the phone line. “What’s that sound?”

“That’s me ripping up my list of resolutions.” We laughed.

“Let’s lift a toast. In this New Year, may we be guided by the light of the full moon, pounce on every opportunity, evade pitfalls and love and laugh and live with the smile of the Tiger.”

Sondra Ashton
Home Again: Havre Daily News
December 31, 2009

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