’Strong Thoughts

Committing to a better year isn’t limited to Jan. 1

Christy Armstrong Banner Staff Writer
Posted 1/7/17

The whirring sound coming above our heads was enough to keep us from focusing on our talking at the dining room table, a conversation which was likely too serious for our own good.

Into the room …

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’Strong Thoughts

Committing to a better year isn’t limited to Jan. 1


The whirring sound coming above our heads was enough to keep us from focusing on our talking at the dining room table, a conversation which was likely too serious for our own good.

Into the room twirled little Isabella, my 2-year-old cousin, who was pointing her tiny fingers toward the source of the sound.

“Look, Mama! Look, Nanny!” she squealed. “A pwane! A pwane!” 

She grinned, still pointing, doing a little ballerina twirl as she waited for someone else to notice the spectacle and ooh and ah in agreement.

I was visiting with family just after Christmas, when my grandmother had given a few members of my family small remote-controlled quadcopter drones as gifts. One was flying overhead, and her eyes sparkled.

Her bright blue eyes widened even further as her father made the model aircraft do a flip in the air, the little wannabe artist suddenly neglecting the lump of play clay clutched in one hand.

Her father’s eyes sparkled like hers, and he grinned as he watched her watching.

In her world, time could stop long enough to point out something which gave her joy. Why wouldn’t you take the time to acknowledge something that gives you joy? 

At some point in our lives, we all have that kind of childlike wonder, the kind of joy worth taking the time to acknowledge.

Over the years, it gets away from us and is with more frequency replaced with stress, anger and a bevy of other negative emotions. This world can be a terrible place, and one does not go through life seeing through rose-colored glasses all the time.

However, Isabella was still in possession of her rose-colored glasses — literally, Minnie Mouse-themed ones — and we can all take a lesson from her.

With us just having begun 2017, no doubt you have heard people talk incessantly about their New Year’s resolutions.

Now, it’s normal to have a healthy degree of skepticism when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. After all, people do often break them within the first few weeks or months of the year.

Practicing a new hobby gives way to other priorities. You find yourself enjoying some barbecue ribs after promising yourself you’ll commit to a vegetarian diet. (I may or may not have done the latter one year.) 

What made this New Year’s unique, however, was how many times I heard people express relief over the arrival of 2017.

From displeasure over the outcome of the U.S. presidential election to sorrow over the loss of loved ones, many rang in the new year with feelings of ill will toward 2016.

Many of those feelings were justified; don’t get me wrong. Some people suffered real tragedies and are still working to overcome them. Almost anyone would empathize with their feelings of negativity about the year.

Others, I suspect, just let ordinary stresses pile up and get the best of them in 2016. When scary news headlines and other such things were added into the mix, their attitudes soured.

Interestingly enough, many of the same people who whined about 2016 also expressed excitement about 2017. Suddenly, life is wonderful again.

It is funny how we tend to approach the new year with positivity, but many of us end the year with negativity.

Little tends to change in a person’s life between Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 each year. It is just one 24-hour period, a few hours on the clock.

It is perhaps the symbolism that helps us change our tune and begin brainstorming New Year’s resolutions. “New year” is code for “new start.” Those funny looking 2017-shaped glasses people wore to parties may as well have had rosy lenses.

The truth is we don’t really need New Year’s celebrations to help us change our tune. It does not have to be Jan. 1 for a fresh start to happen. It can actually be Jan. 8 or June 9 or, well, you get the idea.

We can sit around and complain about how our year has been going, or we can work on trying to fix whatever has gone wrong. We can lament how we have already broken our New Year’s resolutions, or we can start over again.

It is easy for us to let the world get us down, but we can choose to view the world with wonder the way a 2-year-old does when she sees a “pwane.” 

Wonder can equal hope, and hope has a way of making a difference in ways mopiness and complaining cannot.

Approaching life with positivity is, in fact, a choice. If you are waiting for the world to give you a reason to live your life with childlike wonder, you will be disappointed more often than not.

However, it is well worth taking the time to occasionally look up from whatever is in front of you right now and explore what lies beyond your ground-level view.


(About the writer: Christy Armstrong is a staff writer at the Cleveland Daily Banner. Email her at christy.armstrong@clevelandbanner.com.)


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