For the past several years, at the end of each year, I have picked a word I want to focus my energy and attitude toward for the year ahead. A year ago, on a date night for our anniversary, my husband and I were chatting about this and I suggested perhaps we should choose a word together for the year ahead. As I suggested it, a word formed in my mind; a concept I thought we most needed to focus on. My husband opened his mouth and suggested the very same word: renewal.
re·new·al noun \ri-ˈnü-əl, -ˈnyü-\ : the state of being made new, fresh, or strong again : the state of being renewed ~Merriam Webster Dictionary
This year was to be our year of renewal; our year of refocusing on our relationship and our family. This was to be our year of starting fresh. By the middle of April, however, we had pulled our older child from public school and became a homeschooling family, suffered two miscarriages, lost a friend, and lost our two remaining grandparents. Renewal felt unattainable.
In the months that followed, I meditated a lot on this single word. While I am not a religious person, I believe spiritually that everything happens for a reason, and I began realizing that I had begun the year with an expectation of how our family would renew itself. After our chain of losses, it occurred to me that true renewal means relinquishing control.
I have learned that renewal takes time. It takes self-exploration, forgiveness, laughter, tears, and blind faith. I have learned that it simply mean letting go and making a choice to change one’s attitude. I am still learning that perhaps it is constantly in progress, a rhythmic, unfolding cycle, much like the seasons.
Each year, as we head into autumn, I feel a sense of change; an anticipation of a fresh start. Perhaps I feel this way because growing up I was tied to the rhythm of the new school year. Or maybe it is because my first child was born in this season, opening a new season in my life. Regardless, for me, the resolutions of a new year and the urge to ‘spring’ clean both roll themselves into a need to start fresh, renewed, as the leaves turn in autumn and we turn inward for winter. It is with this in mind that I am comforted by the fact that this year is not yet over and when we turn the calendar to a new year, I can choose to let go and to do so with a renewed focus on all that is important to me, with a new word to embrace in the year ahead.
Nicola Alesandrini lives in urban, coastal Northern California with her husband and two children. She creatively lives lightly with less while striving for balance and simplicity. She spends her days chasing kids, enjoying bits of nature, avoiding laundry, and nourishing simple dreams. She writes and crafts anywhere she can weave it in and blogs about it all at Creative.Light.Less.