I belong to the Wood Buffalo Photography Club which meets once a month and has a friendly photo challenge each time. The theme for January has been "Chasing Light". Interestingly enough, I have been chasing light in my photographs very intentionally this year. I have often joked that I am solar-powered! I love the feeling of being blanketed in sunlight and have been exploring how that can be communicated in an image.
The images below were taken on two different outings. The first on New Year's Day - a bitterly cold day that brought with it the challenge of trudging through snow feeling like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in all my layers. It was quite a feat trying to control a camera with clumsy, gloved fingers. (As well as trying to keep my eyes from freezing shut.) The frost that is produced in temperatures below -30 is very unique so I just couldn't resist venturing out. The second outing was during this week's warm spell and after the destructive winds. I grabbed my small Olympus Tough camera to snap some pictures on a run/obstacle course through the trails. Both outings occurred just before sunset, as I literally chased the light.
A shiny, brand new year is upon us and many of us boldly step into January with a renewed spark and doe-eyed intentions. We resolve to turn over a new leaf, relishing the fresh start a new calendar year brings. We pledge an oath to ourselves to quit the bad habits, start healthy new routines and be an amazing person overall. This year we will get it right.
And then, by January 2nd, we realize we are still the same, flawed human being we were 48 hours ago. Drat. All those inspired resolutions get thrown out the window because it's going to take more than a New Year's Eve ball drop to break established patterns of our thinking and behaviour. In fact, it's going to take more than just a year to make some changes. It will take a lifetime.
I haven't made a traditional New Year's resolution for years now. Instead I reflect on the journey I'm on and I choose a word for each year. A friend had shared this concept with me and I was hooked. And for me, each year is connected to the last, flowing seamlessly as one, lifelong learning process. The word is not some new-age-y magic word but simply a word to focus your intentions. I have been seeing this concept pop up more often, and even today came across one woman who has chosen "courageous" as her word, and another, "perseverance". Choosing to be courageous, for example, doesn't mean that you will suddenly be courageous in every situation but it brings it to the forefront of your mind, making you more aware of when you are being timid and gently confronts you to make a choice between courage or fear. It's about growth, not perfection.
Whether it's a word or a traditional resolution or a goal you want to accomplish, I encourage you to start now. Don't be bound by a date. If you feel compelled to make some changes then start the process today. Don't wait for a new day or a new week, or a new month or a new year. Want to be more organized this year? Great! But you don't have to go crazy today organizing every single thing before you can celebrate success. If you pledged to eat healthy this year but you're scarfing down a bag of cookies while you read this don't fret and don't beat yourself up - honour your desire for change by putting them down right now. Today is not a write-off. This year is not a write-off because we didn't get it right in the first two days. We can make changes and choices at any moment. A new year simply seems to be a great opportunity, making us feel like we've got a clean slate - but in God's point of view every single day is a clean slate when we turn to Him, bringing Him all of our mistakes and weaknesses. He doesn't want us wallowing in self-loathing despair - He has set us free from all of that!
January 1st is not a deadline for which all resolutions must be started and completed perfectly. If you messed up this morning, start fresh this afternoon, and this evening, and the next day, and the day after that. If you want to work towards a new goal - keep pressing in! Let go of the past (year, hour, minute...) and start fresh! If you didn't accomplish what you wanted on January 1st and 2nd, take heart, all things work together - every moment is a part of your lifelong journey of growth and transformation. If we were to chart a line graph of our lives we'd see plateaus and valleys and that's what it should look like!
So, be kind to yourself. "Falling off the wagon" from your great intentions does NOT make you a failure (no matter how you feel or what anyone else says). Pray for the strength and motivation to stay the course - whatever changes you feel compelled to make. Trust in God and let Him guide your steps, leaning on Him at every turn. Surrender and let God work in and through Your weaknesses. Embrace this messy journey!
I believe that lasting change comes with baby steps in the direction you want to go. We certainly won't get there by throwing our hands up and walking away at the first slip up. Dream big with the desires God has set in your heart and start small, being faithful and committed, choosing to dust yourself off and carry on when you experience a set-back. Celebrate the little things. Press on.
Happy New Year. Happy New Moment.