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January.

And more than half way through!  Does January signify anything to you?

To some, it is a time to burst into the new year with energy and enthusiasm, armed with a long list of new goals to achieve, ready to take on whatever challenges the year might hold.

To those of us who are dealing with heartbreak, however, it sometimes simply signifies the beginning of another unpredictable year, a year that could bring another tragedy, another reason to mourn, and we are already in pain. We see no reason to celebrate.

I’ve been there. My husband drowned in January of 2006. The next year, I wasn’t feeling at all like celebrating when the New Year rolled around. Tragedy struck in 2006, and who was to say what the upcoming year would bring?

Since then, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve come to understand myself much better, and to look at life from a new perspective. All of this has made it possible for me to actually look forward to each January, and to each new year.

Today I’m going to address one thing that you can do to make this month one that you can look forward to, and a way to start setting things in order for a better year this year.

Consider your ability to choose how you look at life. I know you’ve heard the counsel that we all adopt an “attitude of gratitude”. And I know, after tragedy has struck, we can begin to wonder what there is to be grateful for.

A few months after my husband had drowned, I was speaking with a widower who had lost his wife several years before, and who, with his family, had begun a tradition of service in her honor. He had grown sons and daughters who were skilled in remodeling homes, and they would seek out people who had endured difficulties and help them re-do a room of their home and make it beautiful.

His family had chosen my home to provide a bedroom makeover, and the project was nearing completion.  This day he was working on re-wiring the ceiling fixture. As I talked to him, he told me about some of the trials he had experienced in his life. He had lost his wife years earlier, and he spoke of how she had always loved to help other people, and how he now found comfort in finding ways to serve. In the course of the conversation he said something that I have remembered ever since. “I’ve discovered that life is all about problems and learning to overcome them and live on in spite of them. Any one who thinks that we are here to figure out how to live without problems has a lot to learn!”

Years before, I would have thought that was a pessimistic attitude. But now, because of these friends, and my own experience, I see the wisdom in approaching life from that viewpoint. I see the truth in it! If we know that this life by nature is full of difficulty, and our job is to grow through learning how to face and overcome that difficulty, then every problem becomes a stepping-stone instead of a roadblock. Yes, some of them are extremely painful - but they can still be stepping-stones. And we can be grateful for stepping-stones because they give us a way to make it to the next place we are heading for.

So, for this week, try to begin looking at life from a new viewpoint. Look at each challenge as an invitation to grow - and to see what you can learn from the situation.

It has helped me. I believe it can help you, too.

Check back soon for more ideas about ways to approach new beginnings with more hope!

Heading for my next stepping-stone,


Roslyn

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