Going back to school and starting a new year is such an exciting time. As a kid, I always looked forward to shopping for new clothes, buying school supplies, and finding out who my new teacher would be. Now that I’m a little older, I think I finally understand some of the appeal. It’s that idea of newness and change, the chance to begin again in a whole new world of possibilities.
In the western world, September – not January 1st – is the “new year” and, in many ways, we gear our lives around this reality. Besides school, it’s the time when seemingly everything starts – sports, music lessons… you name it. If you’ve got kids, chances are they’re signed up for a whole host of activities geared to help them learn and grow into well-rounded, healthy little people. But what are you doing for yourself?
Fall is a great time to take stock, to set things in order and start fresh. As we leave behind the lazy, lax days of summer, we can use this opportunity to make some resolutions and re-establish boundaries for ourselves. (And whether we’d like to admit it or not, it’s good for us.) Here are a few things I’m going to try to work on:
- Getting to bed on time. While staying up half the night watching movies or messing around on the computer might have worked in the summer, most of us need more sleep to be at our best (or perhaps even to be functional!).
- Getting regular exercise. Okay, even that isn’t concrete enough and I’ll have to figure it out. But you know what I mean. In summer, when we’re outside more often, it’s easy to find ways to get exercise. When the weather isn’t as predictable (is that ever true for Calgary?), we have to be more intentional about staying fit and healthy. Because what’s good for the body is also good for the soul.
- Ramping up my prayer. When I begin to feel unsettled or irritable, it’s usually a sign that my prayer life has gotten a little wonky. I’ve learned that to be a good person – much less a good wife and mother – I can’t put it off. Like a wise priest once told me, you can’t save today’s prayer for tomorrow!
- Going to confession once a month. It’s one of the sure ways to start “anew.” It keeps us on our toes and assures us of God’s grace. We all need to hear the words of Christ speaking to us through His priest: “Through the ministry of the Church…I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, of the Holy Spirit.”
- Making a retreat. Every year, if possible, I like to steal away from the world for a day or two to reflect on my life, to assess where I am and where I’m going. If for whatever reason it doesn’t work to get away, I try to spend at least an hour or two in front of the tabernacle. Some churches offer 24-hour adoration (once a month or more). Quiet time with Jesus, especially in the wee hours of the morning, works wonders!
Some people like to think that once we reach adulthood, we’re done – we’ve somehow “made it.” (I wish they’d tell me their secret!) But we instinctively know it’s not true. Change is written in God’s plan for all of creation – it’s the way we learn and grow. I know there’s nothing earth-shattering in that list, but it just goes to show that you don’t need to do a lot to bring about real change. I’m a firm believer that the Lord only places us on this earth as long as necessary, whatever it takes to complete His work in us. Each day is a whole new world of possibilities set before us – an opportunity to grow in virtue, in wisdom, and in strength. None of us has “made it,” but if we persevere and challenge ourselves to start anew each day – offering all that we are and all that we have to God – He will surely bless our efforts and help us become the people we are meant to be.
– Kelley Holy