Lessons for a New Year


I’ve never been good about sending out Christmas letters, and when I do send cards they are usually late. But as this year ends and we open another, I like to think back on what I have learned and what I will take with me into the next.

What I learned this year:

1)     That I can be brave for the people I love.

“Love is everything it’s cracked up to be… It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.” – Erica Jong

2)     That if you allow for spaces of silence, you will hear the truth.

“God speaks to us every day, only we don’t know how to listen” – Mahatma Gandhi

3)     That every life has value.

“Every one of us matters. And we have the ability to befriend and strengthen the life in one another; to heal and change the world, one heart at a time.” – Rachel Naomi Remen, MD

4)     That living a life of value has nothing to with achievement.

“Part of the issue of achievement is to be able to set realistic goals, but that’s one of the hardest things to do because you don’t always know exactly where you’re going…and you shouldn’t.”- George Lucas

5)     That I am never really alone.

“Walking in this world, we do not go un-partnered. We do not speak our prayers unheard. There is someone listening with the most tender of hearts.” – Julia Cameron

6)     That love often comes from unexpected places and even a perfect stranger can offer hope.

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” – Albert Schweitzer

7)     That a prayer is just words if I don’t live it and my actions are a testimony to what I believe.

“I saw the suffering and I let myself feel it…I saw the injustice and let myself do something about it. I changed from being a nun who prayed for a suffering world to a nun with my sleeves rolled up, living my prayer…So I keep watching what I do to see what I actually believe.” – Sister Helen Prejean

8)      That people, like animals, may bite when they are hurting, but are still worthy of compassion.

“Compassion hurts…. And you cannot turn away…You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.” ― Andrew Boyd

9)     That to reach the broken I must move closer, even when I  want to turn away.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” –  Leo Buscaglia

10)  That it is risky to care, that waking up can be painful, but nothing withers the human spirit like indifference.

“One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

11)  That to heal fully requires making peace with what is, while being open to what will be.

 “As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Thank you to everyone this year who told me the truth, treated me as valuable, listened with compassion, loved me when I was unlovable, cared enough to give me hope and helped me to be brave.


Copyright 2013 Text and photo by Sheila Zia