Keep What Works-Let Go of the Rest
Dr. Marcia J. Hootman


“Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.” These were the first words uttered by Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz, right after she stepped out of her house onto the Land of Oz. Just minutes before, the structure had been spinning, swept away by a huge tornado that landed close to her farm home in Kansas. Now everything was calm – and different.

Each morning, as we awaken, we are presented with a brand new day – a great time to start anew. If you are one who wakes up grateful for everyday that comes, you know this – you live this. For others, there has to be a specific time or date. January is the time of year, when for most of the world the calendar proclaims a New Year. What a great time to assess our lives!

Nature teaches us that sometimes the old has to die before the new is born. In the fall, most flowers wither, some leaves turn brown and trees become barren. In reality, nature is creating a clean slate for rebirth, for newness.

Yet many plants flourish throughout the year, regardless of wind, weather or rainfall. Our lives mimic nature. If we take careful stock of the recent past, we can point to times of growth, times of joy and success as well as points of struggle. Often we go through turbulent times. That is part of being human. There are times that make us feel so bad, we’re not sure we will survive. Yet, if we look back five years ago, ten years ago, we’ll probably discover that a lot of the pain was cause by worry and that most of what we worried about never happened.

Regardless of negatives in our lives, we always have the opportunity to begin again. It’s important to remember the struggles and the successes without dwelling on them. For once we know exactly what went wrong and what went right, we can make better choices. The smartest choice is to either stop or change whatever caused pain or discomfort, and continue to do what brought us the most satisfaction.

People often make resolutions this time of year. A resolution is a firmness of purpose. In spiritual teachings, we would call that an intention. Once you set an all-encompassing intention or resolution for the year, your decisions become easy. When you feel the first sign of discomfort you ask yourself the question, “Will continuing to do this lead me toward or take me away from my intention?” If the answer is ‘yes’, you push through. If the answer is no, you hit the delete button and do something different.

Take some time this week to look back, then make decisions about moving forward. Faith that things will work out is a very good start, but to paraphrase the Christian Bible, faith without works isn’t enough. Set your intentions, take the steps to see that intention realized and watch the year unfold. Happy 2015.