Another New Year is upon us with what appeared to be a fairly smooth transition; watching from afar not changing the fate that awaits those showcasing their traditional or “safe” resolutions – from expectancy to desire and even delusion – all somehow under the same belief that this year will be different, this year they will dance at the Masquerade Ball that changes their life. Some adorned with hope glistening from head to toe, others donned in masks of majestic veiled by overt aspirations; a brave few camouflage nothing but their heart’s truest of desires although easy prey for the braver still who dangled heroically every emotion on their sleeves. The harsh reality being that all must face the music eventually be it on the eve of their “New Year’s Resolution Waltz” perhaps while dancing to the music of bittersweet melodies of all disappointments of New Year’s Past; or, maybe it cometh the stroke of failure’s last dance. So why is it that so many continue to sip “resolution’s poison” knowing its fate? And when will there be a resolve to live, to let go of empty promises – with any real desire to change [the world]?
So many have to come to the realization that New Year’s should not be about making excuses for what wasn’t done in previous years nor should it be about statistics, definitions, what a person has acquired, accomplished, status, how one acts or feels (especially since no one can control another without their permission) – perhaps it’s a simple issue of no one asking the right questions. So, perhaps it is in the asking: “What defines us as a whole,” and, “What changes can be made to make a positive impact, no matter how great or small” for these are among what matter most, for no one fails who at least tries.
Many remember a society that used to be morally-conscious, caring, loving, giving, non-judgmental and free-spirited although many won’t remember where the “disconnect” occurred – not that it matters; for it is never too late for change. In a world starving for truth, moral values (especially in government and leadership), security, and a time when people need to be reminded that honoring family and friendship has almost completely vanished; when promotion for education, support, valuable and reliable resources as well as literacy is needed far too greatly; youth should be taught by example (by all in the vicinity, not just by the parents); and that the ability to give, or to love and let love in has also been lost by far too many people.
There is no such thing as perfection anything with the red flag being at the cost of a value; and that “safe” resolutions like eating healthier foods, exercising more, being kinder to ourselves and others, spending quality time with family and friends, setting unrealistic goals be it to save more money, recycle more or watch less TV – are all things we should already be doing anyway. With change happening every year, it’s time to change the way “Resolutions” are viewed and made, and it’s time to make a difference that counts; in fact, maybe it’s time to resolve to live; let go of all broken promises, empty dreams, learn how to live life to the fullest followed by positive changes (starting internally) and living by Life’s Golden Rules. (For those needing a hint, Life’s Golden Rules are things like, “Care for self so you can care for others; and “Treat others as you want to be treated,” etc.)
And, since the beginning of any year is the perfect time to introduce, approach change, and try new things – and, since we’ve given New Year’s Resolutions a pretty fair shake by giving it a decent intro period of a few weeks, it’s time to introduce the sharing of a half dozen or more reader stories, quotes and traditions that are not only inspiring, but that give hope for a wonderful year ahead. They wanted to share their take and offer a different kind of inspiration knowing that sometimes it is all in the attitude, and about the people behind, and of course it is always about the love in your heart. So, in spirit of magic, giving and living, and of course this New and magical New Year 2013 (and please bear with us as this may the first time we took length to a whole new level), we share with you a little something from the deepest part of our hearts; may you be as genuinely inspired as I was.
Painter & Illustrator, Erie, PA (Heather Cash)
I threw out the idea of New Year’s resolutions quite a few years ago. It is just way too hard to keep a resolution throughout the whole year, which is discouraging. Instead, for the past few New Years, I've taken that time to look over the main events of the past year and evaluate my life. Has this year brought me closer to where I want to be in life? Have I worked towards the life I want? How have I balanced my family life with my work? Whether it be more time with family, furthering my career, or even just having enough "me" time at the end of the day – I get an idea of how I want the next year of my life to go. Doing this each year has inspired me to work for Google, travel to other countries, illustrate a children's book, move across the U.S., and become a freelance artist. This way, when I look back on my life as a whole, I can see these major accomplishments and be proud of what I've done each year. Because in the end, will I really remember whether I stuck to my diet in the year 2013, or whether I worked out every day? What I'll really remember is whether I did everything to achieve my greatest dreams in this one life that I have to live.
PR Executive, Silicon Valley, CA (Noe Sacoco)
In high school, I competed in “Speech & Debate” during which one competition the topic I competed in was to prepare a speech on “New Year’s Resolutions.” While I knew the rest of my competition was going to focus on the benefits and positives of New Year’s Resolutions, I decided to take a Contrarian approach. In a nutshell, I focused on debunking New Year’s resolutions by discussing the need to push ourselves and striving to be a better person every day.
As I recited my speech, I noticed the audience nodding their heads in agreement and often smiled when I validated my talking points. It worked because I ended up winning the competition! Was it because I went against the grain or because I mentioned the Socrates quote?
Vetting and finalizing New Year’s resolutions is an annual phenomenon that millions across the world partakes in. However, I feel that that we should always set goals and continually challenge ourselves. Although things don’t go as scheduled and/or planned, we’re human and bound to make mistakes. At the end of the day, we should all embrace self-improvement daily and heck, more often – not just when New Year’s is around the corner.
“An unexamined life is not worth living. –Socrates”
NCRY, Niles, CA (Alan Frank)
Traditions and inspirations come in all forms, and how a tradition begins is as equally important as the tradition itself. In this case, how the “Train of Lights” at Niles Canyon Railway began tells its own story:
“The Train of Lights on the Niles Canyon Railway has become a tradition enjoyed annually by over 18,000 holiday revelers,” said Alan Frank, Niles Canyon Railway Curator, “It started as a “thank you” party for the volunteers restoring this part of the original Transcontinental Railroad – that train with just a couple of cars, a portable generator and a few strings of lights – caught the attention of commuters through Niles Canyon. They stopped traffic and mobbed the station asking if their families could also ride, thus the oldest continually running holiday train ride in the nation was born.”
Since then, Frank said the train has grown to 15 cars with thousands of lights. The decorations start just after Labor Day until the first run after Thanksgiving. The train makes two runs, several nights between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, with Santa making a special appearance for the children on Christmas. The Train of Lights is not only an iconic figure in Silicon Valley, but also a key economic engine supporting the restoration railroad. This year’s Train of Lights was particularly challenging with the slides caused by mud, rocks and trees that washed onto the train – with such delays handled by volunteer crews that dig them out by hand. This is one of the many special volunteer-run events in the area, with the Niles Canyon Railway and Railroad Museum another volunteer-run attraction. Visit www.ncry.org for schedules and additional information. (Photo)
Journalist and photographer, Bay Area, CA (P.K. Costa)
Our family has gone through our share of challenges over the years, many that made us stronger, helped us build character (as mom has often reminded me of) or that helped build our life tool chest in order to find that comfortable middle ground – or compromise, the other critical necessary for any relationship, no matter if in dating, parenting, with friendship, sibling or coworker. I found myself faced with the added challenge of single parenting for much of the 20 plus years we needed to find this “common ground,” and, it was also discovered that one of my sweet girls did not believe in God, or any higher being at the time – thus making it extremely important to find a place we could all feel an extension of our home and hearts – and fast.
It didn't take long before we settled on the ocean, more specifically, a beach in Aptos, near where the old abandoned cement ship is docked – a place of many firsts, including where I first fell in love when younger. It was perfect for our family, especially for our ritual-turned tradition. Our ritual was to stand face-to-face with the beautiful and ever-powerful majestic body of blue and release to her all of our worries, fears, sadness, angst, anger, resentment – anything we might have been feeling at the time that we were unable to carry on our own (or that we shouldn't carry unnecessarily). We would take a deep breath in as the tide rolled in; and as the tide rolled back out we released to her our breath – and the weight of the world (as it often felt like, and as humans often try to carry). Each time that tide rolled back out it would take with her all of our troubles to the bottom of the ocean to store for all eternity, or, for as long as we needed her to. This beautiful ocean of secrets would leave no remnants of our troubles behind – she left only a layer of smooth soft, wet glistening sand that she kissed with a layer of her blue water, each secret and worry sealed by the glistening specs of glitter shining beneath a warm sun that peered through the fog above – as if to say, “Your secrets are safe with me; your wish is my command, love.” We often left our heart-print behind as well; or sometimes our hand-print, a message in the sand, or just our feet prints – whatever our mood that day.
It didn't take long for the girls to pick other beaches, such as Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz and pretty soon we had the entire coast covered – pretty much any body of water became our “place.” In fact, we adopted the nickname of the “sunset chasers” dashing over the hill at every opportunity, but it was in finding peace every day that made life much easier to deal with. The girls found the larger-than-life body of water perfect to hold all of their troubles (children need a “visual”); and the ritual was enough to extend into every day living for many other things. Soon we could use CDs, fountains, and eventually introduced special friends to our safe place, and ritual – adding to that exploring as that also became another ritual that we to this day still do in search of that perfect special place. It’s never easy to “not sweat the small stuff” and if there’s one thing that we still have to practice every single day it’s learning that sometimes the only thing we can do is change our attitude.
Filmmaker, San Jose, CA (Sean Michael Williams SMW Films)
Filmmaker Sean Michael Williams is a very talented filmmaker out of San Jose, CA who said for the New Year 2013 he wants to live his life according to one of his favorite quotes by J.R.R. Tolkien, "Not all those who wander are lost."
Williams is Creator and Director of this most recent work of genius, “Desolated” – a short film and social commentary about escaping the fast-paced habitual lifestyle of today’s technology; which, according to Williams, was also where he was able to find solace within the solitude of the Sierras. Indeed a very film short that stops nothing short of jump-starting your human spirit that won’t be able to resist the temptation to beg for more.
Williams said he found in the heart of the Sierras the ability to reconnect with nature – the trick was in the finding of the balance between the natural beauty of the world and today’s technology; with the end result being yet another short film for his portfolio, “Desolated” – and the icing on yet another layer of sweet success. (check out P.K.’s review)
From Williams’ last co-production of the music video phenomenon, “Dream Music: Part 2” that received more than two million hits on YouTube alone, shows promise; taking filmmaking to a whole new level – at the very least a level never before ventured.
During filming of “Desolated” Williams said he and Executive Producer Gus Winkelman (costar Matt Karpinski with original score by Robbie Fitzsimmons from Rabbits Running); Williams said they worked on what they hoped would create not only a social statement but something that would move people. Perhaps the message conveyed one that awakens hearts and opens minds to the possibility that technology would no longer prevail.
If you’re looking to be moved in 2013, or for additional information on Williams’ latest adventure visit his blog; fans can also check out P.K.’s review of “Desolated.”
Vimeo: "Desolated" Vimeo by Sean Michael Williams
YouTube: "Desolated" by Sean Michael Williams
Website/blog: Sean Micheal Williams, SMW Films
Stay tuned for Part 2 of "Resolve to 'live' in 2013; let go of empty promises and dare to change the world"