Excitement, Energy, Hope, Bliss – Little Celebrations to Light Your New Year — 

It’s a grey cloudy cold autumn day, and I have just finished my therapy. To end my therapy, I’m asked to use emotive words describing how I feel. I feel — excited. Energized. Hopeful. Blessed. Conceivably, each of these words applies to times to be celebrated. Most of the time we think celebrations as a group event that requires setting a date, and setting aside time to prepare and to clean up afterward.

However, most celebrations are quiet and personally celebrated. Those are the celebrations I’d like to talk to you about today. You may have of heard of the book, “All I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” I think everything needed to know I learned from my mistakes! Now I have a road map to use in my life to help remind myself to celebrate. Here are a few guideposts from that map.

1) “Don’t be afraid to be yourself.” 
For me that means, don’t hide the fact that you have HIV, depression, diabetes, and Parkinson’s. I struggle with addiction. But I have lived years in sobriety. Through the challenges in my life, that cross that I have had to bear, I have helped many to learn to live in recovery.

2) “Stay on your side of the street.”
Don’t get caught up in what others have. Look at what you have and be grateful. Accept and surrender to things as they are, not as I want. Friends have been able to help me through my depression with grace and directed me to find my goals through my sufferings.

3.) “We all have flaws.”
Government, church, friends, family – everyone. Get over it and work to make each one better. No regrets! If you wish you did something different in your life, don’t look back, look forward, and do better in the present and future.

Epstein’s hope for you — find time each day for small celebrations.

4) “Treat yourself!”
Eat chocolate in bed. Yes, life is too short, eat dessert first! This is not a motto I grew up with, but one I have definitely lived over the past years. Although it’s good to find guilt-free ways to treat yourself (yes, I have quit my sweet tooth lately.)

5) “Have a purpose in life.”
I found I have my writing. Even during my bad times, I find a purpose to get out of bed, dress and give some purpose to my day. I am convinced that it will help me live longer. It helps keep the insidious depression and anxiety at bay.

6) “Don’t fear change.”
To exist is to change, to change is to mature. To live is to go on constantly changing. The only constant on the planet is change. Just take one day at a time and see life as a process! So – celebrate!

Today, I celebrate hope as we look forward to the New Year. I hope that trying one more time might bring the victory that eluded me repeatedly. I hope that justice will prevail where there has been discrimination and exclusion.

And this hope begins with me and you, it is never too late to become what you have wanted to be. So, what do you hope for this holiday season? What unrealized achievement beckons you? Each one of us can offer our own special gift to the world by carefully guarding that flame of hope within each of us. It lights our way and fuels the determination to change this troubled world, which it so desperately needs.

In its own way, Clare Housing celebrates hope every time a resident spends a night in a warm safe and comfortable home. That’s something we can all celebrate, too.

Photo by Joseph Chan