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Happy New Year!

As we begin this new year, I am aware of two things.  One, I am getting older. Two, the world is changing faster and faster getting more complicated every day.  My strategy is to learn to be young in thought and deed.  Young people tend to be more adaptable, flexible, and even agile.  This year, I seek to be young again. 

Sitting at the kitchen table on a “warm” January morning, Mikelle, the girls, and I take the time to review our goals and dreams for the year. We know if we don’t set goals, we will never reach them.  Later in the morning, Ian, Mikelle’s long-time friend, and fellow dreamer join us asking all the right questions to focus our thoughts on a concrete action plan for the year. 

Mikelle is resolute in her goals.   Sell more bracelets, make more money focusing on seasonal sales.  Improve our podcast. Update our YouTube channel. Make repairs and improvements to her home.  Get Mikelle’s needed dental work completed. 

Most of all, we want to be the eye in the middle of the storm and live in the sunshine. So ,here is our 2020 vision for happiness. 

But first, let us wish you a Happy New Year!

Here we go:

H is for Health and Happiness.

Too many friends had health issues last year. Their death and ill health remind me to focus on our health. So, we are focusing on health believing it and happiness go hand in hand.  

A is for Abundance.

Frequently in the world of disability, assumptions of poverty and limitation dominate like an unkind warden. But, at the Shining Beautiful community, abundance is the lifeblood of our existence and is darn near sacred. Our passions revolve around learning, growing, and expanding our connections instead living in the habit of limitation.

Our job is to have even more abundance of laughter and fun in 2020. So let the good times roll.

P is for Patience

The twin sisters of happiness are patience and poise. As brightly as our world shines, we still experience the storms of life like everyone else. During those times, we seek elegant solutions and reach deep into our souls to capture the poise and patience needed for the sometimes soul-sucking routines of daily life.

Patience creates space. It allows us time to grow into our problems and discover the once elusive answers we sought. In time, the clouds of doubt and despair part. Poise allows us the grace not to create more problems than we need.

P is for Persistence.

While the body tires and the mind grows weary, the heart persistently pursues our dreams.

Years ago, when my son Kasey, then a teenager, gave me a gift.  His awkward hands wrapped the small rectangular package with precision and care.  Curious, I pulled the tape from the end, gently tearing back the silver and gold Happy Holidays wrapping paper. Inside, I found a small framed picture of a yellow No. 2 pencil, the kind we all used in school back in the day.

The pink eraser was worn and chewed — the lead point carved with a pocket knife. The pencil was too short for the pencil sharpener.  The dark background gave dramatic light to the message below.

“Now that you have exhausted all the possibilities …let’s get started.”

Persistence opened the doors to schools that preferred “special classes” rather than “regular classes.” Persistence paid off when Mikelle graduated “Outstanding Senior” from her inner-city high school.  Persistence brought serious rewards as Mikelle spoke to members of the United States Congress about work and the joys of earning money with the independence it produced.  Persistence created opened up pathways to allow Mikelle to own her condo and a wheelchair accessible van.

Kasey understood, even at a young age, that persistence creates possibilities. And we still have lots of both.

Y is for Yippee! 

Gratitude is the perfect companion to the morning cup of coffee.  And we love our coffee.

It wasn’t always that way. Waking up with worry is like trying to overcome a hangover. Starting the day stewing about to-do lists, inadequate funding, and obtuse bureaucratic closed systems clearly can make your head hurt. Ouch.

In truth, striking the tension and worry from the start of my day took a little raw-nerved effort. Changing habits are hard. Engaging in the power of persistence, patience and poise helps in starting the day right.

Today, even on my worst, most unfortunate, cataclysmic day, I celebrate the little things, like running water, toilets that flush and a washer and dryer to take down that mountain of laundry each day.

While this country isn’t perfect and needs improvement, there is no better place on earth better to live with a disability than here.

N is for NOW!

In the spirit of happiness, it is Carpe Diem here at Shining Beautiful. If the chance to spend a moment with friends comes up, we seize it. If we drive by a Starbucks, you can be assured Mikelle wants a Frappuccino at that exact moment.

Happiness is not something we postpone anymore. Knowing our priorities, setting boundaries, understanding what makes us happy helps us focus on enjoying life NOW.

E is for Enthusiasm each and every day.

Enthusiasm can be defined as intense excitement and active interest or lively pursuit of something meaningful. We all are working together to learn to embrace their enthusiasm for each day. Every day is different, some days are harder and other days the conditions are right and enthusiasm blooms forth like a spring flower. Reach for your enthusiasm daily to re-soul your day.

W is for Work.

Work is applied effort involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result including obtaining a dream. Drudgery isn’t necessary, because happiness and drudgery don’t go well together. Reframing applied effort towards a meaningful and rewarding goal in a persistent manner yields results worthy of our excitement and enthusiasm.

Learning to dance was work, but it wasn’t drudgery.  Some things I find laborious, like taking Mikelle grocery shopping. But, other people on Mikelle’s team don’t mind, they might even enjoy it.

Delegating these responsibilities helps me focus on what’s important each day and it will be good for you too.

Y is Yes

Just say yes. You have permission to do what you love.  Love to dance, love Frappuccino’s, love the mountains, love hanging out with friends, love watching an NCIS marathon; those are many of our loves.  We operate under the assumption we deserve to be happy. What about you?

E is Energy

Happiness is difficult to obtain when feeling lethargic I have joined Kasey, Allison, and Jack in our efforts to eat healthy, get exercise and eliminate or seriously reduce stressful situations. We have learned to set boundaries on our time thus eliminating energy-draining relationships and activities. Now, we have more energy!

A is for Advocacy.

Whew, enthusiasm and excitement ruled as we stepped lively through the last year’s calendar.  Our efforts made a difference as we talked about technology, advocated for supported employment resulting in the Office of Employment First.

We can’t stress enough the importance of getting involved. Believe it or not, we have real power and influence and can help change the human service system. Get involved in 2020

gratitude

R is for Rest, Reflection and Relaxation at the end of the day. 

For years, the idea of relaxation was difficult to embrace. There is always more to do. When Mikelle was still in school, we were exceptionally goal-oriented. If felt like a race to graduation day. We needed to achieve major goals like—getting Mikelle summer jobs, figuring out Social Security, Vocational Rehabilitation and other adult systems before we crossed the finish line.

After graduation, we realized life is more a marathon than a sprint. We have many years to travel down the roads of life and one of them needs to be the road to relaxation.

Each of us in the Shining Beautiful Community has devised their own way to relax.  I walk, dance and enjoy the outdoors. Mikelle loves a long drive and Starbucks. Taylor likes to read or hang-out with friends.  Kasey likes to head to the mountains, like his mom. Jack falls into a video game. Allison gets her nails done. (Me, too.)  

We have learned to have relaxed goals.  We get there–when we get there. 

Enjoy and celebrate your new year!

About Katherine Carol

Special needs & community expert, speaker, co-author of The Tango of Publishing and Shining Beautiful, with Mikelle Learned, book coach, mom, and community builder.

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