It's the beginning of the New Year and for many that means we get rid of a lot of clutter, things that aren't useful, things that didn't work.
In our house we have a family tradition where on New Year's day each family member is given 6 small green paper leaves. On three of the leaves we write down things from the previous year that we'd like to forget, mistakes, arguments, times we might have been caught in a lie, or just when we didn't do as well as we could have but pretended that we did. Whatever the occasion, each is privately written down on a leaf.
On the other 3 leaves we write down our goals for the next year. What we want to accomplish, things we want to work toward, or weaknesses that need to be made stronger.
We then gather all the leaves with what we want to forget and we burn them in an old cast iron kettle we keep on the porch just for this occasion.
You should see the looks of relief on each of my children's faces when they see their previous mistakes and disappointments disappear into smoke. There is relief, a sense of newness that they no longer have to carry the burden of those painful memories. It has all finally been released. My kids stand up straighter, they smile as the leaves becomes tiny bits of ashes that float away. They laugh.
It is a joyous thing to be relieved of your failures.
The remaining leaves where our goals and hopes for the next year live are taken down to a nearby river where one by one we release our intentions into the world. The children cheer as they see their hopes for the New Year freed to be carried away by the current.
It's an empowering exercise, not just for the children but for us adults as well. I imagine this little ceremony would be helpful to anyone who interacts with other people, anyone who manages others, anyone who breathes. And although I'm not sure you would be able to burn any leaves in your office, perhaps you might want to take a few moments to envision last years' past mistakes curling up in flames and then disappearing as ash into the wind.
And this year's goals floating down a river letting the world know that this, this is what you want to do with your life.
*Photo source: marcn on Flickr
About the Author: Wendy Thomas is a features writer, interviewer, and columnist. She has been published in national magazines, newspapers, e-zines, and blogs. Her current project is to blog about life living with 6 kids and a flock of chickens.