Log in

OZARKS COMMONS: Reflections on a new year


I am not one for New Year’s resolutions.

In fact, I’m something of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants gal, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve spontaneously decided to write this column with only one clear thing in mind: the sentence with which I began.

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions because it’s my personal belief that designating one single time each year to set lofty goals is a recipe for failure. If the intention is not set and reinforced year-round, in my mind, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: We don’t think we deserve to succeed and so we repeat a pattern that reinforces that belief.

I do, however, like to begin each new year with a word that I carry with me for the next 12 months and allow to shape my perspective of events. In 2023, that word was reflection.

I’ve already used 2024’s word once. Can you guess which one by the time you finish reading this column?

“Reflection” is an interesting word. Philosophically, spiritually and academically, it’s used to describe the act of contemplation, processing ideas and experiences and relating them to that which we already understand. In the natural world, it describes the way light bends to show an image that mirrors something before the source of the refraction, be it a body of water or smooth glass.

Indeed, according to my favorite website to explore absently and yet with intention, etymonline.com, the origin of the word “reflect” traces back to the Latin reflectere, a combination of the prefix re-, which means “back,” and flectere, “to bend.” In other words, “to bend back.” The word was used initially, as early as the 14th century, pertaining to mirrors and other similar surfaces as a way to describe the way light rays and images are shined back; in the 15th century, it also began to be applied to heat and sound waves.

It took another 100 years to take on the more abstract meaning we see in common use today, “to turn one’s thoughts back on, resolve matters in the mind.”

I moved through 2023 with the purpose of holding onto my experiences only inasmuch as to examine them and release them once the lesson had been learned. Here at the Quill, that meant navigating many challenging transitions and redefinitions and learning to become less attached to routine and embrace the unpredictable.

Anyone who knows me well knows that, despite my choice of career and profession, “spontaneous” and “unpredictable” are not words that describe me at all. I am a creature of habit, as they say.

In my personal life, the lessons learned in the office have carried over to my family as my children have grown. My son is at college in another state, and my daughter is soon to follow. No one really tells you how messy feelings can get when the emptying of the nest is on the horizon.

We never know what tomorrow will bring and if we don’t focus our intention each day to make the most of what life has in store for us, we miss a lot.

I’m here to focus on the beauty of now, of this moment and the one that comes after it. My reflection is to help me understand what is serving me in this moment — not what will continue to serve me, and not what no longer does. And in staying focused on this moment, noticing the keys under my fingers, the smell of the candle in the room next door, and the sounds of conversation happening around me, sensing my posture and movement of air in my lungs, I know that I am alive. I am thriving, my needs are met and I am exactly who I am meant to be right now.

The only thing I can do with this is embrace it, celebrate it, and move forward with intention.

And I wish nothing less for you.

Did you figure out this year’s word yet?

As always, I love to hear from you. Drop me an email at abbyh@wpdailyquill.net or give me a call, 417-256-9191.

Happy New Year. May 2024 be filled with blessings and abundance.