Reflections and Blessings on New Year’s Day

Carol A. Hand

On this first day many celebrate as a new year, I find myself compelled to speak as honestly as I can. It’s true that my life has not been as easy or privileged as some would imagine. It’s also true that my life has been blessed in too many ways to count. Many may think me crazy or delusional for what I am about to share. Ancestors have appeared to me during waking times to protect and guide me through rough patches. Wise beings have visited me with messages in dreams. And strong intuitions have warned me of dangers and opportunities as well.

I’m deeply grateful for the presence of the ancestors and wise beings in my life. I’m not sure I would have survived without them. Of course, being willful and independent, I didn’t always listen. And of course there was always a hefty price to pay.

I also wish to acknowledge my gratitude for the old and new blogging friends who have enriched my life in so many ways. Thank you.

***

***

Recent events have made me remember why I began blogging. There were stories and insights I felt compelled to share. You know, those messages that sometimes seem to flow through you and demand to be given voice. And then, as it happens, that purpose was compromised along the way. The appeal of attracting followers, writing posts that were “liked,” sometimes attenuated or muted my voice. But a funny thing happened when this blog achieved something I never envisioned in 2016, almost three years after it began. More than 1,000 followers, and almost 3,000 views one day. It was empty without meaningful dialogue and a sense of genuine connection.

Let me be honest and risk making people angry. A sizable number of my newer followers appear to only be interested in posting selfies to sell clothing and makeup and never like a post or leave a comment, thoughtful or otherwise. Or they’re new bloggers who seem to follow this blog, any blog, just to build their own following, again with no attempt to connect. Perhaps it’s foolish, but I do often follow them back because I honor their right to perspectives that differ from mine. I do learn a bit about worldviews that I might not encounter elsewhere. And the 3,000 views? Almost all were from Facebook, empty visits that, quite frankly, merely felt voyeuristic from a social medium that I am avoiding these days except to connect with my grandson.

As I responded to a comment from a dear friend yesterday,

Thank you so much, ***. I don’t have the words to tell you how much your kind and thoughtful comments mean to me. I am weary at the moment and feel powerless to change the world my grandchildren will inherit. They’re lovely gentle souls and like all people everywhere, they have a right to live in peace and be treated with kindness and dignity. I will continue to do what I can anyway because I love them and I care about the earth. But it’s hard to keep hope alive sometimes.”

….

Your kindness has given me a good reason to keep chipping away, ***. I’m deeply grateful. I had been contemplating whether to continue blogging or give it up. Posts and comments from friends like you make it well worth the effort.”

Weary or not, there’s work to do. After trying to clear ice from my car and driveway, I spent time playing a game with my soon-to-be-ten-year-old granddaughter, tell me a story (by eeboo corporation).

Perhaps the beginning of our story book, January 1, 2017

Perhaps the beginning of our story book,
January 1, 2017

Let’s play a game, Ava,” Ahma said.

Okay, but I don’t know the rules,” Ava replied.

Well, let’s read the directions.”

Hmm,” Ahma said after she skimmed the directions. “They don’t say much, so let’s make up our own. How about if I just deal out cards to each of us?”

Yeah, that would work.”

How many do you think we should each get? Four? Five? Seven?

Five would be good.”

Five it is, then Ava.”

And so we began weaving stories from the five picture cards before us, writing down each other’s stories as we went. First it was Ava’s turn to tell a story, and then, mine. (English is a hard language to learn how to spell!)

Ahma, You’re a better storyteller.”

It’s what I do, Ava. I’m a storyteller. I’ve had practice. I learned how to do it from others a long time ago. It’s something we learn how to do from someone else and this is my chance to help you learn how to tell your own stories.”

Just before Mom came, we packed the game away and created a special folder to hold our stories. We’ll keep adding new ones each time my granddaughter’s here. It’s such a small thing. But it’s something very special my granddaughter and i could do together on this first day of a new year to help build a better future.

As we embark on the journey of a new year, however we mark the beginning, I have a special wish. May we all breathe kinder stories into being for the next generations. Even when we’re weary.

***

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About Carol A. Hand

What matters are not the titles I’ve held or university degrees I earned or the size of a house or bank account. It’s really what I’ve learned from ordinary people like me whom I’ve met along the way. They taught me to live with gratitude and give thanks for each new day.
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72 Responses to Reflections and Blessings on New Year’s Day

  1. A beautiful wish, perhaps most challenging, and most important when we and those around us are weary. Happy New Year to you and your family!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A lovely post Carol you are not alone with the followers that follow just to do as you said. I am sure of that. I just try to remember that there are followers that do enjoy reading my offerings and will keep my blog going. Some will probably leave because you can’t please every one.
    Last we all, well most are concerned about what the world will be like for our grandchildren and pray.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your lovely, thoughtful comments, Patricia. It’s true, we can’t please everyone, but I do enjoy reading your delightful stories and poetry. Our stories are certainly one of the legacies we can leave our children and grandchildren. ❤

      Like

  3. smilecalm says:

    thanks, dear Carol
    for expressing the emptiness
    i also often experience with virtual human connection.
    seems true here on wp, as well as
    other electric media, emails, texts.
    new ways of connecting that don’t
    meet our true conscious and unconscious needs.
    all our ancestors spoke and physically gestured
    while in each other’s presence. that was
    human experience, with each other,
    with the natural surroundings.
    so, for now i’ll keep returning to blog
    as i have for some years
    when there seems to be something to share with others.
    if i didn’t want to publically share i could have a private blog, i guess.
    it’s nice to have others visit, read and register that visit
    with a like, and occasional comment,
    but at the same time for me to not get caught
    in the desire for “fame”. I’m at the limit of time
    i’m willing to “invest” in posting and visiting other’s blogs.
    i’m most grateful for those who express person truths
    and truth to power, as you do.
    while i spent much of my life living and working
    on the rez, i’m a white guy and our views are certainly different.
    viva la difference!
    i’m happy that we can meet on the common ground
    of thinking, speaking and acting for the good.
    may you continue to do so, bravely
    and with joy during this new year, david 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Amen dear Carol! May be all weave kind and compassionate stories and as well as ones that tell of trials in order to share wisdom. Happy New Year my friend. My yours be truly blessed!!! Love and hugs, Natalie 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  5. wolfegeo says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience Carol. Just so you know, when I see the notice that you have a new post I get excited. I look forward to reading your posts. While we’ve never met in person I’ve come to look upon you as a friend. I agree wholeheartedly with your desire that we “all breathe kinder stories into being for the next generations.” I will do my best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maria, I am so grateful we met via WordPress. I always learn from your posts. Your gentle loving spirit is apparent in your beautiful gardens and the loving care you put into creating a healthy environment.

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m honored to hear that you view me as a friend. I send my blessings to you, and a special thank you for the walk through your garden in your most recent post. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Happy New Year, Carol. Thank you for your thoughtful observances and reflections of the human condition.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. desilef says:

    If anyone doubts that social media and the virtual world can be used in a positive or a destructive way, just consider the tweets of the president-elect. But Carol, I so value our virtual friendship and all I’ve learned from you and all you’ve made me think about. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Diane, I love your wit and humor! 🙂 I value our friendship a great deal, too, and always eagerly await your posts to learn from the important liberatory work you do. Thank you for all you have taught me about popular theater and writing, and for always being supportive. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wishing you a Prosperous and Happy New Year, Carol.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. You are no where near crazy or delusional. Because 50% of my siblings have severe mental illness, I have never looked for experiences from the “beyond.” Never-the-less, I have had them. All I know, is that there’s more than we can humanly explain. Kind of nice, huh?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sha'Tara says:

    Honest reflections, Carol. On blogging, well for me it’s just a sharing of thoughts and information. It isn’t proselytizing or trying to convince anyone of anything though of course the effect of that is always a part of the posts. There’s a lot of give and take.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. A writer from the East says:

    Wishing a happier, peaceful and blessed 2017 to you, Carol! I always learn from your writings, although I feel so small and still in stages of learning to be commenting repeatedly on your work. Coming to other point, many thanks for this post, its strange but in last two years I felt the same about those ardent followers who dropped completely or ignored my stories just because they were questioning the accepted narratives. In past, I was attacked virtually and in person, but my writing has a purpose beyond stunts, sorry for the long commentary!
    Have a good day and stay blessed, always! ameen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is always a delight to hear from you, Saadia. You teach me so many things I would never learn anywhere else. I am sure your honesty and crucial perspective challenge sacrosanct illusions and prejudices of many people given the western propaganda machines that feed fear and ignorance to the general public every day. It makes me both deeply sad and angry to hear that you have been attacked for speaking the truth as you see it because you draw attention to oppressive practices and narratives on so many crucial issues. I send you my best wishes, and sincerely hope you will always feel free to share your “long commentary.” I view your comments and posts as gifts, and I thank you for sharing them.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. kethuprofumo says:

    Dear Carol,

    Thank you for your reflections. More so open thoughts will be written, better the world will become. However, blogging might be regarded as precious gems search: a lot of stones must be examined before gems are found. The last ones are true Readers.

    I’m glad that you have so strong connection with the past. Blessed you are that Ancestors assist you. It’s a big honour. For there is no Future without Past. And at the moment only through the Past we might find the right path to the right Future.

    Best regards,

    Maria

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your lovely, thoughtful comments, Maria. I love your metaphor about “true Readers” as precious gems. That is so true. I agree that there is much we can learn from the past, both good and bad. The choice is up to each of us, I think, to learn and chose the kind and peaceful path to inclusion and social justice. It’s not easy to balance these responsibilities but it’s a worthy journey. I’m grateful we connected on this shared journey.

      Sending my best wishes to you. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • kethuprofumo says:

        Same here, dear Carol! It’s always joy to meet somebody who thinks in the same direction.
        Concerning Past: I guess it’s always good & positive experience, for through the evil we learn more light. There is such a phrase by Dante: ‘Chi sa dal bene? Chi sa dal male.’ -‘Who knows what Good is? – The one who does what Evil is.’

        I’m specialized on France of the 17th century. Now I’m making my first linguistic research regarding true notions of the Past. And more I’m dealing with archives, more I’m amazed how light and peaceful minds of that time were. I guess your ancestors help you to keep the mind pure. We need it to struggle the evil around at present.

        Best wishes,

        Maria

        Liked by 1 person

        • It’s so exciting to learn about your work, Maria, and your fascinating insights about past times in 17th century France. Thank you for sharing this and for your always thoughtful comments. I would love to hear more about your work. ❤

          Liked by 1 person

        • kethuprofumo says:

          Thank you, dear Carol. In fact, the transformation & the reconstructing of this historical period (Louis XIV, his milieu etc. if be more precise) is the main path of my life. I’m have been dealing with it since 14 years old. With age it simply took the shape of my life path. Now I’m 33, I’ve written a book about the king, which I hope to publish in 2017, and finally a way for a linguistic research has been found out itself. I have some practical goals, for historically Louis XIV’s personality has been reconstructed by a glorious historian François Bluche. I want people to learn what great and light person he was as well as what people’s minds of that period truly were. How they comprehended God & King,Good & Bad and many many other things. So, I’m on the way.)))) It’s a long and very exciting journey.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Maria, your comments sparked my interest in learning more about Louis XIV. He sounds like a complex and interesting monarch. I wish you success in publishing your book and with your studies. I do look forward to hearing more about your work.

          Liked by 1 person

        • kethuprofumo says:

          Thank you, Dear Carol. As soon as I publish it, I will inform you. The book will be bi-lingual, with my English translation, so English-speaking Readers will be able to enjoy it instantly.

          Liked by 1 person

        • kethuprofumo says:

          Dear Carol, could I write You to email? I guess it would be easier for us to discuss various things ))))

          Best regards,

          Maria

          Liked by 1 person

  13. Carol, We just returned from visiting elders. Odd to be visiting elders when one is an elder oneself. I guess it is, like most things, a matter of perspective. Our visit followed time with our seven year old granddaughter, with whom we tell stories and play games. There is much sacred, as you noted, in both visits. And much to be touched by. As always, thank you for your wise thoughts.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Bernadette says:

    Dear Carol, from the heart of one grandmother to another may the last line of your post be realized. My grandchildren will be moving in with me soon and I am going to piggy back on your project with your granddaughter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Such lovely comments, Bernadette. Thank you. And I’m delighted to hear that you will be carrying on the storytelling tradition with your grandchildren! I send my best wishes to you and your lovely family. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  15. sojourner says:

    I see I’m not the only one who has been considering quitting. So far, I am keeping on.

    I hope there are kinder stories, coming soon, to pass on to the next generations!

    An old friend and I came to the same conclusion the other day, and that is, we seem to know less, today, than when we were young, or at least it feels as though this is true.

    Truth has become very hard to find in this world. And so like your ancestral counselors/mentors, I have been drawn to a similar place, a place that is frowned upon greatly today: I am learning to trust my self, my intuition, once again, when it comes to what is true and what is not. After all, I can only do so much investigation/reading/viewing, and even then, how do I know that what I have read or viewed, or even experienced, is the truth?

    From childhood, we have been programmed to ignore our selves and our thoughts, our inner beings, who we truly are. And I believe, in this horrendous age of bald-faced lies and liars, we need to get back to trusting what we sense to be the truth, whether it’s popular or not.

    Or it could be, Carol, that I’m simply out of what little mind I have left!;-)

    P.S.

    My likes and numbers have never increased from reading or reblogging your posts, but I still come back anyway!;-)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Dave. Truth is hard to find. But today I feel tentatively hopeful, thanks to the colleague I will be co-teaching with this upcoming semester. She inspired me with a metaphor for providing our students with a foundation for research and community organizing. I’ve already begun reading to learn more about our metaphor, “trees.” I love trees and often write about them, but like you, I realize how little I really know. And I discovered a fascinating essay.

      Maria Popova, at brainpickings.com, posted a fascinating essay about the work of Peter Wohlleben, author of a new book (2016), The Hidden Life of Trees: What they Feel, How They Communicate.

      “One can’t help but wonder whether trees are so much better equipped at this mutual care than we are because of the different time-scales on which our respective existences play out. Is some of our inability to see this bigger picture of shared sustenance in human communities a function of our biological short-sightedness? Are organisms who live on different time scales better able to act in accordance with this grander scheme of things in a universe that is deeply interconnected?”

      I ordered Wohlleben’s book and am so excited about building on what he learned about the communities of trees to re-envision a class on social justice with my creative colleague.

      Liked by 1 person

      • sojourner says:

        Thanks, Carol!

        When we lost contact with nature, and became so enthralled with our own “magnificence”, we probably lost a great deal of info that we couldn’t afford to lose.

        Maybe, someday, when this current order has passed away, humanity can truly “get back to nature”, and in a way that actually helps mankind to stop making the same dire mistakes over and over again.

        Let us hope so anyway!

        Liked by 1 person

  16. steelcityman says:

    (Quote)… “Recent events have made me remember why I began blogging. There were stories and insights I felt compelled to share. You know, those messages that sometimes seem to flow through you and demand to be given voice.” (Unquote) … The only stories really worth telling are the ones that are compelling you to tell them … the stories that ‘flow through’ you need to be given voice. That, you do most eloquently Carol, you are a fine story teller and I look forward to reading more of your words in the coming year. xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Such wise words, Pat – “The only stories really worth telling are the ones that are compelling you to tell them.” I appreciate your kind and thoughtful comments, dear friend across the “big pond.” I look forward to your next vlog, and in the meantime, send my best wishes to you and your family. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  17. underswansea says:

    Storytelling is the key. There is nothing like being with grandchildren. This is a very large campfire we have gathered around and it requires a strong voice like yours. I appreciate your stories. Take care. PS We awoke to cold clear blue skies this morning. It has been awhile. If it stays I will be heading into the bush tonight to look for stars. That’s where spirits dart around me, dropping from the sky, like pointed Swifts. It used to scare me when I was a youngster. I would ask my mother what they wanted. She said they were only there to protect me and if they wanted me to know anything they would let me know. So far I haven’t been able to make out a voice, but I do know I can’t live without them. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Bob, this is such a wonderful story about the spirits that surround you “in the bush.” I love your mother’s message and look forward to your photos and the wonderful stories you always share.

      Thank you for your always thoughtful comments.

      (I hope it’s okay that I posted excerpts from my reply to your previous comments without linking to your blog. It didn’t feel right to do so without your prior approval given my rambling discussion that included critical statements about bloggers. I only lost 3 followers …)

      Like

      • underswansea says:

        Hi Carol. Thank you for your kind comments. Of course, it was okay to post parts of your reply. I was honoured my message meant something to you. I enjoy reading your stories. You say much between the lines and allow readers to fill in spaces with their own experiences. That is a gift. Willow and I did get out last night, it was cold but we got to see the stars and a distant low aurora. Bob

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Ah, Carol, people follow blogs for all kinds of reasons. People write blogs for all kinds of reasons. In my experience, though, we find the people we need even in this chaotic, nebulous cyberspace. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Lara/Trace says:

    I have students who ask how to grow their blog followers – and several marketers tell them to follow to get follows. It’s a racket. And it’s not good. YOU, Carol, deserve wide publication. Many blessings to you in 2017.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for the information about marketing blogs, Trace. I know this is advice WP gives as well. This experience has made me realize two things. I’m happy on the margins with my friends. I do hope others will feel welcome to join the circle but I have no need to try to make that happen. It’s not why I write or blog. It’s not why I read or follow blogs, either.

      I send my blessings to you and Herb. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  20. inesephoto says:

    Thank you for blogging! 🙂 Hope you have a wonderful New Year, and do many good things that will make you happy. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  21. dolphin says:

    Reblogged this on Dolphin and commented:
    I hear you, Carol. Sometimes I feel that things are too far gone…and then, like you, I get a little help from the ancestors. I credit the Potawatomi Indians from Indiana with really helping me to feel unconditional love for the first time in my life and to see how much God and God’s Helpers are helping me through dreams and visions. Thank you for being you and writing about the ancestors, as well as your life here on Earth. Blessings and joy.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Well I’m a new blogger. I hope that my blog will be meaningful once it gets going. I’m really excited about entering the blogging world. I have started my blog for a class (I’m working on my PhD) and can’t actually post anything for a few weeks as we work on it and discuss social change. I’ve enjoyed your blog posts and look forward to really entering the blogging world this year!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. victorialise says:

    I connected with my great-greatmothers spirit almost two years ago and for years have had as you said messages that demanded I give them a voice and was also intrigued by genuine connection so I began blogging last year. Though it seems I got lost in the rules and structures I read of in regards to blogging, things I was never after in the first place but got spun you could say. I’m working on removing fear and allowing this space to be part of my sacred space again. I was considering writing a post about where I am with it all but then thought “no, no no-one wants to read that” maybe Ill get out of my own way. How wonderful your stories with your granddaughter! Something she will carry with her forever, the real life treasures. I truly and deeply enjoy your writings and expression. I’m grateful for your presence here. Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tori, thank you for sharing important stories about your great grandmother and reflections about blogging. I appreciate your kind works and blessings, and send blessing to you as well. ❤

      Like

  24. Kate Houck says:

    My favorite New Year’s post yet Carol. You’ve highlighted some of the same thoughts I’ve been having as we struggle through this inauthentic Internet world. I feel it taking over my professional and personal life. Therefore, I love the experience you share at the end of this post. It restores some hope that we can regain real connections in our human relationships. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sha'Tara says:

      For the same reasons you mention I often feel a powerful desire to simply disconnect from blogging. That’s when I remind myself that the Internet and social media are tools. They are not meant to take the place of flesh and blood relationships. They also remind me that in non physical reality of pure consciousness (assuming there is such, and I believe there is) it may be that “blogging” or other social media relationships are teaching us how to relate to one another when we are no longer physical beings, when all we have to relate to one-another are thoughts, no other senses, especially no touch. How adept will we be at communicating then? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for sharing your perspective about the “inauthentic Internet world,” Kate. The sheer number of superficial selfies often makes it difficult for me to find more substantive work and ways to connect and build meaningful human relationships. But I’m grateful that it provided a platform for us to connect. It’s also given me a reason to write and share stories that might otherwise remain untold. Sending my best wishes to you. 🙂

      Like

  25. Beautiful. I have been playing and writing with my 8 year-old — even when I’m tired. I know it is a sacred thing– these true connections one on one. I try to hold a space for quiet connection. That quiet space in our hearts is a sacred resource I think.
    Blessings always — Laurie

    Liked by 1 person

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