Wishes For A Mindful New Year!

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IMG_0009Once more the year has rolled into its final week. Like everyone else, I anticipate what’s to come as the New Year begins? Who will be our next President? Will the wars in the Middle East spread further and further? And what will our country’s role be in trying to find peace? Will cold weather finally arrive and bring with it snow or freezing rain destroying these tiny gems I photographed on the day after Christmas?

There are also very personal wonderings. How will Bill’s knee replacement surgery go? Will my daughter’s fight with lyme disease finally be over and will she return to perfect health? Will I sell tons of books when my retitled memoir, SCATTERING ASHES, A Memoir of Letting Go, is published on September 20th? Yes, you heard that right, a new title which I think works oh so much better. And yes, it will be available on September 20, 2016.

Every December I choose a word to carry me through the next year, as a reminder of what is most important as I travel down the path I’ve chosen. As this past year has slipped by, I’ve found myself falling back into an old pattern that makes me extremely uncomfortable when I allow it to take over my thoughts.

Its name is Worry. I’m afraid that my predisposition for getting worked up over things has taken over my thought process and kicked mindfulness out the door. As a result, I spend too much time imagining what might happen to me, my family, or the world. I’ve also found myself kicking myself in the butt for mistakes I’ve made in the past and my sometimes pissy behavior.

Worry and Regret are not things I want to  carry around with me. So I’m going back to a word that has never been on my list of New Year Words, but is most important in that it has helped me in the past and will help ease my way through the coming months with a bit of sanity.

If I can bring back being MINDFUL during the next 365 days, I will be very pleased with myself.

I think it will take some work to be present in each and every moment, so it won’t be particularly easy or happen over night. And perhaps it shouldn’t be a New Years Word at all. Maybe it’s a Rest Of My Life Word. But I think all New Year Words do that eventually anyway. Or so I hope.

In the last week, I’ve started rereading, When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron. It’s one of her greatest, though all of her books are. It certainly is apt as I observe the state of our world right now. This particular book has helped me through some of the worst years of my life. Her encouraging words reach into my heart, helping to release my unease.

I want to be more appreciative of all of the good things, like those beautiful, little daffodils in the photo at the top of this page that don’t usually bloom here in December. Or these funny Halloween pumpkins that turned intoIMG_0006 something otherworldly by the end of November. They seem fossilized. Very out of season, they make me smile when I pass by them on my walks.

Today, I’m trying to be present NOW. It’s all I’ve really got. Those mistakes and bad behaviors I mentioned earlier happened in the past. Why run them through the wringer one more time?

As for the future, it hasn’t happened yet. For right now, I’ll concentrate on typing these words while I listen to robins singing happily outside in leafless trees. Later, on my way to lunch, I’ll notice the fine mist that is falling and how it gently settles on my hair.

What are your reflections on the coming year and what is it you want most to happen?


I’ll be taking a break from posting here for the next few weeks
so that I can be present for Bill as he begins recovering from his surgery 
scheduled on January 4th. 
Please send along prayers and healing thoughts.
They are greatly appreciated.

My monthly Newsletter will be published as usual on January 1st,
and is the story of how I became a writer.  Subscribe to it at the top
right hand side of this page to have it delivered to your email address.

I’ll be back here on my blog on January 19th.

Happy New Year to All!


  1. Happy New Year, Joan! I love the new title for your book.
    I am a worrier too, and all too often let worry about what might happen get in the way of enjoying the present. I am always on a quest for mindfulness, especially in this modern world where things rush by too fast.

    Wishing you a very mindful and peaceful New Year. Best of luck to your husband on his surgery, too!

  2. Becca, Thanks so much for your kind words. I love the new title too, and can’t wait to get it out there. Best wishes for a mindful and peaceful year to you too. We really need these things in our crazy world!

  3. Wishing your hubby a speedy recovery in the New Year and you more moments of peace and presence. Your word for the New Year is one that I keep working at. I, like you, drift easily into worry and fear. It helps me to keep reasserting to myself the understanding of mindfulness as a “practice”. Our cultural achievement oriented perspective is so well entrenched in my subconscious that I suspect it will be a never ending battle. As you no doubt know, the important thing is to keep bringing ourselves back to the practice, again and again. I have chosen the word Truth this year as I begin to own my life story on paper. I’m so excited to learn you have a date for the publication of your book. I can’t wait to read it! I’m sure I will learn much from your story. Enjoy the remainder of your holiday season!

    • Joan Rough says:

      Dorothy, Thanks so much for your speedy recovery wishes and for moments of peace and presence. You are so right in that mindfulness is a practice like meditation, and we need to bring ourselves back from worrying about things that could happen in the future to noticing the little things that are right in front of us at this moment, like the way the sun reflects reflects its light on frozen mud puddle.

      I’m so happy to hear you are beginning to write your own story. It’s exciting to make the commitment to share our trials and resulting wisdom with others.

  4. Joan — I love the new title: SCATTERING ASHES, A Memoir of Letting Go. And I’ve made a note of it’s release date: September 20, 2016. Woohoo!

    Next week — the first Tuesday of 2016 — I’ll share my focus word on my blog. I love that yours is MINDFUL.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Laurie, I’m happy with the new title too and am glad you are too. It should be a very exciting year.

      I can’t wait to hear what your word is.

      Happy New Year!


  5. Joan, I love your word-Mindful-and your new memoir title. These thoughts are so rich and warming. Wayne and I will have lots of time to be still and ponder as he hobbles around on his painful knee–probable meniscus tear–so we may be headed for surgery too. Bill is not alone! Wishing him a speedy recovery from his surgery and a bright , healthy and happy New Year to you both! 🙂

    • Joan Rough says:

      Oh no, Kathy. I hope Wayne’s knee problem is something easy to solve. Thanks so much for your well wishes. And Happy New Year to you too!

  6. Hi Joan,

    Best wishes for mega sales for your new title, Scattering Ashes, as you keep your New Year’s word MINDFUL uppermost.

    I send a white light of healing to surround, warm, comfort, and restore your husband and your daughter to full health.

    My word for the year will emerge as I finalize my annual plan for 2016.

    Thanks for keeping the rest of us mindful about the important things in life.

  7. Joan Rough says:

    Flora, Thanks so much for your well wishes and the healing light. I hope your New Year will be filled with wondrous days and success in all of your pursuits.

  8. Joan, so much to love in this post, including you! I love your new title, and your new word, mindful, suits very well for the coming year’s focus. Like you, I used to be a worrier until my husband, Bob, pointed out to me I was wasting a lot of time on things that happened yet and likely never would. That did it! I was not raised to be a time waster, and I certainly wasn’t going to be called one. However, I must still be some sort of worrier as the past few weeks have bogged me down until I realized I was looking at everything through a negative lens. So I switched lenses, and now look only through positive lenses.

    I have my new word selected and will be sharing next week in a post and my newsletter.

    My best to Bill and you as surgery comes closer. My prayers will be focused on each of your special needs during that time.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Sherry, Thanks so much for your kind words and best wishes. I’m glad you like the new title and I think my word for 2016 will be very helpful to me. I’m looking forward to seeing what your word will be next week and hope you will have a New Year filled with peace and possibility!

  9. Your honesty about your worry and the support you find here from all of us who worry from time to time will bring you the strength to focus on hope in the new year, Joan. You and Bill have been carrying a heavy load. It’s natural to worry.

    I too LOVE the new title for your book. I am sad that I won’t be able to be at your launch in September as I was hoping to be. 🙁

    My residency at the Collegeville Institute begins on Sept. 4, and I am expected to be there in residence. I am delighted to have been accepted, but wish in this case that it wasn’t so far away. I will be cheering in Minnesota, however! I hope some of the other residents will want to read your powerful story.

    Holding you and Bill in thought and prayer. Hope to hear a report of a successful surgery soon.

  10. Joan Rough says:


    I’m so glad you LOVE the new title. I’m so excited it’s hard to contain myself.

    I will certainly miss you at the launch but I’m so excited for you and this opportunity. There will be other times for you to help me celebrate I’m sure. In the meantime, Happy New Year!

    I just got caught up in the word, Possibility, and may have to add another word for 2016.