Leaning Forward Into the New Year

I woke early the first day.  Perhaps it was the thunderous thump that shook the walls of the snow covered house; convinced a bear had hurtled through the downstairs window, I sprang up and searched the house for disturbance.  Finding none, I instinctively checked on my son; although 13, I still follow my maternal tug for ensuring he’s still breathing.

Uncovered and in 55 degrees, he must have thrown himself against the wall searching for warmth.  I kissed his forehead, pulled the flannel-encased down comforter back over his long body, and quietly closed the door.

The downstairs was dark and quiet,  the glow of the porch light hitting the snow providing the only illumination.  Quietly, I began to greet the new year with candle and coffee, journal and thoughts.

It wasn’t enough.  I”m approaching the fifth day of being stuck on the couch, felled with the teacher’s curse of sickness on vacation.  Self-pity set in.  Frustration.  Disappointment.  Lonliness.  Blame.  Pessimism.  Despair.

This is not the way to spend New Year’s morning.  Yet, I just couldn’t feel it-the optimism I knew everyone else was waking up with..

Mired in my thoughts, I glanced out the window for direction.  The sun, beginning to glow through the trees, tempted me.  I should walk to the lake, but it’s 5 degrees outside.  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe next weekend.  There’s always another sunrise.

Turning to Facebook, I stumbled on Susan Tweit’s essay, Learning Forgiveness, and this quote about her dog, Isis:

“ Still, Isis was simply happy: to be in the world, to take walks and eat three meals a day, to snooze on her cozy bed. Her friendly good nature was so obvious that her beauty, not the scars she would carry for life, was the first thing people noticed when they met her.”

I need to be the person my dog thinks I am.  I need to walk out the door.

Tahoe Park Blvd.
Tahoe Park Blvd.

My snow boots crunched on the icy road as I cautiously made my way down to the lake.  Simple tributes to children’s joy caught my eye, and reminded me of my own son, who had spent the dusk hours of New Years Eve tumbling around in the snow alone, creating his own happiness.

Commando Cam

I knew what I would see: the sun was up, the sky blue.  I’d already missed the dawn, I chided myself.  I’ve greeted nearly 27 new years here.  The snow still kept the gate ajar.  The path still offered entrance, although showed signs of many travelers in the last few days.

But I was wrong.  As I crossed the slight knoll, the lake appeared unlike I’ve ever seen it-at first, I thought I was dreaming.  The mist swirled over the buoys like a magical cauldron  the waves lapped rhythmically, despite not a breath of wind.  And it was silent.


To experience this with me, watch the video:

I was alone, but what beauty, what strength, what power was before me.  No one else was witness to this spectacle, only me, only because I walked through the door.

I let go.   Fresh energy pumped through me.  I can start anew.  Today.  I leaned forward, let go of the past, and forgave myself in the image of the rising sun.


And it felt glorious.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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  1. Hi Jennifer,
    My name is Jane and I’m with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blogs about Tahoe Park to share on our site and I came across your post…If you’re open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you!

    1. Oh Michael, Ann, thank you. When the time is right, your heart will open and you will find the little bits of joy that make it all worthwhile. Be kind to yourself; you are an amazing lady! One day at a time. I wish you the most happiness for the new year.

  2. I like, no, love that sense of power we feel when we are on our own, as you were here, witnessing the morning’s beauty firsthand. It’s a feeling that comes on quickly ( and we wish it would linger) and makes us feel as if we can do anything. You have an essence of that feeling caught on camera and video – lucky, now you have a reminder and can go back when you need a little push. Happy New Year, my friend. Here’s to the mystery of life and may we both continue to enjoy it.

    1. Thank you, Brenda. I absolutely couldn’t get my camera out fast enough…I thought this much beauty must be fleeting. It was. When I turned around, a man and his baby emerged and disrupted my nirvana. I’ll toast to the mystery, the adventure, and to good friends like you.

  3. Mamawolfe, You wrote, “I was alone, but what beauty, what strength, what power was before me. No one else was witness to this spectacle, only me, only because I walked through the door.” I sit on the couch right now, about to dive into cleaning and organizing my writing desk – a task I’ve been trying to get to for two weeks. It feels overwhelming, I’ll admit. Thank you for posting this perfect piece to start. And thank you for including the inspiring essay by Susan. J. Tweit. The two of you are just what I needed to get me, “out the door.” Beautiful and powerful piece. Thank you.

    1. Dawn, I’m so glad I could help get you going…thank you. I am always amazed at how hard it can be to start, but what joy I find in the process (usually) and ecstasy when it is done! Just this morning, in -5 degrees, I saw the most beautiful sunrise on the ridge…and was so glad I was outside to witness it!

  4. Jennifer, Thank you for sharing this beautiful reminder that life offers wonder every day; we have just to be there to experience it. I am so glad that my blog essay sent you out the door to experience that breathless first-dawn-of-the-new-year in your beautiful lake-scape. May the wonder of it carry you into a year full of wonder and joy! (And may you feel better soon as well.) Many blessings to you….

    1. Thank you, Susan. I know sometimes I need that divine push to move myself forward…you supplied that yesterday. I even read your piece again later in the day when I was tired of still being sick on the couch! Best wishes for a happy and healthy year ahead.

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