No, I didn’t have too much to drink at the Labor Day barbecue, thank you. I’m just celebrating what I believe Labor Day really is to me, and to many, if not most other people. It is the beginning of a new year. I am not trying to diminish the significance of Labor Day, which according to Wikipedia “honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well being of the country.” Nor, will I start a conversation about what’s happening today to workers in our country, although that’s a topic worthy of discussion. I’m simply acknowledging that for most of us, the end of the summer and the beginning of a new school year marks what most of us consider a new year. Ingrained in us since we were students, reinforced when we send our own children to school, that back-to-school fever is more about new beginnings, fresh slates, and starting over than the 31st of December ever was. Kissing goodbye the celebration of summer and all the gifts it brings is not without sadness. Who won’t miss fresh blueberries, carnivals and county fairs, beaches, lakes, and pools? But admit it. If you pause and peek inside, there’s a little excitement that comes with a new year. What do you plan to do during the seasons to come? Will you look for that new job? Finally take the art class you’ve wanted to take? Go back to the gym? Maybe put those words that have been swirling around your head and filling your heart to paper? Will you give yourself permission to take a break from shopping for school supplies, stocking up on peanut butter and snacks, and put down the catalogues telling what you must wear this season? Will you let the new year be one when you embrace the passage of the luxurious laziness of summer and open your heart and life to all that is yours if you only let it be? My Happy New Year includes a few resolutions, of course. I will defend the time I set aside to write against all distractions, external and internal. I will honor the gift that has been given to me and find joy in doing it. I know I will still complain about deadlines, edits, and what point of view I should write in, but I am determined to focus on having gratitude for what I have and not whine about what I don’t have. I am excited to meet September and the months that follow with a renewed commitment to a new life I have chosen. (More on that later this week.) How about you? What do you plan to do with your new year? You don’t have to be a writer or an artist to jump in. All you have to do is begin.