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It’s a mystery I don’t need to understand — how the simple acts of putting 2011 to bed and waking up in 2012 — how the mere advancing of clock and calendar can create such energy.  And not just for me.

I am the same person as yesterday.  But I don’t feel the same.  Yesterday felt dark and heavy in spite of it being a beautiful clear, blue sky sort of day.  Where today —  in spite of partly cloudy skies outside my window — I feel lighter in spirit than I have in a long time.  My outlook has changed with the year —  finally, all that fumbling around in the dark night of 2011 might be paying off.  Happy new year — I’ve found the light switch.  And who cares that I can’t account for the change!

Yet, don’t similar unexplainable effects occur elsewhere in life?  In professional sports, for example, energy on the field is often created out of home-court advantage.  Here in Oklahoma City, three days ago, an NBA point guard for the Thunder was having a lousy game in a so far, lack-luster season.  But that changed in an instant, when in the  midst  of the fourth quarter, the hometown faithful began cheering Russell Westbrook on, chanting his name over and over  — RUS-SELL — RUS-SELL — RUS-SELL.

Newspapers all across the nation reported the feel-good story written by Mike Sherman, sports editor for The Oklahoman, which concluded with these words:

“That play — that chant — didn’t win the game. Durant took care of that. But it definitely accomplished something. Westbrook was Westbrook after that. He went 3-of-4 shooting in the fourth quarter, was aggressively pressuring Jason Kidd and became the force of nature the Thunder needs him to be.

His final line wasn’t anything too special: 16 points on 6 of 15 shooting, four assists and seven turnovers. But it was hard to leave the arena without feeling something had turned for Westbrook.

“I just tried to stay positive,” he said. “My teammates kept encouraging me. I know I could come in and change the game defensively. That is what I did, and it led to some offense.”

And a special moment.”

Special moments are nice.  But the a-ha line for me was that “Westbrook was Westbrook after that.”  And that’s all I want — I wish to become myself again, after all that turmoil endured in 2011. And I believe I can do it just as Russell is doing it — by taking three big positive steps:

1.  Surround myself with people who encourage me.

2.  Spend time doing those things that bring me joy.

3.  Pray more — by keeping time in a circle of prayer.  And while Westbrook didn’t mention prayer, I know enough of this place to know Westbrook and all the players — on both sides of the court — were surrounded in a circle of prayer in that arena last Thursday evening.

This short list of ‘gonnas’ sounds a lot like new year’s resolutions, doesn’t it? — those things I’ve avoided making for years.  But it’s a new year and I’m ready to try new things that will sow seeds of joy in my life.  And who knows but that maybe in the mystery of life, my good intentions may help me live into a ‘happy new year.’

Why I’m smiling, just from writing the words, ‘Happy New Year.” Can you imagine the joy I could make with a little confetti and a horn?

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