DEAR READERS: Happy New Year! It is truly a blessing to cross into a brand new year. For all of us who have made it to this moment in our lives, it is worth it to pause and reflect. Take a few moments to count your blessings and to acknowledge all of the good that surrounds you. Know that this is true whether you are suffering or if you are experiencing bounty right now.
Grace is always present in the world, but it is essential that we remember right now. In order to live a fulfilled and honorable life, you have to change the proverbial lens in your glasses. You need to look through the lens of love in order to walk in that supportive space. Otherwise, it is easy to get lost and to make bad decisions. When you aren't seeing or thinking straight, it is also easy to overlook red flags.
I dropped my daughter off at school the other day, and on the way home, I noticed a street sign -- one of the yellow signs with an image of a male and female crossing the street, a sign often posted near a school. At the bottom of the sign is the word "AHEAD." The message was to beware of pedestrians crossing in front of you. Well, the sign had been defaced, the "A" in AHEAD being replaced with "BE" to spell "BEHEAD." If that wasn't enough, the female figure had her head greyed out as if she had been beheaded. I was horrified. Ironically, this now-defaced sign stands across the street from one of the largest cathedrals in the United States, St. John the Divine.
I cringed, then immediately made a firmer conscious commitment to choose to do everything I can to walk in the light and not succumb to the hatred and negativity that seem to be festering all around us. Practically, I called 311 to report it. I mention this example because I could have made a different choice. It would have been so easy either to get hysterical -- to no end -- or to be passive and do or say nothing. Taking action was required, and further action may still be needed until this sign of terrorism is removed. Being responsible was required, because, as my parents taught me, each of us is responsible for ourselves, for our neighbors and for our communities. That means that we have to stand up for truth and goodness and against hatred at every turn. This is true whether the negativity is festering at home, at work or on a street along your way. When you look through the lens of love, you see what doesn't support the unity of humankind. Even more, you gain the strength to access the ability to speak up when necessary.
To live in love is to take care of your environment and the people who live in it. I believe this is a requirement for all of us as we walk into 2016. It is the way that we can honor and protect all of us!
(Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)