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Happy New Year!

I hope that 2015 was kind to you, and that you will enjoy 2016 even more. It is a presidential election year, so it will inevitably have its ups and downs.

I realize that those people who do New Year's Resolutions have already picked theirs and that most people don't do them -- honestly, given the dropout rate along about mid February, I question the wisdom of expending the energy. However, I find it very useful at the turning of the year to think about how I can adjust my habits and life patterns to better reflect my values. One of my all time favorites -- back before I had kids -- was to get better at level changes (this is a martial arts thing and very, very nerdy).

My husband has always emphasized the importance of kindness, and it is one of the many values he holds close that I have absorbed in my time with him. As a practical matter, however, there are many, many ways to express kindness. This year, I would like to better understand the idea of validation, how it differs from agreeing with someone or even supporting their goals. I want to get better at really listening to people express their lived experience, their feelings and their desires, and doing my very best to create relationships in which people feel that their experiences, feelings and desires are heard and respected. I believe that it is not necessary to suspend judgment -- much less change judgment -- in order to do this, but judgement can make us lazy, short circuiting the important relationship work of listening.

I hope that at this moment between the past and the future, you find something in the present of value to bring forward with you in your journey.