01/05/2015 03:56 pm ET Updated Mar 06, 2015

A Contemplative New Year

I love celebrating the new year quietly. My husband Eric usually works December 31, and after all the holiday hubbub, I'm ready for a more peaceful, contemplative celebration.

This year I invited some friends to join us for an early dinner. All told there were seven of us, including two dogs. No fuss or fanfare.

Our friends had had somewhat of a turbulent 2014, and although our year was calmer, it had been our first one without my dad, who'd passed away last December.

At the same time, we were also celebrating our blessings: happy, healthy families, fulfilling work, and our sweet pups, who've enriched our lives immeasurably.

It felt like we needed a ceremony to mark the major ups and downs of the last 12 months.

Releasing helium-filled balloons seemed like an appropriate way to say goodbye to what we wished to release from the past, and send up our hopes and prayers for the new year.

We decided to write our intentions on our balloons before sending them off into the ethers. Gathered around the kitchen, we contemplated what we'd write on our balloons.

These were some of our sentiments:

To release selfishness
To be more giving
To be happy
To let go of worry and fear
To contribute more to the world
To take loving care of ourselves
To be more present with those we love

When we were complete, we stood on the porch in the cold -- two moms, three boys, and two dogs -- and released our balloons on the count of three.

It was an odd feeling, watching them float away. In seconds, they were too far to reach... too far to take back. We'd admitted our wishes to the universe, and the universe received them without judgment.

As the night carried our wish-balloons out of sight, it struck me: what if our wishes don't come true? And what if they do?

At 10 to midnight, Eric arrived home in plenty of time for our New Year's kiss....

Another blessing added to the list. Another opportunity for gratitude.

Our job is to perpetuate the good, this new year and every year. To take loving care of ourselves and each other. To enrich the lives of those around us by being present to them. Not only is it possible... it's what we're here to do.

If not now, when? If not us... who?

Wishing you a bright new year of intention and possibility, of commitment and action, of fearlessness and joy. May you unfailingly trust the voice within.

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