01/09/2013 01:53 pm ET Updated Mar 11, 2013

New Year, New Values, New Spirit


I don't know about you, but I am so glad and relieved that we are finally in 2013. And just in time, is all I can say. The house-of-cards-culture of deception, cynical exploitation, excess and greed that has prevailed for the past decades is collapsing under the weight of its own gluttonous consumption, crushing the lives and dreams of millions of people.

A new year, a new beginning, a fresh start is just what we need about now. New Year's is a return to the eternal beginnings. Back to where there is only hope and promise and enthusiastic, well-intentioned energy. Back to the original big-bang backseat cosmic conception where all things are possible.

Despite the dismal prognostications of some, there is definitely hope in the air these days, and excitement at the prospect of change. The freshness, idealism, and renewed faith in the future, even in the face of hardship, is palpable and vivifying.

It is like the entire nation is waking up from a stuporous dream, drugged by too much food and drink, too much petroleum and plastic, too much junk. Our adrenals are depleted by years of operating in frantic overdrive racing to achieve, to succeed, to spend, to accumulate, to expand until we explode.

Enough already. Basta!

Time to shake off the shroud of vacuous values and get back to the basics. People everywhere are girding themselves for tough times ahead, but instead of resistance and resentment, I sense a sincere desire to live in a more conscientious, connected and authentic manner. A yearning for life built on principles that we can be proud of.

This fall I went to the 60th birthday party of a very old and dear friend. Due to budget constraints, the venue was the back room of a funky bar. The refreshments consisted of pitchers of beer and sangria and scant little fried things. Perfect for a college bash, but a bit strange for a room full of midlife women. Or so it seemed at first.

The birthday Queen specified no gifts, but requested a song instead. And her adoring guests complied. They brought songs, alright, complete with costumes and creative props. The show was fabulous -- touching, ridiculous and hilarious.

And there was dancing. Lots of dancing. It was a really great celebration, rich in all the right components. I can't remember having so much simple, down-home fun at a party in a very long time.

After all, how many poo-poo foodie parties can you stand? You know the kind I mean. "This cheese is so special, only two cows in the whole world make it! And it only costs $46 a quarter pound." Pulease.

One of my New Year's resolutions is to entertain more this year. Not big parties, but intimate dinners with six or eight people who can be depended upon for fascinating conversation and true communion. I am craving old-fashioned one-pot suppers -- soups, stews, casseroles, salads. Good bread. Good wine. Good talk. Good quality time.

I remember my mother talking about the depression. It dashed her plans to go to college. She had to work in a fruit store instead, but she never complained about that. (Don't get me wrong, my mother was a great complainer.) She was always nostolgic about those years, "People stuck together then, and helped each other," she said. "We knew how to have fun."

With this new year, we enter a new era. The main challenge that we will face in these uncertain times is not the economy. Nor is it the unnerving and seemingly psychotic political scenarios being played out all around the world. Not to mention the grief that they create.

Our challenge is to stay in our center come what may. Our challenge is to breathe in the energy of the life force and to exhale respect, reverence and awe. Our challenge is to be unshakeable in our faith. To share our love. And to shine our spiritual light.

This year, may we discover and embrace our own purpose, passion and power. May we accept our responsibility and our personal rule. May we take our ideas and our skills and use them to create a viable, safe, sustainable and sane world for us all.

With blessings of peace and joy.

Peace! And joy!

For more by Donna Henes, click here.

For more on the spirit, click here.