Taking a More Zen Approach to the New Year

Japan new year

Happy New Year! We all say it and sometimes we toast to it, but often it’s just like another day.

This year, I decided to use the “new year” to really gear up for 2015. But how? I wasn’t sure – making big resolutions last throughout the year can be pretty tough. I needed a way to ease into it and something that would work for me.

Before the holidays my teenage daughter wanted to build a loft in her bedroom, using some storage space we had. I agreed, because I had no clue what was stored away in that space anyway. It ended up being boxes of gifts we had received when we moved from Japan, Singapore and Indonesia. Some items like the Japanese zabuton (large floor pillows) were over 20 years old. With my daughter peering in the boxes, I couldn’t really argue that the stuff in this space was useful or serving our family. But some of it had some good memories. I’m going to get the zabuton cushions recovered and use them in our family room. Other stuff – it was time to let go of.

Getting Organized

Clearing out that small storage area set me on a path of organizing. I put some things with the best memories in attic storage and some things in the charity box. And I felt better. A lot better.

My daughter painted and finished her loft project. She loves it, which makes me happy, but it made me realized just how disconnected I was from my surroundings. Going through all of the stuff from Asia, I decided to take a Japanese style approach to the New Year.

The Japanese have a tradition of Oshogatsu, where they pay off all debt, clean the house and clear up all unfinished business before December 31 every year. When the New Year bell tolls, they leave behind all of the worldly concerns of the previous year.

I set on a path of cleaning my cupboards and closets and really setting up some organization systems. I went through finances with my husband, cleaned out in-boxes, made sure all receipts for the HSA were uploaded, got the pets their shots, haircuts for everyone, etc. Although I drove my family a bit crazy for several days, I now feel more sane, more grounded. Really ready for 2015.


Keeping with the Japanese theme for New Year resolutions, I decided to embrace the Okinawan concept of Haru hachi bu, which means literally, “eat until you are 80% full.” Although there are commercial diets based on this concept, I’m not really looking to Haru hachi bu to lose weight. I’m really embracing the whole Lifestyle philosophy: eating healthy, exercise and time with friends and family.

So far this year, I have been running on my treadmill, walking our dogs and eating a lot healthier after a month of pigging out on holiday party foods. I had some precious one-on-one time with my daughter over the break. And am really feeling grounded as I go back to work.

For me, 2015 is going to be more about being mindful — knowing where that 80% bar is (on food, work or other demands on me) and making sure my focus remains on my health, family and friends. Just making some small changes helps.

Happy New Year!


3 thoughts on “Taking a More Zen Approach to the New Year

  1. Love the ideas. I too have been trying to clear out the clutter that hasn’t been used. Thanks for the encouragement!

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