Woman smiling at the camera.

President’s Corner: New Beginnings and Great Danes

by Jaime Castle

It’s the end of August, the beginning of September and for many families, that means it’s another start of the school year. Fun fact: there are special calendars called “Academic Year Calendars” that go from July –> July that teachers are very fond of. I am a teacher and I have kids in school, so this is an important time of year for me! There is so much to prepare and so much anticipation that goes along with this time of year. This got me to thinking about all of the different kinds of ways that new beginnings are celebrated and all of the different times of year that can be considered the beginning of a new year! We have our traditional New Year’s Day on January 1st full of new resolutions and good intentions and full of leaving behind the past in a way that embraces the joys and lets go of the sorrows. The Lunar New Year lasts for weeks and falls between January and February and is a huge deal for eastern cultures celebrating family and setting the tone for the year to come. Different religions also can have their own new year’s celebrations falling on different dates. Rosh Hashanah, for example, is celebrated solemnly in Judaism in late summer/early autumn. If you ask any of the Pagan folks here at Heritage about Samhain, celebrated at the end of October, they will tell you about how it can also be known as the Celtic New Year and even the Witches’ New Year!

How do you mark a new beginning? Do you wait for a new beginning to try new resolutions and leave certain things behind? I definitely feel excited and ready for “new!” What that looks like, I’m not sure, but just being open to opportunity, experiences, and connections is important.

But lately I’ve been feeling pretty cynical and misanthropic. I have been finding humanity, in general, severely lacking “goodness” and I’ve been worried that I’m heading into a bitter mental place.

One activity that always seems to put me in a bad mood is driving. People can be so rude when they drive, or they can come off as very incompetent drivers that can inconvenience us. The other day, driving home along Red Bank Road, a seemingly incompetent driver was ahead of me. They were a good amount of car lengths ahead, but I could blatantly see that they were incompetent from a distance! It was a small, four-door white sedan and the driver was going way too slow and taking way too long to turn. As I caught up to him and was right behind his car, I then noticed what the issue was. There was a Great Dane in the back seat! The big dog was standing and trying to keep its balance. This poor driver was trying to navigate this car with care due to the passenger on board! They probably were coming from one of the veterinary offices on Red Bank. I immediately backed-off, giving this driver in front of me more space and less anxiety that a car on his tail would’ve given him.

This autumn, this New Year for me, one resolution that I have is to give people more grace, more space! I will try to believe in and see the best in people because you never really know, unless you are close enough to really see, what people are carrying! It could be they are driving a small sedan with a big ole Great Dane in the back?!

Happy New Year Friends!