Beginnings and Endings…and Beginnings, Etc.

I never liked New Year’s Eve. The celebrations seemed forced and phony to me even as a young child. I couldn’t understand what was so special about the end of one year and the beginning of another that would cause people to drink in excess, act too silly, eat too much, and generally do all kinds of things they would never do the day before—or the day after—New Year’s Eve. To me, turning the page on a calendar meant…well, turning a page on the calendar. That’s all. And that’s me. Practical to a fault.

But at the age of 72, I have learned some lessons, as I approach a new year, about the passage of time and the turning of calendar pages. I’ve learned that the year behind may not have been everything I hoped for…or maybe it has been unexpectedly all of that and more. I’ve learned that the year ahead may hold wonderful surprises…or sadness beyond measure. I’ve learned that life happens, whether I’m ready for it or not. Lessons continue and life goes on…year after calendar year. Turn the page on 2016, because 2017 is coming…ready or not.

My best teacher in these lessons of time was—and still is—my daughter, Rebecca. She taught me to live each day of each calendar year as if it were the last one of my life…as if there were no more pages to turn. She taught me to say, “I love you,” all the time…and especially at the end of a cyberspace or landline conversation. She taught me to be compassionate for those living with depression and bipolar disorder. She taught me that all behavior (our own or other people’s) happens for a reason…and that it isn’t always within our, or their, control. Rebecca taught me that some years were better than other years. She taught me the essence of taking that step forward anyway, however small or slow, even when one foot doesn’t want to follow the other.

Rebecca taught me that life is precious during each year and that fulfillment doesn’t come while you’re waiting for good things to happen. Fulfillment—and good things—come through the challenge you present to yourself, the efforts you make, to actively create the value you seek during each day of every year. Dare to visualize what that success looks like to you, and visualize it in great detail—precise, clear, abundant, sparkling, luxurious detail. The beautiful, positive, and powerful feelings this awakens in you will catalyze that vision and drive it from feeling to fact.

This is how Rebecca’s Dream was catalyzed into reality. A young woman’s clear and sparkling vision was awakened into a living, breathing organization which—as we turn the calendar pages of every day, week, month, and year—offers abundant living and breathing hope and help to those in need by promoting awareness and compassionate understanding of depression and bipolar disorder as real diseases.

Rebecca didn’t know what would develop out of her vision. She didn’t know that her hopes and dreams would live and grow and bloom so beautifully over 11 calendar years into a major nonprofit foundation bearing her name and spreading her dream throughout the world.

She could never have imagined the e-mails and letters we’ve received during these past 11 years thanking her for her vision and compassionate understanding of what it means to live with depression and bipolar disorder. As one person, E. E., told us, “Being introduced to her message of hope was a turning point in my own journey with being bipolar. I will forever be grateful to you for carrying that message.”

As we finish 2016 and enter 2017, Rebecca’s Dream will continue to give shape to this message and vision of hope that spoke to E. E. And to see how we’re fulfilling that vision in precise, clear, and abundant detail, please take a look at our website:

One way we’re giving shape to that vision is by continuing to create and present programs for middle school children, teens, parents, teachers, and counselors. We were asked, for example, to participate in a program started by two middle school children—one from the city of Chicago and one from the northern suburbs—to develop mental health programs with classmates to present to their peers. When it comes to mental health and wellness, children are telling us, showing us, that they want to know what signs to look for. THEY want to know. And Rebecca’s Dream is working with them to share our years of knowledge to help all children, whether in middle school, elementary school, or high school. We will walk with them and help them as they move through life…year after calendar year.

And as you turn the calendar page on your year, all of us in the Rebecca’s Dream Family wish you and your loved ones each and every blessing of 2017…and beyond. May the years always be gentle and merciful.

And as we face each new day, let us keep these words of the poet John O’Donohue close in mind and heart:

“May I live this day
compassionate of heart,
clear in words,
gracious in awareness,
courageous in thought,
generous in love.”

Gail W. Cutler and the Board of Directors of Rebecca’s Dream