Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

Today we unwrap the New Born Year of 2011. In our culture, we celebrate the birth of each New Year with a review of the choices made in the year just past, and focus on what we hope to accomplish in the New Year. I have had mixed feelings about New Year’s celebrations over the course of my life, even though I have attended wonderful parties given by friends who are gracious hosts. I have come to understand that in this life stage, it is right for me to honor the demise of 2010, followed as it is by the birth of this New Year, in a sober state and in a spiritually centered manner.

I have always felt that how I start the New Year will shape the 365 days to come. This year the husband and I chose to attend the New Year’s Eve service at Marble Collegiate Church at 5th Avenue and 29th Street in New York City. We attend Sunday services there most of the year and are grateful to be part of a congregation that welcomes everyone, without any interest in the choice of life partners, ethnic background, or ability to support the financial needs of the church. Those who regularly attend services here appear so joyful, and unlike so many anemic congregations in our city, the pews are always full. Hope and generosity are evident in all parts of the service and in the outreach programs that the church budget and its many volunteers support.

Religious services all have prayer as part of their tradition. Marble has a supportive prayer ministry for those who need to share their burdens and has a longstanding tradition of prayer each Sunday for the young men and women who have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan during that week. The names of the newly dead young people are read carefully and quietly so that they are remembered for their sacrifice. This prayer reminds those of us who are witnesses to the sound of those names week after week that we must think about these wars not just in geo-political terms, but in the measure of lives lost and money used that could give hope to those who have nothing here at home.

Nothing focuses the mind more than prayer for the contemplation of the choices made the year before, with their consequences, and the opportunity for New Year’s resolutions for the coming year. At the end of the service of music and message, prayer and gratitude for all that we have, it is remarkably easy to find that which I hope to change. Herewith, my resolutions.

  • Give more. Life is short and what we do here matters. I have often felt that the best time for me would be a time of more self-involvement. Then I think of the ease of my life and the opportunities I have had and realize that I am obligated to make the lives of others better whenever I can.
  • Find joy. It is always easy for me to focus on the demands of work and relationships, to become worn down by chaos and toxic behavior, to waste time with worry over that which I cannot control. Joy is all around for me, in music, art, writing, and in the simple grace of living in harmony with others.
  • Care for yourself. There is a childlike expectation for many of us that someone else will make our lives better. Somehow we could change negative behaviors if only, if only. I can start, this year, to care for the body and spirit that have been given to me with attention to medical tests, healthy eating, daily exercise and meditation.
  • Connect to those closest. The distractions and demands of an overfull life can easily take time away from the ones we love most. I do resolve to put more time and creativity into my closest relationships.
  • Be a mentor. Much of the joy I have comes from my work with Women’s Voices for Change. It is here that I am one of many writers who have a road map for the second half of life, the phase that we call The New Menopause. It begins at 40, and that is when younger women just entering this life-stage need mentors to give them hope, provide information, and offer support.

We at Women’s Voices for Change believe that this can be the best half of life for women who forgo shame, denial, and despair and choose to live the authentic life of a woman in this stage, where transformation and reinvention are not only possible but necessary for the journey ahead.

Happy New Year!

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  • Susan Brazell January 2, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Imagine my surprise when I posted a piece by Laura Sillerman
    recently. I got a call from my husband, Carl, who said “did you
    realize who wrote this piece”. No, I replied. I just liked it.

    This is indeed a very small world!
    All the best to you and Bob, Laura.

    Susan Ziller Brazell

  • b. elliott January 2, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Beautiful and thought-provoking post, Dr. Pat. Joy to you and all at WVFC.

  • S. Bewkes January 2, 2011 at 9:30 am

    What a worthy, meaningful and spiritually generous way to start the new year. I’m going to be working on many of these initiatives myself. Wishing you and all the others at Women’s Voices for Change a happy and healthy 2011, full of positive and joyful transformation and reinvention!!