The past year, 2022, was incredibly challenging, and maybe you found it that way, too.

There were the passing of loved ones, concerns for friends in countries experiencing severe uprisings, recovery from my shattered elbow, and moving through COVID, not once, but twice.

Each challenge has its lesson.

As I lean into the upcoming year of 2023, I look back at what I wrote on the first of 2022 to see where I began and how far I got.

Updating our kitchen was on my list. I was wondering if it would be black and white. Or blue and white? I did both, melding a farmhouse feel with my take on love and laughter and highlighting my love for cobalt blue glassware. I still have some finishing touches to do.

I realized my dream of a handcrafted buffet and china cabinet. That may not seem like much, but it’s been a dream forty years in the making, and I’m pleased with the fine craftmanship of my neighbor, Rod Koehn. I’m glad I waited until I could get exactly what I wanted. So often, our dreams have to percolate for a long while. Never give up on your dreams.

Children were central to my year.

Throughout the year, I continued to support programs for foster children. This will not change. I hope I can do more to raise their visibility this coming year.

There were surprising, first-hand lessons about grief.

Hearts break open so love can pour in.

My shattered elbow opened my eyes ever wider to the inequities of America’s broken healthcare system. Unfortunately, the entire world is experiencing this. It was incredibly frustrating to navigate from the initial experience of the local emergency room through surgery and much of my aftercare. However, all of this reinforced my belief that we must believe in ourselves and trust our inner compass. Absorb what resonates, fight for what we need, and be open to new perspectives. A surgeon can fix broken bones. We must do the healing work.

My most crucial vision for last year was encouraging people on their life journeys. To encourage them to be more than they thought they could be, to heal and grow spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally.  I understand we can only do our best and that whatever we do, it is our best at the time. Growth is often a matter of one step forward and two steps back until, finally, we are running toward the victory line!

In 2022, a new term was coined — “quiet quitting.” I consider this phenomenon as becoming aware of being more than we thought we could be and putting ourselves first. Putting ourselves first doesn’t mean we’re selfish. It means having compassion and love for ourselves. It means the things we are most passionate about claim more of our time and energy, ironically increasing our energy and passion and the satisfying knowledge that life is to be savored and celebrated. Another way of looking at the term is “I surrender” – not to someone else’s plan, but God’s plan for us and our willingness to be who we are meant to be.

Miracles are everywhere because everything is a miracle, even our challenges.

I lean into the new year with hope, faith, trust, and determination not to allow fear to inform my choice.

I wish us all peace.