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This Time Next Year

There is a new TV show that I find intriguing. It’s called “This Time Next Year,” and as the title implies, it invites people to make bold resolutions or add to an ambitious bucket list while embarking on a life- altering journey. All over the course of 365 days.... I was hooked just by watching the previews.

Let’s face it, most of us embrace the coming year with the best of intentions to make changes in our lives that will somehow show us how to be better versions of ourselves. Some of these are tangible, measurable, like losing those last ten pounds, organizing our homes, or running a marathon. Some are designed to help us grow spiritually or emotionally as we vow to read the Bible from cover to cover or begin a meditation practice. We promise to be kinder to others, to be content with less “stuff,” to find some higher purpose for our existence. Daydreams take form as we plan the adventures we want to pursue from skydiving to traveling. The dawn of a new year somehow makes us feel that the possibilities are endless. And attainable. Yes, a brand new calendar seems filled with promise.

I suppose it is also a time for reflection. I wrote a similar blog post last year at this time.. Oh, I had a long laundry list that I had planned to accomplish and experience in 2017. But you know what? I failed dismally. The closets didn’t get cleaned; I am, in fact, less organized than I have ever been. The diet didn’t work; I never gave up sugar or meat or dairy or beer. I only went to the gym twice. Twice. Sadly, I didn’t get to see Paris. And life brought me some unexpected surprises, some major challenges, which, quite frankly, derailed my well-intentioned plans.

This has been the hardest year of my life, no joke. I have had more than my share of sad times… of losses and pain and disappointments. I have cried more than I am willing to admit. But the school of life teaches us important (and difficult) lessons at such critical moments. I have learned that nothing can be taken for granted, including relationships…. that some people will come into your life to stay, to love you unconditionally, while others won’t. And that will break your heart a little. I have learned that those clichés about the importance of having your health are true. Your perception of everything is altered when you are sick. I have learned that it does little good to rage against that which you cannot change. Acceptance paves the way to peace, and peace is priceless.

But there have been some amazing moments for me this year as well. Blogging about my journey has been therapeutic, helping me to make sense of my emotions and chronicle my experience. And I grew creatively, writing and publishing three books over the past ten months. Readers have been so very kind. My evolution as an author has fulfilled a dream I had when I was twelve years old, one I deferred all of my life because I never thought I had a story to tell. I have also learned that I am stronger than I ever imagined myself to be, braver than I would have ever guessed. So the trial has come with a blessing, the cloud revealing its silver lining. My faith in God has grown stronger as I have learned to truly lean on Him for every breath I take. Through His grace, I am still here. I have had some wonderful people care and pray for me, hold my hand when I was scared, and laugh with me when life became totally absurd. There is great joy everywhere, although sometimes you have to really search for it. I am aware of how precious every single moment is, which has taught me to be grateful. And that, I believe, is the most important lesson to have come from this, my most tumultuous year. Gratitude unlocks the door to powerful love and healing. I am reminded that the test always comes with an answer key.

Who knows what the next twelve months will bring? None of us do. But as human beings, we try to face the future with optimism, our expectations set on a better tomorrow. And so I join the millions who wish for good health, boundless joy. I hope for a bit of fun shared with family and friends. Like so many of you, I will set some realistic goals as I try to grow into a better version of myself. And while I watch that new TV show, it will be interesting to chart my own progress and eventually see what my world is like “this time next year. “ I am ever so hopeful.

After all, isn’t life simply an opportunity to experience something wonderful? I am a sucker for new beginnings. Aren’t you? Happy New Year. May this one be your best ever!

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