I’m not afraid of you, 2017!

Love's Prayer

Almost a new year already. Can you believe it?

I know many of us feel like 2016 took its dear sweet time exiting the scene as it stumbled around like a drunk and flailed its arms wildly, claiming many iconic heroes in its wake. Yes, 2016 did come with a more than heaping portion of shock, grief, and disappointment.

But just like the holidays that come before it, the New Year is all about hope, optimism, believing in miracles, and–yes–new beginnings.

Of course, our past impacts us–of course, it does! But it also doesn’t need to define us, to hinder us, to drag us down. Take this new year as a new opportunity to do your best to refocus on the things you love.

Each January I vow to stretch myself in new ways and to make the coming year the best one yet. While I don’t make resolutions, per se, I do pick focus areas. For 2016 my focus was getting our family into our dream home (and then paying off the huge debt associated with the move, renovations, decorating, and more), and I am proud to announce that goal has been met!

Other years I focused on starting my own business, growing my family, improving my health, paying off debt… all the usual suspects. Everything seems to come in waves, almost on rotation. 2014 was a year to focus on my health, and now that 2017 is here, much of the weight is back and I need to make my health a priority again. My husband is supporting me by learning to cook healthy dishes. I’ve also given up drinking and am working on carving out space in my schedule to take daily walks with my giant Newfie, Crash.

What other goals do I have? My writing is a huge one. I want to bring out more stories, better stories, and to touch even more lives with my message of hope and finding light in darkness. The fact that you are here, reading my blog, puts me ever closer to that goal–thank you for your belief in me, your support for my message, and your enthusiasm for the stories I tell. Each ounce of encouragement puts me ever closer to that goal!

And while this is all great and exciting, the truth is I don’t need the calendar to read January 1 in order to start my new year. Every day is a new start, a fresh opportunity. Every day, you can take stock of your life, set goals, and work toward what you love.

So what makes January 1 so danged special?

Honestly…

I think it’s because we slow down so much at the end of December. Christmas and Hanukkah have us focusing on others, spending time with family, in prayer. The snow makes traffic move slower, makes us want to stay snuggled in our homes as much as possible, the darkened sky makes us sleepy, dreamy. It’s easy to reflect, to plan, to prepare when you have the time for it.

So why not make the time all year long? That’s my challenge to you for 2017. Don’t make some set-and-forget resolution. Don’t give up at the first sign of the struggle, but don’t stay so hard-and-fast to an arbitrary commitment that you can’t allow yourself to grow and change to adapt to whatever the next twelves months–the next life–has to throw at you.

Stay strong. Stay hopeful. Stay encouraged. Stay real.

Be the best you ever. In 2017 and beyond!

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