Each year, I spend some time looking back, not to castigate myself for failures, but to consider what has happened. 2021 has been quite the year, for the entire world. This exercise helps me focus on the year ahead by reminding me what went well and what didn’t. I wrote about my musings previously. Here’s the links to those previous posts: 2019, 2020 & 2021.
Facing a new year, a new start, even a new month, can often represent sufficient hope to be able to change the narrative, change trajectory, change direction. We are still deep in the throes of a worldwide pandemic, partly because too many aren’t taking it seriously I believe. I’m tired of all the restrictions and the fear and the whiplash of shutting down and opening up and then shutting down again. C’mon people, let’s all cooperate to get Covid under control so we can return to something resembling normalcy. I want to travel and spend 2022 doing the things I want to do.
One way many people celebrate the New Year is to set intentions or resolutions for the year. Pretty sure one of the only entities that benefits from this practice are the gyms who collect lots and lots of memberships in January and then don’t have to provide services since many don’t follow through. I read somewhere a statistic about how few people actually follow through on New Year’s resolutions and it was abysmal.
I’ve never really understood the resolution thing at the first of January. Why then? It just didn’t make a lot of sense to me. What I’ve done for the past few years is to pick a word for the year.
My word for 2018 was JOY and that reminded me to find the joy in the every day moments, to look for joy in the moments that did not seem joyful. I meditated on that word for 2018 and found that if I truly looked for joy, I found it. I found joy even during the most difficult days. I read once that what is inside will spill out, so if you are an angry person, when tested anger will come out; that if you are joyful and hopeful, when you are stressed, that’s what will spill out. I’m still very angry about MBC and so many of the issues we have all faced this year in the world, but I’m working on filling up on good things so that’s what comes out.
For 2019, my word was EMBRACE. Those of you who know me and my midwestern bubble, all of the embracing and touching expected down here in Miami is such a stretch for me! I’ve gotten used to it so much that when I’m out of Miami, I lean in for the kiss or hug as a habit now. Made for some awkward exchanges when I was in San Antonio for the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) in 2019, especially with some researchers from other countries, but also engendered some laughs. When we travel to Washington DC to advocate for key issues on Capitol Hill, our favorite stop is the Miami Congressperson’s office because they always have Cuban coffee available!
For 2020, my word was SACRED. Boy did I not know what I was getting myself into!! Only a few months into 2020, we learned about COVID-19 and the closures began. March came and we became immersed in virtual learning, which continued far longer than anyone anticipated. I watched as conference after conference I had intended to attend in 2020 was canceled or moved online. Elliot began working from home and initially was literally in the middle of the house and in the middle of the chaos created by two very active little boys. We have spent a LOT of time together as a family. Our living room couches and chairs became a parkour playground for the boys and every Zoom call I took had their heads bouncing the in the background. ZOOM!! I had never really heard of zoom before the pandemic and now it’s hard to remember what life was life before zoom. The summer came and went and school started again, online. When October came and the possibility of the kiddos going back to in person school arose, we decided that would be best for them. It has been wonderful for them to have that element of normalcy again. But the biggest gain I saw in 2020 was how close my boys have gotten and how much sacred family time we’ve had.
For 2021, my word was GRATITUDE. As the pandemic continued and so much in the world felt chaotic, the time I spent focused on being grateful for what we have helped. We have learned this year to balance risk and focus on what we CAN do rather than what we can’t. The boys adjusted back to school, with a few times of quarantine, and Elliot continued to work from home most of the time. We traveled a little more in 2021 and I got to see more people from other places. Hugs became even more significant and we dealt with progression of the cancer in my body and a medication change. 2021 wasn’t easy and we learned a little more about our resilience and who we can count on.
With all of this in the backdrop, my word for 2022 is PERSISTENCE. Thanks to my dear friend, Warrior Megsie for the very appropriate gift of a bracelet with that very word inside!
I wear a growing tangle of reminders on my left wrist that I’ve received from dear friends, reminders of how I am courageous, resilience and yes, persistent. Those reminders, as well as one of my favorite tattoos on that forearm, help me through the hard times.
Picking a word of the year is always an adventure. Different words come to me and then I see them everywhere as I begin thinking about choosing one. I firmly believe that God brings to me what I need to be focusing on and He uses whichever word He brings me in ways I don’t anticipate. Whatever it is, I know that it will be an entertaining adventure that will stretch me beyond my wildest dreams!!
So long 2021 and hello 2022!!