Happy New Year, 2023

Each year, I spend some time looking back, not to castigate myself for failures, but to consider what has happened. 2022 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: 20192020 & 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. While we’re mostly “back to normal” in our household, there is still so much worry and anxiety swirling around trying to stay healthy (or as healthy as possible). What I see so clearly, though, is how important it is to do the things that are important, see the people who are important and not put off the experiences that are important. We never really know what is in store for each of us this year or in any year.

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 and that has been a rewarding and often unexpectedly illuminating experience.

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 in Miami was (and 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. Wed 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 was 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 learned 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.  Learning to be grateful for all of it, the good and the bad was an unexpected lesson.

For 2022, my word was PERSISTENCE. Thanks to my dear friend, Warrior Megsie for the very appropriate gift of a bracelet with that very word inside! As the new year dawned, we had no idea how much persistence would be required for 2022. Progression in January meant that the cancer escaped my bones and spread to my liver and back into IV chemo I went. Not only did the pandemic continue, but we moved right at the end of that IV chemo treatment schedule and we had to reassemble our lives and my medical teams. And then came sepsis and a long slow recovery. Can’t say I’m sad to leave 2022 behind along with all of the necessary persistence it required just to get through it.

As I was thinking about and considering what my word for 2023 should be, we were updated on the slow decline and death of my dear friend, Silke Pfleuger, from MBC. We lose people all the time in the MBC Community and sometimes I think I’m doing better at this grief thing. And then someone else dies and my heart is ripped asunder yet again. It was already on the list, but also in honor of my dear friend who was always somewhere traveling and adjusted her treatment to accommodate those plans, my word for 2023 is ADVENTURE. Can’t wait to see what considering adventure and Silke’s example will take us this year. My heart is heavy with this loss among so many others; at the same time, carrying this grief requires effort and energy.

Picking a word of the year is always a little different as I navigate this living while dying thing. 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 experience that will stretch me beyond my wildest dreams!!

So long 2022 and hello 2023 — and fuck MBC; can’t say anything good about it.

3 thoughts on “Happy New Year, 2023

  1. Love this – “Can’t say I’m sad to leave 2022 behind along with all of the necessary persistence it required just to get through it.” Exactly my thoughts. My bone mets jumped to my liver and bone marrow. It seemed to take forever to find a drug that would work! (Xeloda did more harm than good.) And although I’m nervous about 2023, I can’t ignore that it’s here. So here goes …

    Liked by 1 person

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