family, reflection, resolution

One Word 2023

Last year my father-in-law surprised me with an AeroGarden so I could successfully grow fresh herbs in my home. It was an exciting gift to receive as gardening in any form is not one of my strengths.

There were only three steps to success: plug in the device, insert the seed pod, and add water mixed with MiracleGro. Everything else was automated. The overhead light turned on with a timer and the water level indicator turned red when it needed to be refilled.

That’s it.

Who knew growth could be so easy?

As my AeroGarden began to sprout tiny seedlings, I felt the rumblings of change in my day-to-day world as well. My #OneWord2022 of “Continue” was picking up speed as we experienced nearly every family milestone possible over the course of a few months:

  • A funeral (Great-Grandma Letter)
  • Two graduations (Brennan – college, Daniel – high school)
  • Moving (Brennan and Katrina moved out of their separate apartments and their childhood homes)
  • Purchasing a home (Katrina and Brennan, which included another round of moving)
  • Beach Week (Daniel and 13 friends with Rich as chaperone)
  • Family vacation (Disney Cruise, which resulted in 3/6 of us getting COVID, egads)
  • A new baby (our nephew’s son, the first great-grandchild for Grandpa Letter)
  • 50th birthday celebrations (Rich, Lisa, and I)
  • Bridal showers and a wedding (Katrina and Brennan – this event alone could be a 200 page book!)
  • All things college (Daniel)
    • Making a final choice of which college to attend (VT vs ODU)
    • Applying for scholarships
    • Completing pre-req modules for the Mechanical Engineering Program
    • Selecting a roommate and moving into a dorm
  • Becoming a teenager (Caleb)
  • Getting braces (Caleb)

In August, we grappled with the unexpected loss of Daniel’s good friend, Efe, whose tragic death coincided with the busiest time of the year. In less than one week, our son moved into college, returned home to be a pallbearer in his friend’s funeral, then stood at the altar as a groomsman in his sister’s wedding. The next day he began college classes.

Growth, we discovered, wasn’t easy after all.

Sometimes it meant holding steady in the midst of chaos.

Other times it meant letting go of things you never thought you would lose.

The milestone moments continued, as Katrina and Brennan explored Italy on their honeymoon and I began my 26th year in education. I had the honor of presenting to several organizations about A Passion for Kindness and personally autographing hundreds of books (always a thrill!) I even kicked off a new kindness initiative of #50RAKs to celebrate my 50th birthday, which I’m halfway through completing (more posts to come!)

I watched in awe as Katrina presented a TEDx talk at CNU, sharing her journey in “Finding Purpose: Choosing Creation in a World of Consumption” and marveled at Brennan’s success launching his business, Purpose Design Co., into a full-time entrepreneurship.

I made time to mark a few things off my bucket list, like reconnecting with my cousin Sara in Boston, whom I hadn’t seen in more than thirty years, and attending my very first college football game. I also visited the September 11 museum in New York City with Grandpa Letter and Rich’s sisters/nieces as the year came to a close.

When I chose my #OneWord2022 as “Continue,” I didn’t realize how it would pull us through so many challenges. The highs and lows of summer became a trampoline of change, bouncing us higher and higher into realms we’d never experienced. There were incredible heights of joy, but also unexpected turbulence of twists and turns.

Even still, we continued on.

We loved.

We learned.

We grew.

As I sit today reflecting on the past year, my gaze catches a glimpse of the AeroGarden on my bookshelf. It, too, has continued to grow in the midst of it all. The mint is flourishing and the basil grows thick and tall. It’s almost to the point of being out of control, so I know I need to tend to it soon.

My AeroGarden – December 2022

I’m then reminded of the purpose in pruning: to remove that which is no longer needed to allow for new growth to appear.

In an instant, my #OneWord for 2023 became clear:


It’s time to start again.

To take a breath.

To clear out the old and make space for the new.

To pull back in order to move forward.

I’m excited to see all that the new year has to offer, but I’m also more appreciative for the quiet and calm. There is significant beauty in closing one chapter to begin another and I hope you can discover that beauty, too.

As always, I appreciate the time you take out of your own busy life to share in my adventures. Your encouragement and support mean so much! My life is enriched knowing our connection is merely a click away.

I hope 2023 brings moments of peace and joy as you continue the great work ahead with love and kindness. The world is a better place because you are here!

One Word Goals

2023 – Renew

2022 – Continue

2021 – Appreciate

2020 – Radiate

2019 – Uplift

2018 – Inspire

2017 – Resilience

2016 – Joy


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