Do you ever have a year that feels like a blur? One that came and went, leaving you standing in the dust wondering how you got there? For me, that was 2023.
When I chose my #OneWord2023 as “Renew,” I had high expectations of how that would transpire. The previous year had been so jam-packed with literally every life milestone possible (death, birth, graduation, wedding, and more) that I was looking forward to slowing down and catching my breath.
In order to carve out space for renewal, I closed doors that would have otherwise been pushed open. I discovered freedom in saying, “No thank you” to events and opportunities that didn’t serve my well-being. I pulled back from several social media sites and focused more on things that brought immediate joy: reading, traveling, spending time with friends and family.
For my 50th birthday, I completed 50 acts of kindness, but didn’t write a single blog post about them, choosing instead to keep a private spreadsheet of accountability for my eyes only. At first this felt very odd, especially knowing how my kindness journey began in 2012 with my 40 acts of kindness blog posts. I thought, perhaps, it might make the experiences more meaningful to remove myself from the glare of the spotlight of others. What I discovered instead was how much I missed interacting with you, my faithful crew of readers and kindness cultivators.
My best friend, Lisa, and I made a commitment to do one fun thing together each month that we had never done before, to celebrate thirty years of friendship and fifty years of living. Some months were simple, like seeing a movie together in the movie theater. Other months were more extravagant like visiting a Korean spa or having afternoon tea at The Jefferson Hotel. With all these adventures, I assumed I would blog each experience with the world, but my stories stayed as drafts the entire year, shared only as photos and captions with friends.
I made travel and life experiences a priority. I attended my first Bruce Springsteen concert with Rich. I watched Hamilton with Lisa, Katrina, and Brennan here in Richmond, then met up with Annick Rauch and Dave Burgess to see Hamilton on Broadway in NYC, one of many memories made in New York City (Bucket list – check!) I presented at the ISTE Conference in Philadelphia, PA and took the train to visit new friends in Washington, D.C.
We hosted Annick here at our home for an extended girl’s trip, then Caleb, Daniel, Rich and I were back on the road with a trip to Legoland in New York. We experienced a Baltimore Orioles baseball game together and explored the Baltimore National Aquarium. I visited the resting places of Alexander Hamilton and Edgar Allan Poe and even found time to read 21 books by the end of the year.
I made weekend trips to see Katrina and Brennan, and helped move Daniel back in to college. I sat on my back deck and watched the hummingbirds swirl around our feeder and made several trips to Maymont Park, basking in the glow of the summer sun.
Rich, Caleb, and I took another road trip to visit Rich’s cousins, Mark and Megan, and their four kids in Charlotte, NC and explored the NASCAR Hall of Fame, too. Rich and I even squeezed in a whirlwind weekend trip to Memphis, TN twenty years after we moved away.
So. Many. Memories. Made.
None of which were captured here.
I walked through the valley of grief as a Secret Sister for Efe’s family, trying to bring a little joy to their world. Together with 10 women (and one dude! Thanks, Joe!) we spent the year blessing their family in secret, leaving little gifts at their doorstep and thoughtful cards in the mail. We celebrated milestone moments, like the high school graduation for Efe’s brother, Ovie, and shared in the complexities of sorrow and joy on the one year anniversary of Efe’s passing, starting our day at the cemetery followed by a Celebration of Life potluck at a local park. On October 23, 2023, which would have been Efe’s 20th birthday, we revealed our identities to the family as we shared in a meal together at a local restaurant. As with other Secret Sister experiences, I ended the year feeling like I was more blessed than the family we came to serve.
And yet… no blog posts were shared.
Instead, I found myself drawn to writing a longer narrative, reflecting on my past and lessons learned. Currently at 81 pages, my next book remains a draft, the pages and pieces still forming (without the help of AI, lol.) I’m not sure when or where that story will land, but for now it’s a work in progress.
While it may seem like a paradox to Renew with so many things going on in 2023, I’m realizing that’s exactly what I did. By pulling back and prioritizing my time, I was able to experience more and it was wonderful! But there was one thing that I missed in that process.
Sharing my stories with you.
2024 will be a year to RESTORE:
- Restore my writing on this blog – sharing stories as an educator, mom, and kindness cultivator
- Restore my passion for serving others in the public view
- Restore my joy in capturing moments and memories as a legacy of love
Thank you for all the ways you have supported my writing through the years. You have helped me develop into the author I am today, and I am so grateful! Thank you for sticking around, in good times and bad. I’ve been humbled by your comments and messages as I share my life with you.
I wish you joy, peace, and love for this coming year. The world is a better place because you are here!
One Word Goals
2024 – Restore