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A Year of Yes: Using this time for reflection

“Something will grow from all you are going through. And it will be you.” ~TobyMac

My medical emergency this week has offered me an opportunity for intense reflection time in every area of my life. I don’t have any answers or revelations yet. I’m still down in the weeds of it all. But I’m trying and healing. And right now, that’s enough.

In the pause: It’s time to put the past in context

“The past is a place of reference, not a place of residence.” ~Willie Jolley

Yesterday, I listened to an interview with Chris Whipple, author of the new book The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency. The books shows that many of the former presidents made many of the same mistakes that the current administration is making and often with the exact same reasoning as past administrations. Whipple said, “Presidents learn many of the same lessons once they take office, and unfortunately almost all of them learn the hard way.”

This interview reminded me of Jolley’s quote. While we can’t live in the past, it is so important to learn from it. And that includes are own past as well as the past experiences of others. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to forge our own path; being armed with information about the paths of others can only help ease the way. This is why mentorship matters. This is why reflection matters. If we can learn from the past, we have a greater chance of building a brighter future.

Wonder: A look back at my 2016

Today as I travel to the Philadelphia area to ring in the new year, I’m thinking about the wonderful things that happened in 2016. I opened up my wonder jar that I created in January 2016, and this is what I found:

1.) I got a new job through a recruiter on LinkedIn in healthcare working with artificial intelligence. And it came with a promotion in title and a raise to boot!

2.) I went to Cuba, a lifelong dream trip, and met some fabulous people whom I’m sure I will travel with in the future.

3.) I moved into a new apartment in a new neighborhood and discovered a whole new side of D.C.

4.) I went to Puerto Rico for a dear friend’s wedding.

5.) My amazing friends Ken and Tom got married, as did my dear friends Rachael and Jon. I was so thrilled to celebrate them and share in their joy with some of my favorite people in the world. Love wins!

6.) I made new friends, reconnected with others whom I hadn’t connected with in years, and had the best times spending time with so many friends whom I love.

7.) I turned 40, and had one of the very best birthday parties of my life thanks to wonderful friends.

8.) I finished my book Where the Light Enters, and a small press is considering publishing it.

9.) I greatly expanded my freelance writing opportunities, and am looking forward to even more of that in early 2017.

10.) Phineas came through a couple of difficult health challenges like a champ, and is now super healthy at the ripe old age of 7. We took a lot of long and happy walks together all over D.C. and we had plenty of snuggle time. I also found a great daycare / boarding place and a dog walker that take wonderful care of him.

11.) I saved a down payment with the hope of buying my very first home in 2017, and got my finances in order in a better way than ever before.

12.) I attended fun cultural events all over Washington, D.C. all year long.

13.) I had one of my collages accepted and shown at an art gallery in D.C.

14.) I expanded my personal art collection with works from all over the world that inspire me on a daily basis.

15.) I started the Breaking Bread Podcast.

16.) I had the chance to support a number of nonprofits that I admire and that make this world a better place.

17.) I greatly enhanced my cooking and baking skills, churning out some delicious and nutritious meals from my kitchen.

18.) I worked on my first television project as an Associate Producer.

19.) I learned to trust my gut more than ever before. I laughed, I smiled, and I loved.

20.) I saw a ton of great live music in D.C. including Josh Ritter, Andra Day, Elephant Revival, 2 Cellos, Janelle Monae, Rhiannon Giddeons, The American Pops, Ben Harper, and Grace Potter.

21.) I created and taught creative writing workshops for kids at 826DC.

22.) I got to shine a light on creative entrepreneurship, art, and writing through The Relational Economy, American Public Media, the Lits to Lens podcast, and the What’s Next videocast.

I’m sure 2017 will bring many more blessings and learnings. And that wonder jar was a wonderful thing. I plan to start a new one tomorrow in honor of the new year.

Wonder: Finding a place for reflection in Brookland – The Franciscan Garden

Last weekend, I took Phin over to the Franciscan Monastery’s gardens. It provided a great break from the city and a quiet, beautiful place to clear my mind. Tucked away in an area of Brookland not far from the metro, it’s a city secret worth finding.

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