I found myself cursing this past year as one full of declines and lack of progress in my life. I haven’t been reading, I quit working out, I quit eating well (as I’m chewing on a handful of my 6lb bag of Gummie Bears), I haven’t been painting as much as I’d like, I haven’t been meditating/doing yoga…on top of a handful of some other crappy things. But then I was halted by a voice that told me I was being unrealistic. It pointed out the accomplishments my family and myself have made.

In my first year of being a nurse:
I got my “I See You” poem published in Scrubs Magazine
I got employee of the month
I joined the research council
I became a formal preceptor
I joined the NEXUS committee-championing better patient outcomes based on “teach back” education.
I earned my Progressive Critical Care Nurse certification
I got “Star of the Week” for Advancement on our unit

We remodeled our house
Nate got a new career
I spoke at NAMI’s Dancing With the Sioux Falls Stars
I’ve become open, which has made me a lot happier
My Faith has grown tremendously

Ok. Maybe I am doing better than I tend to give myself credit for. But those accomplishments aren’t even comparable to the insights I’ve gained. If 2016 had a theme it would definitely be Family. I’ve started to rekindle lost relationships, I’ve refused to give up on those that I love. I refused to give up on myself. Our family went through some large storms this year and it has changed us all for the better.

As I was sitting at the Christmas Eve service with my husband’s family I got lost in the music and my mind replayed a lot of memories. Memories that reminded me how beautiful my family and loved ones are. How our time on this Earth is short and holding on to transgressions is not worth losing a person.

This year I decided I am going to love whoever I want to love. I’m going quit dancing around taboo subjects that I am experiencing…because lots of you experience them too and I want you to know you’re NOT alone! I remember when I realized I wasn’t alone…where had these people been!?

Be the change you want to see in the world

I am no longer going to wait for “someone” to do “something”…I’m going to be that someone. If I don’t, who will? I’m tired of sitting back and wishing things were different. I’m open. I’m involved. I’ve got nothing to lose except complacency.

My family is open. We decided we are going to actually involve each other in each other’s lives. I’m not going to hear from my brother and sister-in-law on holidays. I’m not going to pretend everything is ok when it’s not. If I have words of encouragement, I’m going to say them. If there’s something lurking in my mind negatively about someone, I’m going to address it. And so far all this has done has made us much closer. Do you know what it means to someone when you tell them the truth of why you’re scared of losing them, or why you’re hurt? When you remove that obstacle? It tells them you love them enough to be vulnerable with them.

There’s a lot in this world that’s scary and horrible-like what’s happening in Aleppo. But aside from casting a vote every four years, there’s not a lot I can do as one person. As one person I can’t change much at all…but I can start, or continue, the ripple that might. And my something as simple as just loving those around me. I can love my patients, their families, my family, my friends, the stranger in Target. I can choose to assume the best instead of the worst when someone cuts me off in traffic. And my energy might just impact someone in just the right way…my words someday may change someone’s life. There are plenty of people who have spoken a single sentence to me that I’ve hung on to for many many years. I’m sure you do to, and I’m sure most of those people probably have no idea. We’re “those people” too.

So that’s what I do. I know I can affect myself and those around me, and I choose to try to do so by simply loving them.

If your only goal is to love, there is no such thing as failure.
-Richard Rohr

Bring on 2017. We’ve got this.