My very dear friend Leanne, of From Chaos Comes Happiness, picks a new word to inspire her each year. I jumped onto that bandwagon myself for 2011, choosing the word "nurture." I intended to invest in everything from friendships to gardens to myself with love and tender care.
But in the very first week of January, my plans completely imploded.
With whiplash-inducing speed, 2011 went from a year filled with hope to a year of stress and anxiety. I nurtured wishes which had been made upon everything from bright stars to birthday candles, but many of my wishes didn't come true. I nurtured my relationships, astounded that some were even renewed after decades; but some relationships ended, despite valiant efforts to maintain and sustain them. I tried when others wouldn't have. I tried because I believed ... until I could no longer do so.
I found myself spending considerable time nurturing others through chaos this past year, as "real life" reared its ugly head in many different manifestations among my loved ones; I also had my own personal adventures in circles of Hell that Dante never envisioned. Through it all, I was told repeatedly to be selfish, to start taking care of myself ... but how? Sacrifice my favorite people's needs for the sake of my own? Because those whom I most cherish suffered greatly in a variety of ways, causing me stress and anguish as well, and they needed me. I strive to be a person who is committed to my loved ones for better or for worse.
But I didn't nurture myself sufficiently; at the end of the summer and into early fall, I heard a constant refrain of people telling me I looked "fragile." Where I failed myself, though, others took up the slack.
I felt loved and cherished beyond what I can describe when people nurtured me through crisis after crisis and wound after wound this past year. It would have been so easy for them to leave, to abandon me when things were worse rather than better.
And yet, so many, many people showed such a strong commitment to me - they were absolutely and utterly "true blue." They accepted me in my human frailty instead of shying away when things weren't easy. And when they told me they loved me, they also showed me that their words had meaning by virtue of their actions. My gratitude to all of those people is so profound that I simply have no words adequate to the enormity of it. Their nurturing has helped to restore me.
Refreshed and ready, this year I'm starting over in many ways. I debated whether to try again with "nurture," since I didn't have the opportunity to invest in the word as I'd originally intended to. But I feel I'm in a different place - and not just physically, after multiple moves.
So I picked a new word and I set new goals. That doesn't mean I discard my efforts to nurture; it just means I expand upon them.
My word for 2012 is
Reach out to friends, to keep them close.
Reach out to new people, to broaden and enrich my family.
Reach out to those in need.
Reach beyond my comfort zone.
Reach for new opportunities, both personal and professional.
Reach beyond my limitations, not letting them inhibit me.
Reach my potential.
In this brand new year, I intend to reach for the proverbial stars.
For today's recipe - Beer-Braised Peppers and Papaya - go to the Food and Grocery page of AnnArbor.com ....
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