Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?

Here we are again.  The end of another year.  One of the rituals of the culmination of the year is reflection upon where we’ve been as we make resolutions for the next year.  I haven’t made New Year’s resolutions in I don’t know how long, although I opted a few years ago to embrace a Word Of The Year or WOTY for short.  For me, the last few months were dedicated to reflecting not only on 2022, but my entire lifetime.  Many times I asked the question, “Where have you been?”  So, I’m not inclined to reflect further.  Instead, in early December I began thinking about where I was going.  My contemplation resulted in action.

Now, back to the WOTY.  The Oxford Dictionary actually chooses a WOTY to reflect the mood of the past year.  On the other hand a personal WOTY is meant to bring clarity to what you expect to change in the next year.  Originally, I chose ‘joy’ then ‘create’ then ‘balance’ then ‘renew’ then ‘discovery’ then no word at all.  I decided I was having such a time identifying one specific word that I didn’t actually want 2023 to be defined by a WOTY.  I desired the freedom to wend my way through any number of experiences and ideas and feelings and emotions and whatever life brought my way. 

After seeing the book on a friend’s coffee table, in October I bought, “A Year of Positive Thinking” by Cyndie Spiegel.  Spiegel provides a positive thought for each and every day of the year.  The dates are non-specific to a certain year, so you can pick up anywhere in any year.  I added it to my morning reading along with the “Guide For Spiritual Living”, a monthly magazine from the Center For Spiritual Living.  Coupling my daily readings with a course in The After Life at a local college, I drew on these resources as I ruminated about 2022 and planned for 2023.  I wanted 2023 to develop without being boxed in.

I reached this conclusion after reading, on December 23rd, Cyndie Spiegel’s thought for the day.  She wrote, “Who were you once?  Who were you before you began becoming the person others told you to be?  Who were you when you trusted and actually listened to your truest self?”  Oddly, this was exactly what I had been meditating upon since Martin’s death.  

Realistically, we all know the person of our childhood is long gone. Or, are they? Is our childhood person replaced by the person who was not only molded, in part, by those around us, but also by our life experiences?  “No”, I answered. “I am the same person yet a different person.”  Life can indeed be messy.  It can be fraught with hurt and trauma, unexpected pain.  It can also be magical, joyful and mystical with unexpected gifts.  Through it all, we grow and learn, rising in wisdom and, hopefully, self-actualization, becoming who we are today.  Yet, our soul’s code remains deep within perhaps waiting to be awakened.

Spiegel also asked such questions as, “What did you enjoy?” And “Where did you go?”  Those questions begged answers providing my mind and heart something to chew on.   Even before reading this passage in Spiegel’s book, I determined to do some things I now had the freedom to make happen.  Drawing on my work experience I knew resolutions often fail because they are not developed as step by step goals.  Knowing what action is required to make a want a reality is the key to success.  Drawing on my childhood dreams I began taking action.

Of course, whatever I did would most likely be done solo.  Traveling was a dream from childhood carried into my derailed retirement.  Now, I was putting that train back on the tracks full speed ahead.  Trepidation over traveling by my little old self was assuaged by the Michigan State University Alumni Travel Program.  As an alumnus I could take advantage of the numerous tours offered each year to Europe, Asia, South America and Africa.  A friend also reminded me of how, in our much younger days, we traveled solo for business as a matter of routine.  I could do this!  And, so I dove into the idea by booking a 2023 tour to Tuscany, Italy.

Ah, me. I had written lots of contracts in my career days and then, there’s this blog.  My soul still longed to write.  To that end, I reserved a spot in a writing workshop at John Campbell Folk School.  I’ve been to John Campbell twice before.  There’s a certain comfort in spending a week in a familiar, friendly place where community and fellowship abound.  Following the pandemic meals are back to being communal along with Morning Song and evening activities.  Living on campus is part of this uniquely American experience amidst artists and art, American folk art.

And, of course, the house I’m still sitting in as I write this is going back on the market next spring.  While my new house is being built I’m not sure where I will land to call my temporary home.  Yet, I feel strangely secure in the idea it will work out.  I know how the big picture will look if I’m off on one of my forays.  It’s the details, which allude me due to timing and the market and all the unknown little things that surface only when a contract is put together.  One of the gifts of Martin’s passing is my spiritual transformation to faith in the power of the universe.  I am not a body with a mind; I am a mind with a body.  Whatever occurs, everything I need will all come together.

This is my plan for 2023 so far.  And, that may be enough for one year.  For all the times I could barely put one foot in front of the other, I’m so excited about the future.  This is my time.  There is unlimited joy in just thinking of the possibilities.  Taking steps to make these dreams a reality is empowering beyond anything I could have imagined.  I revisited the idea of a WOTY and revised my thoughts.  Why not have Words Of The Year?  Plural.  As I enter 2023 ‘creativity’, ‘self-discovery’ and ‘adventure’ capture my mood and intent.

To all of you, wherever you are, I wish you a creative, adventurous 2023 of discovery!


17 comments on “Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?

  1. Hello Kathy,
    What a beautiful post! I started following you when I retired, and have followed your journey through the years. Mine, unfortunately, has followed a similar path. I spent the past 5 1/2 years caring for my husband who passed away in April 2022. Like you, there has been a lot of reflection, and trying to figure out what comes next. Although my career was not in business I have developed an interest in writing, and joined a writing group. I’ve been looking into travel as well, and one place on my list is Tuscany. I’m sure many people who follow you have similar stories, but if you would like to connect, looking for someone to travel with, feel free to contact me. Wishing you a Happy, Healthy, and Blessed New Year!


    • Kathy I’m so sorry for your loss. After such a long time caregiving, I felt at loose ends and continued to grieve for quite some time. Just figuring out what comes next is a challenge in itself. I’m sending you love and light.


  2. Kathy, I still enjoy hearing from you and about your journey since our short visit in Hilton Head. You have been through things none of us would ever want to experience, but it sounds like you have landed in a good place. Best wishes for the year you have started a plan for, Lilabeth

    Sent from my iPad



  3. What a beautiful piece Kathy. I’m excited and inspired by your piece and your goals. “Yet, our soul’s code remains deep within perhaps waiting to be awakened” so resonates. Ahh, life. Happy new year. Here’s to new actions, new developments, and how it all will work out.


  4. You have a fantastic outlook on the year ahead. To take these steps solo could be daunting but you seem to have strength and confidence. – Jenn


  5. Kathy, I love the way you have combined planning with flexibility and exploration with a connection to what you are comfortable with. These choices seem to me both wise and adventurous. I’m looking forward to hearing more about these adventures as they unfold.


  6. Hi Kathy, I love your blog and especially this newest reflection. You have taught us change is good, memories are essential and moving forward is key if we want to continue growing and living. I am excited for your travel with MSU and new writing adventures.I look forward to the next blog addition. Happy for you dear friend.


  7. Oh, what a fortuitous blog you have written. It could have been written especially for me. Thank you. It is 1 January here in Australia where I live, an auspicious date to start a journey similar to yours. Let’s both of us find out who we were and who we are going to be.



  8. I, for one, say “Go girl.” I so enjoy your blog and you seem full of energy, while moving one foot in front of the other. Wishing you happy travels. I look forward to future blogs. Happy 2023!


  9. I rejoiced over your early retirement plans as a couple; cried with you over your dear Martin’s diagnosis and subsequent death; and smiled at the lift in your ‘voice’ as you rose from the dregs of grief while planning the new house. This post spoke to my heart about taking stock and looking forward. 2022 was a year of grief but as I read your post I could see around my own corner.

    Thank you for sharing your life. It makes a difference in mine. 🙂


    • Martha, I’m finding 2022 was a year of loss and grief for so many. I’m glad to hear my story has made a difference in yours. I’m sending you love and light as I do to all my readers.


  10. Bravo to you, Kathy. I wish you all the best on your year of rediscovery. We took a package tour to Italy this past November. There were 6 single women on the tour from all over, most of them retirement age. They had a blast together! I look forward to hearing about your adventures in 2023.


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