The Christmas ornaments are all packed away, and my son carried the Christmas tree back down to the basement before he left last Sunday. This week, I moved room to room, carefully wrapping in tissue paper and bubble wrap the holiday decor and replacing it with the items I’d boxed up just a month ago.

Yes, Christmas is behind us. And in 3 1/2 hours, 2015 will be behind me as well.

2015 was, like every year, one of ups and downs, struggles and successes, joys and sorrows. My oldest child buying his first house, the youngest moving twice due to her career. My oldest  interviewing at hospitals back home and deciding where he wants to practice medicine after his residency ends in June; my daughter graduating with her Masters, accepting her first full-time position in her field and then just a few months later receiving another, better offer. My oldest becoming engaged; my youngest suffering her first real heartbreak.

Of course, those things didn’t happen to me. Yet they did. My heart exults with each wonderful event in my children’s lives, and it breaks when they hurt.

But what did 2015 bring me personally? It began with a move “back home” and a 2-hour each way commute to work several days a week. Summer found me undergoing my 1st-ever surgery (oral surgery doesn’t count) — arthroscopy to repair a severely-torn meniscus. And, of course, I worked and cleaned house and did laundry and weeded the garden and walked and read and knitted and wrote.

And now, the year is almost gone,and I’ve begun to look ahead to 2016, to what I want to focus on and what I want to accomplish in the next 12 months.

First and foremost, I want to grow spiritually. My baby steps last year have only caused me to want to take bigger steps and then bigger still.

I want intend to begin living again. Really live, not just get up when the alarm goes off and do what needs to be done each day before going back to bed at evening’s end. I am determined to stop just thinking and talking about what I want my life to look like and, instead, take the steps necessary to create that life. Risky? But necessary.

But what does that mean? What will it involve?

It means I’m going to remove the things that weigh me down — the glances backward at what my life used to be and what I’ve lost, the parts of me that don’t fit anymore, the behaviors I developed out of need long ago and that have become habit.

It will involve me writing and revising and editing a book. It will involve me completing the 12 monthly challenges I set for myself and doing at least 4 things on my “100 Things I Want to Do” list. It will involve me jettisoning  possessions and obligations I’ve kept out of habit.

It will require me to take risks both personally and professionally. Big risks in some cases. Scary risks, even.

A dear friend sent me the following in a Facebook pm.


The kiss, I’m not too sure of. From where I sit now, I can’t imagine that scenario. But I think I may be open to it . . . finally.

But the rest? Magic and good dreams and good madness. Reading fine books. Creating art. Living as only I can. Surprising myself.

That, I’m ready for. That is exactly what I want 2016 to bring.

No, that’s what I’m going to make happen.