A New Year: A Time for Quiet Reflection

time for quiet reflectionIt’s time for quiet reflection as the calendar turns another page and we find ourselves at the threshold of a new year.

With the promise of new beginnings, we have a chance to reflect on lessons learned and moments cherished during the last year. To gain perspective, applaud personal growth, examine life lessons, and celebrate accomplishments.

My blogger friends and I are answering some introspective questions as we glean wisdom from previous experiences and set our sights on possibilities that lie ahead. Why not join us and take a few moments to answer these questions for yourself?

How would you describe 2023 in one word?

Last year, I hoped my word for 2023 would be magical. Was it? Actually, pretty darn close.

As I shared in a previous blog, my word last year was “stressful.” As I look over my journal, I’m proud of how far I’ve come in a year. I’m 63 and my life is where I want it to be. I made strides spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

I love my life now, empty-nesting it in our small home with hubby at the beach.

What was your biggest challenge last year?

Let’s keep it real. Of course, not everything was coming up rosy in 2023.

Hubby and I were adjusting to our semi-retired life and living on half our previous income. My father-in-law, 84, had a minor heart attack and fell, breaking his hip, and recently was in a bad car accident. My father, 91, also took a fall and fractured his ribs. I got COVID right before a planned anniversary trip celebrating 45 years to Nashville and the Great Smokey Mountains and had to cancel. The back of our house flooded last winter and we had to replace the flooring.

Things that I would usually take in stride. Unfortunately, when last year began, after a tumultuous decade, I was still fighting anxiety.

How did you overcome it? What life lesson did you learn from the experience that you’ll take with you in the new year?

I realized that our move to the beach was a chance to start over. Grateful for this opportunity, I began counting my blessings.

I wrote in my journal: “Thankful for the rainstorm last night with the windows open. Thankful I have a desk where I can write and look out my window at the apple tree, hibiscus blooming, and a rabbit grazing in the grass.” Another day I wrote: “Woke up feeling – dare I say it – happy. I realized it’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way.”

It was a gradual progress. Feeling fragile, I still had bad days. When something minor threw me off or I fell back into unhealthy habits, I was frustrated and disappointed in myself. I felt like a failure. If you can’t already tell, I tend to be hard on myself. So, I learned to practice some self-compassion, to be patient, and to forgive myself.

After all, I had been through some stressful events and major changes in my life and needed to allow myself time to recover.

As my Calm app taught me, negative emotions are like storms. They come and go. Feelings don’t last forever. I had to learn how to accept negative feelings without being swept away by them. To be careful to set boundaries and find balance in my life. Progress, not perfection, was the goal.

By the time spring sprung in my backyard with apple blossoms, avocado spuds, calla lilies, and a gorgeous display of wildflowers bloomed everywhere after a rainy winter, I realized that I was having more good days than bad. I was taking better care of myself, making time to de-stress, exercising most days, cooking healthy meals instead of eating out, being more consistent with going to bed and waking up at the same time. As a result, I was coping better.

These are the life lessons that I’m taking with me into the new year.

Describe the happiest day of 2023? 

Many happy days, but one that stands out was during our trip to Greece. The day started with a spectacular Santorini sunrise, followed by breakfast admiring the famous whitewashed buildings with blue domes carved into rugged cliffs against the sapphire Aegean Sea, meandering down a wine cave while visiting a wine museum, and a gorgeous sunset sitting on a black sand beach with a tropical drink.

It was a pretty perfect day!

What was one of your biggest accomplishment in 2023? What do you want to accomplish this year?

So happy to say, I finally finished the comprehensive book on writing in retirement I’ve been working on for years. It was sent to beta readers and I’m incorporating some of their suggestions and working on the index (ugh!). Trying to come up with a good title. Started with “Living Your Dream Writing in Retirement: A Guide for Aspiring Writers.” But thinking about changing it to: “The Next Chapter: Writing in Retirement.” Which do your prefer? Any other ideas? Love to hear your opinions in the comment section!

Although I don’t have a specific publication date yet, the book will be released in 2024. So exciting! I’m looking forward to marketing the book, starting on a new website for writers, and possibly teaching a few online classes.

So, those are my thoughts going into the new year.

Your turn for a time for quiet reflection. What were you most grateful for last year? What was your biggest challenge? What are you most excited about for this new year? What is the most courageous thing you did in 2023? How do you plan to push yourself out of your comfort zone in 2024? I’d love to hear in the comment section below! And be sure to check out my fellow bloggers’ thoughts as they reflect on last year and look forward to the new one.

I hope 2024 brings you all love, plenty of laughter, exciting new adventures, and much joy.

Sandra Bennett

Books by Rose


Julie A. Gorges is the author of two young adult novels, Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes and Time to Cast Away and co-author of Residential Steel Design and Construction published by McGraw Hill. In addition, hundreds of her articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines, and she received three journalism awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association while working as a newspaper reporter. Julie currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Julie, I’m glad last year was less stressful and closer to magical. It’s difficult to decide to move and then settle into a new place. I’m glad you have no regrets and are enjoying your new life by the ocean. Good luck with your new book this year. I looking forward to seeing when you decide to release it. Best wishes for 2024.

  2. Hi Julie, I know your year brought lots of challenges and was happy you found a way to cope with them. One of my favorite things you said:

    “As my Calm app taught me, negative emotions are like storms. They come and go. Feelings don’t last forever. I had to learn how to accept negative feelings without being swept away by them. To be careful to set boundaries and find balance in my life. Progress, not perfection, was the goal.”

    I too, have had to do that throughout my years. There are always better days ahead. It is hard when you are going through them, though.

    I’m super excited about your new book. Many of my friends say they want to write but don’t know where to start. Your book will be perfect for them.

    Let’s see, my year?
    I’m so thankful our brother is still with us through his many health problems this last year.
    I’m so thankful for our growing family and all the joy they give me.
    The hope of always knowing there are projects to look forward to, always make my heart happy.
    Oh and thankful for books to read. What would we do without them? 🙂

    Have a wonderful 2024 with you and your family, Julie.

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