The holidays and my birthday (which happen to fall within 3 weeks of each other) have always been a time of reflection and dreaming for me. A time to reflect upon the past year, what I learned, how I grew, and a time to agonize over  "I can't believe I did that" moments. At times it is hard to find space to reflect with cookie baking and gift wrapping, but I always make time to think about where I started and where I finished the year. Dreaming and planning about the future - what my new goals would be, how I would accomplish them, something new I could try, etc. This time last year, I was back in DC at my part-time job. I was in a stressful, anxiety and worry filled place. I felt so alone - who wants to work on NYE? This year has been particularly rough with ending a long term relationship, dealing with my obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis, the passing of my father in November, followed by two months of stress related illness. Although I miss my dad and am grieving, I am thankful for some positive things that happened this year. Here are 10 of the lessons I learned/joys I experienced.
  1. This fall, I started my second school year as a high school advisor, assisting students with the college application process. I am blessed to have work that is meaningful for me where I can impact the lives of teens in DC. I am so passionate about working with youth to achieve their full potential. A little background: This is my second year of being gainfully employed full-time and covered by insurance since I was laid off from my job at the bank in 2007. I am truly grateful for the financial stability and freedom my job provides. God is good!
  2. I started this blog and website! I have only been blogging for a month or so and yet I feel that it has had a huge impact! I can't wait to write my next post (hope to make them more regular). Through this blog I conquer my fears, my voice is heard and I matter - even if it's only to myself. It's become my living journal of sorts. And that feels amazing! Looking forward to blogging in 2013!!
  3. I was reminded that God is always in control. This is the most powerful lesson I have learned this year. I realize that when I see problems around me that are not in my control, I have no choice but to give it to God. I can pray, and try to be helpful, but at the end of the day, God is in charge. Losing my father rocked my world completely, and I am so grateful for my good friend who constantly reminded me of God's sovereignty and control. I learned that God will do things to draw us near to Him, and I admit that I was not as close as I once was to the Lord. Now, I am making it my priority to draw near to Him.
  4. I learned that people will be there for me when times are hard. I learned, albeit painfully so, that I can appreciate the loving actions of my friends and family even in the dark times of my life. Thank you to all of my family and friends who have supported and cared for me this year!!! I cannot thank you enough. From the phone calls, emails, texts, food, gifts, hugs, and conversations - I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
  5. I paid off my credit card debt!!!! For anyone who has ever paid off a debt, you know how this feels! I am glad to be on my way to being completely debt free! This will continue into 2013 as part of my financial fitness goals. This is one of my biggest accomplishments of the year, and I'm proud of it! 
  6. I took responsibility for the mess that was my finances, because I am an adult and that's what adults do. Instead of lamenting over poor financial decisions made in the past, I stopped sweeping my problem under the rug and I took charge! I reminded myself that everything I have is the Lord's and I need to be a good steward over what I have been given. I created a budget plan to save for my goals and pay off my student loans quickly. Now when I reward myself (after meeting all of my financial obligations), it truly feels like a reward -- instead of like cheating! 
  7. I learned how to cherish my "me" time again. I have learned that sacrificing my dreams will do the opposite of making me happy. I learned that sometimes the hard decisions are the right ones, no matter how much it hurts. I am trusting in God that when He brings the right man along, He will make it plain and I will know it, without having to compromise the desires that He has given me.
  8. I got more serious about my yoga practice and improving my health. The fact that I'm even calling it a practice speaks measures. I will continue to strengthen my practice in the new year.
  9. It took all year but I finally did three things that made my heart sing: I started my craft group, I made my bathroom into my private oasis, and I did a second big-chop on my hair!
  10. I started tithing again! Although I did not remain consistent throughout the year, I look forward to improving this in 2013. Reminding myself that all of what I have belongs to Him! In addition to tithing, I became an ExodusCry Partner to help fight human sex trafficking. For once, I am putting my money where my passions are.

I am so thankful for these and the other many blessings that God has given me. After reflecting on the highlights of 2012 in my last post of the year, I look forward to setting goals for 2013! I look forward to sharing those in the next week :) 
What are your reflections on 2012? Any lessons you learned or insights to share? How successful were you at meeting your goals? What helped you accomplish those goals? What are you goals for 2013?