The year 2013 has ended and the New Year has begun, but before 2013 has gone too far, I wanted to take some time to reflect. It has been an amazing year of growth and opportunities, happiness and sadness, and above all it has been a year of major life changes.

All too often we rush forward into the New Year ready to turn the page and start a new way of being. We take little time to really honor the year that we are leaving behind and reflect on what that year has brought forward.

Growth comes when we are challenged and uncomfortable. Last year gave many of us the opportunity to grow. We were challenged financially, by loss of family and friends, business, and even illness. We learn from all of our challenges in life, and they are often opportunities for us to move forward stronger, with more knowledge and skills. I had the opportunity to learn what it really means to grow stronger through adversity this year. I grew lighter in valuable material items, but I grew stronger in my endeavor to live as a minimalist.

Opportunities present themselves when we are prepared for them. We miss them when we do not have the courage to reach out and grasp them, when we are unprepared for them, or when we do not believe that we are worthy of them. Opportunities come from many different directions, they are often scary and require that we make big decisions for our lives, some of them being life changing. This year I find myself living 6-8 months out of the year in a beautiful part of the world, Perth Australia, and I became a global citizen. It took courage to take on this opportunity, knowing that it would require moving to the other side of the world. It took faith that it was the right thing to do, belief in myself that I was capable of making the changes in my life successfully.

Happiness and sadness often show up side by side. Something sad may happen, and right next to it something happy. We miss the happiness when we are caught up in our sadness. We must learn to be appreciative of life and know that it is made up of both. We cannot truly know happiness if we do not have the sadness show up in our lives; we learn to appreciate our lives more deeply when we come through those sad times. We learn that happiness is not about the things we have in our lives, but the experiences and the people. This year held the death of my husband, and the birth of two grandsons born eleven days apart.

Change is always a certainty from year to year, and 2013 certainly proved to bring forth a lot of major, exciting, and diverse changes into my life. I accomplished more than I dreamed, traveled the globe teaching others, moved into a new place in the US and in Australia, and embraced many opportunities to learn new things.

By taking the time to reflect on the past year we are able to appreciate our lives as they have unfolded, we learn by reviewing and we miss our ability to identify our successes and opportunities if we run headlong into the future without taking the time to reflect. So, go into 2014 with gratitude for the past and excitement for the opportunities that you bring forward from the year gone by.

Welcome 2014 and Thank You 2013