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Hello and Happy New Year!!! It has been a long time since I’ve put fingers to keyboard in this place but as with all things new again--I’ve chosen to forgot what is behind me to start a new.

I don’t know about you but for me 2016 was an oxymoron of a year. My biggest blessings (the birth of my Munch Liam-Michael and purchasing my FIRST home) was balanced on the back some core shaking struggles. I would like to say that I came out of the year unscathed but that wouldn’t be true. I left 2016 feeling a bit shaky in all aspects of my life--questioning what happened to the hope that I had when I started. What happened to the gusto and bravado that I carried in from 2015? What happened to ME ?

I usually spend the latter part of December in a self reflective mode as I review the lessons I’d learned over the past 365 days in the hopes of gleaning nuggets of brilliance to carry me forward to the new year ahead but this year was different. This time I spent the last three days of 2016 in a pediatric ward of a local hospital with my grandson Liam-Michael aka Munch--who was battling the flu, ear infections, respiratory virus, and thrush. I’d watched him fight the good fight for the entire month only to land his adorable self in metal crib wearing an oxygen mask and IV. I took the night shifts so his parents could rest and be there during the day with him. As you would guess--sleep evaded me in the somewhat comfy recliner located on the side of the crib. So I spent most of the time either watching TV or reading my Kindle. And of course--one must have snacks to successfully pull an all niter.

Liam’s room was the last room on the wing so whenever I needed ice or snacks--I had to walk by about three other rooms to get to the Nourishment Room. The Nourishment Room--a mini cafeteria for the families of the children in the ward.

There were a couple of babies like Liam there--some with illnesses similar to his and others more severe. You didn’t usually run into the parents in the hallway but you were always guaranteed to run into one in the Nourishment Room. Weary, sleep deprived parents often gathered in the middle of the night around the Keurig for coffee small talk here. It was also the room you could go to after a particularly rough moment with your child. I ran into one Mom who’s baby just had an IV put in and the sound of his weak cries were just too much for her to bear--but she didn’t want to cry in front of her family. Crackers, jello, juice, and popsicles--the Nourishment Room offered any snack you could think of but not the one thing each of us wanted--Healthy babies.

As I walked back and forth to that room--I realized that my daughter and I would be leaving shortly but one of those parents was just beginning the long journey. I realized that Liam’s illness was short term and expected to improve and one of those babies didn’t receive that same prognosis. It hit me that we would be leaving the same as we came into the hospital and one of those families would be leaving brokenhearted. In a hospital ward full of sick babies--one of the saddest places to be during the holiday--I realized that my self reflection was complete.

Nothing reminds you of the futility of time than illness. Being surrounded by it made me realize that I was blessed with something greater that I had realized--I had the opportunity of AGAIN. I could begin AGAIN--AGAIN is the blessing that fills every New Year--scratch that every NEW DAY that you receive upon waking. AGAIN is the opportunity to do what you couldn’t yesterday--do what you weren’t brave enough to do before. AGAIN is what God whispers over each of His children as He breathes life into their lungs that begins the wondrous dance that is a new day. We can choose to waste our days rehearsing all the we didn’t do, say, write, or accomplish or we can commit to embracing the blessing of AGAIN! Begin AGAIN, try AGAIN, laugh AGAIN, and live AGAIN.

Last year was rough--I failed and fell. I lost myself in many good things and didn’t complete the great things that I said I would. I gained weight and didn’t write my book. I got stuff in self doubt and fear. My family faced a great challenge that has left us shaken in our view of the world we live in.

I welcomed the next generation on May 19th and manifested a life long dream my mother never did. For all my highs and lows-- A new year meant that I was able to begin AGAIN. . To walk the road less traveled, to write the words swarming in my brain, to speak the message that I was deliver. I challenge you to do the same. Each of us will have God willing 365 AGAINs--let’s use them wisely.

Be Blessed