Tonight, 2020 passes on, likely with the cheers of all in the land. As you raise your glass in celebration, it might be a good idea to temper your expectations and say a couple of prayers. First, for the opportunity to have made it through and also, for strength and stamina to face whatever lies ahead.

As I toast — which with any luck will include toes by the fire and a glass of vino in hand — I will likely be reflecting on the past 12 months. Snapshots of the challenges and bright moments will hopefully scroll past my vision as I do. It has been a year, hasn’t it?

How many times did we fuss about 2020? Many memes and jokes illustrated how this past year was like the worst flavor ever or a gift you never wanted. Is it possible we burdened an inanimate concept — the passing of time — with emotions or motivations as though it was one of us? Did we ascribe far too much credit to a time when things just got hard?

Knowing many elders have lived through difficulties and strife far beyond our current circumstances I tried to keep a stable perspective. Everyone has hard years within a lifetime, so I clung to my sunny outlook. It worked for the most part until the loss of loved ones began adding up. As the year became far more trying, it seemed 2020 slipped right into that niche soon to be labeled as my own difficult times. While I certainly can’t change what has happened, now as we embark on a fresh set of seasons, I am working hard to gain wisdom and live differently.

Change on this level can be exhausting so if you see me looking weary, please feel free to offer some cheer. With many also doing the same, I am going to offer encouragement freely as well. While I don’t expect things to suddenly get easier, one day, one step at a time will lead us to a better place.

Here’s what I hope for in 2021. Not a return to how things were but a sharper focus on how things could be going forward. So many concerns of years past have flown along with the turning of the calendar for me. Now I’m working to hold tight to this new perspective and not let it drift as life — hopefully — rolls to a more normal rhythm. It’s so easy to let the tide of routine suck us back into the rip current of a schedule that doesn’t really honor our soul.

This slower pace — enforced upon me to my great dismay — has proven to be a place where I’ve been better able to grow. It’s not been comfortable. To be perfectly honest, some of it has been downright painful. Even so, I’m beginning to see the spoils of the battle and there are treasures in those ashes. This year, while tough, has led me to a better understanding of myself and what I need for the times ahead. As we turn the calendar, here’s hoping you’ll also find some glimmers of goodness as you reflect on 2020. Grab them up and let’s get moving into the new year.