2021 Year In Review / 2022 Word of the Year

Happy New Year!

I have really struggled this year in writing this post, not because I had trouble with choosing a word – this year that was the easiest part of this process.  The difficult part is writing a post that recaps last year without underpinning it with the politics and the continued divisiveness of this country which has managed to seep into just about every aspect of our daily lives, including the staggering loss of life from a pandemic that unfortunately and wrongly has also been politicized.  I don’t want to give any more oxygen to the negative churn that grips us and continues to divide us. I’m tired. I’m frustrated. I’m sad. I’m angry.

My purpose for having a word of the year is that it serves as a touchstone, a talisman or guiding light for the new year.   It’s meant to promote positive qualities such as growth, learning, healing, strength, courage and hope.  As I read these last words back, I realize that the scope of this exercise has changed and expanded over the years.  In 2015 when I began choosing a yearly word to guide me, my goals were simple and much more personal. My first word, EMERGENT was chosen to help guide me as I began a journey of growth both personally and in my writing. RESILIENT, DEVELOPMENT, BALANCE were all chosen to continue and sustain that journey as well as to provide new goals to work towards.

The words that I have chosen for the last couple of years have expanded beyond that original intention and encompassed what was directly happening in my life as well as the world around me.

CULMINATE was a reminder of the nature of most things we encounter in life – to recognize a high point, there must be a lower point. To have a crescendo there must be a quieter time. Understanding and accepting the ups and downs and up again and down and so on, knowing that each event will have a beginning and an ending. This is the flow to most things in life.

RENEWAL was an ambitious choice for last year. It was hopeful, and I realize now a bit unrealistic. I chose it because at the time I felt battered and bruised by the events in my personal life as well as in the world around me.  My hope was that 2021 would bring rejuvenation, and a restoration back to some sense of normalcy. On some levels it has. My mistake was underestimating the time involved to complete such monumental changes. When I think of renewal in terms of some of its synonyms – restoration, recharging, replenish, rejuvenating, revival, rebirth, I realize that these are all processes that take time, work, patience, diligence and sometimes pain as we strip away the old layers to expose the new growth beneath. Progress is slow and the changes hard to see from a day-to-day perspective. It’s only when I stop and look back at where we began, that I can see change and growth and that is encouraging. I can see that my own healing has begun too.

So, like the previous words BALANCE, RESILIENT, PERSISTENT that I have carried forward through the years, I will carry RENEWAL with me into this new year as well, and continue to work towards it.  I will shore it up with the word and talisman I have chosen for 2022.  My hope is that this word is also taken up by anyone that needs its strength.  My WORD of the YEAR for 2022 is FORTITUDE.  May it serve us well!

2020 Year In Review / 2021 Word of the Year

Once again a year has come and gone at a pace that seems to increase the older I get. For 2020 though, there were plenty of reasons; and many of them were not good. My intention to choose a word of the year for 2020 was lost in the churn.   

An inevitable journey we will all one day make, set its course for my mom during the summer of 2019 and came to its natural end in March just as a worldwide pandemic was gaining strength. My 2019 word, Persistent, aided me throughout the year in several areas, pushing me forward through tough days that increased in number and speed through the end of the year and well into the next. The lessons that I have learned in my continuous effort to master 2018’s word, Balance, came in handy on numerous occasions, as I struggled to juggle my personal and professional life while maintaining households in two states.

For 2020, the best word to describe the year for me and most likely many others is not something that could’ve been foretold. It’s not one that envelops a guiding power, but one that contains a life lesson that we all will participate in, most likely, in one form or another, many times during the course of our lives.  It is one that is clearly seen in hindsight and embodies so many aspects of life in general, but especially so for me in 2020.  My 2020 word of the year is CULMINATE.  

It is a reminder to me of the natural rhythm of things – the ebb and flow, peaks and valleys, beginnings and endings of all journeys we take in life. It serves as an opportunity to reflect, or refresh before continuing on, hopefully more mindful that nothing stays forever so we must live in the moment, use our time wisely and appreciate the here and now, because it’s all we have.

2020 drastically changed life as we all knew it when the COVID-19 pandemic gained a grip on the world and did not let go.  Here in the US, we are still struggling, more than most, to regain some control, and return to life that more closely resembles life before the pandemic. We find ourselves deeply divided as a country, trying to find a way to hold ourselves back from the edge of ruin, dangerously disagreeing about the course our country should take, and reeling from the staggering loss of life in one year, that has now surpassed the US loss of life in the entire time span of the Vietnam war or World War I. 

The outlook was bleak then, as it has been for a while. But I have hope. 2020 has left me exhausted, bruised, and battered, but I believe that better days are coming. I choose to believe that 2020 was the culmination of many systemic, and underlying issues that were left to fester, untreated too long.  Many of these issues have been exposed now and can no longer be ignored. We must begin the work to address them and help them heal. My hope is that 2021 will be a year for new hope and healing. My 2021 Word of the Year is RENEWAL.

2018 Year In Review / 2019 Word of the Year

Happy New Year!  As has become a tradition for me, I am closing chapter 2018 with a review of how my word of the year turned out, and choosing a word for the new year.  For those of you that don’t know, back in 2015, at the beginning of a journey that would change my life, I came across a blog post from my friend Melissa Dell that talked about the concept of choosing a word to guide you through the new year. The word is supposed to be a touchstone, or something to help focus or keep you moving towards a goal, dream, or path. My word that year was EMERGENT, and the year proved to be the beginning of  letting myself emerge; shedding layers I’d built up over the years to conform, to protect, to hide “me” and to start building the life and me that I wanted. The words that followed were RESILIENT, DEVELOPMENT and last year’s word, BALANCE. All those words served me well in their respective years and continue to teach me new lessons.  Balance has been the most challenging word for me so far.

2018 was chock full of action. It was the first full year of the New England Speculative Writers group (NESW) that I co-founded with fellow author Jeremy Flagg. Our little group grew from an idea and a Facebook page to a full-fledged organization that managed to produce its first anthology of New England spec fiction which is coming out next month, as well as planning our first conference which happens in April. I also continued marketing The Empire, my first novel, and began developing and writing the first books of a spinoff series. I checked a couple items off my bucket list too with a trip to a dude ranch in June and a trip in October with some of my family for a reunion with lifetime military friends that had the added bonus of being in Hawaii.  In between all that I managed my full time job, as well as the work I do with a realtor.

Lots of action, lots of things happening at the same time and I managed it. Somehow.  However, if I were to grade my success in balancing all things in my life last year, I would have to give myself, at best, a C minus.  I made it through to the other side, but that’s not to say it was always smooth progress.  There was a lot of stress, a lot of stops and starts and deadlines I made just under the wire.  I didn’t like the feeling of being overwhelmed and a lot of times feeling like I was always in a rush from one event, project, chore, etc to the next.  I didn’t like the feeling that I was struggling, that I wasn’t succeeding.  My old internal voice, would chalk that up to failure – that I am a failure, but I don’t use negative words like that about myself anymore. I know now that it’s self-defeating and unproductive. Instead I try to find the lesson, so that I can do better next time and move on.

Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of time spent feeling frustrated and sometimes even anger about all that had to be done, until I remembered that I had done it to myself.  These weren’t things that I had no control over, that were happening to me, these were things I chose, in one way or another, to do.  Perspective.  I had no one to blame but myself for whatever cluster I found myself in. Changing my perspective from feeling put upon, to taking responsibility  changed my attitude and in some instances reminded me to make better choices or use the word NO more readily. 

Striving towards balance, as I mentioned earlier, has been the toughest word challenge yet. I chose it because, like most people, my life has a lot of moving parts, and I have struggled to keep everything on an even keel, and moving forward. I used to operate my life on a system of priority, but as my list of priorities has grown, the ability to keep everything moving forward has become ineffective and is more like running from priority to priority putting out fires. It’s exhausting and usually ends up being counterproductive. I did not master BALANCE in 2018, but I understand it better.  It will remain an active goal in my life and hopefully this year I’ll be more successful.

Now onto 2019 and my new word. I chose this year’s word for many reasons. I love the life I have begun to build, and I have many more dreams and goals I want to reach. With all the moving parts to balance and more to come, I decided this year I needed a word that embodies strength and steadfastness to keep me focused and pushing forward towards my goals, as well as help me continue to work towards attaining balance. To me, this word represents determination and strength.

My word for 2019 is PERSISTENT. May it guide me well.

2018 WORD of the YEAR

Happy New Year! It has become a tradition for me that, as we start another trip around the sun, I choose a word to guide me through the coming year. I started this back in 2015 with the word Emergent, and then Resilient in 2016.  Both proved to be prophetic. 2015 was the year that I really started coming into my own. I stopped trying to fit or judge myself by conventional standards and just let myself be. I kept my eyes and heart open and let the universe guide me. I was not led astray.

In 2016 I continued pushing forward, learning more about myself and continuing to shed layers of preconceived notions and insecurities that I had heaped upon myself.  I focused on developing and harnessing my creativity towards a goal.  I stayed the course and wrote a book.

The whirlwind that started in 2016, picked up speed at the beginning of 2017 with the launch of The Empire on January 6th, and continued gaining strength throughout most of the year with a brand new learning curve of  marketing campaigns, book signings and sales. Picking a word for 2017 got lost in that storm, but if I would have, I would say that the word Development would have defined the year.

This year, I will continue to use the words I’ve picked so far and add BALANCE. One of the challenges last year was finding a way to keep everything moving forward. I learned that writing a book is not necessarily the hardest part of being an author. As an indie published author, I also had to learn how to market and sell a book. That’s a whole new skillset and a continual learning process. I also found out that it can be very time consuming. Most of the time, it felt like I could only successfully focus on one aspect at a time – either writing or marketing.

Balance, throughout all parts of my life, will be my goal for 2018.

Wishing you a happy, balanced and successful year!

Happy New Year!

As I sit here in the last hours of 2016, I look back on a year that continued in the arc that was started in 2015.  I continued to nurture and grow my creativity. I finished my first novel, The Empire, that will be published next week, and had one of the happiest and fulfilling years ever. I feel really lucky. For me, 2016 was a fantastic year!

When I started thinking about my Word for 2017, it occurred to me that I’d forgotten what my 2016 word was. 2015 was Emergent, and it fit perfectly with the year I had in 2015 and really 2016. I’ve continued to learn and grow.  After searching this site and then my entire computer, I found a post I never published. My word for 2016 was RESILIENT and once again it proved to be prophetic. Being resilient has served me well this year, when I started to doubt myself and my path. Staying my course, believing in myself, giving myself the chance to find what makes me happy has paid off.

Below is my lost 2016 Word of the Year post.  Happy New Year! May 2017 bring you lots of love, laughter and happiness!!

My 2016 word of the year is RESILIENT  I picked this word for many reasons, as a reminder, a touchstone, a charm.  After the progress of my emergent year, a year that pushed me, stretched my creative and personal development and began the process of molding me and developing me creatively, and on other levels as well – all the change, progress and growth that I created for myself has in many ways strengthened me but has also left me tender and exposed. I am still emerging. That process will continue on for awhile I hope. I have learned so much about myself, about my creative process, about who I am and who I want to be, that I can’t see that journey, that lesson, ending anytime soon. I am still discovering who I am, where I’m going, what I want.

The word resilient will remind me to stand tough when I feel the sting of rejection, disapproval or doubt about what I am doing, what I am creating, what I am putting out there.

2015 – Emergent – A Year In Review


2015 was a very productive year for me, personally and creatively. The word “emergent” proved to be an accurate choice.  As I had promised myself, I kept my eyes and self open, and let the universe chart my course. I was not disappointed. There were challenges and lessons to be learned, and also a lot of wonderful adventures and opportunities. I pushed myself in directions that were not always comfortable, but usually fulfilling.

I don’t know if it makes sense or not, but I tried very hard to allow myself to just be. I made an effort to strip away the conceived ideas I’ve put upon myself,  or allowed others to put upon me over the years. I worked at sloughing off layers of self-doubt, self-imposed beliefs and conformance so that I could really see just me, and whatever raw potential there might be.

I am a work in progress.  Chipping away at the protective layers is a long process. They weren’t added quickly, and shedding them isn’t a quick task either. What I am learning is that the more I pull myself out of those layers and let go of them, the stronger and more confident I feel.  It’s not always easy or comfortable exposing your true, unguarded self to the world.  Fear and self-doubt always seem to be lurking right there in the shadows, but I have found that the reward of allowing my true self to be seen, even if it sometimes stings a bit, is worth it. It has given me the freedom and space to begin to explore who I am, what the world has to offer and what I have to offer the world.

In the midst of all this self-discovery, or perhaps because of it, my creative side has begun to flourish as well. 2015 was chock full of creative projects. Some are featured on this site as recipes, photo galleries and how-to posts. I’m also in the middle of writing a series of paranormal fiction books centered around a somewhat fictional small New England town. I also realized this year just how much I enjoy photography. I’m still a beginner, but I have loved the experience of exploring the world through the lens of a camera.  Some of what I’ve photographed is on this site, and some I post to Instagram – as @ByCLAlden.

I have emerged in other ways by pushing myself to live in the present, the here and now, not just waiting or planning for some future event. I have made a point to take time out from daily life to have some fun, whether it’s working on a fun project, taking a quick walk outside, meeting a friend for a drink, or by taking day trips to explore the world around my neighborhood.  I have also emerged back into the dating scene by dipping my toes back into the dating pool via online dating sites, but that’s a story for another post! 🙂

I’ll conclude this post by saying that I’m enjoying my new perspective of me, the world, and all that it offers. I’m not finished emerging yet. I’m not sure when I will be, and that’s okay.



2015 New Year, New Adventures

New Year, New Adventures

Out with the old. I stalled and sputtered with this blog last year…I guess I just wasn’t ready.  2014 was a busy year. It was full of discovery, loss, heartache, joy, restoration, evolution and many creative adventures that have now begun to fill me up. I began pushing out all the negativity, stress, unhappiness, and soul sucking day to day living that had left me feeling like an empty shell. I struggled with finding a direction for this blog. I got too caught up in trying to structure and define it. The outcome of this blog last year is a good reflection of what my life has been like for a long time – trying to make my life fit into an acceptable format for public consumption, instead of focusing on creating a life I want.  That’s all in the past.

A bit battered, but still moving forward.

In with the new.

New adventures. 2015 will be about development. I’m not going to make hard and fast plans, or set a defined direction, because it seems that every time I do, I end up being redirected anyway. So one of my goals this year is to be more fluid. Accept what the universe has to offer. Flow like a river, adjusting my direction as obstacles arise; flowing over the ones I can, and around the ones I can’t. I’m not sure what my destination will be, and I’m okay with that. I’m learning to live and enjoy the present, taking each day as it comes. I’ve opened up my eyes, ears and heart to the universe, and set myself afloat. I’m looking forward to seeing how my river flows.