Looking Back in Wonder at 2011

January 1, 2012

Rather than making predictions or resolutions for the coming year, I dedicated my latest newsletter to some of the unexpected changes that happened to me in 2011. I want to share it with you here. This is not a typical list of goals that I accomplished, but rather life lessons that presented themselves to me in a myriad of ways and resulted in a year that frankly, took my breath away.

Here are my top 10 – in no particular order of importance.

1. You’re never too old to learn something new, begin a new career and make new friends.

At 58 years old, I find myself more inspired to learn than ever. I wake up eager to study and practice what I’ve been taught, and I have to force myself to put it to rest at night. Along with the learning came the added bonus of amazing new friends who, coupled with the dear old ones, continue to support me and enrich my life immeasurably.

2. I traded in fear for wonder.

I’m still not sure what caused this shift (probably meditation), but I found myself free of the fear that always seemed to be lurking in the shadows.

3. I began to honor my own pace of doing things, learning to accept and respect the rhythm of my life.

For as long as I can remember, I have been spinning my wheels – always moving but seemingly going nowhere, while instinctively knowing that I don’t like rushing. So when turtles started repeatedly showing up in my life this year – in my dreams and in my waking state (I’m not making this up!), I decided that I needed to slow down. According to Ted Andrews in his Animal Speak Pocket Guide, when a turtle shows up, its message is to ”take your time in your pursuits. Trust in Mother Earth. You will have what you need”. Amazingly, the slower and calmer I became, the more things began to fall into place.

4. I’m pretty sure I found the purpose of my life this year.

So for those of you reading this who are in your 20’s or 30’s or 40’s or even 50’s and beyond, and have no clue why you’re here, relax, stay open and do what you love. Someday when you least expect it, the answer will come and it will knock your socks off. It’s never too late.

5. I embraced my Sagittarius destiny and began traveling like never before.

Five countries and six states in one year – are you kidding me??? Look out world, here I come!

6. I fell in love with nature again.

Clouds, oceans and lakes, sunsets and full moons, thunderstorms, sparrows and turtles and trees, oh my! I can’t get enough of Mother Nature. I just watched the PBS special Christmas in Yellowstone and put visiting there on my bucket list.

7. I learned to embrace silence and solitude.

Unplugged and alone, in meditation, prayer and reflection, I have been blessed to experience peace. And in doing so, number eight on my list occurred.

8. I met my soul.

Yes I did. And she’s amazing.

9. You can not only survive tragedy, but you can become stronger because of it.

The grief I experienced this year was undoubtedly the toughest but most important  lesson of all. Even the most tragic things in life can have a silver lining – if you are open enough to look for it. Yes, my heart still aches for Ralph and when I saw the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and the skaters this year without him by my side, the tears began to flow. They’re flowing right now as I write this, but somehow I am able to smile through the tears. It’s hard for me to explain how this mingling of sorrow and joy can occur. Our souls were deeply connected and they continue to be. Ralph’s death led me to a belief in an afterlife and completely freed me of a fear of dying. What a parting gift he gave to me.

10. And last, but not least, I learned to receive as well as to give.

Many things happened to me this year that kept nudging me in this direction. Like many of us, I have always found it easier to give than receive. But when Ralph passed away, there was no longer an option. At my most vulnerable, I let go of past patterns and opened myself up to receiving love and care from loved ones and near strangers alike. It was a profoundly life-changing experience for me. So many of you reading this newsletter were on the giving end and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

This is my list and I’m wondering if any of you might be so inclined to write one of your own. On the surface you may feel, like so many others, that 2011 was just a terrible year. But I challenge you to look beyond the obvious financial woes or personal tragedies you may have experienced to find the silver lining(s). And if you do, I would love for you to share them with me.

Wishing you many blessings in 2012.


  1. Barbara,
    Happy New year, and I love this! Many if not most of my list items would be the same as yours, though not expressed as eloquently — I would have written “I met my soul” as “I learned to more fully see myself”. Vision is everything! One final note: the turtle tells me it’s OK to hide from people sometimes, then I can stick my neck out when I choose, and people are usually delighted I did so! Love you, Girl, and very proud to be your friend.
    Glorious sunshine New Year love,

  2. Nancy, you are the vision queen! Yes, I think of my turtle totem in the same way. We are very much alike in this regard. I am so looking forward to another year of growth with you. What a ride we have been on! 🙂
    Happy New Year!
    Love, Barbara

  3. Barbara this was beautiful, it help me think of all my challenges that brought me right here to Awareness. O LIFE ! I just wanted to say thank you, your a wonderful spirit and I see your light. takecare Joy……………….

  4. Fantastic! Inspiration, warm and heart-warming. I feel so blessed to be a part of your journey, and you in mine.

  5. I found you from your Whole Living blog. This really spoke to me. Thank you for sharing this. I think it is what I needed. I am only 22 years old, but I am going through a transitional period in my life where I don’t really know what I am supposed to do or who I am.

    • Dear britnyw, You just made my day! It is my purpose in life that I alluded to in the post to help other people lead a healthy, joyful life through the lessons I have learned in my own life. This humble little blog is one of my vehicles, so the fact that you found in on Whole Living and that it has helped you makes me very, very happy. Just listen to your inner voice, you will find the answers. And don’t pressure yourself, your soul has a plan – you just have to figure out what it is! Have fun with it and enjoy this journey of life! 🙂

  6. Barbara, these are words of truth and beauty; they touch me deeply. Getting to know you this year has been a blessing to me. I have watched you processing through your loss. And when I look at this I see how I have transitioned, and will always grow through the wisdom I have learned from my own loss.
    Blessings to you,

    • Thank you, Maurine! I feel the same way about you. Even though we don’t see that much of each other, it is a treat for me to spend time with you. You have such a sweet, calming nature and the way that you dealt with your own loss with such grace is an inspiration to me. xoxo

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