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Looking back at the year just ended and ahead to the one just beginning

Photo by Wayne Armstrong

Despite the anticipation of the unknown, a new year always causes me to look back. With 2020 as hindsight personified, there are many things I would have done differently. Whether it was taking more time to be grateful, despite the losses, or making fewer complaints about a particular situation, in a general sense, 2020, with all of its idiosyncrasies, was similar to other years. There are things I wish would never have happened and moments I wish could have lasted forever. 

When you read the cover story about the two remarkable women highlighted, I hope you’ll come away feeling empowered, realizing that each one of us has the opportunity to affect change—and that it’s never too late and that your profession doesn’t matter. You can make a difference even in those areas outside your job description and field of expertise. 

One of my favorite stories in this issue introduces us to a study about what it takes to flourish. Coincidentally, this word was my “one word” for last year. When I adopted that word for 2020, I saw it as a chance to embrace the extravagant and that the year would be filled with once-in-a-lifetime moments and maybe even opportunities to address some of my bucket list items. The year did not turn out how I imagined, but when I read these words—“Flourishing is about living the good life”… and it “can be moments”—from Jesse Owen, a professor in the Morgridge College of Education, I realized that 2020 did not disappoint. 

Every opportunity I had to FaceTime with my grandson, from his first month until his 12th, I was flourishing. As I spent most of my waking hours with my two Shih Tzus during what turned out to be their last few months, I was flourishing. And every week, when I have breakfast via Skype with my mom, and we reminisce about my sister whose cancer fight ended on Easter morning, I am flourishing. 

I doubt we will ever experience a year quite like the one that just passed, but still, any of the takeaways from Owen’s research will enable us to embody more resilience and tenacity, because we’ll be more grateful and graceful regardless of the challenges. 

Although summer is my favorite season, I do find it comforting to be able to relax with a hot cup of cocoa or tea. I enjoy the warmth of every sip and the feeling of steam on my face. Whether you’re reading this winter’s magazine online or turning the pages of your personal copy, I invite you to find a cozy, warm spot and indulge yourself. Flourish!

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