A friend of mine recently posted on FB that 2016 had been ‘relentlessly cruel.’ And I get that. It’s been a year filled with prominent losses. Violence and unrest–both national and international–plagued virtually every newscast.  And, perhaps the most difficult of all was 12-month slice of hell that was the election cycle–exposing a rift in this country that will take a whole lot of time and faith to mend.

All that being said, 2016 was not my worst year (That distinction is reserved for the year my mother died and I was diagnosed with cancer). In fact, many wonderful things happened to me in 2016 and, in the spirit of gratitude, I thought I’d list some of the things I walked away with from the old year.

Things that 2016 Taught me:

Have Faith…

I started my journey towards publication on July 5, 2014. I queried virtually every agent in the country as well as the handful of publishers that consider un-agented books. No go. Finally, 18 months in, I had the realization that if I wanted to bring my novels out into the world, I was going to have to do it myself. So, I educated myself on the ins and outs of self-publishing…real quick…and released my first novel, Reverie, in April of 2016. Rhapsody followed in October. And then, right around Thanksgiving, I was offered a publishing contract for my new novel, Solo, due in the spring.

The Takeaway: Do not, under ANY circumstances, let anyone diminish your dreams. Conceive it, Believe it, Achieve it. Just know that some things take more time than others…and the road to your dream may not be the most direct route!

Don’t let crazy into your house…

And I mean ‘crazy’ in a broad sense, not in reference to any individual or mental state. Just the ‘craziness’ that can upend an otherwise peaceful life. As with anyone, I have plenty of circus-worthy drama coming in and out of my days…over the phone, over the internet and in the flesh. Knowing my disposition toward depression, I made the conscious choice to keep it out of my home and my marriage.

There were even a couple of people who I took a ‘time out’ from…and I was pleasantly surprised by how much more I enjoyed and appreciated their company after the break.

In 2016 I shut down many a conversation revolving around politics, religion and other contentious issues. i knew it was unlikely we’d change one another’s minds, so why get all worked up? Agree to disagree and respect each other’s viewpoints.

The Takeaway: Do not, under ANY circumstance, allow life’s negativity to infiltrate the peace and sanctity of your home.

Friends need not be around the corner…or even on the same coast!

There were my writing adventures this year, but also the opportunity to do more radio work in a larger area. Added to my regular shows on SiriusXM, WDAV and WSHU, I was heard on WSMR in Tampa and I spent a good deal more time on WQXR in NYC. On both the writing and radio fronts, I came into contact with so many wonderful people…listeners who shared my love of music, a book blogger who loved my book… fellow writers who became confidantes, moral support, mentors. One book review even turned into a series of sessions with a book group that was reading my trilogy which turned into an invite to stay and be part of the group of amazing women.

The Takeaway: Do not, under ANY circumstances, limit your capacity to meet new people and make new friends to your immediate geographical region. Friendship, much like love, knows NO bounds– geographical or otherwise.

Life is so very precious and it is entirely possible that, 12 months from now, someone who has touched your life may be gone…

It seems as if we’ve had more than our fair share of celebrity losses in 2016, including Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali, John Glenn, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. And that’s just the tip of the Memorial iceberg! But 2016 does seem to have been especially cruel in the taking of some personal friends…

Pamela Price Page, 49, a sweet soul, beloved by all who knew her. Wife of my dear friend, Raymond. I’ll always remember how she looked as they danced at my wedding.

Toni Randolph, 53, an exceptional reporter and kind, fun-loving person who worked for diversity and mentoring in the media. We were movie buddies during the sub-zero months in St. Paul, MN.

Kevin Frye, 48, a brilliant trumpeter and educator in the Tampa Bay area who played music, lived music and taught music.  He leaves behind his wife, Christina and daughters, Kyra and Kelsey. Kevin, Christina and I were old college friends… I can’t think of them without being reminded of late-night musicological discussions on ‘The Pill’ in the old USF music building.

The Takeaway: Do not, under ANY circumstances, assume that we all have forever. Sadly, we do not. Friends and loved ones should not be taken for granted.

So, yeah…there it is. 2016 was a mixed bag for many of us, but here we are with a brand new, clean slate. A fresh calendar just waiting to be filled with exciting adventures.

Who knows what life holds for us over the next 12 months time? I don’t know about you, but I’m putting my money on Hope, Love and Peace… with a little bit of phenomenal success and abundance mixed in for good measure.

God bless you and yours in 2017 and always!

With all my very best wishes,