This time of year I like to look back at all the wonderful things that have happened and all the things I am thankful for.

I’ll start with my thankfulness for the hardships.

This year, I learned a lot about humanity and also myself. I learned that you can never wholly know another person, no matter how many years you’ve been friends or family. I learned that I will not give up my faith in humanity but at the same time, I will not be surprised nor angry when they disappoint or hurt the very people they profess to love.

I’ve learned that I need some silent alone time so that I can listen to my inner voice and keep an inner peace that passes all understanding.

And as a result of the spiritual awakening, I met the guy I am currently dating when dating was the furthest thing from my mind at the time.

It all started when in the Spring months I lost the Master Chorale of Washington chorale family. Without the choir in my life, I learned that music accounted for much of my happiness. The choir was closed down due to financial hardships. I went through a spiritual upheaval as I realized that singing in the choir had been the piece of my life that had made it possible to cope with everything else — a sort of music therapy for my soul.

Without the choir, I needed to take some time to be retrospective and for spiritual healing and so I went to a monastery for a work week to be silent, pray and only use my voice in singing chants with the Benedictine monks.

It was a life altering event. I plan to go back each year to the monastery for a week of spiritual re-centering.

Now to the people I am thankful for.

To all of my friends, those I see regularly, my coworkers and those I’ve known since way back in the day: thank you for being a part of my life and the making of who I am today.

To the week-night crew, you know who you are: thank you for being some of the best friends I’ve had in a long time. You are a no-bullshi*t, laugh often and love (agape and philos) much bunch of friends among whom I feel freely accepted and free to show my affection.

This year I started participating in a weekly, Sunday night strategic board game group composed of grade-school friends, church friends, random participants and my brother. It has been a great opportunity for some social time without the pressure to be social and perform – other than to kick butt at a game. It has also helped to strengthen my friendship with my brother.

That leads me to my family. It’s been a rough year in some ways but I think we’ve survived in the end mostly unscathed.  Thank you to God for helping us hold it together and heal and I pray that I am able to forgive even more as time passes.

Tomorrow, I and my wonderful boyfriend, Ernie, will spend half a day with my family and half a day with his. It will be the first time I’ve shared my Christmas day with a boyfriends’ family.  I am both pensive and excited about the idea.

Merry Christmas everyone!