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  • Writer's pictureKathie Scalf

The Hap-Happiest Season of All

It’s the week of the Winter Solstice and Christmas, which of course means it’s also my birthday week. This is historically the week of the year I mentally and financially come apart at the seams, so in lieu of gifts just send hopes and prayers this year goes better than the last!

I’ve got to say, 36 was not my best year. In fact it might very well have been the worst I’ve had to date. From the very start, the day I turned 36 was a dumpster fire that is still lingering fresh in my mind 365 days later and is ending with narrowly dodging a Christmastime layoff. In between I’ve had unforeseen health problems, ended long-term friendships, lost my dog of 17 years, encountered a couple come-to-Jesus blowouts with my family, spent half my life in a car or hotel, struggled with finances and completely abandoned all hope of a romantic life following one too many disappointments.

All that to say, this has been my most tremendous year of growth- as they say, tough times make tough people, so ultimately I am grateful for every second of turmoil, trials and tribulations. The lessons I’ve learned and the inner work I’ve done have elevated me to a point I do not recognize the person I was last year. I am mentally at a place of inner peace, acceptance and gratitude I’ve never before experienced and it’s the most liberating feeling in the world. This was a much-needed year of isolation and self-reflection that has resulted in empathy instead of impatience for others and appreciation instead of belittlement for myself. I’m proud to say my relationship with my family has become much close and far more honest, my small inner circle is comprised of uplifting and inspiring people, and through the hardships of illness, death and homesickness I’ve stopped taking the truly important things for granted. There is no designer label or luxury vehicle that can compensate for the comfort of your own home, the unconditional love of a dog, or a healthy body that can take you anywhere.

I’m kicking 37 off on a totally different foot. Gone are the unrealistic, superficial resolutions of the past that I abandon a week into the New Year. I’m starting with a very well-timed new career role. This opportunity is affording me far better benefits and ½ the territory of my former job, which means way less time on the road. Following a month of inexplicable and severe head pain, I’m finally back to normal and am showing appreciation for my health by treating my body correctly with proper nutrition, exercise and rest. And instead of racking up more high interest debt on a blowout birthday full of stupid materialistic crap, I’m being treated to a small dinner by genuine people who love me. The new me that came out on the other side of 36 is a bit disheveled, but better for the wear. She’s only interested in quality experiences, actions over words, and letting things come and go with peace.

Finally, like the rest of you I will be enjoying Christmas and New Year over the remaining 2 weeks of 2022. I’m so blessed to enjoy another year of traditions with my family, and even if things are strained in your own situation I urge you to have gratitude for any silver linings there may be, no matter how thin. Having just come off such a rocky year, I fully understand that the holidays can actually be a crushing time for people experiencing pain, loss or grief. The good thing about those feelings is that you’re still feeling something which means you’re still here, and every single day is the opportunity for the pendulum to swing in another direction. No matter how bad things are, there is someone out there who envies something you possess, be it family, food, health, or wealth. And I’ve found that the more gratitude I express for the things I currently have, the more blessings that come. If all you can do is put one foot in front of the other to get through the holiday season, at least be grateful there will be days on the other side for a fresh start and the opportunity to change the things you can control.

I’m so excited to spend the 23rd-25th in the Tri-Cities, which has done a tremendous job of capturing the magic of Christmas. From the enchanted forest of lighted trees in downtown Johnson City, to the ice rink and light garden at the Elizabethton Covered bridge, I don’t remember a time when my hometown has ever been so beautiful. I hope each of you has a chance to take in the sights and sounds of the season and find peace and joy in the coming New Year.

Cheers to the hap-happiest season of all!


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