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What are you most proud of this year?

sheelagh matthews
Sheelagh Matthews/Best Interest

If you want to liven up the dinner table conversation this festive season, ask everyone to share what they are most proud of this year.

It’s the sort of question that avoids those dreaded dead-end answers that elicit only a yes or no. It’s one that gets everyone paying attention and fast. And, perhaps best of all, it’s one that requires a moment to think about before responding.

As for me, I am rather proud of my flower garden. Even though several of my little perennials struggled to make it through another growing season, they still showed up with all the beauty and fragrance they could muster. It filled my heart when I saw them doing that: not giving up, that is. Plus, I noticed many a bee and butterfly enjoying their time amongst my flowers.

However, my flower garden isn’t what I am most proud of this past year. After some reflection, I have come to the conclusion that I am most proud of not succumbing to overwhelm. Because there were definitely several times when I was ready to do so. It’s fair to say that this situation somewhat remains in the present tense for me.

Lately, it seems there’s a lot to be overwhelmed by. Massive job losses, global climate change inaction, and sweeping species extinction all make it very difficult, at least for me, to face each new day. What can I do to stay present and do my part as a citizen of the world? What can I do to keep hope alive?

Fortunately, I find comfort in the advice that Julia Cameron gives in her book, “The Artist’s Way,” now in print as a 25th anniversary edition. She recommends taking yourself on an “artist date” to experience something that brings you joy. This could be as simple as enjoying a favourite chocolate dessert. Or connecting with nature by tending to your plants, taking a walk by a river, or simply standing under a tree.

Reclaiming our power is another solution. “Depression lies” to us by telling us we can’t do anything about something we care about. But that’s not true; we can make things better. We can take back our power by taking small yet valuable actions to combat whatever is bringing us down. Like creative and tighter household budgeting, or observing, in any way at all, the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” rule. Each tiny step we take is a step in the right direction to empowerment. Taking back our own individual power gives us hope, as it proves to us that the situation can change for the better. At least it can be better in our own little world. And collectively, that adds up. 

Finding something you are most proud of this year, even if it’s only to be like my flowers—still standing and showing up—now that’s in our best interest.