This past year of 2020 was a doozy. Then 2021 started with a lot of noise and negativity, even though we had such high hopes for a better year. HOPE has become such an impactful word to me that I chose it for my Word Of The Year. The actual definition of HOPE is "The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. To look forward to with desire or reasonable confidence." "HOPE isn’t pretending that troubles don’t exist. It is the HOPE that they won’t last forever. HOPE is not giving up. Those hurts will be healed and difficulties overcome. That we will be led out of the darkness and into the sunshine. At the end of the day, all you need is hope and strength. Hope that it will get better and strength to hold on until it does." I have HOPE that Covid19 won't always hang over our heads like a dark cloud. I have HOPE that we are learning to see strengths and needs in those around us and someday race, religion, politics, orientation, ethnicity, or economics won't be barriers but will be reasons to celebrate. HOPE is when your boss, your partner, your friend says, "That's impossible" but your heart says "Hold my beer!" HOPE is trusting the timing of the universe. HOPE is believing that the sadness and the madness of the world is all part of the plan and something better is on its way. Some call it faith. I call it HOPE. HOPE is going through pain and knowing that you're growing into a better version of you. Before my life changed completely in 2017, I was moving at the speed of light. I loved it but I never took the time to listen to my head and my heart. I buried my frustrations and disappointments in life with so many distractions that I couldn't hear that voice that helps you find the way to healing. I probably had some windows of opportunity to listen but I would just take on another responsibility. Something about spending a month in the hospital, 6 months in a wheelchair and the better part of 4 years being housebound made me listen. Sometimes listening was the only thing I could do. One thing I heard was that I didn't have to constantly volunteer and take on more responsibilities to matter. I heard that I mattered by being a voice whether from a wheelchair or a hospital bed or even limping along with my cane. My HOPE story here is that I have grown through this experience (and continue to grow.) When the accident brought my entire life to a standstill, I had to keep feeling hopeful that I would still matter and that I could still do good in the community. I have HOPE that I will continue to listen, continue to grow and continue to matter. And lastly, HOPE stands for Hold On, Pain Ends. As long as you can stay focused on that, you are growing stronger and you have HOPE.