Today is New Year's Eve, and like many people, it seems like I spend this time of year reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to the next one.
It's been quite a year to say the least. I'm not one bit sorry to see 2008 go.
I've had so many ups and downs -- at many points along the way it seemed like the 'downs' outnumbered the 'ups'.
But I know with every one of those 'downs' I learned a little something, a little piece of the puzzle that's come together to make me the person I am today.
I know myself better than I ever thought I would, have a clearer understanding about what's important in life, how I want to live my life and where I want to be in the future. Quite simply, I'm a better me.
I couldn't have done this alone.
It was about a year ago that I was preparing to embark on my first half marathon adventure, traveling to Disney to run with the TnT team. It was something that forced me way, way outside my comfort zone.
I joined TnT as a way to challenge myself to do something I had never done. I joined TnT to meet people. I joined TnT as an outlet to escape some of the negative things I was dealing with in my life.
I accomplished all that -- and so much more.
Never did I imagine that TnT would have helped me so much. The people I've met have truly helped me -- not only helped me to become a runner, to finish a half marathon or to know that it's possible to do the unthinkable.
They've helped me get through a very tough year for me - and probably many of them don't even know it.
They listened to me, they gave me advice, they made me laugh, they made me think, they gave me confidence.
In the days approaching New Year's Eve, I mulled several offers that I had for New Year's plans. It was actually nice to have so many offers on the table, but I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do. A big part of me wanted to just spend it at home by myself.
Spending it by myself seemed somewhat appropriate because I've used this year (and especially the last several months) to really worry about me. I've come to know that caring about yourself and taking care of yourself isn't selfish. It's just plain necessary.
Without a good sense of self, how can you give yourself to someone else? How can you be truly happy? I don't think you can.
I was completely content to spend tonight alone and celebrate how much I've changed for the better this year ... that is, until I spent Monday evening with a group of my TnT friends.
We spent the evening laughing - as usual - sometimes laughing so hard that my stomach hurt (although that might have been the residual effects the ab work I've done at the gym lately).
Our team is about much more than just running or raising money for a good cause. I think the ones who see that get the most out of the TnT experience.
I decided to join them for New Year's festivities. I couldn't think of a better way to spend the evening -- with people who I care about and who care about me and who have really made a difference in my life this year.
Step by step, through all these miles (I wonder how many miles I ran this year), it's been a year to create lasting friendships and really learn a lot about myself. And tonight it's time to celebrate and look forward to next year with great friends.
Thanks, Team ... and Happy New Year.