New Beginnings: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Loving life during a favorite moment of 2011. Chiang Dao, Thailand.

I used to be all about New Year’s resolutions.

Throwing out that old calendar and hanging up a beautiful new one symbolizes a fresh new beginning. It’s a natural time to make that list of all the things you will do differently now that it’s a new year.

More exercise, less coffee.  More healthy foods, less alcohol. Read the classics. Finally stop biting your nails. Become a vegetarian. Train for a marathon.

You know the drill.

We fill a sheet of paper with a list of good intentions, and a few weeks later it’s stuffed in a drawer and forgotten.

I gave up on them years ago. But I still love that optimistic feeling  the fresh slate of a new year brings.

This year, inspired by many of my new blogging friends, I thought I’d try an Annual Review. A look back on what went well in the previous year, and what didn’t go so well. Taking the time to do this helps to clarify intentions for the months to come.

If I was a bit more organized I’d have started on this around Thanksgiving. Now, I’ve been traveling with extended family for the last couple of weeks and that has not allowed much time for introspection. (But it has afforded many unforgettable moments of togetherness with sisters, daughters, nephews, nieces, husband and in-laws. Priceless!)

And now here I am in the waning hours of the old year, and just beginning my review. At least on paper. It’s been brewing in the background of my brain for a while I guess.

What’s It Have To Do With Wellness?

It’s a cliche, but a true one: real wellness comes from within. No matter how many wonderful herbs we take, how attentive we are to what we eat, how many days a week we do our yoga asanas, jog five miles, or weight-train – if we don’t feel good about who we are we are not going achieve the goal of wellness.

So, here’s my confession: I may have been immersed in the world of natural wellness for more than two decades, but I’ve continued to struggle with that elusive goal of inner wellness.

See, I have yet to find the herb that brings true self confidence.

(Although writing that sentence does remind me to revisit the idea of taking flower essences. I haven’t taken anything except Rescue Remedy in years. Hmmm, maybe a future post could document an experiment with a flower essence combo for self confidence.)

Lately, I’ve noticed a feeling a dissatisfaction when looking back over the past year. At first I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. After all the year started out with a bang: I embarked on a two-month travel adventure. Something I’d dreamed of doing for many, many years. And the journey was so much more than I’d even imagined or anticipated.

But that’s a whole ‘nother story. But when I got back home I knew I wanted more of that. Lots more.

So upon my return I immersed myself in crash self-study course. I learned about blogging, social networking, and all the necessary skills to eventually build an online business that could allow me to travel and still make a living while doing it.

Well, I’m not sure if “learned” is exactly the correct term. I studied everybody I could find who was successfully doing the above. And I progressively became more and more overwhelmed with the possibilities, the potential.

And I became more and more convinced that everyone else knew so much more than I did.

That self-confidence bugaboo that has haunted me all my life was back in full force. Could I really pull this off?

Well, it would be so sweet to wrap up this post with an assurance that I’ve worked through this crisis of confidence and I’m forging ahead, completely assured of my direction and purpose.

But that would be a lie. And if there’s one thing I want to be sure I always practice in this new year, it’s authenticity.

Sure, I pride myself on being an honest person in my personal relationships. I’ve never gone for the whole philosophy of ‘not showing your hand,’ or keeping them guessing.

But when it comes to the public arena, well – I don’t always want to bare all my flaws. I try to make myself look more together than I actually am.

I’m not sure that is doing me – or anyone else – any good.

This year I celebrated a milestone birthday – my 50th. That’s 50 times around the sun. I don’t know how many more circles around I will be allotted – so I may as well give up pretending. From now on folks, I ‘resolve’ (oops that nasty word again!) to tell it to you straight.

So here’s where I need your help. What would YOU really like to read about on this blog? What grabs your attention? Inspires you? It’s fun to gather recipes for herbal concoctions and share them with you – but I’m not sure that is enough for either of us. Is there anything you’ve really loved (or really hated) that you’ve read here?

It’s a new year and I’m getting tough. I’m ready for your critique. Tell me in the comments, or email me at sarah(at)

And back to that Annual Review. After a few pages of freewriting I made three lists: Accomplishments, Disappointments and Intentions for 2012. Unlike many of my fellow bloggers who are publishing their Annual Reviews, my lists are more personal than business-oriented (since this blog is by no means a business yet.) But I’m happy to share them if you’re interested. You can find them on this hidden page.

And I meant it about your feedback. If you’ve gotten this far, you must have some thoughts about this blog. Please share with me so I can do my bloggy best in 2012!

Oh – and Happy New Year! May your wildest and most cherished dreams be realized.




8 Responses to New Beginnings: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

  1. I, too, hit the five 50 this past year! I love reading your blog so I can’t think of any improvements I could suggest right now. I like your “follower” buttons and would like to add them to mine. My goals are secretly the same. I’d love to turn my blog into a business, too. What was the crash course you took? Can you think of any improvements you’d like to see in WJ?
    Hope you have a wonderful and happy new year! Blessings from the Woodwife. I’m glad I “met” you!
    Guess this is a little sporadic but it was a long New Year’s Eve and I”m not sure why I’m awake!

    • Hi Sharon, Thanks for the feedback! I also enjoy your blog and admire how you find the time to make medicines while homeschooling your kids!
      My ‘crash course’ was really just reading everything I could from other folks who are making a living with online businesses, and also studying WordPress blog themes. I’d actually rather take a ‘real’ course because I thrive on feedback and interaction with others. I did take an HTML coding class online, which helped a bit. Happy New Year!

  2. Me too! I’ll turn 50 this year.

    Sarah, I love that you’re determined to reveal yourself more this year. I think you’ll find that people can really relate to your real self. Let’s face it–we’re all just trying to find our way, and we all doubt and question ourselves. Routinely. And the more you share and see that people respond favorably, the more your confidence can grow.

    As far as your blog, I love the recipes. I’d also be interested in more in-depth background information on various natural wellness products and practices, if that would be interesting for you to write about. Perhaps a look at the research behind various approaches (raw food, yoga, etc.)?

    I also really enjoy your reflective posts. You have a lot of wisdom to share that can improve readers’ inner wellness, as you call it. As I said, we’re all on this path together and can learn from each other.

    • How cool that so many of us are entering our 2nd half century! I appreciate your feedback Sue. I’ve thought about writing some basic background info on various natural wellness practices, such as Ayurveda, etc. Sounds like it could be a good way to go at least for some posts. I think I’ll also continue with the reflective posts, at least occasionally – I enjoy them and it is more fulfilling to dream of writing more creatively
      Happy New Year. Look forward to much productive sharing and learning from each other!

  3. Wow Sarah,
    i really found this article engaging and i was literally hanging on every word. I think it had to do with the fact that there was transparency and vulnerability.

    As far your blogs content.
    i am into health for my family. i.e. we eat organic and unprocessed foods, no fastfood and exercise etc.
    But, I have to say i don’t know much about wellness and i don’t typically seek out sites in this niche except when im looking at how to do something. like when my son got pink eye, i looked for a home remedy which was taking a used chamomile tea bag and putting drops of the cold tea in his eye every few hours. (yes his pink eye dissapeared that same day.). i guess what i would find interesting is family oriented stuff that i can do myself like that. Plus newby stuff about wellness. i don’t always know why i should be interested in something. Maybe writing about stuff that a newby might find interesting in once in a while.
    Lastly, i don’t like to read a lot of fluffy long winded pieces. I find A lot of the wellness blogs out there are too long winded for me. I guess i’m just not the spiritual type. i like to get to the point and i will fill in the blanks if you lead me there. However, i do like to hear personal stories like the one you wrote here. The human side of it is what keeps me reading.
    hope that helps.

    • Hi Annie, thanks for this valuable feedback! That is actually exactly what I was aiming for when craeting this blog – to provide useful information to ‘newbies’, especially overwhelmed moms! I’m glad you found exactly the right thing for your son’s pinkeye. Chamomile eye wash is just what I would have recommended – and the teabag route is the easiest way to go. Has worked in my family many times.
      Be sure to ask me if you are looking for a remedy that I haven’t written about! I’m always glad to help.
      I’m so glad to know that this post worked for you, and kept you reading. I was feeling pretty nervous after I pressed ‘post’, wondering if readers would think I’m a real weirdo, loser, or something. Thank you so much for reassuring me that I’m still okay…:-)

  4. Sarah, what a great post (and I like that picture of you too!)

    It’s definitely an act of courage to be more open about our struggles,to make sure we’re being authentic, but like Sue mentioned, you’d be amazed how many people can relate to all you share. I know I can really relate often to something you’ve written about here on your blog.

    I love the ying/yang balance that you offer on your blog between giving a list of practical herbal/natural product recommendations and their benefits and uses and reflective anecdotes/thoughts/sharing life experiences related to the subject at hand.

    • Hi Carole, I’m so glad you enjoyed the post (and the picture…ah, one of my favorite moments!) It makes me so happy to know you can relate to the things I share on this blog. Based on everyone’s feedback, it seems like a good thing to balance the ‘informative’ posts with more personal reflections. I worry sometimes that people will be bored with reading posts that are too ‘me-oriented’ – but I’m discovering that maybe that provides a nice balance in the blog.
      Happy New Year – and look forward to sharing more in 2012!

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