I have always loved to sing and music has invariably been an integral part of my life. But even as a kid I found the traditional New Year’s Eve song, “Auld Lang Syne” depressing; I may have mentioned this before. Never having been prone to feeling regularly sad, this is the one day with which I have consistently struggled. For me there has just been something perpetually bittersweet and melancholy about this time of year, and specifically the last day of the year. As I grew up I would feel sad if I stayed home. For years after I was graduated from college if I went out I somehow knew my date would not be “the one” for me and I found that depressing. Rather than birthdays, I have felt that this was the day for reflection; a litmus of sorts for the way I have spent the past year. What did I accomplish? Did I do any good for anyone else? Am I better off than I was before? Invariably my mind wanders to my loved ones who have passed on over the years. How I miss them. I am usually “the glass is half full” person — so why is THIS the day I incessantly find half empty? The German-born Canadian author Eckhart Tolle said, “To know yourself as the Being underneath the thinker, the stillness underneath the mental noise, the love and joy underneath the pain, is freedom, salvation, enlightenment.” I have always known myself — but I have not always been true to myself along the way in recent years. I have tried SO HARD to please others, to prove myself, etc. and I have finally come to understand I can only strive to please God, my husband, our child, my late parents, and ultimately myself. I was forever taught that I was strong. A part of me I think died when my father passed and I was 28. He was my rock and the greatest influence upon my life, along with my mother. I have been lonely and adrift since my mother passed three years ago. In the absence of their love and support I have forgotten that I am more than enough. No one else can define your self worth. If the British monarchy can truly welcome a divorced American who is half black into the royal family I have hope that my daughter will know she can stand strong and be loved for herself as well. Past, present, and future — we should remember the past, celebrate the present, and have faith for the future. So, as 2017 comes to a close, I am trying to reminisce the past without sadness, examine the present with pragmatism, and look toward the future with joy. With this I am wishing all of you a very blessed 2018. All God’s blessings to you this New Year’s Eve.