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New Year’s Gratitude

By Kim Howard, CAE

I have a couple of Facebook friends who, at the beginning of each month, post “New month. What are you looking forward to?” This time of the year, we can say “New month and new year. Do you have any resolutions, or what are you looking forward to?” I can share one event that I am looking forward to and one New Year’s Resolution.

My youngest child graduates this year. As I write this column in late November, she has already received three college acceptance letters. We are thrilled that our child wants to continue her education in college and look forward to celebrating her high school graduation with her, our family and friends.

One of my yoga instructors, who is also a friend, reminds our class during relaxation to truly think about gratitude in a way that is not always focused on material things. She wisely reminds us to stop saying “I have to” and replace it with “I get to.” “I get to go to work because I am employed. I get to go to the gym because I can move. I get to watch my child play a sport because she is active. I get to cook dinner because we have food at home.” It’s a different approach to seeing your life in a much more gracious way, and it’s my New Year’s Resolution: to change one word in my thoughts and speech to become even more grateful for my life. I am also grateful that I have never struggled with a mental health issue. But for those who have, there is help locally.

This month’s cover story, written by Peter Lineberry, discusses one of the last societal taboos: mental health. Virginia’s population, according to the U.S. Census, is 8.4 million people. The National Alliance on Mental Illness notes that approximately 1.4 million of those Virginians (18+) have a mental illness. Out of those 1.4 million, 305,000 have a serious mental illness. None of these people did this to themselves. No
one wishes to be mentally ill. But, there is hope and help locally. In “Keeping Your Mental Health in Mind” you will find resources in Prince William to help.

The Farmers’ Almanac tells us to dust off our winter gear. In this month’s destinations, Marianne Weaver gives hope to sledding fans with “Hitting the Slopes: The Best Sledding Spots in the Region.”

Years ago, when I commuted into Washington, D.C. on the Virginia Railway Express, I also connected to the Metro Red Line to get to work. I would consistently see a blind commuter with his guide dog in the mornings. We rode the Red Line to the same stop and I would watch, fascinated, as his guide dog helped
him navigate. This month’s Giving Back, “Guiding Eyes for the Blind: Offering Vision in More Ways Than One” by Helena Tavares Kennedy, introduces you to Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

As usual, we have filled this issue with solid information about your access to a whole host of offerings in the places where you live. Happy New Year and may your 2018 be as wonderful for you as you want it to be.

Kim Howard, CAE
Editor in Chief

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