I'm not really one for New Years resolutions however at the start of every year, I do like to put a lot of thought into setting myself a goal for the coming twelve months.
When Dan died from depression in July 2013, leaving me as a young, newly-wedded widow, my focus turned to just surviving.
That first five or six months was a blur and when everyone around me was welcoming in 2014, I was still trying to get a grasp on what exactly had happened to my world. There was no champagne, fireworks or kisses at midnight for me and the only goal I set myself for that coming year was 'healing'.
This became my war-cry. Every decision I made was based on that one priority. I travelled from Australia to the USA to attend Camp Widow; I reached out and created for myself a circle of widowed friends here in Australia; I attended a national conference on suicide post-vention and worked hard with my counsellor to comprehend and process the trauma that I'd experienced.
As 2014 drew to a close I started to develop an appreciation for just how far I'd come and set myself a new goal for 2015: Happiness.
I needed to learn how to be happy in a new way, on my own, in the rubble of my former life. So again, I trudged forward, often taking steps backwards but ultimately making progress.
I travelled (a lot), including another Camp Widow trip (in Tampa this time) and to a yoga and healing retreat in Bali; I started socialising more with friends who had waited patiently until I had the strength and motivation to crawl out of my cocoon; I laughed more and I made an effort to live in the moment and count my blessings. And looking back, it was a bloody good year.
As I prepared to bid farewell to 2015 I found myself thinking about how far I'd come since that fateful day in 2013 and what I'd like to achieve in this next year. I realised that while I've accomplished an incredible amount, my focus has been on getting myself back to a good place.
While I've transformed throughout this time, in many ways, I've still been treading water - buying myself time to gain strength and catch my breath.
But I'm sick of treading water, I want to start swimming again in 2016. I want to propel myself forward and feel like my life is moving ahead again. So this year I've chosen 'growth' as my mantra.
It took me a while to settle on this word, because grief obviously evokes a significant amount of personal growth and I've evolved in the past few years. However in 2016 I want to let go of the notion that my life is in a holding pattern. I want to grow personally and professionally and end the year in a different place than where I'm starting it.