Monday, January 1, 2018

My one word for 2018

 My word for 2017 is love.  I've been reflecting quite a bit on all that I learned about love this past year.  I think the biggest lesson to shine through was simply that being open to love, allowed me to fully see it and feel it in all encompassing ways.  In the everyday, the ordinary, tiniest moments, love can be found.

When I was growing up, we didn't express love to each other by saying, "I love you."  Whether its our Scandinavian heritage, or just old family traditions, love was shown, but not overtly expressed other than on a momentous occasion... and often privately.  Oh how I longed to feel it at times.  But maybe it was there more than I saw?  

I really tried this year, to express my love in ways that reached far beyond the boundaries I grew up with.  You so often have to give away the very thing you desire.  So, I said it, and tried to show it, to all those around me.  It was far easier than I anticipated and seemed to be reciprocated on such a grand scale.  I realized, I had been able to express it for so long, I just had to lean into it, and honor it, and it was such a staple to my every day existence.  My own boys have no trouble at all expressing their love towards me and others. The "I love you's" roll off their tongues and hugs go right along with saying it.  It touched me so to see it lived out in this way.  I hope that its me, living my legacy- not just leaving one- but truly showing my boys how I want them to go on.

But now I'm pondering my 2018 word.  What word could possibly be the same as "love?"  I've just had to stay with my practice of paying attention to what comes to me and consider the deeper message often shown in our day to day activities.

And the word that shows up over and over again lately?  Is hope.  I even received a journal, in perfect timing, as my old one is closing in on another 1,000 gifts I've counted and I need some more pages.  And there it is, "Hope anchors the soul..."   Hebrews 6:19

And then this quote I stumbled across while reading really resonated deeply with me...

Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. 
Thich Nhat Hanh

So often you all ask how I'm doing...

Hardship has entered my world on a daily basis.  Just sitting here to type is somewhat daunting.  Words don't flow out of me like they once did, and the chemo brain stifles what I truly would like to convey.  How do you walk that fine line between saying you're essentially doing ok, but also being real about parts that aren't ok?  And that the next day, it all flips and new things aren't ok, but other parts are now better.  It just depends on the day.  Some days I eat, others I can't.  Often I sleep, but then days go by without a single nap.  Pain is managed, but then suddenly it's not.  I seem to shift in and out of these states often throughout my days.  And yet, every time something new is lobbed my way, so many of you show up with answers.

My blanket with heat has seen me through so many hockey games.  I can fit my heated coat, under my down coat, and the blanket can fit on top.  And then when my feet went cold?  Rick's Dad, Jim, bought me socks with batteries and now my feet can stay warm too!  Hope just keeps showing up seeing me through hockey game after game, I feel so blessed.

Our Christmas was a mix of both of these things.  We had a wonderful cousin's gathering and I managed to go for a couple of hours.  We laughed and talked and shared good food. But then I was spent, and needed a day or two to recover.  I wouldn't trade it for anything, but its hard to gauge where best to spend my energy day to day.  We managed a wonderful night of Christmas Eve at home in front of the fire, but I couldn't go to church.  The boys hadn't asked for very much and we had a simple gift opening and we were all surprised by how well Rick did with being the main Santa Claus this year.  My one big task?  Was to mail out Christmas cards and I enjoyed each moment of it.  I wrote notes with some and delighted on reading letters from others.  I cut way back and didn't get one out to all, but I was so happy to devote my time and energy to the ones I could do.   But that was all I could muster energy for this year.  And despite what we couldn't do?  Nolan whispered in my ear, "Mom, was your Christmas a good one?"  His big heart on display for me, was gift right there.

What really blessed us was all the wonderful gifts we received at our doorstep, or in the mailbox!   The letters some of you wrote that touched me through and through.  The gifts that were so thoughtfully delivered to us- from plants and fruit baskets, to baskets with Christmas goodies and books, and music and kindness all wrapped up in a big bow.  And when our washing machine needed to be replaced?  Gifts of money showed up and helped us do that very thing we so badly needed.  Our hopes were met yet again.

Its one more gift that choosing "love" has taught me.  Family can come to you by means of genes, and by means of community that grows up around you when you have hardships.  I not only have a family, but I have a hockey family, and a neighborhood family, and so many others with people that I can sit and chat with, and commiserate with, and laugh with- and it doesn't matter the origins of the relationship. It all feels like family to me!  If it can happen to me, I know it can happen to all of us when we have a great need for community.  We all just need to be there for each other in whatever ways we can.

I had chemo on the 26th, and am trying to fully recover.  I get pretty worn out and nauseous for a few days, but then slowly start to rebound and am pretty stable after that.  And I just try to stay in these moments, in the here and now, taking in what I can, and giving what I can.

Theres still purpose in my days.  The boys come to me daily, sharing with me their own troubles, and kindnesses that others have shown them.  They don't hide their feelings, and let me see how happy they can be, yet how sad it can feel to them as well.  They're both going through some tough things, outside of me and my sickness, that I can't do anything about. Its pulled us all closer tougher and we're searching for ways to make sense out of what they are enduring- but it hasn't been and won't be easy.  Hope is all I have to offer them as well.

 It was a somewhat teary good bye as they loaded up for a 3 day holiday hockey tourney a few days back.  I wouldn't be able to attend.   I just try to assure them I'd be here when they return, and they should go off and Nolan should play hard and Colton should manage the team well.  Then, I anchor myself in hope. Its what I have right now and its something that I'll hang on to as long as I can!


  1. What a beautiful fitting word! I loved how you went back to it over and over again... including your young men...and there struggles...that all you can give them is hope. And I love the sense of community you call Family. It's like that saying, " it takes a village to raise a child. I think we all need a village at times or a constant. Happy New Year beautiful you! My hope for you is a year filled with all hope your family needs. BTW - these teen years are hard for all. It's that time of struggle and Independence, trying to find who they are amongst peers, community and family. I came to realize it all a part of how we as parents can let go...when they hit 18. And they are ready to go. Or how would anyone let go of that college bound child. But you probably know this already!!! Love you beautiful Vicky and love your word!

    1. Thanks for your sweet and encouraging words, Peggy! Yes- the whole village idea is exactly what I seem to be experiencing. And some of the teenage stuff is definitely just that hard stuff they all go through - our boys just got a heaping dose of several things at once that we couldn't do very much about. Its hard to teach them and try to mentor them through the very things we have no control over- and hope for better tomorrows was simply what we tried to teach them to cling to when you can't give reasons why those hard things come at you all at once. They'll get through- and so will we! I hope I can keep pouring into them all that I can right now and that those things will stick with them when they need them. Happy New Year to you, Peggy!

  2. I have known you for a long time, my friend. I feel like we are family. We are family. Family from afar. I love you.
    I pray that the good days will outnumber the not-so-good days for you, for your boys, and for your Superman.
    I think of your Dad and your Mom often. It is amazing how many times they come to my mind! I know that they rest in Heaven, and I also know that they rest in the memory of my heart. I never met them, but I know them through their wonderful and loving daughter. I love you.

    1. Yes, Jackie- my blogging family is part of that very community as well. I miss so many that don't come to blog anymore, and deeply appreciate the ones like you who still do come and read and leave such wonderful words. I'm quite in awe of your own Dad and Mom who just keep plugging away- its quite wonderful to know how well they live. Much love to you and blessings for the New Year!

  3. Oh, what encouragement you give to us in your posts. I so admire you and think of you often and pray that better days will come very soon! And, you have such a precious family and caring friends and neighbors. Yes, do lean on them. And, do write when you can, because you inspire all of us. Love you, Gale

    1. Gail, thank you for coming to read and leaving such encouraging comments to me! All who show up here and leave such kind words help me in ways its hard to express but they are truly a balm for the weary soul. I seem to always have something to say and will keep showing up here as I am able- thanks for showing up with me! Love you right back, Gale!

  4. Hope is a fabulous word for 2018. My favorite verse: Romans 15:13 - May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Thanks for this uodate. It helps us to know how to lift you up in prayer xxx

    1. Susan, I love that I chose the very word you had last year and believe it'll provide much enlightenment to me as well. Thanks for the verse reminder- that is indeed a good one and there seem to be many of them I'm longing to rediscover in the Bible. You always encourage me so- thank you for coming along with me and for saying all of the prayers that truly help me through everything.

  5. Thank you for your update. I have thought of you and prayed for strength to enjoy this Christmas season. Hope is a wonderful word for 2018. How badly the world can use it. My word is Wisdom as my husband and I "hope" to relocate from NJ to GA this year and we need wisdom on how to do it financially. We are trusting in the Lord of direction and wisdom. I will continue to lift you and your precious family in prayer and look forward to your posts how you are living in HOPE. Blessings xoxo

  6. Hope IS the word and it doesn't surprise me that it's on your lips and mind because it's so often what we find when we come here to read you. Hope in spite of; hope because of; hope ever rising like great flocks of birds that suddenly take to the air when we never even knew they sat silently in front of us. You rise like that, Vicky, and you make me rise with you.

    I know you wouldn't have any of us compare challenges but we all know you are in a BIG battle and, as it should, it puts our own in perspective. But, for reasons that may or may not seem worthy to anyone else (though I know your heart is always tender towards the vagaries of our lives), battling hopeLESSness has been, and will be, my challenge for awhile. As I told a friend last night, we too often try to guess the end of our books, and every life has so MANY books, and it rarely comes out the way we envison. My propensity, and hers, is to imagine the worst, based on current events. Where is faith and where is hope in ANY of that? So, thank you, once again for sharing your word, your daily-ness, the moment-by-moment changes and decisions that must be made in your life, the heartache and the joy, and your quiet but heart-filled Christmas and what that meant to you. There is SO much that can never be said but what you share is a glimpse of real and ragged and.....HOPE. Love you and grateful to see a post. Merry Christmas, belatedly, and Happy New Year to you all. ♥️

  7. Happy new year! !
    I wish you a year filled with peace, good health and happiness.

  8. Hope...thank you for this beautifully written end of year/first of year story. Hope, yes, that is a wonderful word...for we all need to feel that word, HOPE.
    Many blessings to you and your family in 2018.

  9. Happy New Year Vicky! For all these years I have LOVED to read your blog...your writings just get better and better every year. I think of you often and pray that God will give you the strength you need Vicky. Thank you for sharing your world with all of us. We all love you dear friend.

  10. My precious soul sis,
    Oh honey, it is always so wonderful to read your posts, to just hear the tiny details like Nolan whispering to you, "Mom, was your Christmas a good one?" His big heart was on display and he has learned so much about living life with an open heart from you, his blessed Mama.
    And I can just picture you writing those cards and Rick being Santa's helper. What I know for sure, my dear friend, is that you ARE living your moments. You are having quality time. You are helping all of us to embrace life, every part of it and you are, for me, a shining light of HOPE! As you share your story, you remind me to celebrate even the littlest blessings. I so appreciate that you share the hard parts too. Your authenticity reminds all of us to keep hope alive and just be where we really are, knowing God is right there with us.

    I love you Vicky Held Westra, always, to the moon and back!

  11. Sometimes I am a loss of words for you. I know life is with pain, I know life is not easy and it is certainly not what you anticipated for yourself and your men. But through your words I read much life. You always find life right where you are at. Your boys came back to you with lots of life in many different ways. I love how they talk about their feelings; their hopes, their love and their struggles. That right there is what the world needs a whole lot more of. You are living your legacy. I pray God’s grace on you and that you feel alive more that ever before. His kind of life!! Much much love as always!

  12. Vicky... you are an inspiration to me. I continue to keep you and your darling family in my prayers.

  13. And you have a blog-family! Boy, do we love you.
    Of all my word choices over the years, I think I loved 2017's word the best. LOVE. Just like yours. And HOPE--"Hope doesn't disappoint." Romans 5:5.

    Next time Robin comes to see you, I "Hope" I can come too.


  14. I LOVE the hope quote. So much, in fact, that I snapped a picture and sent it to someone dear to me needing that exact message.

    I'm so sorry about the challenges your boys are facing. Being a teenager is tough. Tougher than I realized until I had a teenager myself, and our kiddos have a rougher road than some.

    I think your words are flowing quite well, and I always, always look forward to them.


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