When my Uncle Joe passed away from a brain tumor at the age of 39, the last thing he said to me was:

“Just be patient. Everything is going to be OK.”

I thought he was referring to how painful it all was on our family. I had no idea he was offering me my life’s mantra.

I forget it sometimes, and the past few weeks are no exception. In the end-of-year rush of lessons, recitals, and endless appointments, I’ve just been trying to make it over the finish line.

Meanwhile, the promotional emails have flooded my inbox, suggesting how much better I can do next year. Evaluate 2023! Set goals for 2024! Don’t let fear hold YOU back from DOING THAT THING!

It’s exhausting.

I wish an email would arrive in my Inbox with these simple words:

“You did great in 2023. Because you’re you. You’ll do great again in 2024. Because you’re you.”

So here I am. Writing it myself.

I’ve realized that a large part of teaching mindfully is helping my students learn to appreciate themselves.

Yesterday I watched 18 students share their music with an enthusiastic audience in our Winter Recital. From the 7-year-old who gamely wanted to perform after only a few weeks of lessons to the adult who wanted to share all six of Satie’s Gnossiennes as an offering to the families in attendance, each of them inspired me with their gifts, vulnerability, and courage.

Parenting is another realm in which appreciation flows naturally.

Recently, my seven-year-old daughter has begun to ask, “Why are you so enthralled with me?” How could I even begin to reply? I have been in love with every part of her since the very moment I saw her.

Am I over the top? Perhaps. My mangled wizard-like accent that demands, “First you must explain to me why you are so beautiful” whenever she asks me for something is a bit much. “Ugh, Mom,” she retorts. But I can see the corner of her mouth rising.

Of course, I find deeper ways to appreciate her too. Last week my husband and I attended Olivias first-grade parent-teacher conference. These words from her report card brought me to tears: “Asset in our community.” “Even-tempered and highly engaged participant who successfully models positive behaviors for her peers.” “Cares a great deal about the welfare of her classmates.”

I could feel my whole body breathe a sigh of relief after reading it. I was doing OK. Pete and I breathed together after the conference. We were doing OK. We went out to breakfast to celebrate. A welcome pause in another busy day.

As I reflect on the year and consider a new one, I’m not trying to do better, set goals, or DO THAT THING. I’m keeping Uncle Joe in mind:

“Just be patient. Everything is going to be OK.”

And I’m even borrowing a little of the appreciation I usually offer others for myself.

I appreciate you too, and I am so grateful you are taking this journey with me. I hope you will find moments this holiday to appreciate yourself.

May your essence shine bright in this transition to the new year.

I know it will. Because you’re you.