Every year I choose a word for the next year, rather than a resolution. I choose a word I want to adopt, cradle loosely in my hands and explore its meaning in my life… I started this tradition following someone I still consider a mentor, the fabulous Lola Akinmade Åkerström. Every word I choose is one I want to foster in my life. This year I choose the word embrace.

Why ’embrace’?

I have come to realise I have spent much of my twenties and early thirties trying to work on my weaknesses, my flaws. There is nothing wrong with that, though I am not sure to what degree I have succeeded in that effort. I am certainly more self-aware of the chinks in my armour. 2018 is not going to be about that though.

We encourage children to grasp their potential, to nurture their talents and to dream big dreams. Yet the older we get, the less we apply that same kindness and encouragement to ourselves. We start interrupting our own lives with what we cannot do rather than embracing the God-given skills and talents we have. In Britain, I feel we are particularly guilty of this. To embrace our potential seems somehow vain or cocky. But the thing is… It isn’t. We actually do a disservice to others, and to God, by half-heartedly following our dreams or by failing to work on what we shine at.

I am a poet, I am a good public speaker, I am a storyteller, I am a long-distance runner, I am a creator, I am smart, I am a girl who doesn’t get scared easily and doesn’t quit easily either. I am a photographer but I am also a writer, an artist and a preacher. Even writing these words makes me cringe. It makes me feel egotistical. But that is why I am throwing this word embrace out there this year. Because while I don’t need, or want, to boast, I also don’t want to look back on my life and feel I wasted the chances or opportunities I had to shine.

I don’t want to shine for my glory. I want to shine for God’s. But I do want to shine. Because we were not made to have a dim light – we were created to glow in the darkness. So this year I aim to embrace every opportunity to shine that light, but also to embrace my own skills and talents and nurture and grow them without shame.

Thank you to those who turn up the dimmer switch in my life

None of us shine on our own. God is at the centre of my life and is my source of light. My husband Stephen’s wisdom, kindness and love keep my feet steady while I dream big dreams. My family love me when the weaknesses are more evident than the strengths. My friend Mo brings me joy and has taught me to ‘feel the world’ and find peace in the calm and quiet moments. My friend Sam has shown me what it means to walk with someone over many years and to always be there for them – he is my steady and amazing friend who marries a wonderful woman this year. My friends Louise and Claire are always there for me like constant stars in my sky. And I have kept old friendships, reconnected with others and fostered new ones that all add brightness in my universe. To name a few – Helen, Lisa, Sarah, Lauren, Gesu, Sharon… and so many others – you bring me light and levity. Thank you.

And to the nearly 10,000 wonderful people who follow this blog. You bring me light and love and inspiration daily via this wonderful World Wide Web. Thank you.

Happy New Year. And embrace 2018 with me.