Happy New Year! January is for new beginnings. It’s our first New Year in Ripley! This week, I am writing from our backyard, inside the 1930s “chauffeur’s house.” Dr. Marsh, who lived in this home in the 1930s, often had to make house calls in the middle of the night. To prepare for such emergencies, his chauffeur slept here. Since moving this past May from Orlando to our historic family home here on Pine Street in Ripley, the chauffeur’s house is where I come to think, dream, and write.

Maybe you made a new year’s resolution. Like me, maybe you didn’t. As I mentioned in my column last week, I ditched new year’s resolutions years ago (too many failed attempts). Rather than focus on a resolution, I like to focus on my Word of the Year. My Word of the Year carries forth what I wish to focus on or have more of in the year ahead.

Coming up with my 2021 word a challenge. I have been tossing around ideas for my Word of the Year since before last week’s column. Nothing really “felt” right, and I was starting to get a little stressed out about it, because I promised last week I would share my word with you here in the column. As of this morning, I still didn’t have one.

To remove my mental block around this topic, I retreated here to the chauffeur’s house on this clear, cool morning to think. Inside, the funky, eclectic vibe made my soul sing: weathered shiplap, art, an antique French settee, and lampshade skeletons hanging from the ceiling. I settled onto the settee, recalling how I transformed this former blank canvas into my creative space. That’s when my Word of the Year became crystal clear: CREATE! It’s so open-ended that it can apply to many different areas of my life.

I have been blessed to have an abundance of opportunities be presented to me (like this column) simply from sharing what I have created here at our historic family home. I will seek out opportunities that allow me to create enrichment in the lives of others during this season of my life, which I refer to as “My Mississippi Adventure.” I’ll paint CREATE on a little canvas and posting it in a prominent place to keep me focused throughout the year.

What is your word? Pinterest is your friend if you’re stumped, like I was, on what to choose for a word. Search for “Word of the Year lists” and see if any of the suggestions strike you as YOUR Word of the Year.

Another activity that I look forward to every January is making vision boards. A vision board is a tool used to help clarify and maintain focus on what truly matters to you. Literally, a vision board is any board on which you display images representing whatever you want to be, do, or have in your life. We humans get distracted and bombarded daily and can easily lose sight of our goals and aspirations. Vision boards help us to get focused on what’s important.

I make mine by cutting pictures or words out of magazines that reflect my desires and gluing them onto a poster board as a collage. Librarians are normally happy to give away old copies of magazines if you need them (Thank you, Eric Melton, for the leftovers from Ripley Public Library). When your vision board is completed, hang it in a place where you will be able to see it daily, like in the bathroom or behind your bedroom door.

I have had so much success with vision boards as a tool for attracting more of what I want in life that I occasionally instruct vision board workshops. If you Google “vision boards,” you’ll learn more about them. I have limited space here in the column, so I only have time to give vision boards a quick “shout out” here. There are even apps now that can assist you in making a vision board!

 What really matters is not what method you choose to make a vision board, but rather that you invest time in yourself to get clear on what you would like to see in your life in 2021. You may be dealing with chaos caused by this pandemic or other personal obstacles. If you get nothing else out of my column, I hope it’s that you will permit yourself to dream a dream for yourself for this upcoming year using your vision board. I’ll be posting my finished 2021 vision board on The Little Mrs. FGG’s social media channels. Words of the Year and vision boards are all about looking forward to the new year, but we would be remiss in not looking back at the year that has passed.

As our family reflected on 2020, what stood out most was the impact of the pandemic (and, sadly, it’s not over). Here in our new, adopted city of Ripley, and everywhere across the globe, so many families have been affected by COVID-19. Many did not make it through 2020 to enjoy their black-eyed peas and greens on New Years Day with their families. As a family, we decided to honor the Ripley citizens who are no longer with us due to COVID-19. We decided to purchase a star in their memory.

You can buy a star on starregistration.net to honor someone who has passed in 2020 or commemorate a special event of 2020 (like an engagement, birth, or wedding). Naming a star is a unique way to show your affection in a universal sense and is a unique gift. Their star is visible in the night sky!

The Word of the Year and the Vision board are great activities for attracting more, but my mother taught me that you only get as much as you give. Normally, our family prioritizes giving back to our community through volunteerism. One year, our daughter, Bella, had enough volunteer service hours to qualify for a Presidential Service Award. Sadly, service opportunities are more limited now due to COVID restrictions and guidelines.

I was pondering what we could do to give back to our new adopted community of Ripley to kick off 2021 when I scrolled to see this Facebook post from Melinda Marsalis, our mayor’s wife: “Together for Tippah just stepped in again and helped a family that lost their home in a fire. I encourage you to talk to your church about donating monthly to this organization. And if they already are, double the donation. They are locally run and are excellent stewards of our funding. They are truly doing the work of the church, helping those in our community in need. They move quickly and have connections with a large support system. If you are looking for a way to make a positive start this year, tithe your stimulus money or tax refund to Together for Tippah!”

I took seeing that post as a sign that Together for Tippah should be our chosen charitable organization. We will be donating, and I hope you will, too. Their mission is to serve Tippah County residents in need, end poverty and hunger in our community. Reach out on their Facebook page, online at togetherfortippah.com, or call (662) 993-5683 to donate. May this year bring you and your family every good thing!

“Holler” at me on my Little Mrs. FGG social media channels and share your vision boards and words of the year!

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