As we reach the end of yet another year of unusual and seemingly different and insurmountable challenges to our lives, I think we need to stop and take the time to think about how these challenges have affected us. How did we react? What have we done differently? Are we better or worse? What have we lost or gained? There is no question that for most of us who do not remember the challenges of a world war or a major depression as our parents and grandparents had to do, this has been a challenge. But we have had our own reasons to feel cast adrift and wondering how to cope. I am now of an age when I can look back over so many challenges, most of which are considered expected and normal as we take life's path, but nothing like those of the two years of Covid have been. I have been blessed thus far with no immediate family member to have succumbed because of the virus. But I, and everyone that I know, have had to approach everyday living and plans for the future in different ways than we ever imagined. I expect that I am not unique in not enjoying any of these challenges. We had a plan for our lives before Covid, and now that plan has become either unattainable or much more difficult, and certainly different. Now, two years later, I look back on things that I have accomplished, some in spite of the virus, others because I had to change direction because of the virus. I have missed out on what had been expected social events and normal family gatherings. I have often felt so isolated that, if it were not for social media, I know I could have become chronically depressed. I also know, and more importantly, that if I did not have a soul that ultimately tells me to "get a grip and get moving," I would not have done so. I have found new directions to follow and new challenges to conquer. What joy to have been able to do so! And I do not use the word "joy" lightly. Can there be anything better than to be a septuagenarian and to know that you can still "become"? My life changed radically five years ago when I became a widow and then had to fully take charge of every aspect of my life, something that I had never had to do before. Then Covid gets thrown into the mix, and.... As a lover of history, I recognize that nothing is unique for me or others. This is life. And challenge is probably the major component. We can either embrace the challenge or not. That is our choice. How sad if we don't. I know my life is far richer because I did and do. So now I need to say something about why I picked this image for this blog post. One evening recently on my walk I saw this leaf that had been blown in such a way that it was caught in this position. It reminded me of a ballerina working out at the bar. I could never have become a ballerina, much less a toe one. But I think that those who have, have accepted a challenge through their personal passion that drives them to work through pain, frustration and self-doubt to accomplish their dreams. Few of us are gifted ballerinas, but all of us can find out passions and life-needs and let them lead us in the necessary directions to meet our challenges and to persevere. Sometimes this is a lonely path that we have to take by ouselves. Thankfully, there are often others (some who are angels in deguise), there to encourage. Regardless, l hope that none of us, as long as we have life and the ability, stop meeting and accepting challenges.