New Year Reflections with Phyllis Hoffman DePiano and Lisa Frederick

What wisdom can you share about persevering through challenging times with Southern Lady’s readers? 
Lisa Frederick (LF): Don’t drive yourself crazy wondering why life handed you a difficult situation. Accept it, and then pay attention to what it can teach you. The toughest times I’ve gone through have all yielded incredible lessons and discoveries, some of which only became evident years later. Directly or indirectly, they have led to some of the greatest moments in my life.

How do you stay connected to your loved ones and maintain balance in your life? 
LF: The silver lining of the pandemic putting 2020 on pause is that connection took care of itself. My husband and I both have busy careers, and our 15-year-old usually juggles a full slate of sports practice, homework, extracurriculars, and social events, so we have to be intentional about building family time into our schedules. In quarantine, we suddenly had all the time in the world, and it was great (even on those days when it felt like a little too much togetherness). Like everyone else, we were trying new bread recipes and doing jigsaw puzzles and playing board games, all the simple things we enjoy but don’t often get to squeeze in. And I had time for long walks with friends—at a safe distance, of course—and with our dog. When life begins to return to normal, my hope is that we’ll make more room in our calendars for those kinds of activities. One thing that has always been non-negotiable and always will be is family dinner. Even if we’re having sandwiches or takeout, we set the table and sit down together, and our rule is no TV playing in the background and no phones or other devices. That hour of catching up with each other, free of distractions, is priceless.  

What was the single greatest lesson of this past year and what did it teach you about yourself? 
LF: It taught me the importance of relationships. We aren’t meant to do life alone. We become better, stronger, and happier when we feel connected to each other. Maintaining those relationships with physical distancing and disrupted routines has been a challenge, but so worth the extra effort.

What has brought you unexpected joy during 2020? 
LF:  I have spent as much time as possible outdoors this past year. Nothing refreshes my spirit like fresh air, sunshine, and all the wonders of the natural world.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful? 
LF: My family and friends, no question. I am blessed with a wonderful husband and son as well as loving and supportive parents, in-laws, and extended family. And I treasure each of my friends for different reasons—they all have special and unique qualities that make me happy to see them.

What are the most inspiring books you read this year? 
LF: I read a lot, so there are almost too many to choose from! My favorite book of the year was The Map of Salt and Stars by Zeyn Joukhadar, a novel about a Syrian family fleeing their homeland, told from the view of a precocious little girl. Despite the torment they endure along their journey to safety, their determination and faith are uplifting and heartening. The Women in Black by Madeleine St. John was the best pick-me-up—smart but sweet with a genuinely upbeat ending. I think I’ve given copies to at least three friends who needed a little lift.

LF: What 1-3 words best captures your intention for the next year? 
Giving—in all kinds of ways. I cannot think of a better guiding principle after a year so filled with hardship for so many.

These Judy Jamieson Note Cards are perfect for any season or occasion. Her note cards are a lovely way to reach out, thank, and welcome friends past and present. Visit the Southern Lady shop to order your set today!

Southern Lady wants to hear from you! What has brought you unexpected joy during 2020? For what in your life do you feel most grateful? 

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