My 2023 Word(s) of the Year plus Bean Soup and Sweet Skillet Cornbread

Why set a word of the year? For me, a word (or words) will be used as a guiding light to provide me with a sense of direction as I go forward into the next 12 months, kind of like a north star to come back to when I feel like I’m faltering or losing my way.  It’s more about setting my intention for the year than it is setting a specific goal that 9 times out of 10, I fail to achieve.  I want to choose a word that is meaningful and simple yet purposeful.

A word of the year is not new to me – I first started to choose a word of the year in 2021 and because this exercise was a new and unfamiliar thing for me then, I chose 2 words…..wisdom and recharge.  How did I do?  I think I did pretty good (apparently 2022 was a wordless year though, oops!)

Back to what I did right using my chosen words in 2021. Let’s start with wisdom: First off, I gained wisdom through trying new things.  I paid attention to what I could learn from others, I did things (often the hard way) which gave me the opportunity to make mistakes and reflect on those mistakes.  I realized that sometimes learning what not to do is more valuable than learning what to do.

I gained wisdom by listening more.  I opened my mind more often and tried to look at opinions from someone else’s perspective instead of just thinking I am right, and you are wrong (which is a big deal for me and while I am not perfect, I am working towards being better every day). As Socrates said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” All you right fighters, (I’m talking to me) let that sink in.

I accepted my limitations which I believe is a brutal form of wisdom. It’s been hard to embrace what I have to work with particularly where my Multiple Sclerosis is concerned, but I worked hard to not pretend I have more to work with than I actually do.

Now, did I recharge?  That is debatable if I’m being honest. How do you recharge when you are constantly drained of energy? I think when you have a chronic progressive disease like Multiple Sclerosis, your body and energy levels are regularly at a deficit from the moment you wake up in the morning so it’s tough to recharge.  But I think I did some things right and many things wrong.

Some days my worsening MS symptoms are a real barrier to moving my body the way I once could. It’s a Catch 22, because moving my body is precisely what I need to do. There are many days though where I do not have the energy or confidence to even get dressed in a bra to go to town for groceries, let alone to go to the pool or hit up a yoga class.  And honestly, early morning golf games once a week are tough, however I enjoy golfing so much, I try to force myself knowing that once I get on the course, I feel better for it, and I love the social aspect. I also recently reconnected with some friends I used to work with who are now retired and we started golfing together once a week as well, but a little later in the morning which I am thoroughly enjoying.  The energy that all of my golf partners bring to the course helps ground and recharge me.  In addition, I have set up a quick 10 -20 minute yoga practice schedule utilizing You Tube so I don’t have to get dressed and out the door (honestly, I was hit or miss keeping to this schedule but I tried). These little changes mean I can do a little bit more exercise, which I know is an important key to my well-being. Other things I did right was that I took the time to meditate more often, I went to physiotherapy and utilized massage more often than in previous years as well. Not as much as I should, but it’s a start.

Where did I go wrong? Well for starters, I have terrible sleep habits.  I seem to get a small burst of energy in the evening, I like to play games on my iPad or watch a tv show I know my husband would not enjoy but for whatever reason, I stay up later and get up earlier than is beneficial for a fully healthy person, let alone someone with a chronic illness who struggles daily. I’ve got to do better. What else? I push myself when my body tells me I should have stopped hours before or not even started a project at all.  I take on more than I know I should but let’s be real, who doesn’t do that? It’s funny, because while MS has worsened my physical balance, it’s forced me to find a greater balance in my day-to-day life. Throughout my journey (although I don’t always take my own advice), it’s become clear that it’s not only OK to relax, it’s necessary. Fatigue is one of the symptoms of MS that I (and many other MS’ers) struggle with daily and being more mindful of my activity levels is one of the ways I help manage that symptom. I realize that may not make sense with what I just said about my sleeping habits, but MS Fatigue is not just an ordinary tiredness, like you might get at the end of a hard day’s work. Some people describe it as an overwhelming sense of tiredness with no obvious cause. You may wake up feeling as tired as you did when you went to sleep, and no amount of sleep can make it go away. I can come up with excuses until the cows come home, but the reality is that I need to have better sleep habits.

Secondly, I tend to own too much of other people’s challenges, problems and struggles.  I’ve worked hard to be able to not, but when someone I love is struggling, I want to fix it for them even though I know full well that I can’t or shouldn’t and that they likely just need a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen and a hug to let them know I’m here and the encouragement to let them know that they’ve got this. What can I say?  I’m forever a work in progress.

So, what’s it going to be for 2023?   Well, some pretty powerful words have made my short list, including:

Compassion, Intuition, Consistency, Courage, Joy, Reflection, Urgency, Brave, Enough, Journey, Balance, Mindful, Overcome, Patience, Perspective, Still, Harmony, Grounded

But this year because I am an over achiever, I have decided on 3 very similar however distinct words:


Put simply, authenticity means you’re true to your own personality, values, and spirit, regardless of the pressure that you’re under to act otherwise. You’re honest with yourself and with others, and you take responsibility for your mistakes. Your values, ideals, and actions align. Being your true authentic self means what you say in life aligns with your actions. Your authentic self goes beyond what you do for a living, what possessions you own, or who you are to someone (mom, sister, wife). It is who you are at your deepest core. It is about being true to yourself through your thoughts, words, and actions, and having these three areas match each other. When we aren’t in touch with our authentic self, it’s easy to go into “people pleasing” mode and do and say things based off of what is expected of us, or based off of social and peer pressure. Yes please, I want that!

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” Brené Brown

“The simple life is an authentic life.” Kilroy J. Oldster


When you are intentional, you choose to make decisions and take action on what’s important to you.  This is right up my alley, so I found some quotes to help keep me on track with being intentional this year:

“Respond to every call that excites your spirit.” Rumi

“Work on Purpose, Play on Purpose, Rest on Purpose. Do not let yourself or anyone else waste your time.” Izey Victoria Odiase

“The key is not to prioritize your schedule but to schedule your priorities.” Steven Covey


Simply put, self- is taking the time to think about, meditate on, evaluate, and give serious thought to your behaviors, thoughts, attitudes, motivations, and desires. It’s the process of diving deep into your thoughts and emotions and motivations and determining the great, “Why?” behind them.  They say that when we fail to reflect on our lives, we lose perspective, get caught up in things that don’t matter, and often lose sight of the things that are most important. Socrates was right when he said that the unexamined life isn’t worth living.

I always say that I want a life that I don’t feel like I need to run away from, what better way to achieve that than with Authenticity, Intention and Self-Reflection?  Wish me luck – 2023, here I come!

And if at first I don’t succeed, I can always fall back on the words of the Dalai Lama – Forget the failures. Keep the lessons.”

And now, for what you’ve been waiting for! These two recipes are perfect for a cozy night at home~ enjoy!

Ham, Bacon, Pancetta Bean Soup

Cooking in Cowboy Boots
A wholesome and hearty soup with white beans, bacon, pancetta, ham, and tender vegetables
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 8


  • 3 Slices Bacon Diced
  • 1 Pkg Pancetta I buy the pre diced packages
  • 2 Cups Fully Cooked Ham Diced
  • 1 Tblsp Butter
  • 3 Celery Ribs Diced
  • 2 Carrots Grated
  • 1 Small Yellow Onion Finely Chopped
  • 3 Clove Garlic Minced
  • Tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 2 Cans White Beans Well rinsed & drained
  • 6-8 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


  • Cook diced bacon and pancetta in a dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat until your desired crispness. Remove from pot and set aside
  • To the bacon grease, add 1 tablespoon butter to melt
  • Add sliced celery, onions & carrot and cook for 4 or 5 minutes or until veggies are crisp tender
  • Stir in the garlic and season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning
  • Stir in the ham and cook for 1-2 minutes until heated
  • Add the beans, stir and cook for 1 minute
  • Stir in the chicken broth and add the bay leaf and bring to a boil
  • Reduce the heat to a steady simmer and cook for 15 minutes
  • Discard the bay leaf
  • Stir in the bacon and pancetta
  • Taste for seasoning and if necessary, add salt, pepper or Italian seasoning

Sweet Skillet Cornbread

Cooking in Cowboy Boots
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 28 minutes
Total Time 38 minutes


  • 1 9" Cast Iron Skillet


  • 1 Cup Flour spooned and leveled
  • ¾ Cup Yellow Cornmeal
  • ½ Tsp Kosher Salt
  • ½ Tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ Cup Butter
  • ¼ Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • Cup Honey
  • 2 Eggs Large
  • Cup Buttermilk*


  • Preheat your oven to 375° degrees. Place your cast iron skillet in the oven while the oven preheats.
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, yellow cornmeal, kosher salt, baking soda, baking powder.
  • Slice off about ½ tablespoon from your ½ cup of butter and set aside (you will grease the pan with it soon).
  • Melt the remaining butter in a large bowl in the microwave.
  • Add oil, sugar, and honey to the large bowl with the melted butter. Stir well until combined.
  • Add eggs and buttermilk.* Whisk until fully incorporated.
  • Use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients DO NOT over mix! Make sure the dry ingredients are fully incorporated but don’t worry if there are a few lumps.
  • Remove the cast iron skillet from the oven and shut the door. Grease the bottom and sides (all the way to the top) with the remaining half tablespoon butter. I use a butter knife. If it melts too fast, use a pastry brush to spread it around.
  • Pour the batter into the hot pan and smooth out the top.
  • Use hot pads to place the skillet back in the oven. Bake at 375° for 28-32 minutes. The cornbread is done when a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out with no wet batter on it. You can also shake the skillet a little, and if it is at all wobbly, leave it in a couple more minutes. The top should be golden brown and the edges should pull away from the edges of the pan.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving. This is best served right away so the edges are nice and crispy! Top with butter and honey, and/or serve with The Best Chili Recipe I've Ever Made!
  • Store the cornbread tightly covered on the counter for up to 3 days. If you made it in a cast iron pan, remove the cornbread from the cast iron once cool, and store in a sealed container.


* You can use cheater buttermilk for this recipe. Use 4 tablespoons vinegar and add milk to make 1 1/4 cups. Stir and let sit 5 minutes before using.

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