There was a wonderful song we learned in nursery school . . . "Make new friends, but keep the old; One is silver and the other's gold."
In the context of the song - despite what we've clearly been taught by Olympic competition - gold and silver are equally valuable. Therefore both old friends and new friends should be considered precious.
And I was thinking of this song as it relates to Kira the Rainbow Princess. Certainly Kira is a book that emphasizes community. The story is a familiar one . . . our hero goes on a journey to save her parents, and on the way she meets a host of new friends.
But the more I thought about Kira, the more I began to reflect on my own life's journey this past year and the influence of my friends - both old and new.
One year ago, this website did not exist. No one besides my closest friends even knew that I was attempting to write anything. Now I stand on the eve of my second novel's launch party. Talk about a journey!
And I know that none of this would have been possible without the help, encouragment, and support of my family and oldest friends. Some obvious names come to mind - my mom and dad. My sister Courtney and her husband Doug and their family. My brother Michael and his wife Nan. My Uncle Tommy and Aunt Vicky. My in-laws Ray and Joyce, and my sister-in-law Whitney and her husband Joe. Vanessa's cousin Rebecca. All of them have encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing.
And no one has offered more support than my amazing wife Vanessa and my two wonderful kids Aidan and Fiona. This book would literally not have been possible without them.
And I think of old friends who have become something closer to family after years of shared experience . . . George and Shannon DeVol, Curtis Homan, Michael and Leah Morgan, Eleasa Allen, Karen and Ryan Fothergill. I am so grateful for their years of friendship and support. So much of what I've accomplished this year rests on the fact that they never once treated my dream of writing like a joke. They were with me, step for step, sometimes pushing me forward.
But for as much as my friends and family have remained a constant, life has a way of changing . . . and looking back on 2016 I can see those changes now that they've unfolded.
There was a wonderful Facebook post from my friend Dani Cooke when she wrote, "At some point in 2016 my house became my home and my town became my hometown. I am thankful every day for the place i live and the people who live in this place."
And I thought I was supposed to be the writer . . . but I read her words and it echoes my own heart.
I've made so many great friends this year (or deepened fledgling friendships from years before) . . . Matthew and Sarah Weng, Jeff and Jackie Danger, Dani and Stephen Cooke, Brad and Jessi Smith, Bobby and Liss Jones, Steven Narleski, Leanne Tursi, Patrick and Michelle Bradley, Dan and Amy Rudley, Preston Conyers and the senseis and students at Champions, Greg and Liz Jackson, Lou and Alicia Sierre and the list could continue . . .
In the final episode of The Office, the character of Andy Bernard says, "I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them."
Today I know I'm there.
And that's why I'm so excited for tomorrow . . . I'm excited to share my day with so many of you - old friends and new - who have made my dream of writing come true. Tomorrow is a day for all of us!
With lots of love and a thankful heart, always.