the year ahead

by Sharon Santoni

candles hanging from a tree

I had prepared this post before the awful events in Paris yesterday.   It is difficult to know how to react to such shocking news.     But at the end of the day, all we can do as individuals is to continue living our lives as truthfully and fully as we know how.

So here for you are some ideas and hopes that I have been thinking about at the beginning of this new year.   I don’t like resolutions, but the new year is a time to reflect, to take stock, to aim high and most of all to remember the importance of being aware of those around us, and how our daily actions may affect them.

Here are a few of the things I have pinned to my new year wall,  a few things that will help me live more positively……and also a request;  if I tell you my hopes and ambitions, will you tell me yours?

1.   Kindness

Kindness has nothing to do with wealth or situation.  It is available to everyone and it is the one thing we possess in unlimited quantities that can do the most good to those around us.

2.    Health

It’s probably part of growing older and seeing loved ones suffering, but age certainly teaches you how important good health is.  You can have all the ambitions in the world, but if your health isn’t backing you up, then everything becomes more difficult.

We all have to look after our health.  I’m not a keep-fit guru, but I do know that I feel better if I get off my seat!   The last months of the year were very busy for me, and my walks in the forest with the dogs less frequent.    At the top of my to do list right now, is getting back out there, with the dogs; with a girlfriend; with my family.  On foot, on horseback or on bike, January will see me on the move again!

3.  Beauty

Seeing beauty around me, every day, and in so many different ways is what makes me tick. Visual beauty of course, but also the moral beauty of friendship, family love and helping others.  Keeping my eyes open, having a camera close to hand, keeping a record of daily beauty is a positive way to live.

4.   Creativity

There are so many ways to be creative.   You don’t have to be a fine artist to get your daily dose of creativity therapy.    Running your own business is creative;   bringing a family home to life is creative;   raising young children;  writing;  sewing;  gardening … we all have a different creative potential.

5.  Fun

 I firmly believe that we have to create our fun, to provoke our luck and to recognise and seize opportunity when it comes our way.

I am lucky to enjoy my work;  I love  my daily activity here on the blog and meeting readers on my brocante tours  is always great fun.

This year will see  my book published in the fall.  The photos were all taken last summer, and writing is now completed, and it is in the capable hands of the publisher for a couple of months of production.  What I call serious fun!

5.  Time to reflect

Last year was so busy, that this one wasn’t always easy.   It is so important to take a step back and reflect, to take stock of life in an objective manner.     I find that when life gets busier, it is easy to be caught up in the daily rush and routine, and to take things for granted.

6.  A good read

My reading slipped behind last year, as the pile of books beside my bed worked its way down my list of priorities, and I often dropped onto my pillow and turned off for the day without taking the time to read.

This is definitely changing this year, I’m aiming for a book a week…..

7.  Digging the dirt

I have great hopes and ambitions for my garden this year, and with those parterre dug over and only a few allium bulbs planted so far, there is still a lot of planning and digging to come.   I can’t wait!

8.  Family love

I put it last, but in fact it is all encompassing.   Watching over my ‘little’ ones, being grateful for having such a loving and patient husband, and for our families on both sides.   At the beginning of the new year I am making more time for those I love, and thinking carefully about priorities.


So now it’s your turn  …. can you give me a short list of your priorities,your hopes or simply what is closest to your heart right now, thank you,  I’d love to hear.


florence January 8, 2015 - 9:55 pm

Nothing to be added ! I totally agree with you and try everyday to reach a little bit, day after day, those ideas……..

Karen January 8, 2015 - 10:07 pm

This was a wonderful post. I join you in your ‘ideas and hopes,’ mine are quite the same. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in France. Such sad, sad happenings.

Diana Ferguson January 8, 2015 - 10:21 pm

That’s a very comprehensive list you have made there and If I can realise half of these goals I will be very happy!
I am looking forward to spending time this year with our first grandchild,a little girl, born just before Christmas. Becoming a grandparent is one of life’s special milestones, which I hadn’t totally appreciated until now !
I am also looking forward to spending time in France, creating a home from home in the Perigord where last year we finally found our very own “French country home”!
I am looking forward to seeing your book when it comes out too! D.

Jane Cammann January 9, 2015 - 6:48 pm

Hello Sharon! My list is much the same as yours except for I forgot to include fun on my list! Gladly, I can edit quite easily. Family time tops my list as we will be growing to include a new little grand baby boy in April

Donna Smith January 8, 2015 - 10:23 pm

Sharon…our hearts & prayers go out to France & it’s people. Your sight is beautiful, as well as your site. Thank you for the beauty & kindness in sharing so much good in such a challenging world. These are difficult days and we do all need each other to help bring us through the dark & ugly senseless acts….and together, we can certainly support & aid one another by reminding each other of the good & beautiful parts still out there . Thank you. Together, we mourn & together we comfort.

Judite January 8, 2015 - 10:29 pm

Thanks for a great feeling to read your thoughts. Last year we started to write our family book, where each person participates in and gone through the experience of the year. Now we have an annual basis.

Good things are in our hearts, love, kindness, empathy, the ability to hear other people. Let us open our hearts. Happy New Year to all of us!

Jody Ho January 8, 2015 - 10:29 pm

Wonderful inspiration and action for 2015 – I just sent this to my daughter to read too – it keeps life in perspective on what really is important.

I am thinking about and praying for the people of France as they deal with this terrible terrorist act.
God bless and watch over you.

Donna Smith January 8, 2015 - 10:29 pm

p.s. : my personal list is quite similar.. I shy away from calling them resolutions, I only want to strive to help them be personal improvements … let’s compare thoughts on occasion & encourage success ! May you( & we all 🙂 have many successes and blessings in 2015 !

sharon January 8, 2015 - 10:31 pm

Your priorities show that you know what is important in life.

I grieve for the French especially those families touched by the massacre.

Lory Bernstein January 8, 2015 - 10:34 pm

I’m looking to take a step back this year and try to ensure I focus more on the things I love. Since I’ve only been blogging for 7 months, most of last year went into building the blog. I still have so far to go, but I need to try to force myself to spend most of my time on the creative and not work so hard to try to market it. I, too, have let some of my leisure activities fall by the wayside, so I’m making a point to add back reading and watching films, as well as enjoying the little things in daily life a lot more. I love your list and enjoyed your post… 🙂

Nib's End January 8, 2015 - 10:35 pm

Longfellow wrote: “Kind hearts are the gardens, kind thoughts are the roots, kind words are the flowers, kind deeds are the fruit. It is my aim this year as every year to pay close attention to kindness and be diligent to keep out the weeds.

linda koenig January 8, 2015 - 10:43 pm

Your comments are genuine…I appreciate that. I, too, authored a book which was published in France. It dealt with quiltmaking and took me to Paris, Nantes, and subsequently your blog. I am writing a second book which will bring me back to France in spring of 2016. I’m older than you so my hopes for the New Year reflect that age difference. In the new year, I hope to achieve grace…not in a religious way…I want to become graceFUL. I need to learn how to say “thank you” when a compliment comes my way instead of making excuses for my achievements. I need to learn how to keep my mouth shut…not everyone really needs to know my thoughts (yet here I am spouting off). I need to put away my yardstick and stop measuring everyone else. I need to plant more seeds in the garden, more trees in the yard, more ideas in the heads of my grandchildren. I need to wear that strand of pearls more often.

Jill Brewster January 9, 2015 - 12:16 am

Linda Koenig, your comments reflect many of the areas of improvement I have also targeted for this year. Grace and the ability to graciously accept a compliment has always been a tough one for me. I plan to spend more time sewing and working in the garden and less time sitting here at my computer. We all have our dreams and this year I will spend more time doing in addition to the dreaming,

Frieda January 9, 2015 - 8:23 am

Quelles magnifiques résolutions
C’est la sagesse qui parle
Et la jeunesse doit l’écouter
Sans réserve
Merci et bonne journée à tous

Nancy O. January 8, 2015 - 10:49 pm

Nothing to add to your list (except I do not have a blog or written a book). Your list covers it all – well said! Please know your country is in my prayers and thoughts.

Pamela January 8, 2015 - 10:55 pm

My heart is heavy with sadness for the people of Paris. Our prayers are with those lost, injured and left behind to try to comprehend this senseless act of brutality. The city of lights is slightly less brilliant today. It will recover and continue to be the city of lovers, artists, dreamers, and believers in freedom. We must all remeber the good people in this world outnumber the bad. Your blog brings us together to share in the beauty of your home, family, and country! Thank you for being the blessing you are to all of our lives!

Geraldine Wise January 8, 2015 - 10:56 pm

Your post was lovely, encompassing all of the most important parts of a well lived life.

The events in Paris have been so difficult to comprehend, the entire country is mourning and I stand with you in spirit. There are difficult days ahead, keep family and friends close. Sending a big hug from afar.

Mary Eman January 8, 2015 - 11:23 pm

I think “Je suis Charlie” says it all for me. I am going to hope that, this year, maybe we can make real progress towards living in peace with everyone else.

The Enchanted Home January 8, 2015 - 11:30 pm

Yes to all the above. I am heartbroken for what has happened, the silver lining should be exactly what you have said above. A reminder to take care of those of love (and ourselves) and to show respect, kindness and dignity to one another…we are all equal on this earth, I wonder when the time will come when we ALL finally will realize this. Prayers for France.


Sarah Malone January 8, 2015 - 11:38 pm

Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year Sharon 🙂 Now that our Pebble Beach home renovations are complete and the house is up for sale (check out the blog for virtual tour of the property @!!) We will focus on our next project-our small vineyard and boutique winery. Living a more creative and fulfilling lifestyle with plenty of adventures to keep us on our toes is top priority along with spending quality time with family and dear friends. We wish you the same!

Sandra January 8, 2015 - 11:45 pm

Beautiful post and all so very true. I so agree with each one and especially your topic of beauty. Somehow if we can truly help others to really open their eyes and see, I believe beauty can and would make a difference in our world. Beauty has an effect on humans, it causes one to pause a moment and just soak it in and in turn it makes us kinder and better people. My heart goes out to every person in France. Such a horrific tragedy – lives changed forever – just no words.
Thank you Sharon for your blog and your wonderful work – you have touched so many of our lives and lives from all over the world.

Prayers are with you and all of France tonight and in the difficult days ahead.

Celesta Dailey January 9, 2015 - 12:08 am

I so enjoyed your most uplifting thoughts on your blog. It gives me energy! In March I am spending a week with my sister’s to reminisce and write about our growing up years.

I join the people of the world in sorrow over the terrible events in Paris this week. I am so sorry.

mai January 9, 2015 - 12:11 am

Out of a nightmare comes possibilities. We are all in this together making a new and peaceful world. Thank you Sharon for prompting so many positive replies. I have sent your message to my daughters and also to friends across the world. And in case I slip up and become complacent in my desire to do my bit, I have printed out a list based on yours. They will go into a small frame and on my bedroom wall amongst photos of my beautiful children and grandchildren so that I see it when I awaken each morning.
Life is precious.
Much love and support to our friends and colleagues in France at this time, from Australia.

Sherry Niemi January 9, 2015 - 12:16 am

This year my husband is going to be my priority. He just turned 73 and his health is not always great. So this year I want to celebrate him, fall in love with him again and do some fun things together.
My family has always been my first priority, along with friends and those who have needs, I can help with, but this year I want to have fun, especially with my husband.

Susan Carter January 9, 2015 - 12:18 am

All of your positive ideas are wonderful and many of mine are the same. Kindness is something I’ve been working on for a while – doing the small things that can mean so much to others, but often takes conscious effort. Reading is another – I’m so far behind but find it so hard to find time to read except in Drs. offices or on a plane (the first being far too often & the second too rare). Trying to see more beauty around me & concentrating on the positive rather than the negative.
Je suis Charlie.

La Contessa January 9, 2015 - 12:32 am

EIGHT is a GOOD NUMBER………..I know we are suppose to plant in THREE’s, but I actually always seem to do FOUR’S in the jar din!I agree with YOU and I too want to READ MORE!The books are stacked tall in the kitchen…………More of VITA for SURE!Kindness, is a good one……..I stood at the post office before Christmas hearing a clerk say she had not had her coffee that morning…..the line was out the door!When it was my turn I asked her if she had a preference……where her coffee came from and would she like a latte or black.I ended up buying all THREE clerks a coffee and a piece of banana bread to spread good cheer………….I too felt GREAT in doing so!KINDNESS, has a ripple affect…………..
SO SORRY to hear about PARIS………… wonder what kind of family life these idiots grew up in.I refuse to turn the NEWS on……….did they GET THEM?XX

Karena January 9, 2015 - 12:43 am

Sharon,we share many of the same wishes for the year ahead.
Spreading kindness,love,and joy being at the top of my own list.
Prayers for all of the families in France.
The Arts by Karena

Cheryl January 9, 2015 - 12:45 am

I say ‘AMEN’ to your hopes and ambitions. I have printed this and will read it every day. I have also shared it with many friends. I have all the same hopes. One of my ambitions is to volunteer more, make more quilts to donate to soldiers who have served, children overcoming illnesses and helping those in need in every way. Your country is in my prayers.

martha January 9, 2015 - 12:46 am

I have been thinking of you and your family all day. I am so sad for France, and the world in general. They need to read your post to know this is how to live. Everyday I think of kindness first. I dream of coming to France and now I pray for France!

Jenny Ledermann January 9, 2015 - 1:03 am

Love your new year advice, outlook! We should enjoy the gifts God has given us while
we are here on earth! That’s what He wants! All the Love and beauty the world has! So sorry for what has happened to France, we must continue on and we must be on guard!
Will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers! You bring much Joy to all of us!
Thank you!
One of your fans and friends from the US!

Jennifer January 9, 2015 - 1:27 am

Wonderful list, Sharon. You seems to hit all the important points. My resolution is the same every year; eat more fruit and veg, and exercise more. I’m always looking to live a healthier life. We joined a new tennis club opening soon, so hopefully that will get me out of my chair and moving! I added one new resolution; have more fun with my children. My twins are 9. I need to spend more time cuddling (while they still want to!) and reading books and going on rain walks, etc.

My heart breaks for the families of the slain in Paris. And I know it affects all of France, that something so awful could happen.

I bid you peace,

Anita from Cedar Hill Farmhouse January 9, 2015 - 1:45 am

Great list. Praying for Paris and those affected by this senseless tragedy.

Jae January 9, 2015 - 2:21 am

As the recent tragic events show, life is so uncertain and fragile. I will continue trying to practice continual kindness, look for the positive, and hug my family often. Thank you for a thought provoking list, and my thoughts and prayers stay with your country.

Sandra T. January 9, 2015 - 3:22 am

A beautiful post! In fact, I am printing it and putting it up above my desk. I want it to remind me all this year exactly what is important.
God Bless France and those who lost their lives in Paris. It was so shocking. When I think of Paris, I think of life. Beauty, heritage, graciousness, elegance, and joy all come to my mind when I picture Paris. I am so happy that the people of France are standing together.

Colleen Taylor January 9, 2015 - 3:44 am

Outstandingly beautiful post dear Sharon. My heart mourns for the loss of the people of your country. This tragic loss is incredibly heartbreaking.
My hopes & ambitions are quite similar. There are indeed new things happening in my business of which I am not privy to reveal quite yet. A new twist of sorts for me which is quite exciting.
My past year had my head spinning non stop. I hope I’m able to stop some of chaos this coming year but I’m just not sure yet. Whatever it will be, I must adjust my sails & carry on. X

Teje Ellis January 9, 2015 - 5:18 am

Dear Sharon,
Your thoughts and words are as lovely as your photographs. I plan to revisit this post often to remind myself that life truly is beautiful. I also hope to focus on the positive and shake off the negative whenever possible. My hope also is to really improve my French . ( Languages are my passion.)
My prayers and sympathy are with the French people at this horrible time.
Thank you for sharing your wonderful post.

Colleen January 9, 2015 - 5:36 am

I don’t think I can top your list, but I do have 2 special daughters and they are both getting married this year, so I plan to make their weddings and the time leading up to the weddings, very special and peaceful. X

Colleen January 9, 2015 - 5:39 am

I don’t think I can top your list, but I have two special daughters and both are getting married this year. I plan to make the time leading up to the weddings very special and peaceful. X

Adelia January 9, 2015 - 6:22 am

Beautifully said. And yes, I agree that what you have listed is the best response to such pain and sorrow. The choice by each of us to cherish and celebrate Life in our own way each day is the revolutionary act that brings us closer to the world we dream of.

And your list is so similar to mine! One addition that is new this year for me:
I am feeling urged to slow wa-a-a-ay down inside, to listen more deeply this year- to mySelf, to others, to nature, and to the rich Wisdom that pulses through everything.

Thank you for your wonderful blog, which enriches my life more than I can tell you.

Helena Botha January 9, 2015 - 7:01 am

Thank you Sharon for this posting. It’s relevant, even here in South Africa where we have so much of everything and appreciation seems somewhat lost in the veryday doings. My heart goes out to the people in France. Like a friend said on Wednesday ‘all laughter left us’.

Deb January 9, 2015 - 9:03 am

My heart also goes out to the people of France. Such senseless acts of terror cannot be tolerated whether by muslim, or non muslim, whether connected to a group or done by a so called lone wolf. As one flower tribute, like the one outside the Martin Place, Sydney Lindt Cafe becomes a memory another one grows in Paris. It makes me so sad. France is a strong country. Je suis Charlie.

Shell Parsons January 9, 2015 - 9:43 am

Thinking of you all in France at this sad time. I adore your posts and your beautiful home. My hopes and dreams for the coming year are to spend more time writing my first novel (8000 words and counting!), continuing my love of reading and turning many first pages, devoting more time to my meditation practice and doing lots of fun things with my family. I have never been a huge fan of New Year resolutions but this year, I noticed on social media there were a lot of posts asking me to choose my ‘word’ for the year. I didn’t have to think too long and hard. My word is Simplicity. To simplify every facet of my life, to be more present. I have written a post about my dreams for the year if you would like to read it. x

laney January 9, 2015 - 11:04 am

…simply to be aware of all my blessings…and to be one to others…blessings laney

Reply January 9, 2015 - 11:22 am

What an inspiring post. So much sadness here in France and I particularly liked No. 1 Kindness – it costs nothing but a simple comment can make someone’s day, lift them out of the doldrums and keep them going. A helping hand, a smile, teaching our children to be kind to their peers and elders too – all such important lessons in life

Stacy @ Vintage Scrap Shop January 9, 2015 - 1:55 pm

Such a wonderful (and inspiring) list! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! xoxoxo

Nancy January 9, 2015 - 3:21 pm

I wanted to express my condolences to you and your country. Sometimes, you see tragedy and you wanted to tell someone how sorry you are but don’t know who to say it to. Please accept our heartfelt sympathies from our family to your country. Your country is in our prayers today.

Thank you for your blog which has a gentle and kind tone which, in the crazy world we live in, means a lot. Nancy (from TN, USA)

Mary Ann January 9, 2015 - 4:04 pm

Dear Sharon,
I love reading your post and your thoughts for the New Year. Each one us hope to inspire our lives, have kindness in our heart, enjoy the beauty around us, love our families, and enjoy our gardens. What our prayers and wishes should be for the New Year, that others feel the same. Want peace, let people have their own religion, let others have their freedom.

Marian from UK January 9, 2015 - 5:26 pm

I was so sorry to learn what happened in Paris. Not so far away from us and we too are fearful. But evil must never win over goodness and your list is the way we can all, in our own small way, ensure that it doesn’t. It is so frustrating not to be able to stop these awful happenings, or to do anything when they do, but to have those who are affected in the hearts of us all is perhaps the only thing we can do. Then, we must make sure we live our lives just as you have said – live, laugh, love and appreciate every single day, our freedom, our loved ones and the beauty that is all around us in nature. We must not waste the life we have been given. Be creative, be kind and be happy!

Emm January 9, 2015 - 6:54 pm

This is a wonderful posting, and I am so enjoying reading everyone else’s comments.

Your list and mine are quite similar, but yours is more fully expressed, so thank you. I, too, no longer use “resolutions”. “Goals” and “objectives” are much more positive-sounding to me.

I am holding Paris and all of France in my thoughts these days.

Janet Gentes January 9, 2015 - 8:03 pm

I enjoy your thoughts and also everyone’s posts. Being mindful in all things is a priority for me in this time of new beginnings. Mindfulness about others, about my health, about my work, school and home life.

Bonnie McLeod January 10, 2015 - 12:44 am

I didn’t know it until I read your words, but your list is exactly what I want for my life too! Thank you for inspiring me with your words & pictures. You’re amazing 🙂

jeri brain January 10, 2015 - 2:02 am

i am so grateful all is well with you and yours… i’ve been thinking of you and other friends living in europe… we all take our freedoms for granted until something horrific happens… i’m sending thoughts and prayers to everyone in france…

funny how life escapes us at times… i love your intentions, much like mine… wishing you well on your success…. i think as we age, we become more aware of certain things… i wish i had this awareness when i was younger… but then again, with age comes wisdom… not sure how would have handled that when i was younger… have a wonderful day… hugs2u

stacey snacks January 10, 2015 - 2:41 pm

Amen to all of the above.

hopflower January 11, 2015 - 3:16 am

Nothing much to add except that the striving for so many unnecessary material things is another way to go. Consumerism is rife; and is really an expensive way to live on many levels. To enjoy what one has, and realizing it is all temporary, is key to happiness. Spending and more spending is really unfulfilling.

Stephanie Guillory January 11, 2015 - 5:58 pm

I want to slow down in the new year and not TRY to accomplish so much. To enjoy each day as a gift from God is to truly live.
Another resolution of mine is to smile more. When I smile I feel happier and more satisfied with life.
Best wishes for a wonderful and creative new year.
Stephanie in Louisiana

Barbara A. Powell January 11, 2015 - 6:23 pm

My apologies for not commenting sooner, Sharon. You and your family and friends have all been in my thoughts and prayers all week as we were totally shocked by the horrific events in the beautiful City of Light!!!! One cannot fathom such atrocities, all we can do is support each other and go on living as you say, Sharon!! Know that we are behind you all and with you in spirit as the days and weeks go forward.

Your New Years musings are so amazingly beautiful, You so touched my heart that there are such wonderful people like you still in the world!! Thank you, Sharon for such high ideals to reach for!! I have also printed these out and put them by my bed, so that I see them both morning and night…….goals to be reached out for in this brand new fresh year!!
Thank you for your blog, for sharing the beauty of your world on Instagram and for just being beautiful you, Sharon!! You are one precious diamond!!!!!

May you and your family enjoy peace, health, joy, and love in this new fresh year!!!!

Barbara Powell

Jeanne McKay Hartmann January 12, 2015 - 6:25 am

Hi Sharon, Finally getting a chance to pop by. I think your list is beautiful – especially in the light of the horrible events of the week, having our priorities straight, living with kindness and fullness is so important. I hope you have plenty of opportunities to walk in the woods and get out into the garden this year.

As always, there are many things on my list – often the same from year to year – but my biggest focus can be summed up in one word: BELIEVE. To believe in myself, get out of my own way and take ownership of raising the bar for my art and my business. As PVE put it in her blog this week: I am an artist. It’s time to believe it and to be it.

Here’s to a wonderful year ahead! Thanks for sharing your list with us! XOXO

yvonne January 12, 2015 - 3:49 pm

This year started off wicked cold and then the awful news in Paris.
How can you wage a war with wimps that are afraid to fight in the open. They are sneaky cowards. Completely insane, killing babies and women.
They hate everyone.
I better think of something nice or my blood pressure will skyrocket.

the year ahead | A French Touch January 17, 2015 - 10:30 pm

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Maria Luiza January 27, 2015 - 5:21 pm

Thank you so much for your beautiful post and the inspiring thoughts of everyone’s comments.
Good wishes to all and to my beloved France.

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