My 2023 Reflections

Written By

Kim Chwalek

Food & Home
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I'm a 25-year old girl based in Denver, Colorado. Kim Collective is a space where I share about beauty, faith, food & home, style, travel, well-being, and everything in between. Thanks for stopping by!

Hi, I'm Kim


If January 2023 “me” talked to December 2023 “me,” she wouldn’t believe a thing I told her. Why? Well, after turning 25 years old in March, I ended a long-term relationship, quit my full-time job in Content Marketing, and left my 700-square-foot apartment in Los Angeles, California to care for my grandma at her 45-acre ranch in Denver, Colorado. These decisions led to profound changes in my life, both internally and externally. In this post, I reflect on the top 12 lessons I’ve learned in 2023.



2023 Reflections


Change is uncomfortable but necessary!

In 2022, I worked as a full-time marketing manager at a healthcare consulting firm. Despite the incredible work experience I gained, the work was incredibly exhausting and left me struggling with daily anxiety. I knew I needed to make a switch for my mental health. After a lot of consideration, I started a new job as a Content Marketing Manager at a veterinary company. It took a lot of courage, but I’m so glad I decided to leave my old job. My time at this new job was far more enjoyable and far less stressful, so my brain was finally able to heal. My main takeaway in January? Big risks can pay off.          


Get outside in nature.

Nature is essential for my mental health. In February, I was skiing nearly every weekend at Mammoth Mountain. These “escapes” to the mountains helped me stay grounded amidst a variety of life changes. Why? I’m the type of person who needs a lot of novelty in life, and nature never disappoints in that aspect. Making plans to hang out with people I love in the outdoors always brings me joy.


The best things in life take work.

In late February, my boyfriend brought home a puppy named Rocky. A lot of my March was spent on puppy training basics: crate training, potty training, and the basics of playtime (sit, stay, fetch). This month taught me that the things in life that take the most effort are often the things that bring us the most fulfillment.


We (as humans) are more similar than we think.

In April, I spent a lot of time interviewing people to create social media content for the veterinary company I worked for. I realized that there’s a tendency in this day and age to think that others are radically different than us. There are so many boundaries separating us: age, race, gender, geographical location, political ideology, and so on. But if you pull back the curtain, you’ll find that we are all more alike than we are unalike. Prejudices, biases, and assumptions are all overcome when we focus on each other’s inherent humanity. Even if you talk to someone different than you, you will be able to find at least one thing in common. 


If it doesn’t align with your deeply-held values or long-term goals, let it go!

This is the month that changed my life. My Grandma Jean suffered two concussions between January and May, and I knew she needed more long-term help in Colorado. Simultaneously, my relationship with my boyfriend was on the rocks, and I was questioning my career path in content marketing. It felt like everything was falling apart around me. I prayed about my circumstances in life, and I was led to leave California and start fresh in Colorado. On the way, my minivan broke down in Vernal, which made the trip quite an adventure. But in retrospect, letting go of my old life was one of the best decisions I ever made.


Take a leap of faith.

So, I left Los Angeles, and then I had to acclimate to life in Littleton, Colorado. A lot of this transition period took a lot of faith in God. There was a lot to learn: new neighbors, new routines, and new responsibilities. But I was confident I was in the right place, at the right time, so this month flew by seamlessly. I had a lot of fun in the Rockies, too! Taking a leap of faith can be fun.


Find a community you can count on for the long haul.

Summer arrived! In July, I visited my sister in Washington D.C., and then I spent a lot of time with my neighbors: the Juhl family. We went on a lot of hikes, drove to a local Lavender festival, and hung out at their property. By playing with the Juhl girls (ages 4 and 7), I learned the importance of slowing down, connecting, and appreciating the beauty of the present moment. I became grateful for the joy of community.


Tap into your sense of adventure.

In August, I stopped in Los Angeles for a few nights before going on the adventure of a lifetime. You can read all about this adventure in my article: 10-Day Trip to Okavango Delta in Botswana. I can’t say enough about how cool this trip was: I saw every type of animal imaginable, including lions, elephants, and giraffes. The best part? I got to experience it all with my Mom! Adventure is always worthwhile.



Make time for your friends.

My heart soared when my friends began to visit me in Colorado. Getting to take them around Denver like an “official tour guide” helped me feel more established in the city. I documented my month of September on my blog as I was reflecting quite a bit on all of my life’s changes. In the same month, I also began to meet new friends at my church. I started to attend a weekly Tuesday Bible Study, where I connected with a dozen or so other people in their 20s. Finding people who shared my faith was a big step for me! I remember feeling frightened because there were so many new people and new changes happening, but I trusted in God, and I found comfort and guidance in His plan for me. My life in (and around) Littleton was beginning to feel more real, and in turn, more established. Making friends was a big part of that.


Life can be incredibly beautiful.

Life can be hard, but it also has incredible moments of beauty that take your breath away. In November, I went to the Albuquerque Balloon Festival with my Grandma Jean and Mom. We witnessed hundreds of balloons fly off into the sky, as well as a super rare solar eclipse! I was blown away (quite literally)! Search for the beauty in life and you’ll be rewarded with lifelong memories.


Pray more than you worry, fear or catastrophize.

I struggle with anxiety. November was especially difficult for me due to the declining health of my Grandma Jean. Her age was beginning to show and it took a lot more patience for me to help out around the house. There were days I felt overburdened and exhausted. I turned to prayer a lot of nights to find comfort in the lack of certainty I had about the situation. As December unfolded, I ended up getting a lot of relief from the problems and questions I was struggling with. Namely, questions such as: Is what I’m doing enough? How will we (Grandma and I) finish everything we want to accomplish? We ended the month strong by celebrating Grandma Jean’s 86th birthday. Prayer helped me switch from worrying to patiently waiting.


Love is shown through service to others.

We are here on Earth for two reasons: to love and to be loved. To do the former, we have to be there for each other unconditionally. We have to show service to our fellow human beings, whether by volunteering, helping a friend through a difficult time, or offering a kind word. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins––the ultimate act of unconditional love. In celebrating Christmas, I am reminded of the power of selflessness and service. I hope to be of more service to others in 2024.

I hope you enjoyed these 2023 reflections. If you’re curious about how these 12 months influenced my goals for 2024, check out my 24 Resolutions for 2024.

Love, Kim

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