Gratitude Journal for Year 2023

Where did the year disappear to? Am I the only one who is surprised that we are in December already? Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve been here. Instead of lamenting the passing of another turbulent year, I’d rather express gratitude for personal growth, relationships, and positive experiences.

One benefit of keeping a gratitude journal is shifting our focus from unfulfilled goals to counting our blessings. As I look back on the year, I’d like to share the three most rewarding and educational collaborations and creative projects I’m proud of:

1. Contributing to and Editing a Magazine

It all started with a YES by Mona Soorma, when I queried my hybrid piece, Learning to be Rigorous with Compassion, for her newly found magazine LIT eZine. Before I knew it, I was behind-the-scenes reading and editing submissions by talented writers. This endeavour was humbling and I learned so much from. It has also brought me so much joy.

Magazine Cover of the Latest Issue

Check out some of my contributions or book reviews for We Are Poetry by Kim Gordon Moore and In Search of a Salve by KE Garland.

2. Writing in Collaboration

Project Finding Beauty was born out of a fervent yearning to seek the silver lining in an increasingly gloomy world. And letters or epistles to a friend became the medium, as my writer friend and collaborator, KC Redding-Gonzalez, was open to experimenting with this style of writing.

Project Finding Beauty Newsletter Banner

However, we quickly realised that we can’t rush this process as we delve into our deepest emotions. Overall, it’s been one of the profound ways of using art (our writing) to heal.

Check out Gratitude: A Work in Progress, KC’s recent personal essay and moving take on gratitude!

3. A Meaningful Gathering

To Live Again: It’s OK to Experience JOY was the name of the gathering. It was not a collaboration. But a gathering my husband and I organised for loved ones in Johannesburg, this past November.

The focus was on nourishing body, mind, and soul, after years away from my birth country. Coming together to share our anxieties, ways to find joy again and being in each other’s presence was incredibly healing. And of course, poetry and music took centre stage. 🙂

There are so many takeaways and moments of joy from this experience. But if I had to sing my gratitude, I’d give praise to friendships.

I hope to revisit the subject or at least the behind-the-scenes via the newsletter.

On Intentions for the New Year

On intentions for the new year, I remain open. As the quote states, “The ending of a year is like closing a window. Even though it is shut, fresh light will still shine through.”

Now, I’ll leave you to ponder a moment or moments that brought you joy this year, and how you can continue to create your own joy in 2024. Because one thing is clear, the earth won’t stop spinning. So, it’s up to us to anchor ourselves to something that sustains and keeps us alive.

Lifesaving Boat

So, this is my last post for the year. Of course, my deepest gratitude goes to you my dear reader for sticking around and reading my haphazard insignificant jottings. If it were not for you, I’ll be talking to myself. 🙂

Thank You & Happy Holidays! Hope to see you in the New Year… ♥♥♥

PS. Though I won’t be posting any new content, I’ll continue to read and catch up on your blog postings. Please do share your moments of joy!

Khaya Ronkainen
Khaya Ronkainen is a writer, poet and creative professional. Her blog focuses on all things poetry and creative nonfiction.


  1. :: 🕊️ praise to friendships ✨new and old. Thanks for this lovely post.
    Thanks for being here with me in this lifetime. Thanks for all you do.
    Blessings. Gratitude. Happy Holidays. And Yes to rest.

  2. And thank you, Khaya, for giving this writer a challenge that has brought me as much peace as purpose needed to find order and beauty in every day and in so many things!

  3. I know we’ve been keeping up with each other via email and IG, but I have to respond here. Congrats on taking on what seem to be so many joyful projects. And, of course, thank you again for providing such a thorough and heartfelt review of Salve. I truly appreciate it <3

  4. Praise to friendships! 🙂 Thank you so much Selma for everything. Much appreciated. Here’s to rest and happy holidays!

  5. Many thanks, Kathy. <3 It was out a deep need to heal and I received more than I had hoped for. And thanks to you for not only writing your outstanding book but for publishing it. There can never be enough words to express how much I've learned from it...

  6. Congratulations on your gratifying achievements for the year. 💐 An inspiring read! I love the photo and your end-of-year quote. 😊 Best wishes to you!

  7. Your family gathering touches where I’m at so deeply. I had to chuckle at your poetry & music taking center stage…we have our own jam sessions whenever we meet – which is too long between times due to distance (like yourself).
    So glad you and your husband hosted such a healing & needful reunion.

  8. I relate so well to “too long between times due to distance”, we felt the distance so acutely when we couldn’t travel. These reunions are healing, indeed. Here’s to gathering and jamming with loved ones, whenever the opportunity presents itself! Sending love to you and yours during this holiday season, and always. <3

  9. I enjoyed this beautiful and thoughtful post, Khaya. May we all find renewed hope, light and joy in the new year ahead. I take things one day at a time now. Each day brings new possibilities, new stones to be turned over and what lies below inspected, new treasures to be found.

  10. Your comment is so poetic and uplifting! Renewed hope, light and joy are things we need more than ever to survive our trouble world. You are wise in your approach to handling things day by day; it’s my work-in-progress… 🙂 Thank you for reading, Lavinia!

  11. It has been a year of grace, growth and gratitude for me, the 3Gs. It is amazing that we’re all still learning; nurture friendships, allow love to give and take away, life is a soul journey, never a solo one. Continue to be amazing, it is a choice. 🦋

  12. Michelle, your 3Gs are powerful. May we continue to learn, nurture and allow love as we journey with people who get us. I appreciate your support, always. Thank you. Continue to plant your glimmer in 2024 and beyond! <3

  13. Khaya, you are most definitely not talking to yourself! 😀 What a wonderfully creative year for you and yes, always thankful for friends that help us along the way. I love the international scope of sharing your work and art, that is terrific! As always, thank you for sharing your thoughts, wisdom and inspirational words. Wishing you all the best for 2024, my friend! xx

  14. I love your focus on gratitude and living in the moment and following your heart, Khaya. It doesn’t seem like you’ve wavered (other than how there’s not straight line to follow). You’re an inspiration. Wishing you peace, above all, in the new year. Hugs.

  15. Hey Annika, so happy to see you here. 🙂 Happy New Year, my friend! Year 2023 has been a mixed bag overall, so many bad things happened but good ones too. When I was in the thick of it (creating/writing), I had this feeling of being stuck or having nothing to show for all the hours I spent sitting on my butt. Isn’t that part of the writer’s life! Only when I took stock, I saw that I have in fact moved an inch from where I was. So, yes it’s been a fruitful creative year. Thank you for reading and your continued support; I appreciate you. I wish you all the best, personally and creatively. <3

  16. Aww, Diana! Thank you for your kind and encouraging comment. You inspire me greatly, too. And yes, it’s a wonderful thing to finally discover that there’s no straight line to follow. 🙂 All the best with both your personal and creative endeavours in 2024 and always, my friend. Hugs xx

  17. Lovely post. I love Jozi (lived there for a few years). Glad you were able to organize that gathering at home. Cheers to friendships and to another successful year ahead. Cheers 🥂

  18. Really, you lived in Joburg! I didn’t know you that; small world isn’t it! What a lovely surprise! 😊 Thanks Dawn, and may 2024 be a successful year for both of us! 🥂💛

  19. Yes I lived there, in Rivonia actually. Love Jozi. Was there last April. Have some great friends there.

    Thanks for the new year wish Khaya.

  20. Khaya my dear friend, I don’t know how I missed this particular post. UGH! 😝 I love your beautiful year ending sentiments and girlfriend, I got your newsletter and absolutely adore your word for the year “self-repair.” I love your positive spirit and your optimistic outlook as we navigate through 2024! Now that real beauty! I appreciate your flow of encouragement. Sending some back your way. Hugs and smooches! Cheers to 2024! 😘🥂🥳

  21. Oh, WOW! You were living not far from me, sort of, as I was based in the northern suburbs as well. Now I’m intrigued… 🙂

  22. Lovely to see you here, dear Kym!:-) Thanks girl for the new year wishes, reading, encouragement and support. And it gives me so much joy to hear feedback about the newsletter. That word, “self-repair” took a lot of pondering, reading and meditating. And so we’ll see how the process to mend unfolds. Wish me luck!:D May we continue to open the door and invite beauty in our lives this year and always! Cheers! <3

  23. I moved there for work, was in the more formative years, coming into my adulthood, so made life-long friendships there and life-changing decisions. I also love Cape Town and Stellenbosch. Visited Pretoria, Durban, port Elizabeth and most other parts of the county as well. Last year I revisited SOWETO. Love what they’ve done with Madiba’s home/museum. I really love SA!!!!

  24. Oh sistah Khaya, you are beyond delightful! Your newsletter was fresh and so encouraging. I never thought of self-repair when I think about self-care, but I love the way you connect the two hand-in-hand. So wise and thought-provoking. I love it! 🤗💖🥰

    So yes girl, may we continue to operate in the spirit, because doors are going to open more than we can imagine, and we will allow beauty to flow throughout our endeavors in the newness of life. Hugs and smooches queen. 😍🥂👏🏼

  25. So wonderful to find you and your work through Annika and Laura Bruno. Wishing you every success with your creativity and some calm in these distressing times. A good friend is visiting South Africa with her partner who lived there. Am not sure if I ever will but know there is such beauty there and the tragedy still of inequality. I have been following nature blogs there. Finland is more a possibility! Here the seasons in Southern Spain are best in Spring and Autumn for nature. But in winter the bumblebees are out in the sunshine. Will try to follow and find your poetry.

  26. It’s so lovely to chat to someone who not only knows my home / birth country so well, but love it as well. Thank you for making my day. <3 <3 <3

  27. Hi there, thank you so much for your visit, wishes and wonderful comment. Much appreciated. I too have Annika and Laura to thank for the connection! I hope your friends enjoy their stay in South Africa. It’s true, the beauty of the country and tragedy of inequality reside side by side. We still have a lot of work ahead of us to achieve equality.

    It’s lovely to hear about the best seasons for nature in your part of the world. Definitely good to have this knowledge for travel. As for Finland, we have four distinct seasons. Each season has its own beauty and plentiful activities for nature lovers. The only time I find really taxing (with darkness) is late autumn or November to be exact. Because there’s only a few hours of sunlight and no snow, in sight. We usually “run away” / travel south, if we can during November. 🙂 Anyway, thanks once again. Your presence adds warmth in this space.

  28. Thank you Khaya, am now back in the south of Spain and the light is brighter. UK dark too in December and then challenging weather usually in January.

  29. Perhaps run away to our neck of the woods- Andalusia, land of light. Enjoying that now after endless gloomy grey UK days.

  30. My pleasure. I really do love SA. I’m Jamaican. My country has had a long relationship with yours. Jamaica was the first country in the western hemisphere and second in the world to India which officially banned trade and travel with the apartheid Government of SA.

  31. Oh yes, Jamaica! A place I’ve always wanted to visit, exactly for the relationship you speak of. One day… I live in hope!

  32. Oh Khaya you must!!! You won’t be disappointed. Move it up to be #1 😊(2 or 3) on your list 🇯🇲 🏝️ ☀️ 🏄‍♂️ 🕺

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