As 2008 ends and 2009 begins it’s natural to take stock of one’s life. Typically at this time of year I put together a huge list of things I want to change and accomplish. Before I do that, however, I feel compelled to acknowledge some of the truly good and wonderful things in my life. This year as been tumultuous for me to say the least, both personally and professionally, which makes a list like this all the more important. In times like those in which we are living, where so many of us have had a tumultuous year, it’s the positive things – and the positive thinking – that will sustain us and keep us moving forward.
Here are the twelve things I’m most grateful for.
1. Having a roof over my head: You’d think this would be too basic of a thing to think much of but with so many losing their homes this last year and me having, well, not the greatest of success in the writing realm, I am grateful that I still have a nice, warm place to come home to and a partner who’s stepped up his own work to make it possible.
2. I survived the Bush years: Good grief, January 20, 2009 has been forever in coming. It’s the end of an era – an era of me wanting to puke, cry and/or scream at every single thing the man has ever done or said. We may be mired in more sh*t now than ever but at least he finally won’t be around to make it any worse. I’m willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt that he intends to get in there and do his best to start fixing things. At the very least, I honestly believe he cares about the American people and what happens to them which is more than I could ever say for Bush.
3. I have a great family. They’re crazy for sure. Both sides, in fact. But no matter what drama has ensued in my life, they always love me. I marvel at this. I also marvel at their resilience. In my family we’ve dealt with illness, death, addiction, bankruptcy, loss – and we still keep going, making strides, getting better, hanging in there together. We may be strewn about the country but we are tight nonetheless. I’m lucky to be loved by such funny, crazy, awesome people.
4. My ten nieces and nephews (two I’m marrying into and one on the way): It makes me laugh sometimes to think of what a prolific family I come from but I can hardly complain considering what amazing, adorable, fabulous and brilliant nieces and nephews I have. They fill my heart with love and my world with hope.
5. I’m getting married this year to the best guy ever: How cool is that? With the predictions for 2009 being anything but good, I feel so fortunate to have something so positive to look forward to. I’m excited that so many family members and friends are coming in from out of town, too, and that we’ll all be together for this memorable occasion. I’m also excited that I get to marry a guy who, in the words of Bridget Jones, “Likes me just the way I am.” I’m truly the luckiest girl, ever.
6. My cat still has his health: Yeah, I know. This is such a goofball thing but Merlyn’s been my trusty sidekick for going on 13 years now and he was very sick, not eating, etc. a couple of months ago and, well, his life flashed before my eyes. He has since made a speedy and miraculous recovery and has resumed the full load of his daily chores including being under my feet in the kitchen “helping” at all times. Whatever would I do without my fluffy cooking assistant? ;)
7. My spiritual work is going well: Whenever I start to wonder what on earth I’m doing with my life, I think of how my work as a minister is really expanding. I have talked with and worked with more people this past year with regard to spirituality and, in a lot of cases, helping folks find and walk their unique spiritual path than I could have ever planned for or anticipated. Spirituality is “hot” now and I am so stoked to play whatever role I can in helping people expand their views. I feel fortunate that I get to serve God in a way that really suits me.
8. Valuable lessons: With so many work and financial trials and tribulations, I have had to stop at points and laugh…and cry…and pep talk myself…a lot. I’m not sure if I’ll stick with the writing thing or just exactly what I’ll do. It’s hard to struggle but it’s also hard to work in an office all day when, after 15 years of it, I know I’m so ready to move on. So, I’ve learned some valuable lessons this year; that life is about choices, tradeoffs, struggles, exhaustion, overextension, illness, recovery, perseverance and faith…and that those things are on-going, no matter what work you do or life you live. They make you deeper and stronger, if you let them and so I am letting them.
9. The past is never really gone: I’ve had the joy and pleasure of being able to get back in touch with friends this year that I thought were probably lost for good. It’s not only been a healing process for me but also a chance to move forward into the future with some truly treasured souls I have missed so much. Who said you can never go home again? You can…and you never know what amazing friend will be there waiting for you.
10. Travel: I never take for granted how fortunate I am that I get to travel. I remember being in my 20’s, not making very much money and getting about a week’s worth of vacation every year and feeling dismayed that I’d probably never see any more of the world than I did when I went to Europe in my teens. After that I decided I was going to at least travel around the U.S. (which is a world to see in itself) and I loved every minute of exploring this great country of ours. Now, in my 30’s, Europe is my beloved getaway destination. Slated for this year are Austria, Hungary, Holland, France and Spain. In my wildest dreams, I’d have never thought I’d be so lucky to experience the world and its cultures in such a personal way. It’s a dream come true and a lofty goal I can proudly mark off my “Bucket List”.
11. My horizons have been expanded: Travel will do this for a person but in my case, travel is only the start. The more people I meet, the more things I try, the opportunities that come my way that challenge and stretch me…just this year alone I feel I have changed so much and evolved in such ways that I could never go back to the life I had only a few years ago. Even the smallest things have contributed to my huge paradigm shift. I have lived a richer, fuller, more colorful life this year. Despite or even including personal trials and tribulations, my experience of life feels much more meaningful and authentic than ever before. It’s deep. It’s cool. And I think it’s only the beginning.
12. I’ve still got it: Oddly enough, no one threw that million dollar writing contract at me this year. Go figure. Yet I have written more this year than I ever have in my life and I’ve got some strong clips to show for it. The money? What can I say? I have some good clips… ;P I may not have proved that I can be the most commercially successful writer this year but I proved, time and again, that I can be an incredibly professional one that meets every deadline, focuses on giving clients the best possible content and does anything necessary to get and craft a great story. That, and I also proved to myself that at the ripe ol’ age of 34, my ability has grown, rather than diminished. The hard work has been worth it to come this far and be writing at this level. And when you look at it that way, I’m halfway to my goal already…