FAREWELL TO A DECADE

It is hard to believe that 2009 is finally over, and also another decade.   This is always a time of reflection for me and millions of others.  It seems normal to see how far we have come in our hopes and dreams, and how we have survived the surprises in our lives.

2000 was the year of my 25th Wedding Anniversary.  Five months later, my world fell apart.  We separated in December and in early 2001 we divorced.  So began more personal growth for me.  Why doesn’t God get it that sometimes I am AOK with the status quo?   Anyway, life goes on and I learned that I could survive on my own.  Fears were confronted and overcome.  I bought my very own place, and sold it. 

There was professional success (or survival).  I endured working conditions that were less than ideal but learned to shut up and keep marching.  Some people would argue that shut up point but I will stick with that story!  I found a great friend in a new co-worker.  I have held the same job since 1994 and I still love what I do.  What a blessing that is.

And in 2003, I met a wonderful man and started yet another new chapter in my life. It was a challenge to start over again with someone new and a lot of my family and friends thought I was crazy.  Actually, sometimes I thought I was crazy too.   We have a good life together and I am happy.  Hopefully he is too!  We met dancing and we continue to dance.  Maybe not as often but we still go.  He promised we would and he has kept his promise. 

Karaoke makes me laugh.  I enjoyed singing and listening to others.  You sound much better when others are drunk and they sound much better when you are drunk.  It took courage to be able to laugh at myself and just have fun.

Tequila makes my clothes come off in inappropriate places.  Enough said about that.

We travelled to Bridgewater, VA several times to visit with John’s son and family.  I have learned more than I ever wanted or needed to know about turkey farming.  On one trip, we stopped in Savannah on the way home.   We didn’t stay long enough so maybe we can go back one day.  We spent a week in St. Augustine and just relaxed.  It is heaven on earth being at the beach.  Why don’t we go more often?

I changed churches a gazillion times, always ending up back with my Catholic roots.  Even though they don’t want me, I still want them.  I joined a bible study for the first time ever and enjoyed it so much. 

I learned to play pool and even though I am not very good, I am a part of a pool league and occasionally even enjoy it!  Winning is better than losing for sure.  Pool also taught me that spending time doing something that your husband loves can be rewarding. 

We have this wonderful bundle of energy, Rosie that was born April 5, 2006.  4 5 6!  She is our Boston Terrier and she brings so much joy to our life.  She makes us laugh and reminds us that playing ball and going for walks are more important than almost anything else.

I also started doing yoga and I love it.  Who knew my big old fat self could twist and turn my body into so many positions?  And yoga has taught me to relax on a different level.  It is frustrating that I am still fighting the same 50 pounds in 2009 as I did in 2000, let alone the other 50 that I have never gotten close to!

Our family had marriages, divorces, births and deaths.  There were graduations of all kinds.  We watched each other struggle and held each other tight.  Time does heal all wounds.  I saw God work miracles in people’s lives.  Forgiveness came and bitterness left.  Prayers were answered in the most amazing ways.  And we all celebrated successes.   New friends were made and some old ones left behind.  And some older friendships renewed. 

And we lost Dad this year, which was the worst of all.  I miss him so much more than I could have ever imagined.  I am glad I loved him and glad that he knew it.  I’m glad I had the courage to speak at his Memorial and amazed at the number of people that cared about him too.   It is very difficult to watch Mom suffer and grieve, and I know I am no good at feeling helpless.

So, I gladly say goodbye to the 2000’s and hello to a new year and a new decade.  I hope and pray for peace and joy for all of us.

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HOLIDAY TRADITIONS

Holiday traditions are something we value because they tell us where we came from and give us a sense of belonging, at least that is what they do for me. 

Our family celebrates our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve.  Mom said that when we were little, and she would make a big Christmas Day dinner, we were all so exited and tired from the day’s events that none of us would eat.  She worked so hard to make a nice meal and it went to waste.  She decided to change it  to Christmas Eve.  Then, if we ate well, after dinner we each were allowed to open one gift from under the tree.  Thus began our Christmas Eve celebration. 

For as long as I can remember, Mom and Dad made kielbasa for Christmas.  They made enough for our family but also made it to sell to friends as well.  We always had a plate of kielbasa on the table for Christmas dinner and more for Christmas breakfast.  Now that Dad is gone, my brother has taken over that tradition and he makes the sausage.   I am glad that this will carry on.

As wonderful as traditions are, they have to change when they no longer work, or as families grow and change.  Mom and Dad used to make the entire meal and everyone went to their house.  They liked it that way and so did everyone else.  As they began to age, all the work and commotion was too much for them and we began to take turns having it elsewhere.  And we began to share the responsibility and everyone contributed to the meal.  It has become more relaxed and less formal.  I think we all loved the formal days of the past.  That was how Mom taught us which fork to use and when.  We dressed up and the TV was off.  We each got a sip of champagne.  Sometimes we had relatives from up north, but mostly it was just the six of us.  And as our family grew, we made room for more.

As us kids grew up and moved away, we developed our own holiday traditions.  But every time we came home for the holidays, we could depend on it being the way we remembered.  I hope that our nieces and nephews will fondly remember their childhood traditions as much as I remember mine.  I also hope their parents mixed in some of what Mom and Dad gave us into that tradition.

GIFT BUYING

Why is it that some people are so easy to buy for and others so hard?  I don’t think that it has anything to do with how well we know someone but more about how much they reveal about themselves.

My mom doesn’t tell anyone what she would like.  She says that we should know.  Worse yet, she will go out days before Christmas and buy herself something that would have been a nice gift.  I do not agree with this philosophy at all. I tell anyone who asks what I want.  I give lists if asked.  If you care enough to ask me what I want, I care enough to tell you.  Even if you don’t get me something from my list, at least you have an idea.  I am hopelessly practical so it is rare that my list will be anything but practical.

Some people are easier than others because they like everything.  And some people have a year when they need everything.  People with hobbies are easy but that gets boring after awhile.  I want to give a gift that is wanted and I love to come up with the unexpected.  Sometimes I get so excited about what I came up with that I almost spill the beans trying to hold it all in.

I try to pick one person each year and do something really special.  This year is Mom.  I don’t know if she will think it is special, but I do.  When I was in elementary school, Mom made cupcakes for my class forValentine’s Day.  She put the name of each child on the cupcake.  I thought that was so special and it is one of my fondest memories.  My younger sister has the heart shaped cupcake pans now.  She used them for her children and, I’m sure will pass them on for her grandchildren one day.  On to present day, us kids started Mom a Pandora charm bracelet last year.  I decided to get her the heart shaped charm but wasn’t sure if she would “get” it.  So I had heart shaped cupcakes made for everyone that will be at our Christmas Eve celebration, with their names on it.  I intend to give Mom her cupcake first, with the charm.  Then everyone else can have theirs.  It is my memory to share.  I hope Mom “gets” it and I hope everyone enjoys it.  What good are memories if we don’t share them?

Don’t spoil the secret, we have two more days until Christmas Eve!  I want Mom to be surprised.

Merry Christmas and peace to everyone.

WALKING

12/9/09 

               I love starting my day with a walk.  I get up at 6:30AM, get my sweet Rosie ready (the dog) and we go for a 2 mile walk.  Some days the pace is fast and others are slow, but my day just goes better when I get my walk in.  I eat healthier, my attitude is more positive and I handle stress easier. 

                I ran on and off for years, mostly off.  A walk was what I enjoyed.  When I quit smoking in 1996, the doctor told me to do things that I could not do if I smoked.  So I started running again.  I ran up until the time I gained too much weight to run anymore and returned to walking. 

                My body took on a new shape, one I am not proud of, but it is what it is.  I heard muscle burns fat but I believe that my muscle and fat have made friends with each other and live together in a conspiracy. 

                There is a regular group of us each morning walking around the park.  We greet each other as we pass and miss each other when we aren’t there.  One lady asked my name so we could address each other properly.  I liked that. 

               Rosie is so accustomed to the routine, if we miss a day she pouts.  She knows which route we are taking by the direction we go out of the driveway.  Right is the long way, left is the short.  Rosie always leads to the right and succumbs when we go left.  All the other dogs think she is the luckiest ever.

               I never carry music with me while walking.  It is my time alone with God, time to let my mind go where it needs to go without me editing out all the junk.  God understands.  He knows what is in my head better than I do.  I say my prayers for all my friend’s special needs that I am aware of and solutions to problems pop up easily.  I hear God’s voice better, clearer.  I gain direction and peace.  And I can find my part in conflicts and forgive.  My heart softens. 

               And I am ready to face the real world for another day.