Today is the last day of 2009. Being New Year's Eve, it is my personal tradition to look back and ponder about the last year of my life and see how far I have come. This year it is my great pleasure to do so. I am miles ahead of where I started on January 1, 2009.
This past year, so much has happened for my family, my friends and myself. Of course, publishing my book has been the greatest professional thing I have done in a very long while. It is also one of the most personal fulfilling things I have ever done. Not so much because I spewed out horrible family secrets that may have allowed me to unburden myself, as much as I hoped to inspire people to hang on during difficult times. It was, and is, my way of giving hope and extending my hand out to those who feel alone. My book is an extension of me. My writing is personal and connected directly to my heart, which is the exact reason I am a non-fiction writer. Don't get me wrong, I love fiction and have spent many evenings curled up with a favorite writer, allowing myself the opportunity of escape. It is as much a guilty pleasure for me as chocolate. And this girl loves her chocolate! I write, the way I talk and think. I believe my purpose is to not preach, but gently remind folks that we are in this together. I believe in the humanity of man. I believe that good will always conquer evil, in the end. I believe that if you live long enough you will see real evil and debauchery, but you will witness far more miracles than treachery, experience far more love than hate, as long as you remind yourself to keep your hand open and unclench your fist.
This year has been a year of change for us. It has been incredible in some ways and extremely heart breaking in others. The ground forever shifting beneath our feet, we have had times of great difficulties keeping our footing and standing tall, readying ourselves for the next step.
I have lost two really amazing men in my life, who had tremendous influence on who I would become and the path I would take as an adult. As my tears fell, I couldn't help but feel deep and lasting gratitude for having them in my life at all. It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. This year's "aha" moment for me was realizing what that small, contrite saying actually meant. Their words and imprint will live on as long as the people they touched draw breath and then on in the generations to come. For me, they will live on forever.
Last summer I was hurt terribly by some people who are supposed to be in my inner circle. I was crushed at first, but in time I have realized to appreciate those who do tuly love me even more. For me that was the lesson-to appreciate all the love and support that has come my way for no other reason than out of sheer generosity. Instead of feeling my heart ball up and protect itself, I found myself opening up, one petal at a time, blooming fully in the presence of those who have extended their open hands to me when I needed them the most.
I watched my beloved dachshund become a paralyzed. I sobbed at the idea of having him "put down" due to his injury. One friend led us to a place where we were able to save our precious pup's life and he is fully recovered against all odds. Seeing him bound through the yard, run with the other dogs and walk the trails near our home is a daily miracle that takes my breath away.
My book gave me back my hometown friends I have missed so very much. There is something really incredible about growing up with folks in a small town. Although the population might be small, the love and support from them has been larger than life. My re-connection with my life long friends has been nothing short of amazing. Again, awestruck, I sit and wonder at all the love that we share on a "social networking" site, and how we all try and protect, defend and take care of each other.
I have watched some of my children fail hard and learn to come back form it, working that much harder and appreciating things that much more. Big life lessons don't come cheap or easy, but once learned, begin to show the pure brilliance of the gem hidden away inside. I have watched all of my kids, mine and those I take on as my own, become beautiful men and women; those deserving of respect, being honorable and leading their generation and our future to a better place.
I have experienced a deeper love for my darling Michael. We have fought more this year than any other in our history due to growing pains on both sides, but never with malicious intent or undue pain. We have learned what it is to have a fair fight and still love, not as much, but more. To respect not as before, but with a renewed vigor. We have a right to be angry at times. We have a right to be scared of the future, a right to question unfairness and the lack of justice. It is at the end of the day we look to each other and know that together there is nothing we can't accomplish. There is no hurdle too high, no difficulty too great that we can't over come by just being together and doing our best for ourselves and each other. In the spirit of love, all things are possible.
Tonight when we put the year 2009 to rest, I feel luckyand blessed to have been around to see it to it's end. I look forward to the new year with such hope. Maybe I am a naive dreamer, but I have glimpsed the life of cynicism and I have no want for it. I never want to feel so jaded that my heart closes it's door, bolted tight away from the possibility of feeling every minute in the years to come. Whatever the future has in store for my family and me, the one thing I am absolutely sure of, is my need to feel fully present, engaged and feel every inch of it.
This has been quite a year. I have been awestruck by how fortunate I am to have friends, family and knowledge that when I tally the year end results, it just gets better and better and better.
Happy New Year! May the year 2010 bring you more joy than heart can hold, more prosperity than your hands can share and more love than you ever felt possible!