I'm not sure it's fair for any of us to expect a "great" or "perfect" year -- at least as we reach a certain age. Things fall apart (not the least of which is our bodies), old friends leave this world more frequently and things that sometimes seem so steady begin to wobble. Is it the wrecking ball or an opportunity for growth?
Carefully I balance, trying to reach the happy medium, make the right choices, not fall into the abyss.
This year has definitely not been without challenges for me. The big one, the one that really won't go away, is health. I was surprised so many people came to the Marmelade Gypsy to read my post on Chronic Illness. I realized (and really, I knew this before) that I am far from alone.
But it has been a tough go, and while one recognizes others have similar or equally frustrating issues, it doesn't always make it easier. I started last year with pneumonia, which I came down with on Christmas Day 2010. I ended the year with pneumonia, right before Christmas. Neither case was too awful and I got treatment quickly, but it was a painful reminder -- along with tests indicating I don't hold the immunities from my vaccinations -- that elements of my life are more fragile than I think.
I don't think of myself as fragile. I think of myself as pretty tough, ready to take on what I think I should and observe the rest so that when I do take it on (and I probably will), I'll be able to handle it.
I don't like this "thing" that flattens me. I don't like staying away from the new movies because of the crowds. I take offense. So, coming to terms with that is one of my struggles for 2012.
I also saw disturbing and distressing changes in my workplace this summer, which left a number of my extremely gifted colleagues unemployed and the apple cart upset for the rest of us. My mode here is "wait and see." I am reminded that change is difficult and I don't want to make a decision about my future until I see what my present will be when things shake down a little, until the vision our new leaders have for us is presented to our staff. Will it be my vision? The vision I hear from so many of our viewers and listeners every day? I hope so.
Meanwhile, another of my challenges in 2012 is to ready my plan. Are my retirement ducks in a row? I could walk tomorrow with health benefits, but could I manage? What freelance opportunities are available for good writers in my market? Could I do enough with an Etsy store to help support me? It's time to put pen to paper and see if I can tough it out to 62. Just in case.
I said goodbye to dear friends and a family member in 2011.
The loss of the people, particularly a colleague with whom I worked for nearly 30 years, reminds me of my own mortality. I know more losses will come in 2012. I must prepare.
I turned 60 this year. Good thing? Mostly. Glad to be here! Rick surprised me with a wonderful party and it was a terrific day. But with it came concerns for mortality, the realization that on the continuum of however long my lifeline was, I was significantly into the latter half.
With that came questions. Am I doing the right thing with my life? Where do I go next? How do I really want to live what's left of my life? That event, coming on the heels of some loss of dear friends and the job changes filled me with emotional chaos. I must trust in my instincts, believe in myself.
Gypsy has had his health challenges this year, but I am grateful that he is doing well with his weekly injections.
Most times, when he's not too wiggly, I love Juicy Tuesday -- 20 minutes of holding and petting him while his body fills with the fluid that helps keep him well. I sing our cat songs to him, occasionally pass on a little treat and am grateful Dr. Anne has helped my boycat stay lively, happy and loving.
While the internal chaos was raging (and continues to do so), I enjoyed plenty of good times this year, a number of them with you.
On travels, I met Rosemary in Nashville...
... and Beth in Kansas City.
I met up withand Diana and Kerry Lee in Chicago for a weekend in June, which I wrote about here.
I met Becca (in red) and reconnected with Anno. (Above) Linda and I spoke several times on the phone, first as she was grieving the loss of her mother, then when she read between the lines of a post I wrote and called in concern. At the end of the year, I met Sandy at a holiday party of a mutual friend!
I also discovered some wonderful new blogs this year and enjoyed participating in one-on-one swaps with Jenny in England (below), Stefanie in Germany and with Joanne, down the road in Kalamazoo.
I hit the road this year!
There were wonderful work-related trips as well as travel with Rick, family time and many good moments at the lake.
I was able to see friends from Canada, Ohio and from my PBS world. I enjoyed canoeing in North Carolina and beach frolicking in South Carolina.
Most of all, and perhaps because of so many of the challenges, my relationship with Rick has deepened as he has been my rock and greatest source of support.
It isn't that I didn't know that before or that I had any doubts. But I know that he's there, when I look terrible, feel worse, am sore with grief, am tense and distressed with change. I think he's learned that sometimes I need to cry, and that he can't fix it. All he needs to do is be there, and he is. Talk about a gift. Here's to you, Rick.
I look forward to 2012. Can't guarantee I won't be sick, but Rick and I will be getting on an airplane this spring come hell or high water and when we get off, we'll be in Paris.
We'll go behind the blue doors that lead to our friend Jerry's courtyard, climb the five flights to his apartment (ouch! I will pack lighter this time!) and then down again as we explore the City of Lights. (I'll probably be re-taking my French class, another 2011 activity I enjoyed!)
We're excited about the future for the boys, based on events of the past year. The way Greg handled guests at his ArtPrize reception introduced us to a young man whom others found creative and interesting -- it wasn't just us! He'll have his first gallery show in Grand Rapids in January.
Kevin had a six-month internship with Georgia Pacific in Atlanta this year, after which Georgia Pacific offered him full time work after graduation in May. He'll move to Duluth and we'll miss him, but he'll have Charlie B. to keep him company.
Speaking of Charlie B., he's out of the vet clinic and doing well. (Skinny, but lively!) And Kevin is learning the responsibilities of "parenthood" when he asked if we could watch the dog on New Year's Eve and we had plans!
In 2012, I look forward to grappling with my future and the internal torment I experience daily as I also try to keep the best attitude possible, see the good through the challenges and the growth that change can bring. Sunflowers pop up in places where they weren't planted. What will pop up for me?
No matter when I choose to change the course of my work life, I cannot do it without a plan, so this year brings planning as well. Exploring opportunities.
There are givens -- at least I hope they are givens. The return of Harry the Heron this spring. I'll savor those walks as I try to capture better photographs than the ones before.
There are times to savor with Rick.
And times to savor with Gypsy...
So many of my blogger buddies pick a word each year that is a guidepost. I've always struggled with this -- how do you put it in one? And yet, I think I have found it. Savor.
Savor the time I have in my work, being grateful for my job, the new opportunities that may ensue. Savor the relationships I have with my colleagues, my family, my friends. (And let me say we were much younger in that photo below!)
Savor the moments I find with my creative muse.
Savor every moment with Gypsy. Every single one.
And savor each visit from and to every one of you.
Here's a toast -- to 2012, to savoring life and learning to live with its challenges.
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