Sunday, January 1, 2012

Looking Backward and Ahead

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.


Bonnie krauss said...

Boy, there's a lot here in this post! I wish good health for you and Gypsy. I didn't know you were definitely going to Paris - that sounds wonderful!

Beth said...

OH,,excellent post, my Friend! Happy New Year Year! Looking forward to re-connecting with you this year.

Jeanie said...

What a beautiful and honest review of your year. I love your word for the new year. I wish for you that there is a great deal to savor that is positive in the year to come and that your bountiful courage will bring you through any challenges that come your way.

Mae Travels said...

I wish you all the things you so wisely hope for in the New Year... Mae

beth said...

savor 2012....i know it will be worth it every bite :)

Bella Rum said...

First of all, you do not look 60. Let's just get that straight.

Like always, this is such an honest post. I recall your post on chronic illness very well. I was sleepless due to some health concerns in our house, and I landed on your post. It helped get me through the night.

I've noticed a more serious note to several of the New Year's posts I've been surfing through today. I don't know if it's our age, the times or the state of the world and our country, but we all seem to be assessing our lives in a more serious way. I think this is a good thing.

Thank you for sharing your life with all of us over the past year. May 2012 be very good to you and yours.

Luna und Luzie said...

That is a long post, Jeanie.

I enjoyed much that swap and treasure your lovely cards and ATC.
Thank you for sharing your art and yout thoughts and photos!
A happy and healthy new Year to you and your family with cute Gypsy and may your wishes will become true !!!
♥ hugs

PS: I think you looks beautiful and younger on every picture.

Privet and Holly said...

Love, love, how
you unpacked your
thoughts from 2011.
You are a beautiful
and amazing lady,
and I am happy to
call you friend : )
May 2012 be a truly
joy-FULL year for you,
as you find your way.
Happy New Year!

xx Suzanne

PS: My dad retired as
an officer of GP in Atlanta,
ten years ago : ) It's since
changed hands, but I hope
it will be a great fit for
your son!

Retired English Teacher said...

Yes, Like Privet and Holly, who took the words right out my mouth, I loved, loved, loved this post.

You are the master at putting together inspirational photo essays.

Savor - I love the word. You do savor so much of life, and in sharing your thoughts, you inspire me to also not miss the important things in life.

I'm so glad you have Rick in your life. I loved the photos of the two of you together. Here's to 2012...

Barb said...

Withy our radient smile and the word "savor," I think your 2012 will be the best year yet, Jeanie! Happy New Year. Did you say PARIS?

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Speaking from experience---it's not easy, as you know. Living with a Chronic illness and the limitations it can place on one's mobility---Well, as you know, I know of what you speak.
Someone asked me the other day how long I have been 'confined'...Well, it is 7 years. My life is completely different than it was back before this---No movies, No Theatre, No Restaurants, No shopping---anywhere--(Probably a GOOD thing, lol...)...etc., etc., etc.... But there is much to savor and much to do that keeps my interest up. No, it's not like it was, it is NEW and different and sometimes so very amazing and sometimes so very depressing, too....But you sildier on as best you can....!
I wish you ALL the BEST in 2012. May you "savor" everything you can, my dear...Congratulations on turning 60....! There is a lot ahead for you, believe me....ENJOY all that you can!

Tracy said...

Cheers to you, Jeanie! :o) LOVED this backward glance along with you. Great to be back in blogland after two weeks away at Christmas and catch up with you here. Wishing you all the very best in 2012! ((HUG))

Quiltmoose - Dagmar said...

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and reflections, beautifully put together with wonderful pics! You always look so happy and healthy on those photos that one hardly can imagine you fighting challenges like everybody else.
I hope that you will keep your positive attitude and wish you all the best for a happy, healthy and creative new year!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

You've done a wonderful job of summing up the challenges and rewards of the past year. I think your thoughtful approach will help you make the most of 2012. I hope it is truly a year full of experiences to savor.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

What a beautiful - and honest post. One of the best, if not the best post summing up the year past & the year to come. I hope it holds many wonderful things for you. I admire your fighting spirit and your commitment to focus on the positive.

I teared up when reading about your relationship with Rick. I am so glad you've got each other - you sure make a wonderful couple!

And years to Paris! Yippee! Can't wait to live vicariously through your travels. It was slow this week at work, so I went back and re-read my Paris post... and now my heart ACHES for Paris. I know i will go back, though, it's just a matter of time (and saving $$!!).

Happy New Year! :)

Anonymous said...

wow, jeanie ~ what a tale! great pics and wonderful insight. i cannot wait to read your posts from paris!

Annie said...

Dear Friend - your post reads like a love letter. There is so much here to hug and hold close to one's heart.


Leann said...

Since we are more recent blogging friends there was a lot of things that I didn't know about you. My wish for you is that you are able to savor the good things and "deal" with all the rest. Health issues are no fun:(

Happy New Year Jeanie


shoreacres said...

As I was reading this, I heard a sudden cry outside the window - it was my bluejays, come back for another season. For three years they've appeared around this time, staying until early summer, when the babies are raised. I got up and put out the pecans they covet, thinking about your heron as I did, and how reassuring the cycles of life can be.

It reminded me of Joni Mitchell's song Circle Game. The seasons do go round and round, as we ride the painted ponies of work and leisure, sickness and health, anxiety and contentment. Whatever comes this year, just remember you're not riding alone. We're all on this carousel of time, sharing the experience together.

~*~Patty S said...

Sending every good and special wish your way dear Jeanie...wishing you and yours brightest of blessings for 2012 and beyond

Ruth said...

I appreciate your bittersweet honesty. I'm inching toward 60 myself in just a few years, and my body is giving me grief. But I do not deal with chronic illness, and I really feel for you. I am dealing with chronic pain, that will hopefully go away with treatment and voice activated software (!).

What I sense in you is what I wish for myself: grace. In spite of the halts and fits of our existence, the losses and pains, we can live in grace. Thank you for modeling that, always, here. I savor it when I visit you, and when you visit me.

Let's do more together in 2012, ok?

Arti said...


You've had a rich and full year despite occasions of physical illness, that's a blessed life indeed. Thanks for sharing your moments with us. It's relationships that enrich our lives, and you sure have many deep, loving intimates. Have another blessed year Jeanie, and I wish you health and all the best in 2012!

Marilyn said...

Love your word, SAVOR. Pray 2012 will have something special and good surprises come your way. A spring time trip to Paris, how special. Let me know what dates, as I am heading your way the end of April.

Janet said...

This is such a beautiful post. I think your word for the year is perfect. I plan to savor each one of your blog posts in 2012!

Sandy K. said...

Wow - you have said it all, Jeanie. What a great testament to facing the new year head-on. I will go back and read your post on chronic illness, and share in some of your thoughts, as well. The aging body is not our friend, but we do need to come to terms with it. Bless you and yours - and for heaven sake enjoy Paris! What a fabulous adventure you have coming up! Can't wait to hear all about it.

Rosa said...

Cheers to that.

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