Mixed bag. That’s the best description of 2014 of which I can think. And in my world, a mixed bag is better than the downer that 2013 was for my and my family. To recap, in 2013 we lost my mother at a much earlier age than we ever expected (age 65–when all the women in her line typically reached 88+). She succumbed to emphysema after an eight month battle with the ravages of the undiagnosed disease (her medicare kicked in too late for visits to the doctor to matter). My brother and I definitely felt robbed of about 20 more years of time with her. Last year dissolved into a fog of depression and sadness and injury and stress that resulted in me gaining 40 pounds and trying to regain some sense of control over my life. I promised myself that 2014 would be a better year. And in many ways it was.
While I still have much of the weight I gained hanging around, I have slowly worked to find peace with myself and treasure the “smaller moments” in life. So I worked to make many “smaller moments.” For example, my son and I took our annual summer road trip–but a very different route this time. We enjoyed seeing the southwest from a different angle and driving up the heart of Texas (hitting El Paso, San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas). I introduced my son to arena rock concerts with the ultimate arena rock concert: Sir Paul McCartney at Dodger Stadium. Now he wants to see AC/DC. I call that a win! We also enjoyed a smaller arena by spending an evening with Toby Keith and Colt Ford. Showing my son that music of all kinds is fun and worth the listen was among our finer “smaller moments” this year. Sprinkle in some great movies, and some fun dining along the way and our “smaller moments” year fulfilled the goal.
Our “bigger moments” of the year included celebrating my brother’s wedding this autumn. My brother and his girlfriend have been together so long that I have long referred to her as my in-law. Now it is official–and wow! In what fine fashion! I enjoyed a fabulous ceremony that reflected the personalities and beliefs of both these fine and special people–an intimate setting, a female officiate (who happens to also perform gay marriages), a lot of laughter, some Elvis and Beatles, and more warmth and love than I have felt in a long time. We found it a time to remember that that love you take is equal to the love you make.
All of that good helps me overlook the bad–the stress of pumping major dollars into my cars and having to pay through the nose to replace my iPhone, the stress of a horrific end of a school year and the stressful beginning of another with new curricula, and the disappointing losses of the November election (especially for this progressive advocate of education). For every step back, I found a rock–my family, my friends, myself. And I have found what will propel me into 2015.
I have set the goal to be a better parent to my son by continuing to help him grow in the short few years I have left with him. I have set the goal to slowly, healthily lose my “extra 40” love handles (again). I have set the goal to relieve my stress and not let it consume my life. I have set the goal to be a better person to others around me–including being a warmer, more caring teacher and a stronger union advocate who listens and stands with my colleagues. I have set the goal to love myself and live well. I have set goals. Now I have to go live them.
May you all have a prosperous and enriched 2015!