2018 is in the rear view mirror — and I’m really not sorry to see that crazy year go. You? From historic wildfires and a royal wedding to constantly growing political scandals, 2018 was a doozy. Walls and bans were touted, homegrown gun deaths showed no constraint and tropical hurricanes raged. In stark contrast, people marched worldwide in never before seen numbers and the long overdue awareness of sexual harassment continued to fuel the #MeToo movement. The rich have gotten richer while the poor get still poorer.
Yup, 2018 was a whopper – and not always in a good way.
Even in the worst of times, (and this year ranks in the top ten) we can grow, be humbled and learn. Looking back, I need to unwrap and process a few things myself before I throw the door wide open on the new one. While I’ll still write 2018 on checks for a few months, this week my oh-so beautiful Christmas tree still stubbornly stands. But, if my pharmacy’s shelves, incredulously stuffed with hearts and candy boxes, are any indication, apparently Valentines Day is around the corner. Knowing I’ll have to make peace with the old before I can welcome in the new, here are a few tiny reflections on the year that just left the building:
• Awareness. Until the last few years, I was literally a political sleepwalker. I never watched or read political thought, and my voting behavior consisted of little more than flipping all the switches on the family party of choice. It wasn’t until my granddaughter cast her first vote 6 years ago, that I stopped short. It was a shock to realize just how blithely I had ‘opted out’ of wanting to know. My sweet girl’s interest in learning about issues that affected all of us ignited my shame at never having given that mature move a thought! In that election, I left ‘mother may I’ far behind and reading, listening, discussing have become part of my persona. MSNBC and NPR have embarrassingly become my pals and I’m as aghast as anyone else at what has become the ‘norm’ in our political theater. Ignorance is no longer an option. Vive la resistance! Continue reading
Each one of us have been dealt an iffy hand in this life. Often more than one. Sometimes we get a straight flush; others force us to cash in the chips. (I don’t play cards so I’m winging it here) In the game of life, it sucks to lose but when you stack up all your cards, you might be relieved to take back your own.
There will be times that being thankful is a stretch. When you’re in that lowest of low places, gratitude is a foreign word. It’s easy to be thankful for stuff that makes us happy, makes us feel good. Being grateful for more complicated things is a bit more challenging.
The struggle ends, when gratitude begins. Neale Donald Walsh
Before you think I have this gratitude thing nailed down, I don’t. There are days I rant with the best of them. There are nights when pity parties reign. My writing is often just as much a reminder and inspiration to me — as to anyone else. That being said, in a nanosecond I can still write a list of 10 things I’m grateful. They would probably have a lot in common with your own list – family, friends, health, a home come easily to mind. These days, there’s a world in turmoil beyond our small periphery.
There are reminders everywhere that so much of this world cannot take safety or stability for granted. In many places outside our safe bubbles, there are no nearby megastores packed with an overwhelming variety of food, clothing and things we don’t even really need. There’s no Uber; no HBO. It’s hard to be immersed in gratitude in the face of poverty, terrorism, war and loss of life, either of our loved one or of other people’s loved ones around the world. Yet, an attitude of gratitude is pretty global and somehow exists in the midst of the worst of human experiences. Continue reading
Like it or not, we just stepped into a brand New Year. For those who’ve lost an other, a parent, or child the thought of moving ahead is more than layered. The past holds the person who is gone from us and we cling to it fiercely. Though we want and need to move forward, it’s hard not to worry that we will forget the sound of their voice, their scent, the way they hugged, laughed or…sung in the shower. But I don’t think it works that way; the past has a mind of its own.
My once young brother has been gone a very long time. Sometimes I can’t recall the planes of his face or how tall he was but I can still envision his eyes, his pranks and the way he loved anything to do with cars or building radios. We all remember how he would do anything he could think of to tease my father – and it always worked. And that same wise-ass little bro surprised me with a booklet entitled ‘How To Boil Water’ his handwritten engagement joke gift.
His siblings grew up, married, had kids, and he never was gifted with any of it. A long life is promised to no one. To his family, he will always be frozen in time, a 19 year old boy never to forgotten but not his memory not the stark, raw pain that followed his death. His pictures are a bit faded now, the color a fainter hue but he still exists in spirit. No matter how long he’s gone, he’ll always be my little brother. We never forget; the pain just loses some of its bruising edges. Continue reading