The Year That Was

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

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In one year — and out the other.

bigstock-new-year-sign-27449927Confetti and noisemakers are so yesterday. Seriously, my husband and I never did the expected New Year’s Eve frolic.  We were either too lazy to do the whole dress up/party down scene, or thought our own couch, movies and snacks more closely equalled ‘cozy’ over ‘crazy’. Either way, we did New Year’s Eve our way.

Truth be told, we were never wild revelers. More often than not, our Saturday date nights were either a quiet dinner out, alone or with friends, or Netflix with whatever nosh looked good at the moment.  We both had been there, done that and had no wild oats to sow. We didn’t need any more hoopla to be happy; being together was plenty good enough. As long as your loving sidekick is beside you, it’s all good, right?  When they’re not, even New Year’s Eve — is just another night.

The way I figure it, the New Year’s Eve ball doesn’t need my help to make its descent this year. No liquor store will miss the sale of my one glass of wine and the only noisemaker will be the sound of my snoring. (No lie, unfortunately) No worries about a gala outfit; my flannel lounge pants will do just fine. My snacks are obscenely healthy and I won’t need excuses to duck away for calls to my dad and kids at exactly midnight. No matter my choice for this end-of-year merrymaking, my husband will still be AOL — and it’s still a hard pill to swallow.  The empty space on the couch next to me or at my side making social chatter. His absence still makes it hard to be home – and hard to be out. Awkward.

For some strange reason last week, I thought about the wide eyed, sweet little New Year’s baby who, by the end of the year, morphs into the weathered, tired Father Time. As each year closes, that long bearded dude passes the torch back to the diapered newbie who takes tentative baby steps into the next 365. While I can’t imagine ever being as innocently full of hope about a brand new year as that little tyke, I’m not yet ready to be a cynical Father Time either. Yes, the grief of this past year really, really sucked, but it also held some beautiful moments, too. Friends who touched and supported me in ways I can never repay. Insights that I am grateful for and the courage to do things I never thought I would. Continue reading