Tuesday, January 20, 2015

the peace which passeth

I've been rolling "the peace which passeth all understanding" around in my mind now for the last week. I think this phrase sort of stops me like a roadblock, because I find peace IN understanding things. I don't like things I can't wrap my head around, or explain in a logical way.

(Guess whose gene that is...?)

Very early Sunday morning, an old family friend passed away of cancer. He was in his own home, his wife by his side, and so much of this story that I've been following through Facebook posts and caringbridge journal entries just make my heart ache, like a fist to the chest. It's a mirror to a still too fresh face of grief.

I'm trying to understand. How does this peace work? 

Are there steps you take to get there? 
Does it come in moments or waves, or does it enter and stay?
Will I always feel sick when I look back on that time?
Will I eventually just not be saddened by this fate?
The knot in my chest... does that loosen and fade away?
Does a darkness lift?
Is a tangible weight relieved?

I don't get it. What exactly does this peace, that we just can't understand, feel like?

Amazingly, most of the time I don't sit around and wonder "why me?" or "why us?" or even "what if?" If I'm giving myself credit, I'd saying I'm just smarter than that. If I'm being realistic, it's because none of those questions - or the answer which is also un-knowable -  make me feel better. In fact, thinking about those events at ALL doesn't make me feel any better. So I just don't. But the entries on this blog could definitely lead a reader to think that I struggle with this daily, and I dwell on it, and I can't move past it. Over the last year I had 6 entries and every single one of them was about grief, cancer, and Dad. But I'm not struggling with it daily. I just feel... emptier. Bland. Not in turmoil, but - certainly - not at peace.

It passeth, alright. It passes me right on by... and keeps going.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

It's a New Year 2015

It's no secret that I love the holiday season. I used to be a real grinch about it, until 5 or 6 years ago when I stopped hating gifts and blaming commercialism, and started enjoying the idea of celebrating others. Celebrating also changed with simple maturity... leaving childish, self-centered perspectives on the holiday behind, and realizing that it was far more meaningful to show appreciation, than to receive gifts. And this extended to that pivotal turning point in life when you really realize just how important your family and close friends are, despite flaws, dysfunctions, and disagreements. It's better to be together, than to be alone. Conversation with good friends, cherished moments with family members, and joining loved ones around a table filled with hearty food and drink to relish fond memories...priorities, people.

But the New Year is my favorite of all the days we celebrate. It is a bookend, but also a beginning. I love fresh starts. I have several times referenced the Anne Shirley quote - “Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” - and that is often exactly how I feel when I am going to bed at night. For 24 hours people stop what they are doing and consider the magnitude of another year in time rolling over to give way to a fresh, new one... with no mistakes in it yet.

Spending too much time looking backward has proved to be an unhealthy habit for me. I find that my nature, which is prone to intense criticism, gets stuck on all the things that didn't quite live up to my expectations, instead of sifting through to find the moments that left me awestruck. I have tried more and more over the years to shift my focus forward and strive harder, instead of dwell about what was not to be or could have been better. Life hangs in too delicate a balance to dig up the failures of the year past, and really: how does revisiting them actually encourage goals that leave us hopeful for the future? 

If there's anything I've learned in the last couple of years, it's that survival depends on and even finds it's anchor in Hope. We would be nothing without it, adrift and waterlogged. Hope is what sails us forward, onward... toward a fresh start with no mistakes.

Yet, it's still healthy to glance over the metaphorical shoulder now and then, and this is why I am still doing the questionnaire below, after four years. I'm a little late in posting, but it was important to me to keep the tradition going forward....

As always --- If you feel so inclined - leave me a yearbook message in the comments section below with YOUR answer to the final question. I enjoy reading them. :-)

* * *

I began answering this "A Year in Review" questionnaire three years ago. This is my fourth year, and I always enjoy looking back on my answers from the previous year and comparing life as I know it now to what my expectations were at the start of the year. 

1. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?
Visited Mexico! And Portland! Celebrated 3 years of marriage, turned 29, and made it a whole year without the physical (earthly) presence of my dad.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My only and all encompassing goal for 2014 was: BE WELL. 
It took me about 1/2 the year to get there, but I did recover from the problems I was dealing with. And then new ones popped up - so I would say Health is an ongoing project, as it is for everyone.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes, and it was magical watching a dear friend's heart fill to the brim with a new kind of love.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

7. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
February 28 - Nora was born!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Making great strides in my new career. Becoming more relaxed about things that don't really matter, learning to let go.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Letting stress and worry get the best of me. Unnecessary arguing with the Husband.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes, but not in a way that remotely compared to the year before!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Unlimited carwash membership! :)

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My mom. Watching her pick up the pieces of her life and plough forward with a thousand new responsibilities has made me simultaneously proud and filled with admiration and respect.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I'm afraid this is a far too public forum for these types of questions.

14. Where did most of your money go?
FOOD. Must stop eating out!!!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Our Pacific Coastal road trip from San Francisco to Portland! Would totally move there - it is delightful. And it was one of the best trips I've ever taken.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?
"All About that Bass" - Meghan Trainor

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
I. happier or sadder?

II. thinner or fatter?

III. richer or poorer?

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Exercised, meditated, read books, loved on the Hubs.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Been angry and bitter and stressed out. Watched TV, screen time in general.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
At the Green house with family and in Gonzales.

21. Who had the biggest influence on your life in 2014?
Gina, the Experience Expert.

22. Did you fall in love in 2014?
I think fell into a love-hate relationship with work. :) And also with Moscow Mules.

23. How many one-night stands?

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Parenthood :)

25. Do you dislike anyone now that you didn't dislike this time last year?
None who comes to mind.

26. What was the best book you read?
The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert. 
This is the best book I have read in many years and after many, many months, I still can't stop thinking about it.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Let's go instead with PODCAST - loved Serial!

28. What did you want and get?

More financial freedom, more work, more experience in my industry.

29. What did you want and not get?
More travel time! A new house and a new car.

30. Best movies this year? (And I'm adding Netflix Series, too!)
The 100 Foot Journey, The Honorable Woman, Peaky Blinders, The Killing, House of Cards

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I worked! Amazing wedding at the Long Center, Gina baked me a funfetti cake, all the vendors sang, and then I hung around to listen to the band with a view of our great city!

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Less time in front of my computer.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
Comfortable and classic. The year of button downs, denim, and gold accessories.

34. What kept you sane?
My Google Calendar, venting sessions, and apparently a lot of chocolate.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Meh. Can't say I paid attention.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The Paris terrorist attacks.

37. Who did you miss?

My old FRIENDS. Why do none of them live in Austin???

38. Who was the best new person you met?
That would have to be a lot of the wonderful event professionals we work with regularly, with a special nod to Trace. ;)

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014:
It's a fine line between practicing tolerance / forgiveness and being walked all over. Don't mistake one for the other, and don't forget you have a backbone.

40. One word or sentence to describe how you feel about 2014:
"Can't" is a dirty four letter word, so stop saying it.