It’s been a year of firsts. First trip to Europe. First novel published. First novel(s) illustrated. First chance to chair the annual Providence Hospice Fundraiser. First year serving on the board. So many new experiences. For all of the above, I was uniquely unqualified to serve. But, thanks to the grace of God, each one turned out just fine.
It’s been a year of change. My eldest daughter is mastering the art of driving. To support her bold moves toward independence, I’m doing my best teach her other survival skills she needs to leave the nest. Lighting the grill, doing laundry, balancing finances, and making good choices to name a few. My favorite is what I call, “worst-case scenario roommate.” I randomly move her stuff, invade her personal space, toss her laundry (left too long in the dryer) onto her bed, play music she can’t stand at odd times, Make noise while she’s sleeping. I agree, it’s a tad cruel, but I think she’ll thank me for it after her freshman year of college.
My youngest daughter doesn’t have to endure such horrific parenting tactics. Not yet, at least. She started at a new school this fall. What I expected to amount to a big deal because she’d been at the same place for five year, has been smooth sailing. All the credit for her positive transition belongs to her, dear adaptable, Bryn. She even tried out for the school play and won the role of Joy, the baby spider. She sparkled.
The year was marked with moments of sadness and loss. As I stood inside the doors of Notre Dame, Paris, France, I received the news that my former boss had died of cancer. Jon Pettit touched so many lives, inspired leaders from unlikely heroes and then endowed them with the skills to guide others with compassion and strength.
My beloved sister-in-law, Stacy stays in our prayers as her parents struggle with health issues that have prohibited them from traveling to Seattle for the holidays.
And as minor as it sounds, I’ve watched old friends drift away this year. I’ve been left wondering what I did to push them away. It’s difficult to watch as old friends become strangers. It leaves me feeling sad.
But, the year has sweet to go with the sour. Old friends I’d long given up on, reached out again! We’ve reconnected, this handful of people and me. And each time it happens, it feels like a warm kiss on my cheek. Yes, we’ve all got a few more gray hairs on our head, but so what? It makes the reunions feel all the more important.
This year has been defined by the ways I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone. The results have been mixed. You know about my work with Providence. But, did you know I vlog to teens? It’s a term I wasn’t familiar until a few months ago; vlogging is video blogging. It makes me squirm in my seat to think of strangers watching my videos on YouTube, but that discomfort is outweighed by the thing that presses on my heart to do it. Teens today have more thrust upon them than ever. They have 24-hour/day access to the world, and we criticize them when they make terrible decisions about what to photograph, tweet, post or text. Well, I’m cheering them on, giving them advice on waters I (thankfully) never had to navigate. I’m finding that my message is often the first positive one teens have heard. And so, I’ll keep vlogging. (cringe – gnash teeth – cringe)
I’ve attempted to reach out to my fellow indie authors to encourage their work. It’s a lonely business, writing. But, publishing a book can feel even lonelier when imagine that no one is reading what you wrote. Or the ones that do, don’t get it. On a playing field that’s tilted to the advantage of legacy publishers, I’m doing my part to read indies, shop indies and review indies. I hope you’ll join me in this effort. If you want to find your new favorite author, check out my publisher’s website, Booktrope.com. I promise you’ll fall in love.
Our 2012 Christmas puppy, Cooper, has mellowed over the course of the year. He’s mostly-trained and ever-loving. Having lived long enough to lose a number of great cats and dogs, I treasure the days with our friend, Cooper. He brings joy and unconditional love to our lives.
This year I’ve learned to guard family time. Life has driven us hard, and my family members have been flung across the map, miles from one another, too often this year. This is not easy for us. And for me, well, I only relax when my four people are under my roof. I sleep best when everybody’s home, safe and snug. I smile more. I dare to dream and create. So, in the days when we’re all home, I protect our family time. I say no to invitations, really great, happy events hosted by loving people. As hard as it is, I say no to keep my family healthy and strong.
So, as you bid 2013 farewell, both the sweets and sorrows, hold your loved ones close. Say thank you to those that make your time on this planet bearable. Take responsibility for your actions. Stretch past your comfort zone. And let others have the blessing of helping you. That’s right, try to accept help.
Until next year, my friend.