As the year ends

“There are years that ask questions, and years that answer. -Zora Neale Hurston

I don’t know who Zora was, but I like that quote. When I saw it a few weeks ago, I thought “yes, this year asked a lot of questions, and I hope 2014 answers them.” And then I thought about it some more and was reading back over my end of 2012 thoughts and I realized that actually, 2013 answered a lot of questions that 2012 had asked. It’s just taken some looking back to notice that.

It was a roller coaster of a year. There were a lot of ups, but there were a lot of really deep downs too. To quote one of my closest friends, Nicole, who said this recently in an email, “Life is a serious bitch sometimes. It’s worth it all and has some really fantastic stuff, but it hurts like hell.” That’s pretty much how I feel about 2013. John Green also has some words I like: “Maybe there’s something you’re afraid to say, or someone you’re afraid to love, or somewhere you’re afraid to go. It’s gonna hurt. It’s gonna hurt because it matters.”

2013 mattered. I had no idea what it was going to hold, and it blew me away at times, both in joy and in pain. But it mattered. I am not the same person now as it ends as I was when it started, and I’m betting most of you would say the same thing about yourself.

What it held, for me, in a nutshell: Some kick-ass times with friends, all throughout the year. Travels. Really great conversations. Seeing and spending time with my old roommate, seeing Eastern Montana and North Dakota. I surprised my parents and showed up in GA on the 4th of July and ultimately got to see them 3 times this year since I was also there in February and then cruised to the Bahamas with them in October. I visited with my brother and sister in law twice. I had some amazingly perfect conversations with my niece and nephew. I saw my oldest and dearest friend and got wrapped around the little fingers of both of her children. Later in the year I cried with and for her as her dad almost died and then rejoiced with her when he survived. I inherited a best-friend-in-law when David married the man he loves and I had more fun being a part of that than can be described. I gained a few more friends through that time as well. I saw New York City as an adult (the last time I was there was 8th grade). There was some hiking and some snowshoeing. I quit running (but that’s not a forever quit). I made some really tough choices. I made a few desperately needed changes, and some others came about more as a consequence of the intentional ones. Some of those are still being worked on. Closure came about in two situations that needed it, both very different, both very difficult, one of which I’m still healing from. I barely scratched the surface of some goals and dreams. There was a promotion at work and most days that is a good thing. I read a lot of good books and watched a lot of good TV and movies, along with some not quite as good. I saw Mumford and Sons in concert for the 2nd time and loved it as much as the first. I wrote. And I made plans to write more. I made a blanket for a precious little boy who peed on me the first time we met. I cried, a lot. But I also laughed a lot. I talked about a lot of books with really intelligent women. I drank a beer in the shower one incredibly hot summer afternoon and it was perfect and for some reason many of my friends find it to be both hilarious and wonderful and so I thought it should make this end of the year post. My library fine was paid off by Alisha for my birthday. I wore a funny hat and sold Christmas trees. I lived out of two places at the same time as I prepare to move in a few weeks (more on that later). I made a lot of lists. I wrote quite a few letters. 2013 was busy.

Usually I make a list of to-dos for the next year. And they are pretty specific. Honestly, I’m not in a place where I think I can do that for 2014. I don’t want a list to check off or to fail in completing, even though there are already some ideas on a list in my head. For right now, I just want to think about the not-so-specific-things that I am fairly certain will go on.

I will listen to more music. I will watch more TV and movies, and maybe I’ll go see a show or two. I will read, a lot, and I will talk about those books with others. I will write. I will have opinions that sometimes get shared and sometimes do not. I will sing out loud when a song I like comes on in the car and I am alone, and maybe even if I am not alone. I will dance to music that is playing when I am at home. I will dream and I will pray and I will search and I will think deeply. I will go to work and do the best job that I can. I will cook and bake and eat out. I will love with all that I have and I will work on forgiveness more and more. These are the things that are not on a 2014 to-do list as they don’t have to be.

2013 was hard and beautiful and difficult and lovely and it was worth it. 2014 is a fresh start, a new beginning, and holds a lot of potential. I’m excited to see what it holds.

See you next year!

2013-2014

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Freedom

I was venting today about something that is, honestly, out of my control. Something that I had hoped would stop by now, in light of some recent events, but is continuing, for reasons I don’t know and can’t decide if I care to know. In expressing my frustration, I said “They won! I’m gone! Now move on!” and the ever so insightful friend I was texting said, “Yes, but really, you won.”  And damn it, I did win.

It has been a long time since I could say, truthfully, I am good, when asked the ever so not at all simple question: “how are you?” I feel free. Freer than I’ve felt in a least a year, possibly longer. No longer weighed down by something that should never have been as tightly bound to me as it became. I feel motivated to pursue goals and attempt to turn some dreams into reality. I am hopeful. I feel pushed, in the best way possible. I am encouraged. I am…good.

There had been one thing, one thing that felt like the weight of the world, on my shoulders for far too long. Over the last couple of months, I found the way to let it go. It took a lot to get there. Closure doesn’t come easy to me. I had to think, to dwell, to dig very, very deep into my own heart and mind, to find a way to say everything I needed to say to make sure the door actually closed. I needed to hear the click of the lock, knowing there was no chance it could swing back the other way. And I did.  

People kept telling me it was brave. I don’t think it was brave. I think it was survival. It was hard, yes. Very hard. And it left me numb, then sad, then grieving. And then FREE. Clear and open. When I finally realized that’s how I felt, it was a bit startling, because only then did I realize just how entangled I was before.

Someone wise recently told me that there is energy and creativity in grief. For a moment I didn’t believe them, as I felt so very exhausted. But no so long later, that energy and creativity did indeed begin to show up. And though it’s only been a few days, I think it is going to stick around. It started showing up Friday, which is when I told someone “I’m good” and I knew I meant it. And I suddenly had a million ideas, like they had just been waiting on me to say “Ok, I’m ready.”

And then I had a lovely, peaceful weekend, involving a lot of rest and catching up. Last night I had two dreams. Vivid, real dreams that stay with the dreamer. In the first I was a bit homeless. I was hiding in other people’s homes and someone was going around looking for me. In the next dream, the one that I remembered first but definitely came second, I was being pursued by the grim reaper. The grim reaper, at least in the land of my subconscious, is a pale skinned, wiry red headed woman in a black robe and a dark car. She was driving after me while I was in my dream world car, through a cemetery, until we reached a wall. I skillfully scaled that wall while her robe kept her from reaching me. Just as she got to the top, I woke up with a bit of a scream. But I woke up alive. I did some research on dreams today. Normally I don’t have to, because I don’t dream in metaphors very often. It’s rare that a dream doesn’t make sense, that I can’t immediately pinpoint where it came from and what it means. But today I couldn’t, so I used the ever-wise internet to tell me. Dreaming of homelessness means a lost sense of identity. And dreaming of the grim reaper (apparently in any way) means that something has ended, or closure. They were somewhat unsettling dreams, until those answers. And then it made sense.

I lost myself over the last year. A lot of me. But I’m quickly getting it all back. And now I am even more certain that the finality of what had been weighing me down was absolutely the end. But more importantly, it was a whole new beginning.

Is everything in life fine? No, not at all. Because life never will be perfect. But it is so much more peaceful in my heart right now. And for that, I am beyond grateful.