Well, it’s a cold December morning and I sit in my living room with my coffee and Isabella by my side thinking it is time to do my year end review. About this time every year I look back on the months past and look forward to the new year ahead. And I always ask myself the questions “What did I accomplish and where am I going?”
Of course I think of what I did NOT get done either. I did not lose that 50 pounds I had intended, but I did manage to drop about 10 and keep it off. I will count this as a positive, since each year I seem to end it heavier than when it began. I have progressed in my exercise and now do so on a regular basis. The exercise induced hives that have bothered me so for the past few years are manageable and no longer hinder me to the point of inactivity. So while I did not reach my goal, I am at least heading in the right direction. We’ll carry this one over for 2011.
I did NOT transform my office from chaos to organization. Not even close on that one. I used to be such a filing mavin - not sure when I lost it. It now takes me forever to file things properly and usually happens at tax time rather than throughout the year (much to my husband’s dismay). Although I did purchase a calendar that has a huge “pocket” for each month and used that to put monthly receipts in, so I have some organization. I did however make progress on my photo collection and am 3/4 of the way done. Unfortunately I have been at that point for several months. I was hoping to work on the photos with Anna when she came home for Christmas, but that did not happen.
Ok, enough of the did nots.... move to the dids.
I wrote a lot this year, though you could not tell through my irregular blog entries. Most of my writing was journaling and poetry. So much of my poetry is a chronicle of my journey and reflects what I am going through and this year it still contained anger and disappointment about some things in the past, but it also included some fun things and healing. This year I have been even bolder and more honest with my poetry, not afraid any more of who I might offend. For sure the healing was helped along by the venting through my writing.
I got several opportunities through open mics to perform and hear other artists. I truly enjoy that. The creating of something definitely gives rise to want to share it. When I cook a meal I want people to eat and enjoy it, the cooking of it is not enough. It would be very unsatisfying to prepare a delightful meal and just set it on the table to look at, no one ever partaking of its flavor and nourishment. So too with my writing I find that most times I want to share on some level, even if it is just with Bill or my friend Pam. But usually sharing it with them gives me the confidence to share it to a broader audience and so through this blog or through open mics my creativity has an outlet and gets fed at the same time, as the giving of what I have done urges me to do more.
Just recently we have done bunches of improvements to the house. Painting in the dining room, bathroom, family room and kitchen. New floor, sink, toilet and shower in the bathroom. New counter tops in the kitchen as well as a new sink. We have begun to wade through our unending supply of “stuff” to try and simplify our lives. Possessing so many things seems to take away from my life rather than add to it and makes me a bit nervous. So we are trying to move away from being collectors of more and leaning into being keepers of less.
We had people in our home on a regular basis and I love that. Dinners, birthday celebrations, game nights. Family from the West coast came to visit us and I really love that. South Bend is not the fun capital of the world, but we are here so it makes it pretty special. You feel very loved when people come to see you for you. Note to Anna: I really would come to see you even if you did not live in New York ☺
Since we are heading into our third year of not attending an “organized” church, these times of gathering and fellowship are so important to us. It reminds me what real church is and feeds me more than sitting in a pew. It’s funny because a few years ago I could not imagine being without a regular church and today I cannot imagine ever going back to one. So many reasons for that, but I will only note a couple. We were taught to be careful with those that were in the “state” I am now, perhaps thinking that they may have a negative effect on us. We were told people not in church “couldn’t take it” or were “out of order”. How sad that our ideas of how God moved were so small. Interesting how walking away from something gives you a clearer perspective. I think its that getting older thing. My over 50 eyes can’t see much clearly unless I hold it away from me...perhaps my older spirit is the same. I hold no ill towards those still part of organized church, in fact, quite the opposite. I remain friends with several people from the church we left and am happy that they find encouragement there. A dear friend of mine is being ordained in the Anglican Church after being a part of several less formal churches. While it may not be my cup of tea, it brings something to him that is vital and I respect and encourage that.
I loved being in church for over 30 years and encouraged many to find a church they could function in. Without that experience I would not be who I am today. But who I am today is different from who I was before and to quote Stephen King “The world has moved on”, and so I now exist in a different world, just as important, but different. My view of how and where God moves has expanded. Its one of the cool things about God; He is so much bigger and has so many more ideas than we do. Expressing His greatness takes so many forms. So we remain committed to God with all our hearts and pursuing what true church is. We fellowship regularly, give generously, seek wise counsel when needed and desire to do God's will - all because it is in our hearts to do so, not because we are pressured to. If God moved me towards being a part of a church again, I would do so. It just has not happened.
In 2010, two dear people in my life left this earth realm, Karen and John. Both had been in my life for over 20 years. While I did not see them often the past few years, they were both at one time very present in my life and made an impact that lasts to this day. They both lived to share the love of Jesus and knowing they were walking this earth made me sleep a bit better at night. They died too young in my opinion (me and God have already had several discussions on this) but I rejoice that they are now in paradise with our Savior.
The year would not be complete without at least one rant, so here is mine. I have done a lot of contemplating about relationships this year. They have always been so important to me and I can be pretty aggressive in my pursuit of them. If God puts someone on my heart, I stay in contact with them and let them know they are loved and often will try to spend time with them. The past couple years have changed that somewhat. I have become a bit weary of those who say they love me and want to see me, but yet don't return phone calls or are always busy. While I accept and embrace my role as a gatherer, I am not as persistent as I used to be if I am always the one making contact. I have come to the belief that about 90% of the time, people do what they want to do no matter what excuses they throw out there. If people want to see me, they will make the time. Of course there are circumstances that can prevent this such as sickness, work, location and such...that is the 10% that is uncontrollable in our lives. But we decide what we will do with most of our time outside of work and if you care about someone or enjoy their company, you make time for it. So, if someone counts my friendship as valuable, they will tend to it. It may not be often, but if keeping in touch with particular people means something to you, it will happen if you want it to. It may mean a regular email, a cup of coffee or even just a phone call or note. It does not always have to be some deep, long conversation. Just letting someone know you are thinking of them goes a long way. So, at this time in my life, if after a couple times you don’t respond to phone calls, invites or emails, I am gonna let that go in most cases. There is a lot more I could say on that, but think I will leave it there.
I love to travel and did that this year. San Diego to celebrate my sister-in-law Susan’s birthday (which included a delightful stay at a B&B on a beach - thanks Mommy Barnard), Seattle to see our dear friends Dan and Connie Rice (and family) and two trips to New York to see my baby girl Anna. Bill took two trips to Africa for business and we hope that proves fruitful this year. While it is hard to think of him being so far away, it gives me great pleasure because he has such a love for and call to Africa. Seeing him so fulfilled brings me great joy.
How can I review the year without mentioning my children? They are my heart and soul. I wrote a very deep piece about my wonderful kids earlier in the year, so I won’t go on here about it. I just have to say I love them all to pieces and am so proud of them. Shay and Job have blessed with me grandchildren and they are awesome parents. It is a whole other post to do that justice, so I will leave it at that.
As I have written about before, seasons are very deep and moving to me and I make note of their coming and going. God uses them to teach me, remind me and encourage me. The great thing about seasons is that they always change, so as I go through a struggle it gives me hope as I know it will pass and change. It can also be sobering as well, as I see those around me change, move on and sometimes out of my life. It can bring melancholy to realize something has ended. But then the newness of spring comes around the corner and I see that God will bring other things into my life that require my attention and love and the cycle of life continues.
I am very aware at the end of this year I am 52 years old. It is not just the calendar that reminds me of this - my body that aches more than it used to, my eyes that require ever stronger lenses to function properly and my mind that notes most likely I have more past than I have future on this earth. I am not anxious about that, but it does make me think more about what I am doing and where I am going. Tomorrow is never promised to any of us and no matter what your age we could be gone in a flash. So it is important that we live life always to the fullest and pursue our hopes and dreams. You can keep saying "someday I will do this" or you can just do it (I say as I look in in the mirror). Live each moment with purpose and passion.
Whats in store for 2011? More steel cut oats and less sugar. Writing, writing, writing. Taking my vitamins everyday. Sitting less and moving more. Cooking more but eating less. The ocean. Size six jeans. New things, new places. Getting rid of more "stuff". Another hope for 2011 is to connect with you all more often through postings and in person. I love to get feedback from you and hear your thoughts on what I have shared and what is going on in your life.
I will leave you with a poem I wrote the last week of 2010. I really like for my work to be heard, as well as read, as much of the heart of my writing is in the way its delivered. So, I have included a link to the spoken version.
The day after Christmas, 2010
2011 all set to begin
This year as I sit the tree lights are dark
When I came downstairs I left them off
No candles are lit, no music is playing
Just the thoughts in my head continuously swaying
Presents have been given and presents received
Knowing that its over brings great relief
I love Christmas, don’t get me wrong
But once its over I’m ready to sing the “New Year” song
I want to move past the year thats ending
Lean into the new one just beginning
This year I will review several times in my mind
The events of my life will hit rewind
What did I accomplish, what did I learn?
Was the respect of my Father God earned?
I have no complaints, my life is grand
Most struggles I face I have the upper hand
The ones that still grip me I keep trying to rise above
Remembering I am surrounded by great love
This year I have traveled to both coasts, I have celebrated life
Had family visit our home, I remain a faithful wife
I get along with my siblings, my kids and my spouse
We spent lots of time improving our house
There is much to be grateful for in the life that is mine
Blessings I don’t have to look far to find
A few glitches remain, a few things undone
A family member sent me a letter that was pretty glum
I was told to “back off” and step away
So I will “step back 5” and give you your space
I am stepping back so I can move forward
Gain some momentum to get past the absurd
The older I get the less drama I need
“Life is short and I want to enjoy it” is my creed
You don’t have to like, love me or care
I have learned that life is not always fair
People will treat you like shit
Even if you don’t deserve it
All I can do is be who I am
Try my best to walk out God’s plan
You can share my life, or you can shun and forget me
Either way I’m not going to park inside your misery
I’ll love, help, pray and hug you
But I’m not going to sing the blues
God can light a path for us to walk
But we gotta choose it and do more than just talk
All that talk but nothing changes
Will keep our lives dark and estranged
Tomorrow is not promised and like I said life is short
My hopes and dreams I will not abort
The coming year brings promise and hope of new things
On that high my soul takes wing
So good bye old year, and all we’ve had to endure
Hello 2011, you’ll be good to us sure
© 2010 Sue Barnard