Upon reflection, here are twenty-one of the best things I did in 2015. These are in no particular order. I just want to remember what I did that brought me happiness this year.
1) Spent a day a week with my granddaughter. This might top the list as “best” since this lovely child has been a real gift for her Grandma and her Grandpa. Plus, this has given me a chance to also see her mom and dad on a routine basis. Looking forward to our new little grandson very soon.
2) Started going to ceramics class with our daughter, Liz. Ray and I have been doing this together with Liz over the past few months and it has served a double purpose: precious time with Liz and also the discovery on my part that playing with stuff that resembles mud takes me right back to the happy times of being three-years-old.
3) Experienced the joy of seeing Rachael get a full ride to law school. I am still pinching myself that her brazen honesty and strong voice in those essays resulted in such a gift. Wow.
4) Hosted several household guests over the year. This has been a year of visits from some of our relatives and friends and it’s been a treat.
5) Began meeting with Michael, my former student and current writing friend, for 2 hours a week just to write. This has been a respite in the middle of lots of busyness, and is time reserved only for my novel. Thank you, Michael!
6) Worked with Ray to make the orange grove in Ojai even more hospitable. Ray deserves most of this credit since he masterminded the buying of the Airstream and its renovation, along with the creation of the freestanding kitchen near the fire ring. However, I like to think that my support gives him space to look beyond the next horizon, which is one of his extraordinary skills.
7) Worked with Ray on the handling of five estates. I enjoyed this very much, particularly since we met some extremely nice people in the process.
8) Helped one of my students with her Bard Exam. This was a challenge because of limited time and four very difficult questions, but the effort proved worthwhile since she was accepted to Bard. Plus, I found the questions intellectually stimulating. That was fun.
9) Moved up in the acolyte ranks at church to Sub Deacon, the highest lay position in the acolyte corps. This has been a treat for me that has come after several years of working all the other positions as acolyte. Not that I am always Sub Deacon, but I get my turn along with the other folks trained for the position. This feels gratifying.
10) Hosted Thanksgiving at the orange grove with family and friends. This past Thanksgiving was the best that I can remember because it combined many of the things in life I love: my family, friends, cooking and camping. The weather was perfect and the company delightful. I could not have asked for a better experience.
11) Participated in an online group of Works-in-Progress with women from Story Circle Network. This online group has helped me make new friends, consider writing from the perspective of publishing, and watch as others in the group organize their daily lives around writing. I have learned and grown a lot from the positive modeling that is offered from these exceptional women.
12) Watched as several of my students received acceptances and scholarships to their stretch colleges. I love this part of being a writing teacher/coach. I feel very proud of these kids and hopeful for their futures.
13) Experienced the joy of seeing one of my adult students finish and publish her very fine novel for which I served as creative consultant and editor. I am very happy for her and loved our time working on this project together.
14) Blogged nearly every day all year long. This blogging commitment has been a great addition to my life. It not only has kept me writing daily – something that is important to me as a writer – but it has also produced a chronicle of my daily life. I’m sure as I grow older and look back, I will find these entries especially meaningful. Also, I believe my daily blogging has helped me to develop my writing voice. I am grateful for that.
15) Nurtured our dog Sammie through her last days and welcomed Frankie, our new mutt into our lives. Plus, loved Cordelia, our Corgi.
16) Enjoyed the LA Phil. This is a gift that Ray and I give to each other and it is one of the best we share. Not only do we hear wonderful music, but we also learn about the composers by going to the talks before the concert. I love our time at Disney Hall.
17) Participated in the St. Thomas the Apostle Breakfast Club. No matter how difficult it is to get out of bed twice a month on a Saturday, there is never a time that I am sorry that I did. Cooking a hot meal for those who need it brings a level of satisfaction that is hard to match. I always feel as if I have received much more than I have given.
18) Experienced the satisfaction of having one of my short stories nominated for a Pushcart Prize, which is awarded to the best writing in the Small Presses. Ironically, the word of this prize came on the evening of a day that I was questioning why it is that I write. Alas…I got a strong answer that day.
19) Spent lots of time up in Ojai at the orange grove. Restorative to the nth degree. Quiet, peaceful and lovely.
20) Visited our home in Texas and saw our many friends there. This is a gift in itself.
21) Last but not least, I started wearing hearing aids. Now I don’t have to strain to hear. This is pure joy after staring a people’s lips to make sure I was hearing them right, which I wasn’t at least half the time. Thank you, Elaine!
There you go. Consider making one of these lists of your own. You’ll surprise yourself with the number of positives things you experienced this past year. I certainly did.