A Look Backward: Reflections on 2011 – A Repost

Am I the only one or did this year just fly by, blending strangely with the last two or three? It’s hard for me to even isolate 2011 in my thoughts. I may have to work backwards to have any clarity on what happened this year.

First, my beloved sister-in-law Sandra died in 2011. That marks this year forever for me. Plus, Ray had his emergency appendectomy.

This is also the year of our Christmas trip to Texas via the Grand Canyon, with our kids plus Gregoria and Keara. That should also help me to single out this year.

2011 is also the year of my own health problems with a pulled tooth and the beginning phases of a dental implant, plus an eye surgery for Keratoconus, an eye disease I’d never heard of until a short while back.

2011 marked Sarah’s third year in medical school, Liz’s first year in law school, and Rachael’s first year at UCLA. These accomplishments make a mother proud…

2011 is the year that I started my blog. That is a big one for me, writing essay pieces and stories everyday that others will read.

2011 is also the year that my nephew and his wife, plus their kids came and spent a whole week with us in the summer. What a treat that was! They also bought a vintage Alfa Romeo on that visit. Another reason I will remember the year.

I visited my sister in Salt Lake City in 2011 and saw for the first time how her Alzeimer’s is impacting her life. Still, she had her sense of humor and her love. So, that’s the good part of that story.

I watched as my priest in 2011 found himself debilitated by depression and actually went and got help for that malady. He is on medication that has changed his life (and our parish) for the better and we are friends again after a long hiatus. This makes me extremely happy.

2011 marks the end of my three-year service on our church council, the vestry, and it’s been a challenging, but good three years. I have many close friendships that have been born or strengthened from that experience.

2011 marked the second year that Ray’s business has been slow, almost to the point of stopped. This has brought its challenges, all of which relate to simplifying and getting clearer about what is important and what is not.

Cordelia arrived in December, 2010, but I would be remiss in not mentioning her major impact on our family in terms of the love that she brings in 2011. I am grateful and happy to have her in my life.

2011 marks the end of my fifteen year writing group that I co-founded. A big move for me, but one that has been helpful for me to grow and change around my writing.

2011 also is the year that I started my second novel. This has been slow in coming, but still has me intrigued. I hope that 2012 will mark the finish of the first draft of that novel.

2011 marks the end of my four-year Master class with writer, John Rechy. This has been a loss since John has been the consummate writing mentor. It also represents growth since I now must apply what he has so skillfully taught me.

2011 is a hallmark year because the Homeless Breakfast where I have volunteered for the past ten years finally began receiving free food from a food bank, and the fear of its closing is now gone. That has been a gift for us all.

And in 2011, Ray and I traveled to South Carolina for a visit with some of our Pig Branch internet group friends, which was a time of pure relaxation and pleasure.

2011 also is the year that I began helping AP English students and college students with their English term papers. A stretch for me, pulling me into growth in writing in general.

2011 is the year that we almost finished Lyon House and bought the house across the street, which has been a massive undertaking to begin the restoration of a second beautiful house.

And 2011 marks my growth as a teacher for Story Circle Network, where I expanded my class offering from one to three different classes over the year.

2011 also is the year that several of my short pieces have been published either online or in hard copy and I began receiving more external validation for my writing.

In 2011, I was chosen to present a workshop at the Story Circle Network national writing conference, as well as be a guest editor for a week for an online publication.

And in 2011, I also spent several months getting up early every morning and walking for an hour. A habit I hope to resume in 2012.

I guess lots of things have happened this year. Nothing absolutely spectacular; nothing absolutely terrible. Mainly, a slow shift and change as I grow and change. That’s a good thing.

I’m sure I have forgotten a dozen things that are extremely important to me that just aren’t making themselves known at this late hour. I can always add to the list.

I am grateful for still having my health and my mental faculties this year and, hopefully, into 2012 and beyond. I have stopped taking my health for granted, however. A good thing, I believe, since I need to stay grateful for every day I feel strong and healthy and happy.

I am grateful for my family and friends and all the love I am allowed to give and receive.

I am grateful for our prosperity and the bounty in our life. This is also a gift.

I am grateful for my spiritual life and its gentle prodding to look deeper.

I am grateful for this place I live where freedom is still the watchword.

I am grateful for the laughter that surrounds me, and the tears that flow easily. These, too, are gifts.

I am grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow and to write. How lucky I am to have these elements in my life.

I am grateful for feeling happy and open and loved and loving. Again, these are gifts.

And I am grateful for all the beauty there is in this life: the art, music, literature, performing arts, as well as nature.

I say Amen to these and a second Amen. I am blessed indeed.

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