New Year's Eve, the end of 2012 and the threshold of 2013. It hardly seems possible that the year has gone by so quickly in some ways and so slowly in others, but then, the older I get, the more that seems to be the rule rather than the exception. Normally on New Year's Eve I try to look back at the year with its successes and failures and sum up what I've learned -- or should have learned. Right now though, I am not quite ready to give up on the year, much as I am not yet ready to dismantle my little Christmas tree and consign it to its box in the storage behind the bed for most of next year. Strange -- or maybe not really so strange; who knows?
It's been quite a year. I marked the fourth year since my Spousal Unit passed on, and the first year without my brother. I've gotten two life-changing diagnoses and will deal with the fallout of those two diagnoses (diabetes and cancer) for the rest of my life. I've had some rough financial spots but even though things financial are still a rough patch in the road, I have managed to end the year with more than $2 in the bank and only seven more months to go to have my mortgage paid off. Of course, the rent on the space my trailer occupies has gone up again while my paycheck shows not a penny's worth of a raise, but oh, well, that's life in the slow lane. I can still watch reality TV and be glad I don't have to deal with some of their problems. I do have a sneaky suspicion, though, that if my life were a role in a drama series, I'd be an underhousemaid in Downton Abbey.
The plus side of this year is that I've survived it. I've lost about 40 pounds as a result of my diabetes and the enforced change in diet it caused, so I'm healthier than I was in 2011. I made a treatment decision or two regarding the lump I found in my breast, the subsequent surgery and then the decision to skip chemo and just take pills for the next five years. The one decision probably saved me from having to go through all this again in a very few years while the other meant I might have cut my life expectancy by 3-5%. Still, I'm comfortable with my decisions there, and so far they seem to have worked out well. Next week, though, I have to have an ultrasound on a lump that has appeared in one of the surgical sites, so here we go back to uncertainty again. This year has shown me that worrying about what would be found next week isn't going to do anything but make me edgy and miserable, so I am resigned to waiting. If anything, this year's lessons have taught me that I have the ability to be patient when there is nothing else I can do. In previous years I would worry and fret about a sunny day; now I can accept rainy days with equanimity -- or at least acceptance that fretting isn't going to change the outcome one whit and that most of what I would fret about never happened anyway, so why waste a good worry?
Actually, even though on a day-to-day basis this year has been a strain and not all that fun, it hasn't been as bad as it could have been. The boys and I are still together, we still have a roof over our heads and food in the larder. The bills are paid for this month and there's still more than $2 in the bank. I've got good friends I can count on, and I can, in turn, be a friend to them. I have a part-time job that helps pay the bills and another one that exercises my brain and gives me the chance to learn in the company of others who share a similar interest. I've had the great opportunity to write, to express myself in a forum I respect and where I hope I have been able to contribute something worthwhile. I've been able to enjoy my electronic toys -- my computer, my Kindle, my iPod and my iPad -- and use them to entertain and inform me. I've been able to attend two great training sessions for my EfM mentor certification for the next year, one online and one face-to-face with some people I met at my first training four years ago and some I have just gotten to know this year. I've learned a lot over this year, sometimes things I wish I hadn't had to learn but mostly stuff I've needed to learn.
On the whole, I think my mere survival has been a high point. I know I am stronger now than I have ever been, and I know I can roll with punches that I used to think I couldn't survive. Getting to know my own strength has been something I needed to learn as well as being able to live with both ambiguity and some uncertainty. Not that I like uncertainty; I've got enough of a cat persona in me to not be all that fond of change. Still, I know change happens and even if I don't like it, I can probably not only live through it but come out the other side better in some ways even if worse in others. It's a tradeoff.
One other thing I have learned this year is how much I rely on God to get me through things. I know I'm expected to hold up my end of life but God's got a firm grip on the other end. I've found it is a lot easier to turn things over than it has been in past years, and that's been a good thing. There are a lot of things I can't handle so I am learning more and more to just let God handle it, including the worries, concerns and fretting. God's got my back and quite often uses my friends to remind me of that. Still, it's good to know God's there, all the time.
So now I guess I can let go of 2012 and get on with what tomorrow and 2013 will bring. I'm glad I don't have a crystal ball, although sometimes I wish I did have one. Still, tomorrow will come and there will be new problems, challenges, joys and accomplishments with it. I may not take the tree down yet, but I think I'm ready for the rest.
Happy New Year.