It's the time of year when people review the year that has passed and make plans of some sort for the year ahead. The President gives the State of the Union address, churches have a state of the parish at their annual meetings, and even the IRS asks for an accounting of what we earned last year (and, incidentally tests our honesty about those earnings). With that in mind and, as is a personal custom of mine every year on this date, I will review the State of the Household as of January 28, 2014.
On this date six years ago my world changed drastically when I woke to find the day I had been dreading for years had happened. It was the day that marked the passage from wife to widow, part of a pair to a single, and with an immense amount of confusion as to what to do, how to do it, and even if I could do it. It was literally taking life one day, one hour, even one minute at a time. Luckily I had great support from friends and family and slowly but surely life began to make a little more sense although a very different sense than I had had before. That support has not flagged once since then and for that I'm very grateful.
In the subsequent six years I learned to do a lot of things for myself. Some of it was fun, like settling into a new (for me) domicile and finding freedom to come and go as I pleased, eat what and when I wanted, and go to bed at whatever time I felt I needed to go. There was pain too, not only the pain of losing someone who'd shared my life for over thirty years and to whom I was married to for twenty-seven, but struggling with finances (never my strong suit) and juggling things that needed doing to try to avoid swamping the canoe of my life in a current that threatened to overwhelm me. Needless to say, I survived, and, in some ways flourished.
In the past year I have continued to battle my cancer with drugs and have passed one year of survival. I've lost weight -- and gained a little of it back. I've exercised more and then less as I recovered from a broken ankle. I've learned to ask for help when I need it and not to drive myself nuts trying to deal with everything all on my own. I've learned that real friends are around and can be relied on to give the support I need, whether physical, emotional, spiritual and sometimes even financial. Good friends are something that should never be taken for granted. I know I treasure mine.
Looking at the past year, I have jotted down a list of things I remember, not necessarily high points but things that stuck out from the everyday stuff. There were lots of doctor's appointments with a bunch of different doctors for everything from my diabetes to cancer, orthopedics to eye problems. But then when I looked at the rest of the list, I had a rather astounding epiphany: most of what I remember was good stuff, not bad. For a professed pessimist, that's quite an AHA! moment.
I found a new church where I could be in community with others. I'd known about it for years but it took one visit and I was hooked. Through that church I've been able to do things I love and haven't been able to do for a while, things like serve the chalice and read the lessons, not to mention singing hymns I adore and hear great music from a very talented group of musicians. I've reconnected with a priest friend and made a new one and those two have given me the opportunity to do something I have a passion for: adult education. I've done two classes for an adult ed program and have two more to go. I have known something about the subjects going in but in researching for the class I find so much more that I didn't know. If anybody knows me, they know I love to dig into things about which I'm passionate. That's been a great blessing this past year.
I've been able to continue with my EfM work and be part of first a pilot program and then the first year of a new curriculum. I work with three great co-mentors and two great groups who challenge my thinking and keep me investigating. By virtue of having to have a recertification class every year to maintain my certification to mentor, I can connect with several friends with whom I've shared that training for the past few years. Getting together with them once a year is like a family reunion and I love it.
I've done quite a bit of writing and that's something I've loved doing since I was a kid although for many years I only wrote letters to friends and relatives. Now I have a weekly meditation on a website called Episcopal Café and occasionally contribute an essay on some topic in which I have an interest. I've been blogging for ten years now, and I've come to think of it as a work in progress. I've got a bunch of old stuff I wrote years ago that I'm thinking of editing (a bunch) and possibly publishing the essays as a group of epiphany meditations. I may do it although I haven't had much time to work on it since summer ended. Still, there's another summer ahead . . .
I took some online courses in writing, copy editing and churchy topics. I'm happier when I am busy and never happier than when I can combine reading, writing and research all in the same package. I bought myself a new Kindle tablet and have read quite a few books in the past few years. Thanks to a lady I knew a long time ago, I've kept up an annotated bibliography of the books I've read for the past 10+ years. The synopses helped me remember what the books were about and I now have an index to help me find the book I'm looking for quickly. It's probably the one place I'm really organized and it's kind of fun to add yet another book to the thing. I think I'm up around 293 or so as of today. Oh, and all but four or five are all on the subject of religion. I've found I'm passionate about theology, church history, Bible study and all that stuff. It takes longer to read the books than it did when my passion was British and American cozies and thrillers, but the subject matter seems much more enlightening.
Financially I'm sort of okay. I need to be more frugal and a lot less into instant gratification. I struggle with that since so many years of my life have been spent squeezing every penny until it hurts and still not having quite enough that when I get $10 I want to spend at least $9.95 of it. That's a place that needs work, but on the plus side, last year I paid off my very own mortgage on my very own place to live. I don't own the lot on which it stands, but at least I own the building. That's a good feeling.
The boys, my cats, are still with me with the exception of Whitey, my beloved outside cat, who went to Rainbow Bridge a couple of weeks ago. The inside cats -- Domi, Gandhi, Sama and Phoebe -- alternately drive me crazy and give me a reason to get up in the morning. Somebody has to earn the cat food around here. Still, they're company and there's nothing like the warm body of a cat and the sound of a purr to help make things better.
All in all, I can't complain a whole lot about the past year. I've gotten myself in trouble and most of the time gotten myself out. A few times friends have come to the rescue so I've never gone completely underwater, thank God. I don't know what this year will bring but I hope that next January 28th I'll be able to say again that I remember more positive things than negative. It's a good thing.
Now on to 2014.