Come next week

There is something peaceful about reflecting on the year as we ready ourselves for the next one.

It’s a time, at least for me, to look back over what the last 12 months had brought into my life.

The moments of joy and happiness.

The obstacles that had been dealt with, whether I successfully bested them, or they knocked me down.

It helps me to take a personal review and see, most importantly, where I made mistakes and missteps and maybe what I can do better.

And this year, like the last few, has had its share of ups and downs.

I would get excited about one thing, to only find myself crestfallen the next day.
Granny used to not get overly happy when good things happened. “Life will balance it out soon enough,” she would say.

That always bothered me, as if it was some self-fulfilling prophecy on her part to usher in something that would tilt the scales of joy more towards the disappointment side.

“No, I am just not going to get my hopes up,” she would tell me.

But this year has taught me to get my hopes up, because in the middle of those high hopes, we are holding on to a thread of faith that can maybe be our lifeline.

I know this year has had some painful moments.

And I’m not just talking about the tragedies we see on the news.

Those were horrible and hurt us as a collective whole.

But sometimes the moments that hurt us the most are those personal events that cause us pain. Grief, loss, failure – we have all faced them this year.

Friends went through divorces.

Quiet a few lost their spouse; others lost other family members and friends.  

And some battled private battles they didn’t share.

I know I dealt with worries and fears that I didn’t speak about, least they come true.

I have tried, instead, to focus on the things I could control, on the things that I could change.

Sometimes, there were not many, so I let go of the things I couldn’t handle.

But every now and then, something sad or unsettling would creep its way into my life.

In fact, it seems like I have been marking years by the sad events lately more than happy ones.

“It takes rain and the sun to make the flowers grow,” Mama reminds me.

I get it. I do. But I am hoping for a little less rain in the coming year, both figuratively and literally.

In her sweet, gentle way she was letting me know that we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the beauty of the flowers without the rain and the sun, two things that if in excess can be harmful. But in the right amounts, make beautiful flowers.

“I am just ready for things to be stable and not so chaotic,” I stated one day. “I want things to be kind of on an even keel.”

Mama sighed. “Everyone probably wishes for that, Kitten,” she said. “But that is not life.”

No, life is not always stable or even keeled, is it?

It’s full of the ups and downs; the good, the bad. The sad, heartbreaking moments followed by the highest of joys. Sometimes, they come in the same week or at the least, the same year.

I know – I have been through all of those more times than I can count.

It’s just life.

We didn’t notice it when we were younger, mainly because our parents were better deflectors and shielded us from a lot of the stuff that people experience now.

But we will keep striving, fighting, trying to find the happiness and joy that bring us joy, even if it means we will have those disappointments and failures that crush our soul.

This year has knocked so many of us down and we have dusted ourselves and resolutely stuck our chin out as if to say, we are not giving up and out of sheer stubbornness, we won’t either.

It has been 12 months of chaos, hectic schedules, and everyday moments of life, that if we aren’t careful, will slip by, unnoticed and unappreciated.

Days that passed so quickly, one would think they were on a train, moving from one holiday to the next.

A year of memories made, and moments shared.

And come next week, we get to do it all over again.

Lowering my expectations

Granny’s response to a lot of things was, “I ain’t getting my hopes up.”

I thought this was kind of morose and sad – we’re supposed to be hopeful, aren’t we?

“Why?” was her response. “When I do, I always get disappointed.”

Mama, on the other hand, tries to see the good in things and when stuff doesn’t work out, she tries to come up with some kind of divine reasoning.

“When something doesn’t happen the way you want it to, it’s just because something better is on its way,” Mama will say.

Being reared by both of these redheads has caused me to fluctuate between the extremes.

On one hand, I am always looking for the positive; on the other, I have started to understand Granny’s mantra.

And let me tell you, 2017 has been a year of disappointment.

I tend to do a lot of reflecting this time of the year and think about the past 12 months and how I want the coming year to be.

I hoped – no, make that knew – that 2017 was going to be amazing.

And it hasn’t.

Far from it.

As this year has gone by, I have realized some cold, hard truths about a few friends, making my circle even smaller.

Instead of trying to hold on to these outgrown relationships, I remembered Granny’s words.

“Not everyone will do for you the way you do for them,” she told me more than once, probably after she had experienced a personal lesson. “If you expect them to do what you would do, you gonna be sorely disappointed. They won’t. But they will be there on your doorstep whenever they need you.”

She was right. This year has shown me, yet again, the friends that only were around when they needed me and when I needed them, they dismissed me.

Boy, did it hurt.

“Ain’t no need for it to hurt,” Granny foretold. “Better to know what you’re dealing with upfront than not. I ain’t got time for people like that.”

A few opportunities I had been excited about turned out to be huge disappointments this year.

More than a few.

Some came to an end and some never really worked out the way they were supposed to.

“Look for the things that went right,” Mama gently reminded me.

It was an impossible task.

Mama didn’t believe me. I assured her it was.

So, in the coming year, I am lowering my expectations.

It’s not that I am being a Negative Nellie.

Like Granny, I am not going to get my hopes up about things; again, not trying to be negative.

Just go with me on this for a second.

I am actually going to look at things from a realistic standpoint.

I am not going to project my personal attitudes and ways of doing things on others. Other people may have their own thing going on that has nothing to do with me.

I am going to be a bit more grounded in my approach.

Instead of thinking one event was going to be so life-changing, I was going to put the focus on me and what I can do to change my life.

I think we tend to build things up in our minds sometimes where we make them so much bigger and grander than what they are.

We think that one job, that one person, that one something is going to make all these changes in our lives and when it doesn’t, we feel like Granny often did.

“Nothing goes the way I want, so why should I get excited about this?” she said more than once.

Mama countered with, “Because sometimes you have to be excited about something, Mama. It’s good for our souls to get our hopes up and be excited. We have to have hope to hold on to.”

Maybe that was just it.

Granny had gotten her hopes up so many times and it didn’t happen the way she wanted.

I know. I’ve been there. Heck, I am wallowing in the shallow end of the pool right now.

But I am trying, with all I’ve got, to find that hope my sweet yet crazy Mama preaches about.

So, I am setting the bar just a tiny bit lower.

I think lowering my expectations may be the answer.

Not that I am thinking I will be disappointed.

But maybe so I can be happily amazed.

So long, 2015

2015, I am glad to see you leave.

I wish I could say it’s been fun, but it hasn’t.

The past 12 months haven’t been horrible, but, they just haven’t gone as I thought they would. I had goals.

I had plans.

I had aspirations.

I had ten pounds I wanted to lose and a pair of skinny jeans I wanted to fit in again.

I had a room to de-clutter and turn into an art room.

It now has more junk in it to go through in the post-Christmas chaos.

Isn’t that the way every year goes though?

The number of people I considered to be friends has decreased a bit more, as with each passing year I learn who is really my friend and who is just around when it’s convenient.

I am fine with that.

I have learned it’s OK to have quality over quantity, especially in this area.

I found out we can endure far more than we ever imagine. I have witnessed people in my life somehow make it through things that would have bested a giant.

I have learned some people can amaze us with their strength, their perseverance, and their faith.

I think, however, there has been enough tests, and enough trials and tribulations to last a lifetime.

2015 hasn’t been all bad, however.

There have been moments where my faith in people have been restored.

Small miracles have come through.

Good things have happened, even if not on the scale we wanted.

We’ve found gratitude can help us stay focused.

We’ve learned the small things do matter and that manners make a difference.

We have more technology than we could imagine, and can watching things on demand, read books on our phones, and can Facetime with someone across the world.

And still what we crave the most is a hug from someone who really cares about us.

2015, you have been full of ups and downs.

You’ve given us horrifying, heartbreaking news any time we turned on the TV.

Then, Steve Harvey messed up announcing Miss Universe and the world had something new to tweet about.

Your weather has been moody as my Mama was my senior year and before hormone replacement therapy was widely used.

If anything, between the 70 degree December, torrential downpours, and resurgence of bugs that should be hibernating in cocoons, you are making the 1982 version of Mama when she ran out of cigarettes late one Sunday night seem more stable than your weather patterns.

No, 2015, I am glad to see you go.

I am welcoming in 2016, with open arms, great dreams, and big goals.

I am believing this year will bring in better things – new beginnings and better opportunities – and that somehow, even when we don’t believe it, that miracles will happen and good will win.

I am counting on this year being so much better than 2015.

Instead of being glad to see the year end, it will be as a year where great and wonderful things happened.

Not just for me, but for all of us.

I think we all are long, long overdue.

 

happy new year 2015

My year-end wrap up (12/31/2014)

happy new year 2015

It’s hard to believe that 2014 is well, over.

This year has flown by – but every year has gone by at warp speed since I have officially become an adult.

Officially being an adult means, I have to pay for, hide and wrap presents for a child.

The rest of the year seems to be divided amongst the two seasons of “Dancing with the Stars.”

I don’t know what 2015 will hold – with the exception Marty McFly will arrive at some point in October in a DeLorean (someone may want to tell him to tell the Doc to ditch the car when he returns to 1985) – but I know 2014 was nothing like I expected.

This year showed me how things can change so suddenly. I lost Granny in March, after just seeing her a few weeks earlier. I had no idea that day in February would be the last time I would see her. Had I known, I would have talked to her more, had one last argument between our stubborn, too familiar selves.

A few months later, the world lost Robin Williams. I was greatly saddened by his death, growing up with “Mork & Mindy,” complete with Mork’s rainbow striped suspenders. I wore them with my “Dukes of Hazzard” shirt when I was younger. I apparently wanted to support my favorite television shows in one fell swoop of branding failure.

Then, Joan Rivers passed away. I wasn’t a huge fan of Joan Rivers – if anyone remembers the huge long distance wars of the ‘80’s, they remember Rivers’ commercials, with her saying, “Can we talk?” as she belittled AT&T and hawked Sprint. Well, guess who Mama worked for? And as a card-toting member of the union, she was loyal to the core for whoever gave her a paycheck and helped her dress her baby in tacky t.v. themed clothing.

Posthumously, to Mama’s chagrin, I found myself liking the comedienne after hearing more about her life.

“She still promoted the competition,” Mama said, not as quick to forgive in death.

Some celebrities had their private photos hacked and leaked without their permission. People were quick to say how they shouldn’t have taken them in the first place; but mostly, people were wanting to know where to see them for free.

While the privacy and rights of some celebrities was horribly violated, the Internet came under attack when Kim Kardashian attempted to break it.

As we know, naked and nekkid are two different things – and she was, well, nekkid.

“Why? Oh, my Lord, why?” was all I heard as my child ran into my office.

“I saw a nekkid woman on the computer,” he cried. “Why?! Does she not have clothes? Please, tell me someone set a timer on the camera and was not standing there, taking a picture of that!”

My 10-year-old has seen a lot of unintentional nekkidness this year – first, when a news clip showed Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball, and then when he was on a news site that had a link about Kardashian’s attempt to break the Internet.

“Mama, I hate to say this,” he said moments later. “About that picture, of the naked woman…”
I waited for him to finish.

“I’m craving Krispy Kreme donuts now….”

I could see his point. There was a whole lot of glaze going on. We later found out that her posing nude helped Kardashian’s self-confidence. If the last few years have been her with low self-confidence, can you imagine what she’s going to do now?

2014 told me I was all about that bass, “‘bout that bass, no treble,” which is fine, but I don’t think I am shakin’, shakin’, like I’m supposed to.

Aside from pop culture happenings, I saw a lot of changes in myself.

I tried to release my vise-like grip and let my child take swimming lessons over the summer, convinced I didn’t want him to be like me and not learn to swim until nearly 20.

I was informed by Cole he wasn’t entirely too sure about the cleanliness of the water with so many strange bottoms in it. Did they bathe before swimming?

I decided to homeschool my child, which has been a challenge but worth it. He has told me he wasn’t sure he was getting the ‘full learning package’ so I went out and bought him four workbooks to enjoy.

It is also the end of 2014 and I still have yet to use algebra. But more than algebra, I found I hate Common Core math.

2014 gave us ice bucket challenges as a way to raise money and awareness. v

And selfies became an everyday – almost every hour – occurrence for some. Hashtagging also didn’t make things trend just because of the symbol formally known as the pound sign.

“Did you have a good year?” Granny would ask as the year would wind down. I told her once, no, I hadn’t and was ready to tell her all the things bad that had happened.

Instead, the old gal looked at me and snorted.

“Well, what did you do about it? If you didn’t like it, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude about it. Don’t focus on what was wrong – look at what went right.

“That’s what’s wrong with a lot of your generation. Y’all a bunch of spoiled young’uns. I blame MTV. Y’all think everything is supposed to be flashy and exciting like one of them music videos. It’s not. Life ain’t pretty. It’s real. And it’s supposed to be lived to the fullest.”

With that perspective in mind, 2014 was lived to the fullest – full of love, learning and embracing change.

I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings.