Here we are. Day 365.
This is one new year’s resolution that I’ve actually kept. I’ve written a post for every single day of the year. Sometimes a day late but always done. Through these posts, I’ve expressed gratitude for a variety of things great and small.
I’ve done the obvious big things – family, friends, job, co-workers, roof over my head, a full belly – not because they are obvious but because they are foundational elements of day-to-day life that I’m thankful for.
I also found myself being grateful for a great many small but important things:
- The restorative benefits of wandering and biking in natural public places like parks, trails and wilderness areas.
- The willingness of my fitness participants to do what I say, even when it’s silly.
- The fact that I am the ant, not grasshopper.
- Biscuits, cookies, nachos and Netflix.
- The power of music for motivation, tranquility and reflection.
- Nesting in bed and taking hot baths.
- Sitting with a warm ball of fur and a book in the peace and quiet of home.
There were also lots of random things that made me smile and for them, I am grateful:
- The Salvation Army volunteer playing Christmas carols on a horn in the grocery store.
- Flocks of birds swooping in unison.
- A kid blowing on her trumpet as she walked down the sidewalk.
- An unseen accordion player.
- People playing piano outside the old library on Spring Garden.
- Opportunities to do good deeds.
- A perfect apple and a perfect peach.
- Nuns in full nun regalia playing catch.
- Finding misplaced photos and gift certificates.
In the category of biggies, the continued intellectual stimulation of my academic journey is front and centre. Along with the growth of knowledge came a significant growth in my self confidence. “I’ve got this” became the regular sentiment as I worked on assignments and wrote exams.
As I’ve knocked off courses and collected stones to mark them on m windowsill, I’ve kept my eye on the prize of finishing this academic journey in April 2017. But now I think of it as finishing this leg of the journey. Because I’ve realized that it must continue. My mind needs this stimulation. I’ll not likely be doing 6” of readings in three-month span, nor will be I be writing assignments. But I will continue to seek out more material on public administration, and also look for other opportunities to keep my brain lit up like a Christmas tree as it has been for the past four years.
Through this academic journey, the mess of a marriage ending, and Joe’s untimely death, Moe has been my constant companion. It may seem trivial to some but his furry friendship means the world to me. His warm little body curled up on my lap or beside me in bed, his steady breathing, his garbled groggy meow when he awakes, his purr when I cuddle him, and his feline antics give me great comfort. That he overcame acute kidney disease – an unusually happy outcome for such a feline illness – and is now perfectly healthy again fills me to bursting with gratitude. I know I’ll have to say goodbye to him some day. But until then, he gets all my loves. Every last one.
The greatest thing for which I’m grateful this year is my return to happiness, and along with it, a deep sense of confidence in my resilience and a new approach for the future. What I’ve come to realize is that all the platitudes you hear are wrong. “Never give up on your dreams” sends you on a relentless pursuit for something that may not be reasonable or attainable. In contrast, “Be happy with what you have” encourages inertia. Nobody has come up with a good mantra for a balanced approach.
I don’t have a mantra either, but I do have an idea. Keep doors open for your dreams but don’t force yourself through them. If the time comes to take a step over one of those thresholds, so be it. But if it’s a struggle to get through the door, take a step back. Maybe now isn’t the right time. Maybe the right time will never come. All of that is ok.
With that in mind, I have some very good doors to breeze through in 2017:
- On April 5 at noon (or earlier if the exam goes really well), I will finish my Master of Public Administration (Management) degree and convocate later in the spring.
- On October 4, I’ll board a plane to Paris and spend nearly two weeks living like a Parisian.
- Leading up to that trip, I’ll be cooking en français.
- I will spend more time stretching my body, riding my bike, hanging out with friends, and lounging in a hot bath.
- I will continue to learn and to practice a mindset of gratitude because both have played a huge role in helping me get to the good place where I am today.
To everyone who has read all or some of this blog through 2016, I hope you’ve enjoyed it. To all those who shared comments or “liked” my posts via Facebook or Twitter, thank you for your support. I’ll likely go back to occasional blogging at sistabuttafly.wordpress.com and you’re most welcome to follow my adventures there.