Happy (Let’s Hope) New Year

I don’t usually get caught up in the New Year’s sentiments about what the year was like, and what is to come. But this time around I can’t help but acknowledge these things. 2011 was a pivotal year for me – I’m glad it’s over, but am equally glad it happened the way it did.

At the start of this year, I was struggling with a case of situational depression and a mild (but awful) anxiety disorder. I was functioning and appeared to be fine, but I suffered through some very sad days, and fought hard against a panic that threatened me constantly. The combination of my long term relationship ending in 2010, coupled with the EMDR therapy I was doing shook me deeply, but loosened up a whole lot of things that were holding me back from a happy life. With some hard work, and the passing of time, my heart and mind healed over, both scarred but stronger. I feel back not just back to normal now, but better than I have in my entire life.

I could choose to look back and think of 2011 as a bad year. In fact, last night some of us were toasting to the fact that it’s finally over. But I plan to remember it as the year my life turned around. Because that’s exactly what happened.

It wasn’t easy, or pleasant, or something I ever want to go through again. But I cannot help but feel that it was a privilege to just be able to process my feelings, from start to finish, without having the hardships that so much of the world has to suffer through. In this difficult time, I had a safe place to call home, the support of my therapist, my friends and my family. I had the ability to go for long walks, and to sleep well. I had good health, and could pay all my bills. And I had a sound enough mind to know what needed to be done to heal and move on. I was a lucky girl in 2011.

As for 2012? What it holds is a mystery, but I’m ready for it. I feel blessed to have my life back; blessed by my friends and family, and by the friend I have finally found in myself. My only resolution for 2012 is to count my blessings, large and small, every day.

And with that, I offer you another Barbara Kingsolver quote, with my hopes for you in this new year.

“Everyone of us is called upon, perhaps many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, a loss of a job…And onward full-tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore. To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another–that is surely the basic instinct…Crying out: High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is.”  

-From High Tide in Tuscon: Essays from Now or Never

Happy New Year!
More Food, Less Pain,

Real Gifts

I struggle with holiday gift giving. I know we all do, but I think I struggle with it more than most. My ex would probably agree with that statement. One year, when we were together, we had a tense, tear filled (me) argument about the subject. We somehow came to an agreement, and had a laugh about it later when he gave me a card that said he was still happy to be with me at Christmas even though I “took the wind out of his giving sails”.

I guess each year my thoughts and feelings about it evolve a little more, and this year is the easiest it’s been in a long time. I hate all the hype and the pressure and the excess, and so I simply opted to approach it all in my own way. Gifts, to me, are just tokens of love, not the love itself. So I just tried to think hard about what the few people I was buying for would enjoy, and left it at that.

Cracking Up

For my four year old nephew I picked out the book “Falling Up” by Shel Silverstein. I didn’t actually have any of Silverstein’s books when I was a child, but was introduced to his poetry when I was a nanny in my teenage years. I loved reading his silly, imaginative verses. His poems inspired giggles and gross outs in the kids, and always left us smiling.

My nephew is as silly as a 4 year old gets, but has the added edge of having two hilarious parents. My little brother, his dad, is one of the funniest and most ridiculous people I know. My siblings (all 7 of them), and I were blessed with great senses of humor, largely due to our father’s influence. That man was constantly pleasing us with funny faces, great jokes, and a willingness to laugh in any and every moment. We lost him 11 years ago, but his sense of humor, a combo of dark and silly, is with us always. I think of him most at Christmastime, as he had an off-the-charts love of decorating.

Every time I see one of those big, inflatable lawn decorations I am thankful that he passed away before they were available, because he surely would have fastened one to the roof of our house, or filled the yard with them. (A joke, of course, but one I know he would have loved and laughed hard at.)

When I went to write an inscription in “Falling Up” for my nephew, I decided it would be more fun to pen him a little Silverstein-inspired poem instead. This felt like the best kind of gift giving, as it was spontaneous, and truly from my heart. In a way, it’s actually a gift from his late grandfather too, as he lives on in every moment we get our nephew smiling or squealing with laughter. 

Here’s the poem:

I know it’s no shiny electric cool train,
but I want you to use all the parts of your brain
This book is quite silly, it’s funny and crass
And no matter my age, it still makes me laugh
I hope you’ll enjoy it through-out your youth
and that it still makes you giggle when you’re long in the tooth
Because what’s most important is finding a way
To still laugh at nonsense when life goes astray
Someday you’ll get what I’m speaking of

and will see that this book was given with love


Merry Christmas to all of you too! And keep laughing, and eating through it.

More Food, Less Pain,