Tuesday’s Quotes – January 1, 2019: New year, same me – Welcome to 2019

“Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunder-storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.” — Thomas Mann

I’ve mentioned every January 1st that I don’t think of the new year as a momentous occasion – life is full of events, some big, most not. All of which form us, help us grow, change us – good and bad.  The start of a new calendar year is merely one more step along the way – at most a way of marking a fixed spot – a guidepost as it were.  I do stop and reflect with fair frequency because I’m introspective by nature, though, and it is customary, on the new year, to do some reflecting on the year that’s just passed. I don’t do resolutions (sorry to disappoint), but I do attempt a bit of forecasting. Although I must admit my crystal ball hasn’t worked in years, and if I’m honest that leaves my forecasting with only an average success rate.

On balance, 2018 was a reasonably good year (discounting politics). We are all healthy, if somewhat battered and showing signs of aging, and are mostly happy. My forecasts for 2018 were a bit off since elder daughter was unable to make the trip to the US with her husband because of a job change. However, my spouse and I managed a trip to Arizona to explore our housing options. My husband broke his leg over the summer, and as result our house only went on the market in late November (and was delisted immediately because we have an accepted offer – with the usual contingency on the sale of the buyer’s house – and dealing with backup showings just seemed to stressful). I stopped working nearly a year ago after agreeing to being downsized, and accepting a very generous package. I’ve been doing quite bit of volunteer work. My inner idealistic, semi-radical, self has maintained its footing over the course of the year. I marched for science (again). Besides my ongoing volunteer remote desk job, I’ve done other volunteer activities locally. I managed to finish NaNoWriMo this year. I kept up with this blog, but missed my forecast of a new theme and a more frequent posting schedule. Actually, I’m truly amazed by how little free time I seem to have now that I’m not working.

The future? For the blog, I will continue with my eclectic approach to posting (its name is Time For My Thoughts, after all).  3 days a week seems to be my limit, but I’d still like to increase it to 4 at some point. Perhaps in 2019. Perhaps not. I kept the 2016 theme through 2018 because I like it, and didn’t find any that I liked better. But I do think that it really is time for a change, so I’ll start testing new themes sometime this month (note for those of you not familiar with WordPress, themes are formats.)

For life outside the blog? I know some things (& don’t know many others). My nice package runs out later this month (time does fly), and so too will my income. Assuming all goes well, we will be selling the house well before spring, and after much hand-wringing, and family discussions, we decided that we will head to Arizona, leaving our younger daughter to remain in her chosen school, visiting us occasionally. Some details – like where to register her car which will stay with her, are still undecided, as is how we’ll juggle the logistics of moving 2700 miles (never mind the long distance home buying thing – or the likely out-of-state job hunting). Elder daughter is not planning a trip home this year, but our move to the southwest may actually be easier for her when she does. Younger daughter will mostly stay in New York and northern New Jersey (where her school is). She has close friends near where we live now, and my brother & his family live fairly close to her college, so it should work out well. In the meantime, we’ve started eliminating (freecycle.org is wonderful) or packing up the non-essentials.  There are, as always, many variables, and the important thing is how we adapt – not whether we can rigidly adhere to a plan. If we get too caught up in the plans, life just whizzes by in the blink of an eye, and we miss it.

Whatever your views on calendars, crystal balls, planning, or resolutions, I wish you all a happy, healthy, peaceful 2019.

Pax.

 

Photo of the Pillars of Creation courtesy of NASA.

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New day, new year, same me – Welcome to 2018

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” — Hal Borland

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t particularly think of the new year as a momentous occasion – life is full of events, some big, most not. All of which form us, help us grow, change us – good and bad.  The start of a new calendar year is one more step along the way.  But, introspective soul that I am, I do reflect, often, and it is a new year. And, since it  is customary, I shall do some reflecting on the past year, and some future forecasting (even though my crystal ball broke years ago), but no resolutions.

This past year has been more of a source of reflection for me than most. The tail end of 2016 saw the loss of my oldest friend to cancer, and over the course of 2017, three more friends, of varying degrees, also passed away. Two to cancer, one suddenly – a tragic incident. All gone too soon. Two with still young children.  It’s human nature, that degree of narcissism that makes us contemplate ourselves when tragedy strikes. But it does give one pause and forces us to rethink our priorities when we are confronted with how fleeting life is – and how little we can control.

But the year was far from all sorrow, and life re-assessments. On balance, it was still a good year. We are all healthy, if older, and mostly happy. I finished my certificate program, and found a great volunteer opportunity to use it. My husband and I had a two week vacation with no kids for the first time in 25 years. My inner idealistic, semi-radical, self has regained its footing now that the kids are older and retirement is getting closer. I marched for science. We finally got the deck redone putting us one step closer to selling the house. Somehow, this blog has muddled along, in spite of my weak attention this year. I failed to finish NaNoWriMo this year, but in spite of no free time, I managed over 30k words. It’s been a good year, on balance.

The future? For the blog, I will continue with my rather eclectic posting approach (it’s name is Time For My Thoughts, after all).  3 days a week still works, but I’m planning to increase that to 4 days a week later in the year. I kept the 2016 theme for 2017 because I like it, and lacked the time to test changes. I confess that I have been testing changes recently, so it is very likely that I’ll change themes fairly soon. Or not. I really do like the clean look of the 2016 theme. (For those of you not familiar with WordPress, themes are formats.)

For life outside the blog? I know a few things (& don’t know more). Elder daughter is planning a trip home in June for her sister’s graduation. Younger daughter will be leaving for college (where is still undecided, but she has already received several acceptances & scholarship offers), and we will be empty nesters. Which is good because we really do want to sell the house. The house will most likely be ready to put on the market by the summer, but that assumes a Herculean effort to get rid of things. Whether we stay local whenever the house is sold, or head to warmer climes depends, in part, on the which college question. There are, as always, many things that can happen, and many variables in the mix, the important thing is how we adapt – not whether we can rigidly adhere to a plan. If we get too caught up in the plans, life just whizzes by in the blink of an eye.

And so we use the calendar to mark the passage of time, but relying too much on the calendar to map the future takes some of the spontaneity out of life.

Whatever your views on calendars, crystal balls, or resolutions, I wish you all a happy, healthy, peaceful 2018.

Pax.

 

Photo of the Pillars of Creation courtesy of NASA.

Happy New Year 2016

If any of the following sounds familiar, it is. I borrowed heavily from my New Year’s Day post from last year.

“And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been, full of work that has never been done, full of tasks, claims, and demands; and let us see that we learn to take it without letting fall too much of what it has to bestow upon those who demand of it necessary, serious, and great things.”

— Rainer Maria Rilke

I was driving home from work one day and thinking about why it is that many, possibly most, of us spend a part of the period around New Year’s Day reflecting on the past and planning for the future. In a way, it seems odd to me because there’s nothing particularly special about the change of the calendar year. Except, perhaps, that so many other people also recognize it as an event.

Personally, I think that the annual reflection time probably should be done on one’s birthday – a date that surely has more personal meaning. If I were to make resolutions, which I don’t, the anniversary of my birth would seem like a great time. But, then again, I don’t pay much attention to my birthday most years, and I suppose that I’m not alone in that. So, maybe that doesn’t work, either. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is a holiday that was custom-made for reflecting – and I do reflect then on how fortunate I have been. But I still don’t make resolutions. Just not a fan of lying to myself, and I was never a good goal-setter (a look at the goal setting for my performance evaluation at work would prove that)

To be totally honest, I’ve never been a big New Year’s Eve fan. In my wild youth, I considered it to be ‘amateur night’, and therefore much safer to be home. Being in the wonderful worlds of information technology and financial services, there were many years where I was physically at work on New Year’s Eve – but that’s okay, my husband worked nights for a newspaper (no holidays for them). There were even a few years that we worked close enough to each other that he would stop in my office with coffee and donuts on his way home from work. A few times when the kids were younger, and desperate to stay up to greet the new year (in the way that only kids are), we stayed up to watch the ball drop on tv. Most years I go to bed early because I have been up since 5am – midnight really doesn’t seem like much of a treat after working all day.

But since reflection seems to be the thing to do, I have to say that this year has been a reasonably good one, all things considered. My job, although increasingly demanding, is as secure as any job is these days. The family has been healthy, and we managed no major medical events all year. My husband retired, and we’ve slowly started working on getting the house ready to go on the market. Elder daughter graduated from university, and moved to a new life in Japan – she’s very busy, but happy. Younger daughter is successfully forging her own way through the maze of high school. Even the dog is healthy. I kept writing this blog, and managed to keep to a defined posting schedule. And I’ve managed more time for writing overall.

Next year is likely to bring many changes in my universe, some more challenging than others, but that’s what life is all about. Most of the time, it is how we approach life, and move through it, that matters far more than what it hands us.

To quote the inimitable Jimmy Buffett in “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Atitudes”:

“Oh, yesterday’s over my shoulder
So I can’t look back for too long
There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me
And I know that I just can’t go wrong”

And so, I leave you with my warm wishes for a safe, healthy, peaceful, and if possible, happy, 2016.

Sunrise in Milledgeville, April 2015.