It is pretty frosty outside. That's is not so unusual at the beginning of January in the PNW, as a general rule. And, as it is the 4th of January (the anniversary of my entrance into mortality), I will luxuriate in a little retrospection. One more year and I will be at a milestone, of sorts.

I am eternally grateful for this journey, always. So many amazing things happened this year that I would have never imagined. I am blessed beyond my wildest imagination. Just for my own gratification, and for the sake of posterity, I will attempt to encapsulate all that still leaves me thanking the Holy One daily and profusely...

This year I won a scholarship, entered university, and am 'livin' the dream' of higher education. I am still amazed at this one - every time I walk onto campus, I wonder what the heck I am doing here! As of this moment and after much contemplation, I have decided upon my goal: double major in religion and classics, with a minor in anthropology. This is very settling and feels right - and makes me smile. Big goals!

This last summer I, along with my beloved, my bestie, and my youngest, traveled the country for nearly 4 weeks. We loved every moment of it! We experienced the Salt Lake Temple, the Grand Canyon, Disneyland, Hearst Castle, and a million other things along the way. There is absolutely nothing I love more than travel.

This year I bought a new car! Can't even express how much I love this sweet piece of machinery (a black, tinted window, personalized-plate, 2013 Subaru BRZ). What a ride!

I jumped into a DSLR this year...finally. I love photography, and it was just time for me to expand into higher technology. I love the Nikon D3200, and am still playing with it to establish relationship.

I truly learned so much this year. It is like the whole world opened up to me...and my curiosity is definitely peaked! I have studied theology, gender-related sociology and feminists movements, and religious cults. We have read, studied and researched quite extensively here in our household - I am so blessed!

I purchased a Kindle Fire this year. This thing is amazing. I tried a tablet (Samsung) at first, and then ended disappointed and up giving it to my youngest. But, the Fire is exactly the ticket - internet access and books! It goes with me everywhere. (I also splurged on a 'Hot Spot' to have internet anywhere I can get phone signal - what a luxury!)

We have enjoyed and explored many, many local destinations this year. We drove to Leavenworth, Ocean Shores, Seattle, Portland, the Oregon Coast, Lynden, Snohomish, Whidbey Island and north, Spokane, and more I can't think of right now. We rode the ferry, shopped street fairs and farmer's markets, graduated my middle homeschooler, walked on the beach, enjoyed the lavender fields, ordered a lot of coffee at Starbucks, scoured antique shops, got lost in bookstores, ate at too many restaurants, made up new cocktails, surfed too many hours on facebook, and celebrated the feasts. We struggled through legal headache then happily celebrated two divorces, searched for perfect items to decorate our home, given each other necessary therapy, made new friends and made time to love dear ones, dressed as Star Wars characters, prayed together, watched too many movies to count, shared many laughs and shed necessary tears. Oh, and I studied, studied and studied some more! Through it all, we have hugged beloved family and friends, and have missed those who are gone. And through it all, we loved each other.

So, there it is - my 49th year of life here on earth. As I head into my 50th year, I have to ask myself what have I learned?

I think I have learned that I am still the same on the inside as I was when I was much younger; it is just my body that is aging. That I will never be able to suppress my insatiable curiosity and a deep, abiding love for others. I will never stop loving all those that have crossed my path in significant ways, despite how they have treated me. I have learned that I was a part of a cult group, and that I am finally in a position to work through the psychological aspects of that experience. And that while my long-standing marriage wasn't what I wanted it to be, I will always love and care about my ex-husband, and want the best for him (and his family).

I have learned to love my children from afar as they begin their lives as adults. I am learning how to make sure they know I am, and always will be, there for them when they want or need me.

I have learned how much I needed sisters by the two that have been placed in my life. I love you, Lisa and Laura...I couldn't have asked for better or more loving sisters. I know that I have been truly blessed with true friends - the kind that don't leave - through beautiful souls such as Kevin, Patty and Chana. I pray for their protection and blessing from the Holy One, as I look forward to meeting new friends on my academic journey.

But, more than anything else I have learned this year, I have learned what true love is from my soul-mate and the love of my life, Chuck. He is my rock, my grounding, my twin. He is gracious and kind, caring and compassionate beyond any I have ever met. He talks with me, walks with me, and gives his time freely without any thought of himself. Somehow, my life was never complete without him. Now that he is here, I thank G-d every day for his presence. What a beautiful gift and lesson of love the LORD has given to me!

from the Song of Solomon

I should set goals for next year, I suppose. Perhaps my educational goals are enough for now. I do know this, however...that through whatever lies in store, that my G-d will be with me, that my friends will stand beside me, and I will forever love all whom the LORD gives me to love. My dear sister picks a word every year to focus on, and I think this is interesting. If I were to pick a word for this coming year, I think I would choose OPEN. I want to be open - open to others, open to new ideas, open to new situations and people. Open as opposed to closed, available as opposed to elitist, humble as opposed to self-righteous. A worthy goal, it is, to be open, available, and humble as I move through another year of life, love, and learning.


Ari C'rona said…
Beautiful pics! I continue to feel blessed beyond measure to count you as my dearest friend.

How did we ever get along without Chuck? I've never had such a brother, and he doesn't even know how awesome he is!