2017 … WOW! You’ve been an intense year full of unexpected surprises. Earlier I wrote my first article and had not anticipated writing another until next week. However after reading Susie Lindau’s Blessed Project, I felt inspired to reflect on this year’s gracious moments and lessons learned. Please check out the above link for the most inspiring stories.
As for me while this year winds down, I’m grateful for the following:
~ Mobility ~ At the beginning of October 2016, I was involved in a hit-and-run while cycling in San Diego. Knocked unconscious and left by the side of the road, I only remembered my name when I came to. I did not know what city I was in or why I was there; my memory started to return slowly after I called the first person in my cell who had the same last name as me. (Thank you to my older sister, Liz, who talked me through an intense episode from 1,300 miles away.) Thankfully I was wearing my helmet, and nothing was broken. Just a gnarly batch of road rash, soft tissue damage, and a minor brain injury. Immediately I began 10 weeks of physical therapy to walk, which led to completing the #52hikechallenge and eventually running a half-marathon this year. Lessons Learned: Never give up. Always wear safety gear. Get the tag number.
~ Family & Friends ~ After loosing my father in 2009 from a home invasion turned homicide and my mother in 2015 to a sudden infection, my friends around the world have provided unconditional and relentless moral support. They provide the light of grace, hope, and even humor during my darkest hours. I’m blessed to have lived on three continents in the past decade and have developed close friendships that span multiple time zones (which are not always convenient for face-time chats, but treasured all the same). Even when I feel unstable or do not want to make myself available, my friends are there to see me off the ledge. Lesson Learned: Family is not always defined by blood.
~ Being Home ~ After spending so much time aboard, it is not only nice to be back stateside, but to be in a place I call home. Recently I shared the following on Facebook: “2017 has been full of growth and acceptance. Earlier this year, I spent a month at a TBI/PTSD clinic. During the intake interview, we went over everything. It was … I’m not quite sure how I’d like to put it yet. But one thing struck me as odd when I read what the nurse had wrote. She described part of my youth as including ‘short periods of homelessness.’ I was shocked, confused, almost angry. What the heck?! Sure, there was a brief period where my mother and I had to stay at a women’s shelter. But I had never considered us homeless. Tonight as I read, I realize it’s because my Momma always made me feel loved, wanted, and safe regardless of our circumstances. And isn’t that the true essence of a home? Not the brick and mortar of a structure, but the warmth and strength of your loved ones. I may not have always been able to sleep in my own bed, but I could always rest in my mother’s love and embrace. For that I’m truly grateful and blessed. May you and yours have a warm and cozy evening.” Lesson learned: As I prepare to sell my first house, the one I purchased for my mother to retire comfortably in, I am reassured home is where love is shared, not defined by an address.
~ Work ~ I have been a proud member of the U.S. Navy for over 18 years. Soon I will begin my transition to the civilian world. It’s incredibly scary to me because I’ve been in over half my life, meaning I’ve worn an uniform more days than I haven’t. Who wouldn’t be terrified to start picking out their own clothes and routine when they’re close to being over the hill? But honestly my career has been an amazing ride. One I would not trade for anything. The places I’ve been, the things I’ve experienced; they are all priceless. If only I had 20 more years to serve our nation, and keep the adventure going. Lesson learned: 20 years is a lot shorter than I thought.
~ Adventure ~ I’m blessed to have visited six continents and all 50 states, but those opportunities do not compare to the people I have met. I’m blessed to have crossed paths with kindred spirits in Alaska to friendly Bedouins in Morocco. This year, I got to meet Val Kilmer after a showing of his “Citizen Twain.” While I’ve been on more strenuous escapades in the wilderness, to conquer my shyness and stand beside a childhood hero and share a laugh, was an amazing adventure in and of itself. Lesson learned: I’ve discovered as long as I keep my heart, mind, and eyes open to life’s possibilities I’m rarely disappointed and almost always changed for the better.
~ Joslyn ~ This year my aunt introduced me to a cat she rescued after it had been abandoned in the cemetery where she worked. At first, I was uncertain because I had not intended to bring a pet into my life so soon although I’m an avid animal lover. But eight months later, I couldn’t think of a day going by and Miss Joslyn not being a part of my life. Even with her midnight rants and treat addiction, I love her dearly. Lesson learned: Open your home and heart when you can.
~ Sobriety ~ Today marks 170 days without drinking. It’s been an interesting road. One I never thought I would travel (nevertheless wholeheartedly or successfully), but with each day I’m discovering more of the person I want to be. I’m sure I will share more on this later since only a few close friends and family know this is a life change I’ve made this year. AA says pick a sobriety date and don’t change it; mine’s July 8th, 2017. This week I picked up my 5-month chip. Isn’t it pretty?! Lesson learned: You can have as much fun (if not more) sober … and you can save a ton of $$$ in the process.
~ Healing ~ Today I’m focused on healing physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I’m thankful for the time, energy, and strength to dedicate toward these endeavors. The resolutions and challenges I’ve outlined for the coming year are intense but aligned with the growth I’m ready to take in order to be the “best version of myself. Lesson learned: All it takes is …
Wishing you and yours a happy holiday season and wonderful, whimsical 2018!
Thank you, Susie Lindau, for the opportunity to share.