My Last Blog Post of 2014

matthew's 21st bday

2014 was a tough year for my family…2010-2103 weren’t cake walks, either. Now, I’m not saying wonderful things didn’t happen to us because they sure did, but boy, this year was challenging. With every dream come true and answered prayer, came much learning, new challenges and very steep learning curves. Yes, I can look back today and see how much we’ve grown. I am thankful for my lessons…well, most of the lessons. I’m tougher and more resilient than I thought possible, which is a good thing. I’ve bent, been flexible, and stood my ground when the ground was indeed pretty shaky. I did pray and ask for a little relief this year. I also asked for no tests in 2015; I get it, God. I need a little sitting on the plateau time; no more steep climbs and learning curves for me, please…and thank you.

I made it through another year, thank God. I’m grateful and thankful for what I have. I’m healthy, happy, and my precious children are, too. Thank God. I have a roof over my head, my heat turns on when I turn the heating dial, and I have clean water and food. I might not have a whole lot of money left at the end of each month, but I’m doing okay. I’m blessed to do what I love and am passionate about–writing books and painting on the side. I live a quiet, peaceful, and very creative life, which I love. I have a loving children, a wonderful family, and great friends, which includes my puppy, Sophie and Pierre, my cat. I pray for continued good health for myself, my children, my family and friends in the near year and beyond, and I pray my debut novel, A Decent Woman, is well-received when it comes out in Spring 2015. What a long road this has been!

I prayed for all these things last night, and then…

last night, I opened my front door and watched my quiet neighbors from across the street, a mother and her adult son, place everything they own on the sidewalk. It was a cold night and my heart broke for them. I already knew they would be evicted and had offered my help, but the son wouldn’t hear of it. I walked over and offered my help again. He thanked me and turned back to the job at hand. I felt helpless as I turned back toward my house.

The warmth of my home welcomed me as I opened my front door and my puppy, Sophie wagged her tail when I walked through. I had texts from my children and two phone calls to return from dear friends. I answered the texts and made the calls, but I couldn’t shake what I’d seen across the street. Around midnight, the sidewalk was full of boxes and furniture and there were no lights on in the house. Where had they gone? Would I ever see them again? We weren’t close; I barely knew them as they kept to themselves for the year they lived on my street, but I was sad for them and wished them well.

So, no complaints from me. I’m blessed. Amen.

I wish you and yours a blessed, happy, prosperous, and healthy New Year.

 

 

The 2014 Joy/Happiness Jar Challenge

#JoyJar #HappinessJar 2014

Do you like challenges? I always like a good challenge that doesn’t involve alligator wrestling, bungee jumping off a bridge or sticking my hand in a bee hive. If you like those sort of challenges, good for you. I’ll fearlessly root for you at a safe, dry distance with the first aid kit. I’ll remain poised, ready to punch in the numerals, 9, 1, 1 on my cell phone, and I might even take a photo or two for posterity’s sake. But then my fingers wouldn’t be poised and ready to punch in 911, would they? Scratch that then.

In late December 2013, I accepted a friend’s Facebook invitation to begin a year-long Facebook challenge to keep a Joy/Happiness Jar for 2014. The instructions were to begin writing little notes on January 1st and continue throughout the year with our joyous life events, and dropping them in a jar or container until the following January. I loved the idea and being an optimist, I found a larger-than-normal Bell jar at Walmart and couldn’t wait to begin filling it. I went a step further—I bought beautiful papers at the craft store on which to write. I cut the 11×14 sheets of paper into one-inch squares and away I went. I’m a Virgo. We do things like that, but I didn’t decorate my jar, which many friends did. I was proud of my restraint as I remember the year I decoupaged everything in my home that didn’t move. Trust me…everything.

IMG_4073

January 2014 was the perfect year to begin my joyously, joyful Joy Jar as many lovely things happened to me, my family, and our friends. The previous year would have been okay, but the little notes would have included more personal wishes than joyous occasions as I was still waiting, waiting for many projects to take flight and situations to unfold. There were engagements, weddings, graduations, new babies, reunions great trips and road trips, new adventures, and my publishing contract with Booktrope Books in February. After many years of quering agents, my historical fiction novel, A Decent Woman, was accepted for publication! A huge blessing. It was very easy to think of joyous, surprising, and amazing occasions this year, for which I am thankful. When nothing newsworthy happened that week, I wrote that I was happy to be alive, healthy and safe as were my kids and my family.

Yes, we experienced a few disappointments, some sad moments, confusion, major delays (my book), frustration, a big fright, and a bit of anger, but that’s life. I lost my beloved Pug, Ozzy. RIP, buddy. We must take the good with the bad. Thankfully for my family, the negative moments were short-lived, and many of those moments unveiled hidden blessings for which we are extremely grateful for today.

So, I have less than ten days to finish filling my Joy Jar, which is nearly full. This afternoon, I wrote ten joys on ten little squares of paper and dropped them in the jar. On New Year’s Day 2015, I will empty the contents, unfold the notes, and read back over the year. I am thinking of having some type of ceremony–a symbolic burning of the small, folded pieces of paper as an offering of thanksgiving for all our many blessings in 2014, along with prayers. That sounds good to me and appeals to my spiritual side. After the ceremony, if I don’t catch the house on fire, I will go out and ring in the New Year with friends and family.

Christmas blessings to you and yours. x