As I'm sure you can imagine, the first part of 2011 was very very difficult. But lately, as I've been working through "The Artist's Way" and reflecting upon the past year, I've come to realize that not only was it a difficult year but it's also been a very eventful year filled with blessings and accomplishments. As a matter of fact, I do believe it has been the best year of my life so it sets the bar particularly high for 2012. How can it be any better? (And it will be!) So, without further ado, and in no particular order, I present to you...
My Top Ten Favorite Things about 2011
10. Blogging/Online Friends: This year I have really learned to cling to the friends I've made through the internet. Without them, I'm certain I'd feel so terribly alone. I have grown closer to some who I've known for a while and I've met some new folks who I love very much. Even had the chance this summer to spend the morning with my sweet wonderful friend, Jen. What a blessing she is to me! I've also been able to become and stay connected to some of my "cancer mamas" thanks to the internet. They are also a saving grace for me.
9. Fun Stuff: Thanks to my in-laws and Make A Wish and mere creativity and drive, our family has engaged in numerous fun activities this year. From attending a baseball game to spending time at Walt Disney World, I'd say we've had just about as much fun in one year as a family could possibly have. And boy did we need it! When a child has been sick and both he and his dad have been isolated from the home and the rest of the family I think it's vital that the family be able to spend a lot of time doing fun things together in order to reconnect. We have been so very blessed with many opportunities like that this year and I think Hunter is finally fully integrated back into the family again!
8. Small Group at Church: For years, we have tried to become involved with a small group at our church. We gave it a go several times but for one reason or another, they were never a good fit. This fall, the perfect group came along when we needed it the most. The group includes children with whom my kids play really well and it includes a bunch of adults with whom my husband and I play well :). But the best part is that it's a service based group focused upon including our children in the service projects. This, my friends, is an official answer to prayers. This group even helped me accomplish my goal of serving the people at the Children's Hospital this Christmas! Thank you Kit and Keith for organizing it. Can't wait to see what the new year brings for our group.
7. Ridiculous Chocolate: Our business has grown over the past year. Our delicious products are being sold in a retail location now and I think we will have a label really soon (fingers crossed). We also got to sell our products at several different venues over the holiday and we have plans for new venues in the spring. Things are not moving as quickly as I'd like to see them move but it's moving forward so that is something. I am so excited to see what 2012 brings for our business! Thanks to everyone who has helped make it a success.
6. Teaching at Church: One day during the summer I walked up to one of our children's ministry directors and told her that I'd like to teach on Faith Blvd during the fall. She said that the puppet room was available and that she thought I'd be great in there! I had always wanted to teach in that class and so I was really excited by the offer. I immediately took the position and I've simply LOVED it! First and second graders are the absolute best. They are so funny and sweet. We have a lot of fun in the class. And I've had several kids, including my own, tell me that my class is their favorite. What a blessing!
5. Theater: I've blogged a lot about theater over the past few months. But honestly, being reintroduced to the theater and the people in the theater has been such a blessing for my family. "Pippin" was such an amazing experience for us all and I'm so very thankful for it. We made new friends and most importantly, Hunter learned that he has a talent and a passion for something (other than "The Simpsons")!
4. Leslie: Yes, Leslie, you get your own number. I've prayed and prayed for a friend like Leslie. The friend I could always count on. The one I would text or call automatically if I had good news... or bad news. The one who would offer to come sit with me if my dog had to be rushed to the ER. The one with whom I'd automatically want to spend my birthday. The one with whom I'd want to vacation and take a cruise with in our middle age. I *almost* had that friend several times over. Almost. But not quite. Then this past summer I scheduled a play date with an old friend from high school. She was a public school teacher now. We'd long since grown apart. I never dreamed that she would become that friend to me. Her friendship has become a cherished gift and it's renewed my faith in people and in myself. She's amazing, loyal, caring, and doesn't get her feathers ruffled easily (which seems to be necessary when you are a friend of mine;)). I'm abundantly blessed.
3. Rocked the home health care nursing gig: This time last year I was FREAKED the heck out because those first few nights staying with Hunter outside of the hospital in the Hope Lodge were a nightmare. And I didn't have two other kids to care for and a house to run. It was just me, him and a room. I had to learn so much and stretch myself in ways I never dreamed I would have to stretch. I had to become a home health care nurse. And that's what I did... from January until the middle of March my life revolved around meds, flushing lines, feeding Hunter his liquid nutrition through his line, measuring fluids and food and then measuring vomit and diarrhea, calls to the hospital... it was not easy. It was the greatest challenge of my life. I cried a lot. I felt disconnected and unavailable to my other two children. But slowly things got easier. I got used to my new job. Hunter was treated for GVHD and adrenal fatigue and I was able to finally get some food to stay in his tummy while the vomiting eventually stopped. And he had his line removed. It all worked out in the end. And I now feel extreme gratification in knowing that I had persevered and done the best that I possibly could for my child, even if at the time I was so sleep deprived and exhausted that I couldn't see anything good about it. Today I am pleased to say that Hunter is no longer on medication of any kind (unless you count his multivitamin and cod liver/butter oil) and I like thinking that I played a big role in his recovery. Somehow I made it through all of that without any major screw ups!
2. Following through with goals: I set a goal to garden and I did it. I set a goal to start making my own laundry and dishwasher detergent and I did that too (and continue to do it). I set a goal to complete The Couch to 5K program and I did that as well! So I felt really good about the fact that I reached these goals despite all of the challenges we were enduring last year. I'll have no such excuses this coming year so I better complete my list of goals in 2012 as well.
1. Maggie: In May, Hunter was gifted with a doggie. She has been a miracle, a gift directly from God. She is patient, loving, and as sweet as pie. She tolerates a lot of nonsense from the toddler and she is so much fun. Most importantly, she has helped Hunter get through some really tough times this year.
Now a new year is upon us and I have some objectives set for 2012.
Things that I personally want to focus on and accomplish (some of which I already wrote about for my birthday in November) are as follows:
Work on stand up comedy... study it, write it, and hopefully perform it.
Take some classes: improv, sewing, and yoga, specifically.
Commit to praying more, particularly for my husband and our financial situation and our business.
Contribute more to our business, Ridiculous Chocolate.
Prayerfully work on the musical or play or series of monologues or whatever it might become about Childhood Leukemia that is swimming around in my brain (no deadlines for now... not ready for that).
What I learned this past year is that I can set goals and they help get me started... as a sort of kick off. But eventually the universe just hands whatever it wants our way and sometimes those things end up being even better than the goals were. I'm certain that 2012 will hold lots of unforeseen surprises as well!
Happy New Year, friends! May you all be blessed in 2012!
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