Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It's Just Another New Year's Eve; A Personal Reflection

     It's Just Another New Year's Eve, the final day of 2014. In the grand scheme of things, tomorrow is just another day; only the calendar starts over for 2015.  Many of we humans are socially programmed to experience tonight as an ending and tomorrow morning as a new beginning.  The truth is that every night is an ending and every morning is a new beginning, but we just don't tend to look at it that way. No, we trod through life day-to-day often not paying attention enough to our surroundings or the people in our lives. In general, I think we should pay more attention.  I've been making a conscious effort to do this for a few years now and I am so glad to be more aware.  I highly recommend it!
     In the social spirit of the holiday, I find myself reflecting on this past year and it has been full of change, of transition; endings and beginnings.

The hardest endings of 2014 had all to do with the people in my life. One of the hardest was the closing of the pub, not only because it was the end of a job I loved, but more so that it was the end of seeing so many people that I continue to love.  I miss the people I worked for and with; I miss the vendors who would come and go; I miss the musicians and the music with which they filled the space or the patio in the summer; I miss the regulars and I miss the irregulars! 

Six weeks after the pub closed I moved 850 miles away.  Saying good-bye or even so long to so many people turned out to be so difficult that I became completely numb and devoid of emotion for that period of time. I miss my friends from all aspects of my life in Chicagoland. My industry friends, musician friends, Tuck friends,  friendships I maintained from  church, friends from previous employments, friends from classes I took or seminars I attended.  It's crazy how the prospect of leaving causes one to take stock of their friendships.  I get overwhelmed thinking about how utterly grateful I am to have such people in my life (that includes the people here in New Jersey too!) who allow me the honor to care for them so dearly and how fortunate I am that they care for me in return.

Another ending that occurred as a result of my move is that the ending of living alone, on my own. I realize that I moved to be with and take care of my aging mother, and I am glad to do it.  That does not change the fact that I am in some ways now tethered whether real or imagined.  I have different responsibilities and accountabilities which crimp my freedom a bit. Mom became immediately dependent on me and I noticed quickly how she is no longer the woman she once was; slower, forgetful, regimented, easily confused.  On the other hand she remains robust, vital and profoundly competent in so many ways. I am still learning and we are still figuring this whole thing out.

2014 has also been a time of beginnings.  I began taking photography classes so I can begin to understand what the heck I am doing.  I began learning new things in other areas too.  I wanted to understand physics so I listened to the Feynman lectures, twice!  I'll need to do that again in 2015 as well.  I began listening to lectures in other subjects as well in a quest to be more well-rounded in what I know. 

     When I moved back to New Jersey there were lots of beginnings:
     Living with  my mother after 32 years out is a huge beginning; bigger than I ever really imagined.  This one comes with a whole bag of differences.  I went from living in a three bedroom condo in complete privacy to living mostly in one room a two bedroom home.  Other than rearranging some things my bedroom is MY space. The rest is my mother's house.  That feels weird at my age and in some ways it also feels wrong.  I'm still working through those issues.  I am sometimes unsure how to resolve them.  I feel like I don't know what the rules are or if there are rules at all.  After 10 weeks here, I am still figuring it all out. 

Some of the other beginnings:
  • Renewing friendships from years ago and beginning to learn who my childhood friends have become
  • Beginning to live in a culture that seems foreign to me after a 26 year absence
  • Beginning to learn my way around a new geography. I never lived in this part of  the state.  I can get to specific destinations but I haven't mastered knowing my way around quite yet.  Part of the problem is that I spent 26 years in a glorious grid system where north meant north (leaving out Wacker Drive here!). Here the roads are squiggly as hell and often when I'm on a road marked north I'm going east or west or even southwest!  It's frustrating... and confusing!
  • Finding where it is good to eat (It is strange not knowing where to go or having favorite spots close by where I feel comfortable)
  • Birding.  I started birding and that is one of the BEST beginnings of the year for so many reasons but the most wonderful reason is the who.... who I go birding with makes it even more wonderful!
  • There's another beginning tomorrow.  Tomorrow, on the first day of the year, I begin a new job.  After four months of not working I cannot tell you how thrilled I am at the prospect of working again. It is not just for the moneymaking aspect of a job, it's about my sanity and need to feel like I'm contributing to something and my need to contribute here at home.  It's about the prospect of meeting new people and learning their stories.  It's about learning something new or at least a new way to do things. It's about beginning to feel settled because the normalcy that only work can provide will be present in my life again. It's not the perfect job, but I will make it work and at the very least, make money there.

It seems clear that the transition of this move is not yet complete. The process will continue well into 2015 and that's OK.  I'll figure it out eventually.  I do have one confession to make though: This has been harder on me than I have let on to anyone and harder than I care to admit to myself.  I have beat myself up, isolated myself physically and emotionally for weeks at a time. I vacillate from wanting to cry constantly and then getting numb again, seemingly impervious to these transitional emotions.  I lost my courage for awhile, though it seems to be coming back now as I am venturing out on my own to explore and seek new experiences in my new environs. I lost confidence from sending out hundreds of resumes every single week and mostly hearing crickets through the silence as I awaited a response from any prospective employer. I thought I was competent at such a variety of things that I could have been a great fit with many of the places to which I applied.  I could have helped them grow, be more efficient and profitable. It was, and still is, hard to understand why I did not get responses. Obviously my skills are not as marketable as I believe. 

There is a lot to look forward to in the new year.  More beginnings, more transition and maybe even some unexpected endings.  Time will tell: It always does.  In the mean time, I look forward to:
  • Friendship: Growing the ones I have renewed as well as the ones far away and making new ones too. Supporting my creative friends by attending their performances regularly.
  • Family: Seeing my family more now that I live in proximity.
  • Work:  learning, making money and moving into a position I want over time
  • Adventure: exploring my surroundings, the parks, history and culture that is within my reach
  • Photography: learning and developing greater skill, getting additional equipment, becoming more proficient at editing my images, perhaps even entering a few in some competitions
  • Writing: Continuing my trend of being more diligent and disciplined with my writing by producing more blog posts and perhaps finally finishing that damn book I've been working on for over a decade.  Even if nobody ever reads it in a published format, it needs to be finished.
  • Birding: learning more about our fine feathered friends and combining this knowledge and exploration with my photography.
  • Learning/Reading:  Continuing my trend of reading more educational things rather than spending or wasting time on drivel.

I also have one thing I'd like to add to my life in 2015 and it's the closest thing I have to a resolution: volunteerism.  I want to find a worthy pursuit or two with which to get involved and volunteer some time and talent. 

How about you?  What are your reflections on 2014? What are you looking forward to in 2015?
I wish each and every one of you a year more wonderful than you can ever imagine.  Be well, smile often, love big and choose the attitudes of gratitude and happiness every single day before your feet hit the floor.

My love to all... today and every day.

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