Although I’ve not spent much time seeking it out, the consensus on the conclusion of 2011 seems to be more of a collective good riddance than a sigh of regret from others I’ve noticed. I don’t know that I ever feel that way about a year coming to a close — even those years less stellar than the rest — choosing instead to think about what I enjoyed about it. Or what I learned and want to remember, so ruminate over it all while I’m taking the last look at the lighted Christmas tree, or sweeping up the bits and pieces of torn wrapping paper and ribbon that escaped the first clean-up.
Noticing what has been significant in a year is important, but not because a determination of its positive or negative impact is forthcoming. It just is what it is, and like anything else that happens in a year’s time, it takes its place on the calendar. Sometimes it fills days or weeks, and others, a mere instant. But they all seem to vie for my attention — especially when I’m not occupied with something that has to be taken care of. I ruminate over them, working for some resolution.
What did I notice about 2011?
Our aging parents. It shouldn’t be a surprise, but somehow it has been.
The numerical aspect of their aging isn’t what has struck me this past year, but more the result of those years. Of course their aging is inevitable, but managing my feelings about it hasn’t been. I’ve tried to remain aware, though, and am making mental notes about my own life, how I am aging, and what my boys’ perception of that might be. I’ve also noticed the extent to which others in both of our families — or others’ families for that matter — react and respond to their aging parents. My conclusions are that there are more ostriches among us than those willing to take up a sword and shield — and that includes the oldsters. I’m easily confused about this, sometimes annoyed, and others downright angry. But I’m always willing to discuss it, and I can’t say that for others.
Looking up. I just finished my annual sifting through of photos and see more shots of the sky this year.
This isn’t to say that I haven’t been someone who gazes at the wild blue yonder in my life. Quite the contrary. The difference is a more relaxed enjoyment of clouds and sunsets, sunrises and horizons, and far less star gazing or counting I used to be caught up in, talking to whom or whatever is up there and asking for favors and peace of mind. I still step outside at night occasionally to breathe the cool, moist air, and if it’s clear, count stars, sometimes labeling one or two for those who need to be kept in my thoughts. It’s the closest I’ll ever get to prayer, so it will have to do.
Finishing. As in finishing what I start.
Especially at times when there’s no deadline, no one wanting, waiting, or needing. Sometimes I think it’s a game I play with myself, and others think, what difference does it make whether I finish this or not? Am I interested in it? Are there other things I’d rather be doing? I don’t have a list of tasks to complete, or goals to expect of myself. There are no boxes to check. No, I did that for a good portion of my life and believe I was quite good at it. So maybe this business of finishing — or not — at this point in my life isn’t all that important. I’d like to think life is more about the ebb and flow of days and weeks, tasks and projects, getting worked up over something if it’s worth it, then letting it go knowing that at some point, it will ruffle my feathers again. Or maybe, just maybe, there’s something optimistic about not finishing and always keeping the possibility of something to do around…
Pets. We love them, but goodness they require a lot of attention.
They worry us when we can’t find them, we fuss over their bad habits, try to understand changes in their behavior, work to train them, forgive them, try to find someone to care for them when we’re away. They ruin things far more than children do, yet we keep them, talk to them, clean up their messes, and wonder what our lives would be like without them. Our lives would be different. Our furniture wouldn’t sport tattered and frayed upholstery, the stone floor showing spots where the sheen has been etched away by something urped in the night. The window screens would be whole, the dustballs would lack fur, and carpets smell fresh. Our wallets would have more money in them without special food to try, sprays to treat, new-fangled gimmicks to sample, and toys to buy. But we’d be lonely, wouldn’t we?
Blogging. When it begins to feel like a job, a calendar of tasks begins to form, and the feeling of “have to get this done” permeates the once enjoyed art of connecting words and photographs, learning something new, and sharing with others, then my interest falters.
I’ve enjoyed feeling lately that I’ve been on vacation when all I’ve done is ignore the fact that I have not one, but two places to write, preferring to enjoy each day without thinking about either of them. I’d like to say I’ve gotten out and about more, but I haven’t. Or that I’ve exercised more, but no. The television is never on during the day, nor do I pick up my current read, saving that for bedtime. So it seems I should have more to show I’ve accomplished with my time, yet I struggle find it, wondering instead whether I’ve solved any of the world’s problems with all my thinking in the time that’s passed. Honorable mention excuses can be chalked up to several weeks of preparing for and taking a vacation, more for a second family wedding and its events, and holiday happenings the rest. Of course this leaves me with a D- in the well-blogged life category. If anything, a blog is a good way to mark what’s important in one’s life, and I guess I’ve mucked that up.
The World. Or the lack of my awareness about it, to be more accurate.
I’ve stopped listening to the talking heads on television this past year, and we no longer get our local paper, or watch the local news. Although I’ve downloaded a variety of apps for my iPad to keep myself current with the world’s news, I find I rarely look at what they have to offer, so am now completely ignorant about far too many things. Evidently, when I sort of “unplugged” a few months ago, I neglected to realize that Twitter is what provided me news each day. That I followed quite a few newspapers, magazines, and websites and got all of my news when it actually happened instead of waiting for it in print as much as a day later. I don’t like not knowing what is going on in the world, so need to find a balance with it all. This means learning to cope with the often noisy and distracting aspect of Twitter yet still feel as if I’m informed. Oh, the times they are a-changin’, aren’t they?
Myself. My eyelids are drooping.
I have a bald spot on one of my eyebrows which is saying quite a bit considering I’ve always been challenged in the eyebrow department. I drink too much wine and never seem to eat enough vegetables even though I try. I do. My skin is splotchy and my hair is in desperate need of a cut or something to shape it up. The knee I had surgery on a year ago will never be like it once was, but is able to do most of what it needs to do and more when I push myself. I look in the mirror sometimes and wonder who that woman looking back at me might be, and at others think, you’re not looking too badly, girlie, then suck in my stomach before continuing on my way. Then I see a photo of myself and notice all of what is wrong instead of what isn’t. But I also know I’ve always thought that way. Always. This year has been no different than the others. I’ll continue to use moisturizer, tell myself that I shouldn’t drink as much wine as I do, fight to keep the vegetables on our plates, avoid keeping my hair guys employed, apply foundation to even out my skin, exercise more and watch portion size . I’ll also continue to look for women who set a good example, exude a positive self-image, and look comfortable in their skin. Mind over matter, right?
It’s another year. Another set of 365 days — or is it 366 this year?
Life goes on, doesn’t it? And there’s much to do.
Have you noticed?