Tonight is both one of my favorite and least favorite nights of the year. For years, I loved what New Year’s Eve represented. I loved ending a year, reflecting on everything that transpired while also brainstorming resolutions to make the next year even better. For the longest time, I also loved the fireworks. It was fun seeing large scale fireworks displays on television and the ball drop in Times Square. I still loved the idea of fireworks after Iraq, but after dealing with mortar attacks, the displays are enjoyable now from a distance.
The past few days we’ve started to have a trickle of fireworks in our surrounding area again and I’m trying to keep my anxiety under control with these unexpected bursts of energy and sound. Rather than fret excessively about it, I am trying to remember in a few days the chaos of holiday festivities will abate as people start to focus on their resolutions to lose weight, eat better, and so forth as they remind themselves they have 365 days to be better versions of the persons they are today. I will not set resolutions for the year ahead because I know it’s more important for me to focus in the present and I just don’t do that when I start hoarding goals and get frustrated when they take longer to accomplish than expected. (I guess that objective is sort of a resolution in a way, isn’t it? )
I am fortunate to have an unexpected day off from work today, so I do want to thank you for taking the time to drop in today as we close out the year.
2019 has been a brutal year for our nation based on the significant amount of violence we’ve encountered that have taken our students in their education settings and community members as they shop, celebrate their faith, and go about doing mundane tasks and leisure activities like shopping and social activities. The high volume of violence impacted my year as it did many others. I was disgusted by the assailants who have not taken other courses of actions to rectify the issues in their lives and instead used their frustration, anger, or resentment to cut short the lives of innocent bystanders and leave others with wounds they will carry for the rest of their lives. I never expected violence to be such an “everyday” sort of experience after leaving Iraq the first time back in 2005.
It is for this reason, I wanted to write as a means of gratitude. I often forget to show appreciation for the days I’ve been given. I know better than most the value of my days, but I get caught up in seeing the wealth of opportunities around me and wonder why certain experiences are out of my reach and/or taken me longer than my counterparts. Too often I expect life to be like an algebraic equation where one side of the equation matches the other in the fact x amount of effort=equal amount of reward. It’s just not true and I must make a reminder to not be critical of my capabilities for what does not transpire.
For those that have stuck around a bit, you know 2019 was chock full of some monumental achievements like completing my second graduate program of study, but I wanted to trace back the decade to show how far I’ve truly come and hopefully inspire others (and me!) to enjoy the beauty of the next ten years that lay before us.
2009: Adopting a New Name, Mom
2010: Learning to Love a Brand New Person
2011: Taking a Risk
2012: Starting Over Somewhere New (Arizona)
2013: Experiencing a Stay Cation for the First Time
2014: Stepping Up and Out of My Comfort Zone
2015: Stepping Back into History
2016: The Year We All Graduated School Together and Found Our First Home
2017: The Year My Parents Paid Us a Surprise Visit at Disneyland
2018: Finding My Tribe
2019: The Year of Reconnecting and Celebrating All of Life’s Moments
Sometimes it is too easy to see the ways each year has brought some sort of trauma into my life, but as I look back over these photos, I can see how much hope and support I’ve also had along the way.
I don’t know where the trajectory of this blog will go as we enter the next decade, but I want to thank not only those who have been with me since the start, but everyone who has taken the time to follow my journey. When I started sharing my thoughts back in 2014, I know I was quite dismayed about the portrayal of female veterans and the attention we receive (and don’t) for our military service. My thoughts were often shared without much curating, and even now, on a busy day, I write with abandon, which I understand results in some grammatical and typographical errors. On the days I’ve written from a negative perspective, I hope others see my vulnerability and desire to figure out life. On the days I’ve written from a positive perspective, I hope others see inspiration comes from many different facets of life, but that my joy is not ever meant to make another feel bad for missing out on certain milestones or taking longer to accomplish certain objectives.
Turning 35 this year and ending the decade on a high note by completing my graduate studies; seeing both my husband’s family and my own plus dear friends of ours; and being in the process of selling our first home remind me that living is a slow journey. We are forever transforming and while it does not appear as such on a daily basis, a quick glance at the physical evidence demonstrated in our photographs and memories serves proof of our evolution.
As we end 2019, I wish you all the best tonight and for the 365 ahead. Feel free to set or not set resolutions. Remember to grant yourself grace when you make mistakes. Don’t sell yourself short when you encounter obstacles in your path. And most of all, have fun.
And if you want to talk about New Year’s Eve plans, feel free to tell you what you’re up to today on Instagram. I’m enjoying the evening in the comfort of our home with lots of goodies from Trader Joe’s and some bourbon mixed with sparkling blush cider and maybe a glass of Pacific Coast Pink to toast to the end of 2019.
See you all again in 2020.