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Cassidy and Harper Lee– ringing in the New Year with good friends.

Last night, Rob and I sat up, half asleep and eyelids
drooping, to watch the ball drop over New York City and a lot of people who
clearly have more exciting lives than we do. 
Heck, even our ten-year old has a more exciting life.  She went to her long-time friend’s
grandmother’s house for their 5th annual New Year’s Eve party.  She probably stayed up later than we
did.  So Isaac was an only child for most
of New Year’s Eve and the first part of 2012. 
Although he said it was fun, he did admit that “things are more fun when
Harper Lee is with me.”  After a full day
playing at the park and swimming at the YMCA, eating his favorite lasagna and
ice cream sandwiches and drinking sparkling grape juice, he passed out in front
of the fireplace on his sleeping bag around 8:30, and Rob and I drank what was
left of the juice and talked about the year that was about to end.

We had some losses this year, the most significant being our
two beloved dogs, Ellie and Cari.  Their
deaths seemed like the end of something for Rob and me since we had those two
girls long before we ever had children. 
It was a stark reminder of how times change and how the years close old
chapters and open new ones on a regular basis.

Overall, though, our year was a good one.  We went to the beach, bought a boat, sailed
and swam, sold a boat, sent our oldest to summer camp, went to Los Angeles, and
sent our youngest off to his first year of school.  The biggest event in our life as a family
this past year, however, has been the change in Rob’s job, which has improved
all our lives in ways we hadn’t fully imagined but had hoped for in so many
ways.  Having Rob home with us and back
to his old self, not the stressed-out, always on edge person he had become, has
been our greatest blessing this year.

Isaac “bouldering” at Stone Mountain on New Year’s Day

2011 was also a great year for me in that I came to several
realizations about myself and the direction of my life.  I think I’ve set myself up for a good 2012
though I still struggle with fear and doubt from time to time.  I have a lot of plans for the coming months,
and I’ve already begun work on them. 
I’ve lightened my teaching load (though I’m still teaching my favorite
literature class) so that I can focus on writing my book.  The book is a somewhat private affair for me
right now.  I don’t spend a lot of time
talking about it, and I don’t want to. 
It’s one of the reasons I haven’t mentioned it too much prior to now,
but saying it makes me feel accountable—to whom, I can’t say… maybe only to
myself, but I’m the most important one in this instance, right?

I also have a couple of other things (more on that to
follow) that are being finalized right now and that are rooted in taking action
on things I’ve been “thinking about” for quite some time.  2011 was a great year of self-reflection,
praying and planning, and 2012 is going to be a year of action, or at least a
year of practice.

I don’t really believe in making New Year’s
resolutions.  As Harper says, “That’s
pretty much the kiss of death.”  Instead,
I like the idea of goals.  I’ve always
been a writer of goals; it’s something to work towards, one day a time, and it
doesn’t have that sense of “all or nothing” or even punishment that the word
resolution does.  A goal is something you
work on bit by bit, every day.  If you
screw up one day, the whole thing is not lost; instead, you pick up where you
left off and keep going.  I like that so
much more than an “I will do…” or “I will not do…” list.  In fact, I have several goals this year, so
I’ve decided that my guiding word for 2012 is going to be practice.  I’m going to make a daily practice of:


*training seriously and consistently


*strength training

*focusing on the present and not worrying about tomorrow

*counting blessings rather than complaining

*surrounding myself with positive and supportive people

*following my gut more often

*prayer and meditation

*listening more, talking less

*creativity—not just in art but in daily living

There will be days that I don’t quite make it on all of
these points, but the goal is to continue practicing, to move toward these
things one step at a time.  I don’t know
yet what the end result will be, but I’m so looking forward to finding out what
2012 holds for me.

Journal:  What plans do you have for the new year?  Do you have a resolution or would you like to
work on a practice of your own?  What will
your practice be?

 Homestead Cabins at Stone Mountain- New Year’s Day, 2012