Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Life doesn't always turn out the way we want,  we know that.   But the funny thing is, sometimes that's because the things we really want aren't the things we think we want, or don't come the way we expect.   

I always wanted to live in a certain kind of place, a more country place, a prettier landscape.   In fact, living in a pretty place where I could do the homey country-things I like to do was on my bucket list.   I have spent time in Massachusetts and Sanibel Island and the west coast and Italy, and in a variety of cities in Michigan, and I guess I could have lived in any of those places.    Instead I live in Saginaw, Michigan, probably not on too many top ten Pretty Lists.   And yet, for the first time in my life, I am doing more things that fit my fantasy of where I wanted to live than I ever did when I was spending lots of time in the picture postcard places I thought I wanted.    I've lived in far prettier places, but here I am doing the outdoor things that I thought I needed a pretty place to get to.    Funny.

I always wanted to have work where I felt Uselful.   And now I have a job where some days I feel completely useless but on others I am almost overwhelmed with the needs that people place on me.    Being useful in spurts has taught me that my life lacks balance and I struggle with ways to smooth it out.    There's a lot of pressure in usefulness.  Three years in, I often feel like I need to shift back to work that has less value just to escape the roller coaster of emotion.   Funny.

I always wanted to be in a Relationship, something that has eluded me.   And eludes me still.    And yet, for the first year in my life, this year I had a friend who made the time fly by, who I trust and respect, and who trusts and respects me, who makes me laugh and can make me smile simply by crossing my mind.   Because we are going Nowhere, because we are Just Friends and not A Couple, my sister and other friends think I deserve more.   Frankly, I don't disagree.   But I spent years in a relationship that they  encouraged, and I was miserable.    I've had far more traditional relationships with people who pledged that they wanted to spend their lives with me, but here I am enjoying the occasional day with someone in a way that I never have before.   Other men have claimed to love me more than life itself but this friend, who claims no such thing, encourages me, challenges me, makes me happy and lets me be more fully myself.   And yet I often find myself brooding and discontent, wanting more.    Funny.

Maybe that's why I no longer make resolutions for improvement, maybe I am finally learning that my life doesn't lend itself to planning-promises and that the things I Improve end up being disappointments.    I want to be open to the unexpected gifts along the way, the things I might have turned my nose up at in the past.     Because, I am finding, that is where the sweetness lies.    But I am a list maker, no escaping it, so I am constantly thinking of things I could do, things I am afraid I will forget if I don't write them down.   And New Year's cries out to me for a List.
So of course I do have "resolutions" for 2014, but they will be the same as they were in 2013 -- I'm going to do my best to make 2014 the Best Year Ever and have ridiculous amounts of Ridiculous Fun.   It worked well for me in 2013 and I expect it to work well again.  Maybe I didn't have any  more fun than usual, but I stayed more open to new things and I paid more attention to my choices.   In 2013 I earned all three amateur radio licenses, leaned Morse Code, and climbed a rock wall.   A year ago, none of those things were on my radar.    I also went fly fishing and target shooting, tried and tasted lots of new things, made new friends, joined and trained with a Search and Rescue group, acted like a lawyer again, and let my heart soar, just a little.  I learned so many things, from so many people.   I stayed aware all year that my choices and attitude were what would make the year good, and it was, truly, the best year I can remember, if only because I paid enough attention to the good things that, even when they were over, I actually DID remember.

And so, with that in mind, in 2014 I am hoping to pack in even more fun stuff, and I'm thinking that will be more likely if I start planning now.   I'm not putting any pressure on myself, these are not things I 'have' to do, but they are ideas of things I think will be fun or useful to me, even if I have to push myself (hard) to get up the nerve to actually do some of them.

1.  Despite my claim that there are no have-tos, I AM going to go zip lining in 2014.   I am.   I already bought the ticket, and as soon as the park reopens, I'm planning to go.    Yes, Kim, I promise.   Meanwhile, I'm trying not to think about it.   And trying not to think about how afraid I am of heights.   I'm not sure why, or what (if anything) it will lead to; it doesn't matter.  As I tell my grief support groups every month, when you are stuck, you need to do something.    It doesn't matter what, because every action leads us.     It will either go well, or badly, and either result provides data.   So that is my bottom line.    I'm doing it, and that's that.  

2.  And I AM going to do Morse Code on the air in 2014.   Not once, not twice, but enough times to feel that I've either conquered my fear or given it a sincere effort.    Words cannot express how afraid I am of this silly goal, but it simply doesn't matter.   For exactly that reason, I am not telling this goal to my Morse Code Elmer.    No sense in asking for more pressure than I'm already putting on myself. 
And if he gives up on me, I'll find someone else with a rig that I can use.    But I'm doing it, whether I want to or not, and that's that.

3.  I hope I am going to take scuba lessons and get my open water certification in 2014.    Yup, this scares me, too.   Um, breathing under water, too far under for me to get to the surface if I need to take a breath  - need I say more?   And it's not cheap, so I will need to do some budgeting, and then I will need to pass the classes, but it's on my goal list.   Ironically, I used to go to Florida every year, sometimes several times a year, spending as much as a month at a time, but I never took advantage of the fly fishing and diving adventures that entice me now.   So I will most likely be diving in cold Michigan water if I get to dive at all, but I still want to do it.   It isn't going to get any easier or more likely if I put it off, so now is the time.   I stopped into a local scuba shop and talked to them, and talked to my doctor, too.    Despite every excuse I could come up with, all systems are go.   I've started taking the classroom portion on line, so I'm on my way.

4.  I am going to try really hard not to get my heart broken in 2014.   The trick to that will be to stay in the moment, and to accept that what is, is.      No one wants to hurt me, I just need to be careful not to hurt my own silly self by creating a fantasy that exists in only my mind.  But the flip side is that I will also try really hard to keep my heart open, even though it means being open to hurt.

5.  I know that it's a lot easier to have fun and enjoy the best if I am feeling good, so I am going to try really hard to eat well and exercise more in 2014, hopefully getting back into the regular walking schedule that worked so well last year.   I might look into counseling with a dietician if I can find one I trust.    I need to feel fit to take part in the search and rescue activities that I love, and will need that, too, to enjoy zip lining and scuba.    In the 'circle of best,' taking care of myself is always going to be important.

6.   I am going to continue to try to find a fuller purpose in my life.    As a person who believed since childhood that my purpose would be in helping and being with others in the context of a marriage, it is perhaps time to accept that this life is not going to lead to the life partner I always expected to appear.     Although I never wanted to live alone, I have lived alone for a very long time.    I have a family that I cherish and I have always been, and continue to be, involved in community service,  but there has always been a void in my life, waiting.      I thought I knew what was missing, but it's out of my control and, after a very long wait, it's time to move beyond that personal fantasy.   I have relationships I value and I don't want to taint them with the brush of what they are not.   So it will be a goal in 2014 to try to figure out what else to put in that empty place.  

7.  Most of all, I hope that, as often as I can, I am going to try new things in 2014 that I haven't thought of, maybe haven't even heard of, maybe simply haven't dared to do.   I will again try to listen for ideas that come from outside my circle of comfort, and learn whatever I can, wherever I can, whether it involves craft or food or physical activity or people.   I hope I will dare to do things I don't expect to like but haven't actually tried.   I hope I will conquer, or at least confront, some fears.    I hope by the end of 2014 to be able to say that I discovered and experienced things I didn't even knew existed today.   It's going to be the Best Year Ever.  :)

Happy New Year!    I hope 2014 will be the Best Ever for you, too.


Kim@Snug Harbor said...

Oh Gail, such a wonderful post! I think you accomplished so much this year and really stretched your wings. You should be proud.

I'm excited about your zip lining. It is SO much fun and actually quite safe. You are literally clipped on to a line AT ALL TIMES. Did you ever read my blog post about when we went? I'd do it again in a heartbeat. My daughter just went for her 3rd time in the Smokey Mountains and did one line UPSIDE down. How cool is that??

My son is going to school to be a dietitian. Do you ever read his blog? If you ever want to ask him something you can email him.

I can't wait to hear about all the cool things you do in 2014 and I'm totally jealous that you got to go to Italy - that's my dream trip.

Happy New Year dear friend!

Barbara said...

That's a good list of goals. I am a scuba diver, and it is soooooo much fun. You will see the most amazing things under water. I'll be reading and cheering you on. You go, Girl!

StitchinByTheLake said...

Gail some of those goals would scare me to death! Like zip lining and scuba diving. But the flip side of that is, how wonderfully exciting they will be. A friend's aunt wanted to parachute out of a plane for her 80th birthday...and she did. Now her goal is to do it again at 90. I'm 67 and I feel great, still am willing to work when called on, lead Bible studies, etc. I see other women my age or even younger who seem so old but it's only because they see themselves that way. I want to live life every single day until God takes me home and I don't want to miss a thing. Obviously you feel the same way! blessings, marlene