Thursday, January 1, 2015

Looking Back...

December 31, 2014

"Never look back unless you are planning to go that way." -Henry David Thoreau

That is a precept that I believe in strongly and try to follow the best I can. Today, however, as an old year ends, I'm taking a look back at what I learned over what was a one of my more edifying years:

1. "Joie de Vivre" - Defintion: "Exuberant enjoyment of life."

My family and I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Europe this past summer, and the highlight of the trip was spending a day with the nicest, most gracious family we have ever met. (Shout out to John Hochart and family!) As we began our evening tour of the beautiful town Nemours, we walked past a garage with the door open. Inside the garage was a large table, and around it were seated 8 or 10 people, all of whom were eating, laughing, and talking merrily.  They were noisy, they were happy, and they were having a fabulous time.  More than two hours later, as we came back that way, even before we got to that door, we heard snatches of song and uproarious laughter.  Sure enough, as we passed by, the people were still at their table, eating, drinking, and sharing a wonderful time together. We waved at them and they waved back, and some raised their glasses and shouted something gleeful at us. We couldn't help smiling and marveling at the fact that they were still going.

While I didn't get a good look into the garage, I can tell you that there was no Martha Stewart inspired centerpiece in the middle of the table, and the dishes and glasses weren't perfectly matched sets. No one was dressed up, it wasn't a special occasion, it was simply Tuesday evening dinner.  No one was on a cell phone, no one was rushing off to soccer practice, and no one seemed to be worrying about what was to come tomorrow. Everyone was just in the moment, enjoying good food and drink, and reveling in the company of one another. It almost felt miraculous, seeing the people in this 11th century town who are able to capture what is truly important, and who savor the joy that life can bring on a daily basis. Merci to John and those people in Nemours for showing us true joie de vivre, and for what was a life-changing moment for all of us.

2. "Keep people in your life that truly love you, motivate you, encourage you, inspire you, enhance you, and make you happy. If you have people who do none of the above, let them go." -Unknown

Ah yes, a lesson that I keep having to learn the hard way. This year in particular was a doozy in this category.  As the new year approaches I find myself worn out from expending so much time, energy, and resources - both physical and emotional - on people who only know how to take, and take advantage. No more. I plan to look back next New Year's Eve refreshed from a year of taking care of myself first, and having used my remaining energy on those who do the above.

3. "As long as you have your health, everything else is gravy." - My Mother

This year taught me that this is incredibly, indelibly true. After 3 MRIs, 1 x-ray, 7 rounds of blood work, 4 trips to the neurologist, consults with an allergist, a nutritionist, a rheumatologist, an oncologist, a pain specialist, and a spine specialist, 2 cortisone shots, several visits to my GP, and many many trips to the pharmacist, I do not plan on taking my health for granted again. Thankfully I am fine overall, but let's just say that I am very glad and grateful to be leaving the last four months behind me.

4. "A day without laughter is a day wasted."  - Charlie Chaplin

Yesterday my kids and I were stuck in an airport with a flight delay. As we are wont to do, we made the most of our time together by having fun, and at one point we were laughing and carrying on so much that the person next to us remarked, "You guys are so entertaining you should have your own TV show!"  Reminded me of that time at the DMV (see previous post).  Every day might not be good but there is something good to be found in every day. Laugh, laugh, laugh. Every day.

5. "No more Spanx." - Me

Quick story: One night this past year my husband and I went to a show downtown and then to dinner afterward.  I was wearing a pretty dress and underneath I was wearing one of those top-to-bottom spandex numbers that I call a "sucker-inner." It was bra, underwear, and strong girdle combined.  I made it through the show all right, but when we got to the restaurant I was so uncomfortable I was having trouble drawing a deep breath. I looked at the menu and I thought to myself, "How am I going to be able to eat anything, much less enjoy the rest of this evening?" I excused myself to the ladies room, which was thankfully a onesie. I peeled off my inner chain mail to my thighs, sat down, and wondered what I was going to do, since I did not have any other underwear with me. At that very moment, there was a knock at the door. Filled with panic I shouted, "Just a minute!" and made a split second decision. Off came the sucker-inner in its entirety - my skin, diaphragm, and other internal organs silently thanked me - I stuffed it into my purse and went Commando for the rest of the night. True, it was a little chilly walking to the car, but I held my head up high and was grateful for the lack of air vents on that street.  Freedom from the Spanx! Forever more.

As 2014 draws to a close I am extremely grateful for the beautiful and love-filled times shared with my family, very grateful for my health, and abundantly grateful for supportive and caring friendships. In 2015 I plan to remember the lessons I learned above, and remain excited and open to what lies ahead. I wish you moments of true joie de vivre, encouraging people surrounding you, excellent health, much much laughter, and the freedom that comes with acceptance and love of the beautiful person that is YOU.  There is only one you in the world and you come with all of the gifts and talents that are unique to you alone.  I hope that in the coming year you use them to bless others and to help make your own dreams come true.

Remember, there is no key to happiness, the door is always open! Happy New Year!!

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