The year 2011 is less than three hours away, at least in the Central time zone, and most people have already reflected on 2010 to say their goodbyes to a year of struggles, losses, and – I hope – at least a few victories. To a small degree, I’ve done that, too. Earlier today I glanced back at the year and listed my gratitudes on Facebook. There were just three of them, in part because of the space limitations of Facebook status updates, but also because I had work to do.
I’m thankful for that work because when I’m writing my heart beats like it should. When I’m not writing, it pounds with terrifying anxiety. But now that it is 9:30 at night and my work is finished for the day, I want to reflect on my afternoon and evening as a way of reflecting on 2010.
I missed going to the gym this afternoon. That too is the way I keep my heart from hurting. But sometimes I feel work must come first, and last night, over and over, I shouted at myself, “I am NOT a quitter!” I did that to ensure that I met my work goals. For me, hitting my work goals improves my confidence as much as pounding the treadmill.
About 5:30 this evening, hungry but not yet wanting dinner, I drove to McDonald’s for a hot fudge sundae that I could eat while continuing to work. Calmly and quickly, I did work, getting closer and closer to meeting today’s goal.
When I came to a pausing point, I decided to trek over to the grocery store. I wanted something to celebrate the New Year. Already, I’d stopped at the wine store, finding the very last split of the specific champagne I wanted, hiding behind a brand I didn’t want.
At the grocery store, I hit the shopping jackpot – walking up to the deli counter just as they’d put couscous and shrimp on sale for half price and up to the meat counter just when they had one last package of $12.99/lb. beef tenderloin. Like the champagne, it was hidden, as if it had been waiting just for me.
I guess that’s sort of like my year – thinking life is out of what I specifically want and then finding it right there on the shelf, tucked away, just for me.
I came home, unloaded the groceries and started washing a few dishes when I was distracted by a flash of silver light. I looked up and out my back windows. Fireworks exploded in the sky. I cannot tell you how happy fireworks make me. I grabbed my laptop, plugged it in, turned on the TV, and sat in my easy chair watching fireworks and football and working on my manuscript. For me, life can’t get much better than that. Before I knew it, I’d met my day’s goal.
I cooked my steak, along with asparagus, mushrooms, and tomatoes, poured my champagne, and ate and drank. The steak was glorious, though over cooked on one corner, and perfection on the inside. Again, isn’t that a bit like life? The asparagus wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, but it was filling, the mushrooms had me wanting more, and the tomato, which I grew in my backyard, tasted sweet. Yes, that’s a purposeful analogy of life. The champagne sits by my side as I type to the rhythm of popping fireworks and wait to take that last sip of the year.
This is the first New Year’s Eve I’ve had at home since I moved into this house, and I am grateful for it. Until tonight, I never knew that I could sit in my easy chair and watch fireworks and football. I never knew that I could get so much work done on the last day of the year.
But before I close out this blog and this year, I’ve got to repeat my Facebook gratitudes. My number one gratitude is for my trip to China and my friend Candie and her husband Jay. They made the trip happen and in doing so fulfilled a dream I’ve held for 35 years.
My number two gratitude is for my fabulous and patient editor at Berkley Books, Denise Silvestro. She is making my writing better than I deserve. I owe her more thanks than I can ever say.
My number three gratitude is for the wonderful people who have hired me (and recommended me) for freelance work. I could not have survived without you.
And since I’m not limited by Facebook’s status update, I also want to think my friend Karl Duvall, who motivates me to get my butt to the gym, my Facebook friends who encourage me, my friends from my hometown who have brightened this year, and you, my blog readers, especially Angela. She, and you, like fireworks, are light in the darkness.
Together, y’all have made my 2010 a beautiful year. Thank you.