Happy New Year everyone! It looks like we made it to another year all in one piece, having survived one more road trip, this time to spend Christmas with the daughter’s family in their Oregon vacation home, a fine change of scene. For the first time since we left Tennessee in 1997, we enjoyed the earthy smell of woodlands and a real old-fashioned fir tree in the house.We thought we’d escape the extreme temperatures and heavy Utah snows, but instead found a different kind of cold (humid), and re-discovered what it’s like to drive on fog and ice-laced country roads. “Oh my heck!” as my Mormon friends might say, but it was beautiful and sunny every day. Christmas Eve we drove to a nearby village to see a Christmas play–sort of a Sherlock Holmes spinoff of Charles Dickens Christmas Carol. Except for the long distances you have to drive to get to everywhere else, there’s something very appealing about small town living.
In reflecting on 2013, the Hubby, who’s usually just fine with whatever happens in the world, who’s so well-versed in rolling with the punches, remarked that he was happy to be done with it because of so many health issues for various members of the family–and to him as well if you count the re-injury he’s still suffering with the shoulder. This despite the surgery he underwent in the spring to repair it. I predict another surgery soon. In retrospect, turns out 2013 was especially expensive even though we decided to forgo foreign travel this year so we could invest in routine maintenance we would have done ourselves 30 years ago, plus another unplanned purchase–a new furnace!
And on top of that he still got itchy feel by summertime, and booked a tour to France. I live and learn though. I learned how spoiled we are in the U.S. because of our strict anti-smoking bans in public places. I have always been at the very least hyper-sensitive, if not downright allergic, to tobacco smoke. About three days into the trip I succumbed to the cigarette smoke all around in the open air with an upper respiratory infection that persisted for weeks after our return. Despite that, France was beautiful. I hope if (or when) I ever go back, they will have established at least a partial ban on smoking in public. The best things I found there were the cemeteries–I photographed painter Marc Chagall‘s grave in a lovely church yard on the mountainside commune of St. Thomas-en-Royans in southeastern France. After living in Las Vegas eight years, Monaco was pretty boring. I’m leery of most things that cater more to the rich than to the common man!
That brings me to 2014, and thinking mostly positive thoughts about what the year may bring. I’m taking a portrait drawing class this semester. Two days a week, and I was warned it will mean a lot of homework. I hope I’m up to it. When I was growing up, my second goal in life, after I got over my initial ambition of becoming a waitress (I was VERY young!), was to go to art school. I’d decided on Ringling College of Art & Design on Florida’s Gulf Coast. I’m pretty sure I never breathed this to a living soul. So whatever made be think I could draw then may no longer be there, plus I’m a little anxious about how the arthritis in my fingers may pose limits. Friday I’ll be consulting the ENT section of the University Hospital about a possible surgical procedure to improve my hearing. Previous ear surgeries have left me with little hearing in one ear–no eardrum–but tests show I have nearly perfect bone conduction. The new device will allow sound to be conducted through the bone to balance things a bit. I wouldn’t even tell about it except that it was such a jaw-dropping experience when they fitted me with a trial model to see how it would work. It was like moving from the back of a noisy class-room to the front row right next to the teacher’s desk. While I dread the surgical insertion, I look forward to no longer straining to hear.
So what else did I learn last year? I learned to listen to my own instincts more. They’re probably as good as anybody’s else when it’s about me and my health, and there are no guarantees in life, anyway. I listen to and read the experts, and then go to the gym and do what I feel good about doing, not what someone else thinks I ought to be doing. Three years now after the cancer treatments of 2010, and I go for days without thinking about it anymore. I get along very well and have energy to do all the things I really want to do, and the ability to admit it if I don’t want to. I’ve learned that food is not really my enemy, that I can eat things I ate while I was growing up even if those foods aren’t “cool” anymore. Sometimes I do cut back on the sugar and butter, I’m no longer as active after all, but I still believe in “everything in moderation.” My nod to embracing the new includes learning to “massage” and eat more kale, because mustard and collards just don’t taste the same without bacon drippings. I still hate and avoid beets, I don’t care what anyone says. And, I no longer feel guilty about the rarity of my inviting anyone outside family to dinner anymore. Here’s a perfect example why:
Hope everyone of you have a happy 2014, and find the peace of being just who you are with no apologies to anyone. 😀