Not so very long ago, I railed regularly against the happenings in my life. I thought if I could just use that Midwestern gumption I was raised with, I could corral life into the direction I had planned.
Life, it turns out, cannot be corralled. If anything, it corrals us again and again—only releasing us as we learn each lesson mapped out for us.
And so, while far from a sage, I end 2017 thankful. Odd, because there are still plenty of messy bits in my life. But after spending far too much time in the corral entitled, “Until You Can Accept It, Here You’ll Stay,” I have finally galloped toward the Great Wide Open.
I had breakfast with a friend recently who was embarrassed by the events in her life. They weren’t even her events—they were her ex-husband’s. But, she felt if the people in our town knew the truth, she would be ostracized.
I couldn’t lie. “You will be, by some,” I said. “But I’d rather take those lumps and count on the basic goodness of some people than use up all my energy living a charade.”
Out to dinner with another friend recently, she said, “You’re really authentic. I want to be authentic but I just have so many filters.”
2018, here we come. All of us. The filtered and the authentic, the brazen and the shamed. We are so damn imperfect that it’s sometimes beautiful.
So here I go again, into an uncertain year. You too? Good. I could use compadres. And for those of you who think you’re going into a certain year, I’ve got news for you. Even soothsayers miss things. Don’t hold too tightly, lest life take a sharp turn.
So, thankful. Yes, that. Thankful that I have a son who shares my love of all things bookish and another who gives me white hair and has some lessons in love to learn. He is learning them. At a snail’s pace—one step forward, two steps back—but evolution comes even to the most resistant of us.
Thankful for the work that has come my way, the kind souls who have brought it to me, the ability to (finally) watch my youngest graduate from a school I’ve worked far too many hours to keep him in.
Thankful for the laughter my eldest brings to us—and yes, even the pain. It baptizes me in a way I chafe against, but it also softens me the way rushing water smooths river stone. My hard edges wear down with each passing year.
Thankful for the watchful eyes of my parents. My mother’s younger brother was killed at 26 by a drunk driver. An avid cross-county motorcycle rider, it is ironic he was killed just a few miles from home by someone who’d had one too many at happy hour. When my eldest son snuck his father’s motorcycle out of his garage this year—a motorcycle I had forbidden him to ride—all it took was a bit of gravel to down his fellow rider. As his bike spun out and hit my son’s, I was completely unaware. I’m sure I was home reading a book or watching a movie with a friend. But my mother—oh my mother—she hated motorcycles with a passion after her brother was killed. I see her hand in the fact that a female paramedic just happened to be in a car behind my son when the accident happened. The EMTs were there within minutes—and thankfully, my son escaped with just a nasty gash in his leg. In my oh-so-human mother role, I couldn’t protect my son from what I didn’t see or know—but Mom took care of business for me. I am sure of it. I took it from there, doing what only an in-the-flesh mother can do—grounding him from here until Kingdom Come. On days I feel I cannot do it alone, I am reminded I do not do it alone. Even if my help comes from places I cannot see.
Thankful for my friends. I watch them go through such change—marriage, divorce, moves, health issues—and through it all, they learn grace. Not gracefully, of course. The journey can be a little ugly sometimes. But I applaud their hard-won wisdom.
Thankful for all of you. In your comments, your blogs, your sharing and your kind words, I learn. I have realized that despite this community being as far-flung as it is, our humanity unites us. On the days I wonder if the world is going to hell in a handbasket, I remember all of you. And I realize it cannot—there’s too much good in all of us for that to happen.
I applaud your bravery, your kindness, your wisdom, your sharing. I end 2017 so very thankful for what it is—even the not-so-pretty bits.
As we welcome 2018, my word is “Know.” As in “Be still and Know that I am God.” I Know who I am. I Know my good is here. I Know I am a tiny droplet of a much Higher Power.
My youngest said his word for the year is “believe.” A great word—and one that tempted me—but I realize I have gone beyond belief. In a year of uncertainty, I Know.
Join me. And may you embrace all of the blessings headed your way in 2018.