Looking Back on 2019

My husband would like you to know that the new decade does not start until next year – 2021, so everybody needs to calm down. (Because, you know, year one started at one, not at zero, so decades start with ones and end with zeros, not start with zeros and end with nines.)

Of course I pointed out to him that whether it is a new decade or not, it is now the 2020’s and no longer the 2010’s, so maybe focus on that. Nobody likes a know-it-all.

One thing I do know is that I don’t have the energy (or the attention span) to focus on the past decade whether it’s come to an end or not. But if I were to give some brief highlights of the past 10 years (I know, I know – brevity is not my strength) these few things come to mind:

I started the decade with a child in middle school and a child in elementary school and now I have a college graduate and a college student.

I had a book published.

I ran two 10Ks. (I never in my life thought I’d ever run a 5K.)

10K runner
There I am, getting ready to run my first 10K.

I became a country music fan (which, believe me, 10 years ago I would have found even more unlikely than becoming a runner).

Old Dominion Meet And Greet
Hot country rockstars & happy me!

I turned 50. (Which is both awesome and terrible. But mostly awesome. Mostly.)

50-and-Fabulous
I’m 50 and I’m Fabulous!

But more than anything I learned that when I set my mind on something and work hard and focus, I can accomplish it. It may not turn out as planned, but I can do it. I have the power to make things happen. (We all do.) I just have to remind myself to set goals and focus rather than get bogged down by my inner-laziness and the general minutiae of daily life.

But again… I’m not reflecting on the 2010’s. I’m reflecting on 2019. And the minutiae of my life last year.

On the first day of this year I ran away and hid from my family and read over my happiness journal – my calendar where I write down the happiest moment of my day. And I have to tell you – some days are shit and it’s hard to find a happy moment. And some days are so great, that all of it is my happy moment. But most days are in between. I wouldn’t call them boring. Just… ordinary. And so my happy moments are often the same – dinner with Dave and Marley, sleeping in my own bed after a trip, a wonderful meal during a trip, the inspiration and love I feel from my writers’ group (even though I haven’t really been writing this year), happy hour with friends, walking my dog.

Here are some of the moments that stuck out for me as I read my calendar. Some of them big. Most of them quite small. All of them the sum of the parts that make up a happy life.

January 17 – First Writers’ Group of the year. What a happy heart that gives me. Especially at the end when we lit a candle and set our intention for the year. How lucky and grateful I am to be part of this tribe of women.

January 29 – I went to Trader Joe’s after work and the sunset was beautiful. I heard a girl working there say to one of her co-workers, “Go look at the sunset. Trust me.” He went to look and afterwards told her, “Thank you. That was beautiful.”

February 7 – Happy hour with Debbie, Jeannie. and Linda. When we were leaving Jeanne hugged me so tightly and said, “I was really looking forward to seeing your face. I told Jimmy I was seeing a playgroup mom tonight.” Playgroup days were the best days and old friends are the best friends.

February 28 – Landed at LAX. Home! When I came down the escalator to the exit I saw a family waiting anxiously for a loved one at the bottom and a guy waiting for someone as well. The girl in front of me dove into his arms and they gave each other the biggest embrace. I felt like I was in the middle of Love Actually.

March 24 – Playgroup mom mini-reunion. Chandler and his first best friend Katie were reunited. Seeing them catch up and catching up with some of my first mom friends filled my heart with love and happiness.

March 26 – I finally saw Matt Nathanson last night and it was everything I thought it would be and more. It was AMAZING. (He’s also very funny.)

If you ever have the chance to see Matt Nathanson live, do it. He is amazing.

April 15 – I put a picture of Marley when she was five on my phone as the screensaver. She is on the pumpkin patch field trip and she is just done. She looks so cute and it makes me so happy every time I look at it.

This girl is done!

May 5 – I met Dave Grohl and got my picture taken with him. The end!

Look how happy Dave Grohl is to meet me!

May 12 – Marley gave me a thoughtful present and lovely Mother’s Day card. She does appreciate me and I love her so much.

May 20 – Seeing Chandler walk across the stage at his graduation ceremony and hearing his name called. He had the hugest smile on his face. His happiness shined through.

I realize he is not walking across the stage in this photo, but those photos were blurry AF.

June 8 – I spent the day with Rita in Ventura. All of it. I’m so blessed to have this friendship.

June 16 – At the end of Concerts in the Park I was watching the families with small kids running around, playing – knowing they didn’t realize how quickly this season of their lives would pass. I was filled with such a feeling of calmness and happiness and nostalgia. It was almost overwhelming. I wanted to hug the feeling and hold it tightly forever.

June 26 – I walked Geordie through the park tonight. There was a father and son playing baseball, a mother doing a word search puzzle while her son played on the jungle gym, a family having a picnic on a blanket, and a woman laying on the grass playing with her little dog. And not one of them was on their phone.

July 5 – I drove up to Cheryl’s house in Sacramento and I finally met my longtime blogging friend, Kim Sisto Robinson in person and she is as down to earth and lovely as I knew she’d be.

Look at these beauties – my longtime skirt! blogging friends Kim & Cheryl.

August 3 – Beach with Rita. My first time this summer just hanging out at the beach. Stepping onto the sand and smelling the ocean and the sunscreen just filled my heart with joy.

August 23 – Driving from Knoxville to the Cumberland Gap. What a gorgeous drive. I played music from my phone through the car stereo and took in the beauty. I kept thinking how Chandler would have loved that drive.

September 1 – Just me and Marley for dinner. We played 3 games of Rummy Tile afterwards. She beat me twice! GRRRR! This competitive mama does not like that! But it was so nice to spend the night with her.

September 23 – Chandler snuck home at 3AM. I had no idea. Seeing him walk into the den and say, “What’s for breakfast, Mom?” was the best surprise ever.

October 8 – Marley got an A on her Women’s History test and she was so happy and so proud of herself. (And so was I.)

November 12 – Listening to Bean’s last show on the Kevin & Bean podcast. So many memories. I’ve been listening to that show for over half my life.

December 9 – The fall colors have been making me so happy. I thought fall had passed us by, but it’s here and it’s glorious.

December 31 – We ate too much and drank too much and binge-watched The Politician (Ryan Murphy at his best). The kids were in and out – mostly out – and it was nothing fancy or exciting, but it was nice to know that this is my life. I have enough. I am content.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. This was a long one. (I know. I know. They’re all long ones.) I hope your 2019 (and your 2010’s) was full of more happy moments then sad ones and you’ve been able to take the time to reflect on them. I’d love to hear what some of them are.

Here’s to love and laughter in 2020 and beyond.

Thanksgiving is Over but I’m Still Thankful

My Thanksgiving this year was lovely. We went to my aunt and uncle’s house and I ate enough turkey and carbs to fuel a small country for a week. Okay, I’m exaggerating. Obviously. I didn’t eat that much turkey.

Chandler is away at college in Washington D.C. and didn’t come home. It’s too far, too expensive, and he’ll be home in two weeks for winter break. He was invited to my friend’s for dinner (she lives in Virginia) and to a couple of teammates houses for the weekend, but declined all offers and stayed in the dorms with what seemed like very few others. (Most of the kids at his school are east coasters.) He wasn’t sad, so I tried not to be sad even though he probably had Easy Mac & microwave popcorn for dinner. I missed him like crazy but am so thankful he is living his dream.

Because I knew what I’d be eating, I went to the 5:30 AM boot camp class on Wednesday and the 90 minute 7:00 AM boot camp class on Thanksgiving Day, but skipped the 5:30 AM boot camp class on Friday morning and went on a hike with my friend Rita instead. (Not at 5:30 AM in case you’re wondering.) We were supposed to do a five-mile loop, but got lost twice and according to my step-keeper walked over ten miles. Then we went to brunch. Saturday I went to kickboxing, but Sunday I blew off my walk with my running group. Yes, you read that correctly, I said, walk with my running group. Some of us are walking now. Don’t judge. Walking is better for you anyway. Want proof? Read this article. (And ignore the fact that it has a picture of an old lady mature woman running.) I am thankful that at age 50 I am able to move my body so much. (Even if I was too tired to move it on Sunday morning.)

Mature woman jogging on beach
Quit running, old lady – it’s bad for you!

 

Friday night Dave, Marley and I went over to Rita’s house for pie and games. Rita’s sister was there with her eight year old daughter and Rita’s neighbor came over too. We played Guesstures, which is basically charades. When the game was over and Rita’s sister and niece left, instead of leaving like good people and good parents Marley convinced us to stay so we could play Cards Against Humanity. I knew what it was, but had never played before, and really should know better about letting Marley talk me into such things. If you are unfamiliar with the game their slogan is: A party game for horrible people. The game is simple. Each round, one player asks a question from a black card, and everyone else answers with their funniest white card. It’s like Apples to Apples, but wrong. So very, very wrong.

Here are some examples of the combinations you might come up with:

cards-against-humanity-question-and-answer-card
So wrong!

 

cards-against-humanity-question-and-answer-card
Even wronger! (Yes, I know that’s not a real word.)

 

cards-against-humanity-question-and-answer-card
Actually, this one is kind of right!

 

These are actually some pretty tame combinations. If I screenshotted some of the more risque ones I’d forever live in fear of child protective services knocking on my door. But Marley has played the game before. (At school!) And as we all know, there are some parents that buy booze for their kid’s parties because “everybody does it” and “all kids drink anyway” (newsflash: everybody does NOT and all kids DON’T). I’m not that parent. So if I play a party game with my fifteen year old where possible answers could be assless chaps or foreskin, I guess I’m not the worst parent in the world (and I’m thankful for that).

Saturday night we went to my friend Arlyne’s for her annual Saturday night Thanksgiving and steal-the-presents bingo. Rita was there and Lisa (who says I never write about her in my blog) was there which meant I laughed a lot, because Arlyne and Rita and Lisa always make me laugh. Once again I ate too much and drank too much, but felt so happy and blessed that a retail job in the 80’s netted me life-long friendships with some amazingly awesome people.

Sunday I’d like to say that I detoxed, but I had leftover butternut squash lasagna and cheesecake for breakfast and two glasses of wine with dinner. I did do laundry and wrote a little (very little) and dusted the TV. It was a lazy day. After dinner Dave and I watched the movie About Timewhich was written and directed by Richard Curtis, who wrote and directed Love Actually. (Which everyone knows is one of the best movies ever!) I loved it (British humor is the best) and balled like a baby at the sentimentality of it. At 9:00 I was too tired to watch The Walking Dead and was so thankful for my DVR.

My life is not perfect. In fact, if you want to know the truth it is riddled with problems and stress and is oftentimes hard. (Like, impossibly fucking hard.) But every day I take the time to recognize what I am thankful for, both big and small.

The beauty of the sunrise or a desert flower in a parking lot planter.

desert flower
Finding beauty in everyday places. (And then snapping blurry pictures of it with my cellphone.)

 

The laughter I experience when I’m with my good friends.

A gym with kick-ass classes and kick-ass people.

Children who are happy and healthy.

A husband who still makes me laugh and think even after knowing him for over 26 years.

Parents who are healthy. And wonderful.

Music that makes me sing along and dance in the kitchen. (Did I forget to tell you about Marley catching me dancing and singing in the kitchen when I was making sweet potatoes?)

My Snuggie that keeps me warm as I binge watch TV.

Wine that is cheap, but still pretty damn good.

cheap wine that is good
Bargain wine from Costco – cheap and delicious

 

No, my life is not perfect, far from it. But it’s also pretty wonderful. Really wonderful. I know that I am so lucky. And I choose to be thankful for all that I have – big and small. Not just on Thanksgiving, but every day.

Every. Single. Day.

 

Photo credit of mature woman: here