A lot can happen in a year - births, deaths, life changing events and days of routine sameness - all of it water under the bridge. Learning to savor the variety of its flavors as life rushes by is what reflection is all about. Knowing oneself, and recognizing the value of all that is. Imperfections lead us toward perfection when we admit to, and learn from them. This year, like most others, I have done a lot of growing because, upon reflection, I have seen much need for growth.
My year began with a painful sense of resignation. The writing was going nowhere, book sales had tanked, and I had little to no ambition to resurrect them. With three kids still in college, and fifth that will likely expect to go someday, I was feeling the familiar weight of my inability to contribute to the family finances. So what did I do? Began subbing occasionally at school, and accepted a part-time housecleaning position. The rationalization was that it would become my new workout, wouldn't take up any brainpower, and would leave plenty of time to write when that train finally got back on track. I also chopped off my long blond hair, settling for a silvering pixie-cut.
By mid-March my WIP still waited, mocking me every time I sat down at my desk. Besides low self-esteem, I was having serious issues with my back and the ensuing lack of sleep; not a good recipe for creativity. While we began the hunt for a new mattress, I decided to cut myself some slack and take time off from writing until I felt well again.
Spring came and went with another child graduating from college, and our eldest securing a well-paying job. Subbing ended, but by then I had been offered a part-time position teaching art. I would have the whole summer to plan. As August approached it occurred to me that I didn't miss writing, in fact, was less stressed than when I was constantly beating myself up over it. I may not be a top selling author but - by gum! - I do know how to tidy a home, and to share my love of art! It felt good to have my efforts appreciated, even though it meant lowering my career expectations. Again.
My only fear was another total derailment.
By summer's end my back was still an issue, so, after way too many tests to determine why, I began physical therapy. Despite constant discomfort, I thoroughly enjoyed teaching again. The relationship I'd developed with the couple I clean for became another source of joy, as did the weekly greeting I received from their "herd" of cocker spaniels. As physical therapy finally began to pay off, I noticed a change in my attitude as well. I was - am - content. Life has me exactly where it should; learning to be a better person. The lesson is being served, not as I had hoped or expected it would be, but just as is needed at this time. This moment of clarity finds me seeing the lesson, tasting, and finding it good as it flows on around me.
Adequate sleep also helps.
I will get back to writing when and if the time is right, though I may never again pursue promoting my work with the same life-draining vigor. In the meantime, I am enjoying being an average working schmo. And if, occasionally, someone discovers my books...? Well, that's good, too.
*The photo is of my youngest journaling beside the Passumpsic River during a class outing. So thankful for her - our - school!