Each new year's eve I try to write a little summary of how the last 12 months have gone and set some goals for the next year. I've had years focused on health, or getting out of debt, or pursuing creative passions. I've focused on things I felt needed improving. But I feel a little different this year, more contemplative and less ambitious. I think this year I'd rather just focus on the blessings I've received, the things in my life I value, and the gratitude I feel. I don't especially feel the need to improve, set goals, and strive toward new year's resolutions. I think...maybe...what I'm feeling is contentment. I guess gratitude leads you to that.
I've been blessed this year to survive financially in spite of my husband yet again losing his job, and I've been blessed to feel totally supportive of his not going back to work fulltime this time. I want to see him relax and enjoy a well-deserved rest. I think I've finally figured out what he figured out many years ago -- that my sense of fulfillment is tied to seeing others be fulfilled. And if I can see him develop his piping program or pursue his hobbies and develop his interests, I will find that personally fulfilling. I am overwhelmed with love when I think of his years of dedication, support, sacrifice, and hard work, and I want to make this next year smoother for him.
I've been blessed with loving children who are more or less independent and making their way in the world. I've seen them pursue interests and develop themselves and reach out feelers into their lives, and it's exciting to see. I've been blessed with huggable, squeezable, darling grandchildren who lift my heart with their smiles.
I've been blessed with the animals in my life, their devotion and unconditional love and loyalty. Nothing makes me happier than seeing Brio running full tilt toward me with ears flapping and a grin on his face, as if I'm the best person on the planet, and his joy gravitates around me.
I've been blessed to have had situations over the past year that have encouraged me to learn and grow and stretch. I've taken on teaching a class of teenagers and -- despite trepidation -- grown to genuinely love and care about them. Such a neat group of people! I've taken up weaving and needlepoint and found creative outlets that give me joy. I've got scope for the imagination. And I've learned that my writing, while enjoyable, is not my identity or even (dare I say it) my passion. It's a good thing to learn, because then I can allocate the time it deserves but not obsess about it. I've learned it's okay for me and my interests to change with time.
I've been blessed with the spirit and a deeper conviction of how Christ's atonement applies to me and my life. As I've taught these young people, the principles I'm teaching them have entered more deeply into my own heart. I think it was Seneca who said you learn by teaching, and that's so true. I'm grateful for what teaching has brought me.
I've been blessed to deepen friendships with two people at church whom I didn't know very well before, but who have turned out to be delightful, fun, and generous friends. I'm grateful to still have my job in a time when many have lost theirs, and even though it isn't a joyful thing for me, at least I can tolerate it and it puts food on the table, so I'm glad for that. I've tried to rethink how I perceive my job. Instead of just thinking of it as sitting in a cubicle wiggling my fingers over a keyboard and pushing paper around, I've tried to see how it is actually an act of service for the ten people I support -- people I genuinely like -- and seeing it that way makes it more bearable.
I'm grateful to live in a place that allows me to pursue my religion and education and personal goals, that supports me with the basic necessities of life, and promotes equality and compassion. I live in a generally compassionate society. And it's got the added plus that it's beautiful here, a landscape that sings to me. I'm grateful this country let me in and that I feel at home here. I'm grateful God created such a lovely planet and lets us participate in part of that creation. I'm grateful for the knowledge of how to grow food and the gift of a bit of land to do it on.
I hope to carry this gratitude and awareness of my blessings into 2018 and look forward to the treasures this new year will bring. And I wish my readers (all two of you) blessings in 2018 too.