In no particular order, here are some things I learned (or relearned) in 2010.
One thing people can do after they lose a loved one is open their hearts to love someone new. Ask my mom, whose baby grandson was born six months after her own mother died, and ask our family, who welcomed Daisy into our home three weeks after Hoover died. The pain of loss doesn’t go away, and someone new doesn’t replace someone gone at all, but someone new helps the heart grow new love. And that’s a good thing.
When someone unsubscribes from one of my blogs, it’s nothing personal. At least, that's what I tell myself.
There are definitely more nice people in the world than mean people, though I admit some mean people can definitely screw it up for the rest of us. I’d started to doubt the general goodness of humanity while listening to regular news outlets and their sensational stories of greed, corruption, political bad boys, economic misery, and death and destruction. As an antidote to all the negativity, I made http://www.happynews.com/ my home page on my computer. I started getting a daily dose of, well, happy news. Stories of goodness, mercy, compassion, and love are everywhere in this world…if you look and listen in the right places. Ignoring the bad in the world is rather stupid, but if you fill your mind and heart with only knowledge of the bad, you lose perspective, which is a terribly important thing to have.
Rescuing wildlife makes you feel good. Releasing that rescued wildlife back into the wild after it has recovered makes you feel giddy and causes you to erupt in giggle fits for days after.
The whole Word for the Year thing is not working for me. I’m sad about this because it’s such a wonderful idea. My word for 2010 was Write, and while I did write quite a lot here and on Simplicity, I didn’t work on my book or start freelancing, which were the goals of the word in the first place. Also, my autism blog is suffering sadly from neglect. Oddly, I look back over 2010 with joy and pleasure despite this failure because I did a lot that I’m proud of. I took care of two boys, a man, and two dogs. I blogged over 233 posts on Questioning my Intelligence and over 427 posts on Simplicity. I created hundreds of cards and pushed my creative self harder than ever before. I read dozens of books. I learned and laughed and lived and drank coffee and ate chocolate. I ironed George’s shirts, made his lunches, and was his Iron Sherpa at Ironman Wisconsin. I received countless little kindnesses…even from total strangers from the Land of Internet. I cooked several meals and coordinated meals for dozens of people in our church. I finished another year-long Bible study. I spoke in church and didn’t die from fear. I mourned one very good dog and welcomed another into our home. I helped release a wild animal back into nature where he belonged. I sent a lot of cards this year, including hundreds to the troops for their use, and hopefully, each card brightened its recipient’s day.
I once heard that to be happy, every day you need to do something for someone else, something for your mind, something for your body, something for your soul, something creative, and something you don’t want to do which needs to be done. After this year, I would add that you also need to look at everything that happens to you and everything you do through a prism of love. I used to think the best prayer ever was “This, too, shall pass.” It’s pretty useful, isn’t it? Now, however, I think the best prayer ever is “Lord, make me a blessing to someone today.” Maintaining this loving perspective on life twenty-four/seven is pretty much impossible (at least for me and probably for any other mostly normal human being), but it’s amazing how transformative it can be. At least, it makes ironing shirts much more pleasant, which can only be a good thing.
When you have an impulse to do something nice, don’t over-think it and wimp out. Just do it.
For the past 11 years, since I became a stay-at-home mother, I’d felt my life made very poor copy in our annual Christmas letter. The day-to-day of caring for two boys just isn’t that interesting; you can only say so much about diapers and potty training and gymnastics lessons and school. For the past two-and-a-half years, I’ve written that mundane life into this blog, making it funny (I hope) and universal, and showing just how meaningful and important it is. This year, my children reached ages that require less daily dependence on me, and so I branched out and started some new things, such as the Mark’s Finest Papers Design Team (for creative development) and Stephen Ministry training (for spiritual and interpersonal development). To varying degrees, both adventures have been life-changing in wonderful ways. Who knows what 2011 will hold, but it’s bound to be interesting!
Next week, I'll post a new Word of the Year. I think. At least I'll give all of you who have more success with your words a chance to share your word and commit to it for 2011. Have a very safe and happy new year's celebration!