This year, I didn’t send out Christmas cards. I opened every card that I received with love and gratitude and holiday spirit. I smiled at all the beautiful pictures, and read about others’ adventures. I didn’t reciprocate. I wanted to, sometimes. I thought about it now and again. But life happened, and the cards . . . well, they didn’t.
I didn’t have time to write a newsletter with updates about all the things our family did this year. If I had, I would have written about watching my kids grow up, spending time with my family, and taking on new roles professionally. But all of those things took up all of my free time, so I never had a chance to get them all down on paper.
We didn’t pose for family photos this year. I try to do this every few years, knowing that every day is precious and that I’ll want to look back on this time. Instead, I have a phone full of candid shots that document our travels, our triumphs, and sometimes even our losses. I look at those photos, and the ones on our walls, and my heart swells with love.
I didn’t finish writing my next book. But I attended conferences all over the country and began planning one of my own—my first conference as the Director of Northern Colorado Writers. I’ve done a lot of writing this year, and I know I’ll get to “The End” on the next book, but I’ve taken on a lot of projects so I’ve had to reprioritize. And that’s OK.
I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to this year. But I did get to spend important time with my best friend. She’s been dealt a difficult hand in this life, but she has always been there for me—to love and support me even when things are hard, or I’m an idiot, which happens more often than you might think. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to share that love and support with her. To be with her in times of sadness and joy, knowing that every moment we have together is a gift.
The list of things I didn’t do this year is long. I suppose it would be natural to feel overwhelmed—to regret. But I don’t. I re-think, re-envision, re-imagine. I change. I adapt. But I never regret, because to do so would be to diminish all of the things I havedone this year. All the memories I’ve made. All those precious moments that will carry me through the good and the bad times ahead.
The New Year will be here in just a few days. I’ll turn another year older. And I’ll walk forward into 2020 confidently, knowing that I will make mistakes, but that I will strive to be kind, to be supportive, and to make choices from a place of love. I won’t do all the things I want to do. I won’t see all the people I want to see. And I may not send out Christmas cards (only time will tell). But, I will be there for the people who need me, and I will try to live each day of this New Year with passion, with creativity and with hope.
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!
You know the saying, “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas?” That useful little phrase that gives us all the green light to behave very very badly. Don’t worry. I won’t give away your secrets. But I would like to share my own holiday experience with you. I just got back from four days in Las Vegas celebrating Christmas with my parents, my sister and her boyfriend. It was quite possibly the least Christmasy Christmas, and yet, it will stand out in my memory as one of my favorites.
This trip was like entering an alternate universe. I boarded the plane in Denver at a balmy 10 degrees and landed in Sin City with a headache and too much clothing for the 60+ degree weather. As I stumbled off the plane, my eyes scanned past the sea of slot machines to the nearby Starbucks, a much needed caffeine pit stop. After throwing back some migraine medicine and an iced mocha, I made my way to the terminal to find my parents.
Now, my parents and my sister are my favorite people to spend time with, anywhere. I grew up in a large family – lots of aunts and uncles and cousins running around everywhere. And holidays were always huge in our family. At Christmas, we’d put up hundreds of luminarias and host a Christmas Eve open house complete with piping hot posole ad tamales. Over the years, we’ve spread out, with branches of our family stretching from coast to coast. But at the holidays, it’s not uncommon for us all to come together.
However, after my grandmother passed away four years ago, that trend began to change. She was the heart of our family, maybe more than any of us ever knew, and getting together has happened less frequently. We stay in touch, but it’s never quite the same. My mother, who was the primary caregiver for my grandmother in her final years, has been particularly affected by her loss, especially at Christmas. So going to Las Vegas made sense. We had our Christmas dinner at Carnegie Deli in the Mirage. We walked for miles up and down the strip. We ate, we drank, we gambled. We slept in late and stayed out late. And we laughed. We laughed so hard and so much that my face is still sore. We were together and very happy to be so.
We’re all very different people, but there is so much love that the differences don’t matter. In fact, those differences create hilarious moments and bring us closer together as a family. On our first night out, we saw the Tenors of Rock at Harrah’s, which my mother pronounces “hurrahs!” This show was not my sister’s cup of tea, but by the end of the night she was singing along at the top of her lungs as my mother jumped around like a teenager (no knickers were thrown on stage, but I think it was a close call). Me being me, when I heard that one of the singers, Jonathan Williams, played Jean Valjean in London’s West End, I sauntered over after the show and asked if he’d sing me a little Valjean for my birthday. Not only did he oblige, but he took me up in his arms and sang “Bring Him Home” in my ear. Be still my heart! (shh…don’t tell my husband…what happens in Vegas…)
We rounded out our stay with a delicious dinner at Gallagher’s Steakhouse (New York New York). The dinner was to celebrate my birthday (I turn 40 on New Year’s Eve), and as we sat around the table and talked, I was ever aware that I wouldn’t trade my family for anything in the world. We are odd, zany, high-strung at times, moody, funny, and all the things in between. We are everything.
Then, we headed over to Zumanity, Cirque du Soliel’s “adult” show. So, there I was with my mom, my dad, my sister, and her boyfriend, whom we’d only just met a few days before, watching topless acrobats and talking about sex. Merry Christmas to us! I would say don’t take your grandma, but the retired teacher they pulled up on stage was one of the highlights of the show (her comic timing was perfect despite being flustered by all the half-naked performers). And until you’ve seen the acrobats in the giant champagne glass, you haven’t really lived.
So, while what happens in Vegas may stay there for some people, I’m happy to say that I brought every bit of love and a whole suitcase full of memories home with me. (and a boatload of fodder for future stories....stay tuned).
Wishing you all a Happy New Year!
I love having a family that wants to do things together. For Spring Break this year, my "keep it simple" mother suggested that we take the kids to Disneyworld. HAHA! There's nothing even remotely simple about Disneyworld. Just thinking about it gave me nightmares for months. That being said, my immediate reaction was "YES!" and we booked the condo a year ago.
In the weeks leading up to the trip, reality set in and I realized I was going to have to do some serious planning. Two kids, my mother, father, sister and me....we were going to need some direction. The nice thing about staying in a condo is that we cooked most of our meals, taking away the stress of eating out every night. We learned many things during this trip. We learned about how to use (and not to use) Disney's FastPass program. We learned that Universal Studios Express Passes are worth every damned penny. We learned that bean burritos are, indeed, the best picnic lunch. And, most of all, we learned that we still love being with one another.
We only nearly killed each other twice. Pretty good for a seven day vacation. My mom and I rode way more rides than we ever thought we could (though we expressly avoided rides with the word "hurl" in the title). It was the vacation of a lifetime! And one that I can now safely check off my list of things I'm only ever doing once.
Spring Break. Check. Now, on to summer vacation!
(PS I'm working on my "how to survive Spring Break with your parents and your kids" as we speak!)
When I was eight years old, I was diagnosed with a visual impairment that would require surgery and massive doses of oral steroids to save my eyesight. Legally blind, I was suddenly unable to participate in PE (depth perception is sort of important, especially in sports). The result: I weighed 100 pounds by the time I was in third grade.
From that time to this, I’ve struggled with my weight. I remember feeling downright cute in high school when I’d managed to get down to a size 18. My choir uniform never did fit quite right. And back then, finding a “plus size” prom gown in a small town was next to impossible.
As an added complication, I developed a pretty formidable case of generalized anxiety and I love me some comfort food. New Mexico born and raised (and with a Mexican grandmother who made the best enchiladas on earth – as well as everything else), I crave beans and rice and chips and tortillas. Yum. As you may have guessed, none of these foods figures very heavily into a low-carb, low-calorie diet.
When you’re overweight, you sometimes feel like you have to hide. You hide behind baggy clothes, mistakenly thinking they make you look slimmer. You stay out of public places, or you put yourself in a corner, trying to stay mostly invisible. It can be a lonely life. Luckily for me, I’m an extrovert and I love people. It’s hard to become a recluse under those conditions. But I’m definitely human and I’ve had my feelings hurt by strangers and loved ones alike. Being told I have a great personality and then having a loved one explain to me that that’s the kind of compliment people get when they’re fat. (Yep, that happened).
It wasn’t until last year, really, that I finally came to a place in my life where I decided that I was ready to get healthy. Not thin, mind you, just healthy. I have kids and I want to grow old with them. Now, in some cases, it takes a health crisis to prompt this kind of decision. Not so in my case. I’ve always been pretty healthy, except the vision problems of course. And I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve been able to make progress. But losing weight, for me, has been all about attitude.
It hasn’t been easy. Some days I look in the mirror, and I feel GOOD. Some days, I retreat to my office with a box of cookies (that I know I shouldn’t have bought and definitely shouldn’t have with me, alone, in my office). Sometimes I am strong, reaching for a bowl of fruit instead of a bag of chips. But sometimes I falter, and in pretty spectacular fashion.
I had a conversation yesterday that put me on the defensive and made me feel bad about myself. Today, I’m making a choice. Two choices, actually. First, I will accept myself just as I am. I may never be thin. But I can be healthy and happy. If thin happens, great. If not, I think I’m pretty stinking awesome (yay for self-affirmations!). Second, I’m redoubling my efforts to be mindful of the words I speak. It’s so easy to say something that is unintentionally hurtful or demoralizing and, quite frankly, we get enough of that crap. I don’t need to add to the pot. Who’s with me?
I'm back on Examiner.com writing about community issues in Alamogordo and the surrounding area. Come follow me!
As part of my continued effort to evolve professionally and academically, I am going to start offering consulting services. I've got a lot of experience in a lot of different areas that could really benefit businesses and organizations here. And while my priority is always SANE, this will allow me to explore my interests and hone my skills in politics, the law, business and other favorite past-times. Contact me if you think my expertise might fit your needs.
More information about consulting services can be found HERE.
I am reading Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists & Other Sex Offenders which is a memoir and cautionary tale told by Anna Salter PhD. This book will give you nightmares, but it is a fascinating study on sex offenders and how they think. Dr. Salter has compiled anecdotal evidence, as well as direct quotes from incarcerated sex offenders, that illustrates how alarmingly methodical and cunning offenders can be and how even the most expert professionals can be fooled time and time again. This book has a particular focus on sex offenders who pray on children and while it probably will make most parents a little bit paranoid, I think its worth a read-through and some frank community dialogues. Law enforcement professionals, prison staff and attorneys / legal staff would also benefit greatly from reading this book.
Note: This book is disturbing. It WILL affect you. I am not going to downplay this because I know that some people will have a hard time coping with the material. That said, I think that the way we, as a community, end sexual violence is to start an open dialogue even when the topics are uncomfortable. And I believe wholeheartedly that you can't read this book without talking about it.
Honestly, I can't say I ever expected to be writing about different blood spatter patterns, but I'm really digging this Forensic Law class. When I started college in 1996, I thought maybe I'd go to law school. Instead, I majored in Political Science and Philosophy, started my own business, had a family...you name it :) Now I'm starting to wonder if law school is in my future. I'm so excited by the material we're covering in class and I'm looking forward to throwing some Psychology into the mix next semester. Life is a funny thing.
It's been a wild and crazy year so far and I'm glad to find myself on the downward slope toward 2013. It's been a year of personal strife. A separation. Adapting to single motherhood. A new relationship. "The Crash" New job. Sale of my business. A new chapter. I'm feeling good about the future and hope that things will stay calm for a while.
Among other things, I'm starting work on my Master's in August. I've been looking for the right program and I think I've finally found it at Western New Mexico University. I'll be pursuing a Master's in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration on Political Science. First course - Forensic Law! I am so stinking excited. (don't you feel the same way - forensic law...tee hee).
So, at the end of that day, even though it seems like the busiest, craziest life ever...I am finding a balance between work and home life, love and serenity and things are falling into place.
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.