2018 is in the rear view mirror — and I’m really not sorry to see that crazy year go. You? From historic wildfires and a royal wedding to constantly growing political scandals, 2018 was a doozy. Walls and bans were touted, homegrown gun deaths showed no constraint and tropical hurricanes raged. In stark contrast, people marched worldwide in never before seen numbers and the long overdue awareness of sexual harassment continued to fuel the #MeToo movement. The rich have gotten richer while the poor get still poorer.
Yup, 2018 was a whopper – and not always in a good way.
Even in the worst of times, (and this year ranks in the top ten) we can grow, be humbled and learn. Looking back, I need to unwrap and process a few things myself before I throw the door wide open on the new one. While I’ll still write 2018 on checks for a few months, this week my oh-so beautiful Christmas tree still stubbornly stands. But, if my pharmacy’s shelves, incredulously stuffed with hearts and candy boxes, are any indication, apparently Valentines Day is around the corner. Knowing I’ll have to make peace with the old before I can welcome in the new, here are a few tiny reflections on the year that just left the building:
• Awareness. Until the last few years, I was literally a political sleepwalker. I never watched or read political thought, and my voting behavior consisted of little more than flipping all the switches on the family party of choice. It wasn’t until my granddaughter cast her first vote 6 years ago, that I stopped short. It was a shock to realize just how blithely I had ‘opted out’ of wanting to know. My sweet girl’s interest in learning about issues that affected all of us ignited my shame at never having given that mature move a thought! In that election, I left ‘mother may I’ far behind and reading, listening, discussing have become part of my persona. MSNBC and NPR have embarrassingly become my pals and I’m as aghast as anyone else at what has become the ‘norm’ in our political theater. Ignorance is no longer an option. Vive la resistance!
The first step toward changed is awareness. The second is acceptance. Nathaniel Branden
• Independence. This past year made no changes in my living arrangements – nor do I intend to. A shock even to myself, the kid who went from sidekick to solo, made a wary peace with living uno. I’ve learned that I can stand for myself – and I do. I found Sheryl Sandburg’s ‘you have to embrace the suck’, to be pretty darn true. Unless you step into that suck, accept that this is your life now and try to adjust to your new, revised space, the limbo is even more painful. I’ll never stop missing that guy beside me but to find a piece of contentment in the void, is a miracle of sorts and I’m going to claim it — on my terms. Being alone is being vulnerable but not necessarily lonely. There is usually a village in the wings waiting for your knock on the door (or a text). I seem to have gained an unhealthy appreciation for Mrs. Maisel, the Midwives and Ray Donovan if binge-watching them is any indication. I also realized there really wasn’t a downside to having no reason to make pork chops for a husband anymore – because I really hate pork chops. In fact, I can eat dessert first any time I feel like it! Of course, my butt would be the size of Texas, but I hey, I never met a tiramisu I didn’t like.
Fear. Full disclosure: I am a major scaredy cat. Left to my own devices, I can easily opt out of all sorts of possibly interesting adventures through fear of the unknown or my own phobias. This year I challenged myself in a few small ways (it’s the thought that counts) and was surprised to find I survived quite nicely. I’m sure some of them would not impress you in the least but then, just like beauty, some things are only fearful in the eyes of the beholder. Living with a restricted view is like breathing with one lung; you’re never able to expand your breath properly. I try to remind myself that when you’ve lived through the scariest, damn event in life, you just might survive a spontaneous unknown. The trauma of finding your loved one dead should trump pretty much any mundane fear, so I owe life at least an attempt at scaling it. Opening ourselves up is the only way we can create a new path; fear keeps us stuck. I have zero plans to Zipline through an Amazon jungle or bungee jump any time soon. I’m just going to try not to sweat the small stuff, stretch a little and when I can, move out of my comfort zone.
Awareness is the greatest agent for change. Eckhart Tolle
• Woman Power. Last year, Merriam Webster declared ‘feminism’ word of year. Cool. It’s about time the word is framed in the lexicon of the day. In second place, you might find the ‘Great Reckoning’. That Womens March? That happened in more than 70 countries and it set the stage for women to finally have their say. The allegations of sexual harassment and violence leveled against a Hollywood producer tripped off a deluge of accusations against dozens more prominent men across the globe, from politics to sports and more. Women worldwide are done with being treated like objects, being disrespected after years of imposed silence, and I have a feeling it’s just the beginning. Protests are both visible and global yet, on the cusp of the new year, it’s startling to find that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Economic inequality is still alive and well in the workplace. Health and reproductive choices are on the political chopping block and mother/infant mortality is one of the highest in the world. Health and reproductive choices are on the firing line. As a woman, I am finding my voice, my awareness and my solidarity. This new year, I hope that all women realize they deserve to, as Rep. Maxine Waters said, ‘reclaim their time’.
The tumultuous last year evoked strong opinions, gut reactions and a hefty dose of anger and fear. I had no problem waving goodbye to it. But, it also brought awareness, sensitivity, understanding and some timely fire in our bellies to stand up for what’s right. There have always been wars, races and religions have always battled against another. Ethnic cleansings, religious fanaticism have flourished throughout history. This year, the hate has just been more visible and virulent than most, especially in this our great nation. Bigoted rhetoric has been seemingly accepted, greed has proliferated, politics teeter on dangerous historical territories, dividing us all in the process. Protests are inevitable, sometimes even necessary. How we handle and grow from them are the challenge.
Whatever makes you uncomfortable is your biggest opportunity. Bryant McGill
We re-calibrated the way we saw the world this year, as well as each other. What do we do now? Take a deep Namaste breath and buckle up. Allow yourself to be present this new year. Enjoy, observe, experience your life – every single minute. Stand up. Say something. See the beauty in small moments and in others. The year that was, has nothing on the year that can be, so have hope, try new things, see the good, and enjoy today. Most important, love more and forgive more — especially yourself.
So, ‘Bye, Felicia’ to the year we leave behind, and to 2019 — let’s get this party started!