Thursday, December 27, 2012

End of Year 2012

Typically at the end of the year I do a small breakdown of the goings on and whatnots that occurred in my life for the last 12 months.  This year, I'd like to do something a little different, as there isn't much to report in the personal life.  I'll do a  quick summary paragraph and then move on to a tribute to two amazing people that I lost this year.

I graduated with a Master's Degree last December and have now spent an entire year looking for a way to make it earn me money.  Turning out not to be the best investment.  We have gotten nowhere on starting a family, but did start costly and invasive treatments in June.  My brother married the love of his life in September, and I finally got to be in a wedding other than my own.  I was also put in charge of the bridal shower which I drafted much needed help from friends, as I was clueless. 

The biggest change in my life this year involves losing my last remaining grandparents.  At the beginning of the year, I lost my Grandma H, who was my mother's mother.   Then a few months back, I lost my Grandpa D who was my dad's father.  I'd like to tell you about these two amazing people.

Grandma H was not your typical Grandma.  She was a party animal!  She'd drink any of her grand kids under the table if given the chance.  I spent 1 week of every summer staying with her and my little cousin.  We always had a blast going shopping at Younkers and hanging at the Moose.  Grandma had a heart of gold, and it always amazed me how people I'd never met would come up to me and tell me how wonderful she was.  It just goes to show how she was able to have an impact on so many people.  She was outgoing and fun, but not afraid to threaten to kick your ass either.  She loved us grandkids, we never had any doubt.  She succumbed to Alzheimer's in the last decade of her life, which was hard to watch, but she always kept her kind and compassionate demeanor.  I miss her terribly!

Grandpa D was a no nonsense kind of guy.  He expected the best of his kids, and was only marginally more lenient with us grandkids.  No one worked harder than my grandpa, of that I have no doubt.  He built up multiple businesses, and even took playing board games to a whole new level by making his own boards and pieces like Trionimos out of counter top (which I have to this day).  He built decks and ramps and garages, you name it, he could build it, roof it, or side it.  He was competitive and took playing games seriously.  Be it pingpong, shuffleboard, Rummikub, or Skip-Bo, if you won the game, you won it fair and square because he wasn't going to let you win.  While his body failed him, his mind stayed sharp until close to the end.  He was obsessed with coming to see my new house, and loved hearing stories of home improvement projects like our new roof.  I miss his expert advice.

So 2012 wasn't the best year for me, but it did have some up moments.  I'm hoping and praying for more up moments in 2013, since there will be a 2013.

Peace and love to you all.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays

Well here I am. It's Christmas Day and we've made it through another year of celebrations, family gatherings, and doomsday predictions.
First of all: Happy Yule, Happy Winter Solstice, Happy Hanukkah, and Merry Christmas to all who celebrate any or all of it.

A short rant:
Something drives me a little crazy this time of year. I try to be a tolerant person, and let anyone do whatever they feel is right for them, after all I prefer for others to do the same for me. But the last few years there has been a thing people keep going on about called the "War on Christmas".

It seems that Christians are up in arms about people switching their greeting to Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas and they have interpreted this as an act of war. It baffles me that anyone could say that including more people in your good wishes is equal to the violent act of war. Tolerance is a wonderful and peaceful thing in my book. Besides this illogical conclusion, everywhere I went people said Merry Christmas to me, so if it is a war, the other side is losing.
End of rant.

Enough of that. I really enjoyed this holiday season and I'd like to share why I think that is. For the first time this year, I erased all expectations before any of the holiday celebrations. It could have been a tough year since I lost two grandparents this year and that drastically changed how we celebrated the day, not to mention unpleasant medical procedures happening between festivities. I still treasure the traditions that I grew up with and will always have those wonderful memories, but I opted to "go with the flow" for how things would go this year. I didn't expect certain reactions to gifts, I didn't plan in my head how things had to be in order to be perfect. Instead, I made it my mission to try and make everyone who was around me as joyful as possible, and it worked pretty well.

Fun Christmas Story:
I was reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss to my niece and nephews (13, 8, 7, and 5), they gathered around and listened really well. It was a wonderful feeling to have them piled around me clambering to get a look at the pictures in the book. I was reaching the end of the story and got to the part where the Grinch's heart grew 3 sizes that day. I read the line:
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store."
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
As soon as I finished, my 5 year old nephew looked at me with his hand thoughtfully placed on his chin and said, "I can see that." I smile just thinking about it, what a wonderful moment to experience, a child thinking about how much more Christmas means to him than presents.  Priceless!  For our family Christmas means love, giving, and sharing memories.

Happy Holidays everyone, however you celebrate, I wish you joy and peace!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Revisiting an Old Friend

So it is December now, and another NanoWrimo is behind me. As with every other year I've done it, I am sick to death of my winning novel from this year. It's a pattern I tend to have. While I am working on something, it seems like total poo to me. But then, once I've given it a break, and not even thought about it for awhile, I can revisit and be more objective. Usually I'm quite surprised at how well I like the story at this later point. In that spirit, I decided to shelve my young adult fantasy novel from this year and revisit the title I won with last year. It's called Journey to the Mysts, and has distinct Taoist inspirations. At this time last year, I was newly invigorated by some Taoist authors I had found, and was heavy into the philosophy. Other things have stolen my attention from such spiritual pursuits, although my faith is strong as ever. As I popped open the document and began to read it, I was touched. Not so much by the writing itself, but by the honesty. This book is about my journey, and one I believe most modern followers of the way can relate to, assuming they have a mostly Western upbringing like myself. I'm not claiming to have written the next great Taoist work, far from it, but I am pleased that like many times before, I find myself enjoying the fruit of my labor. No one else has read this story so far, so I have no one's perspective but my own. And perhaps it will remain that way, but how great is it for me to be able to revisit my own journey and my own revelations. I'm proud of the philosophy I managed to weave into a somewhat romance heavy (though not a romance novel by any means) book. I find my words and interpretations relevant and even eloquent at times. It amazes me that I wrote these words, and sends me back to the spiritual way of thinking that I lost somehow over the last year. I hope as I continue to read through the book, I'm still as inspired, because if I remember correctly, I did not finish the novel last November. I reached the word goal of 50,000 and stopped. I had good reason, mind you, because I was also working on my Master's Thesis at the time. I really hope that reading through it now will inspire me to at least bring the story to a close and finish the journey for my characters.