At the close of a year of beginnings

I took a walk down to the river yesterday and stopped at one of my favorite handmade wooden benches in front of a little waterfall. I sat and titled a notebook page “Good Things in 2018.”  In the few minutes of reflection I got in before my fingers lost their nimbleness to the cold, I was struck by how many beginnings this year held for me. I wrote, “2018: A Year of Beginnings” and trekked back up to the car.

Most of us humans are a hell of a lot better at noticing and remembering the bad, the difficult, and the dangerous than anything else, and I truly excel at it. I don’t want this to be my MO forever, though, and I’m taking this time and space to honor some really wonderful things that deserve more attention than all the worries and tears. So, here are some Good Things in 2018:

I married a man I love, one who loves me just as much when I’m laughing at my own puns or too depressed to leave the house as when I’m sharing my dessert with him. 

We bought a home together. Some days I come home from work and there are new holes in it because he’s renovating something, but every day it’s ours.

I planted a garden on our own land. I don’t know what the plant survival rate will be come spring, but I tried. If the yard critters get tired of breaking into the compost bin, we’ll have some homemade fruit and veggie rot to help out, too.

We started doing acroyoga together, which not only introduced us to new things we can do with our bodies (handstand on your friend’s feet, anyone?) but also to new friends and ways of communicating.

I started meditating every day. I’m not exactly enlightened, but I do notice at least a subtle shift in some of the habits and thought patterns that used to close into an inescapable trap around me.

We took in a new feline friend, Willie. Sometimes I see Pumpkin looking out of her eyes, but maybe I’m just being cat racist and thinking they all look the same.

We made some incredible friends. The kind of friends who will help you mix a thousand pounds of concrete to support your new deck and look for the swimming hole that isn’t on the map and hug you longer than “normal” people would when those few extra seconds make all the difference in the world.

Some of the beginnings are more rekindlings than truly new starts, and they deserve recognition, too. When we only give credit and attention to the “new,” we invalidate so much of what matters in life. The friends we reach out to again, the rusty skills we brush up on, the old trails we revisit– they’re what the shiny new things build on.

I started writing again, and I made friends who write and critique and encourage each other. It’s still mindnumbingly difficult to write and to convince myself I have anything worth even trying to write about in the first place a lot of the time, but I’m in good company.

I started hiking again, even though my foot still hurts from the summer before last. I decided I can’t wait for chronic pain to go away before I start living the life I want (within reason). I’m not giving up more hiking years out of fear.

The biggest lesson I learned this year is that beauty is there if we can just manage to open up and let it in. So in closing this year of beginnings, I open my mind and heart to all that 2019 and beyond have to offer.

Walking into the next chapter
Credit: JacPfef Photography

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