Sunday, 28 December 2008

A Year of Personal Reflection

It is the time of year when one cannot open a newspaper, magazine or blogsite without seeing some sort of year-end review. There are top ten lists of everything from movies to books, and there are people or events of the year gracing every cover. I have never really been one to look back and lament over things that cannot change. I tend to look forward to what might be. But I am blessed or cursed, depending on your perspective of birthdays, of being born two days before the end of the year. Since I have never been a big proponent of New Year's resolutions, (I am still attempting to lose the same 10 pounds that I couldn't lose after the birth of Older Son in 1987!) I thought that a bit of self-reflection over the past 365 days (leap year!) might not be a bad idea. Call it a birthday present to myself entitled "Things I Discovered in 2008".

  1. I had even less tolerance for stupidity than ever before. It isn't like I ever had much tolerance for it, but this year was the year that any residual tolerance for the chronically stupid went out the window. From inept politicians to crap on television, I felt the need to call out the idiots. I was bequeathed with an opinionated streak a mile long and I seemed less willing to allow people to get away with pandering bullshit. My mother even had to beg the Little Bro and I to curtail any talk of politics at the Shabbat table. From Sarah the Moose Hunter to W and his butchering of the English language to Sweater-Vested Steve to just plain ridiculous conversations in my everyday life, I learned that my time on this earth is finite and I refuse to spend one more second of it pandering to stupidity!
  2. I found that my role as a day to day parent had come to an end and that I had to reinvent my relationships with my sons. I realized with fascinated horror that both of my little boys are now independent and self-sufficient young men who are developing lives of their own, outside of the confines of our family structure. I had to learn when to ask a probing question and when to mind my own business. (OK! I am still evolving into this role. Gimme a break. It is new to me!) I had to learn that there would be times when they wouldn't be able to be in attendance at certain functions and I had to learn that this was okay. I learned that our grocery bill was cut in half, our hot water bill was a third of what it was before (no more 30 minute morning showers!) and laundry could be done with increasing irregularity. I learned that my house was cleaner than it had been in 20 years and that there was something tremendously liberating about closing off two bedrooms and a bathroom. I learned that I could drive my car for 3 weeks without a fill-up. I also learned that there is a chance for reflection in the silence and a calmness that comes with less chaos.
  3. I reconnected with The Husband as life partners and not merely parents. We have always made concerted efforts to do just that, but this was the year when empty-nesthood stared us down. We shopped for groceries together and cooked our meals together. We spent quiet time together and knew instinctively when to give each other space. I became a maven of all things whisky and he immersed himself in Kol Isha. We both found new interests that didn't impede upon our collective enjoyment. All in all, a pretty positive beginning for Chapter 2.
  4. I watched from an uncomfortable distance as some of my friends had to cope with major life trials. Illnesses, aging parents and deaths made me realize what a gift this life is, and that I plan to enjoy every last second that I am granted on this earth. I refuse to worry about the calorie count of that brownie if I really want to eat it. I will eat bread, because fresh-baked bread is one of life's greatest enjoyments. I will not relinquish my work-out time for any rehearsal or meeting because it is my time. As long as it is not illegal, immoral, I can afford it and doesn't hurt anybody, I plan on doing it-whatever it is. 
  5. This was the year where I challenged myself to try something outside of my comfort zone and I think it was a success. When a rabbi friend invited me to participate in the Kol Isha concert, I tried to come up with a myriad of excuses as to why I couldn't or shouldn't participate. "It isn't really what I do", "I am not really a performer", "It is way too much to take on right now", "I am not good enough", or "Who would want to pay to see me?" Even when it was apparent that it was too late to back out, I secretly hoped that I could find a non-invasive, non-confrontational way to run in the other direction. I am so glad that I followed through with it. I found a strength in the challenge that I never knew that I had, in spite of all of the ego-boosting that my family and friends heaped upon me in anticipation of my trepidation. I made new friends and strengthened old relationships with a camaraderie that only women can know and understand. I found new passion in my work and a sense of renewed purpose in my professional life that had been missing for a while. Early in the spring, a dear friend told me that stretching myself in this way could only be positive, and that I needed to "get over" the impostor syndrome that I seemed to find myself mired in. I am so grateful to her and everybody else who made me see that this journey was a moral imperative.
  6. This year I discovered a new outlet in this blog. It provided me with a way to vent, cry, cheer, share and connect. Creativity shows itself in the strangest ways and I honestly never thought that this was part of mine. 
And so, I begin the second half of my 40s looking forward and building on what I have learned. I hope to be a bit more patient, a bit less self-involved and a bit less picayune. Happy Birthday to me!


  1. And a very Happy Birthday to you, Dawn!

  2. has he finally decided to give you the new puppy?

  3. Best Wishes Dawn....We are really hoping you can fit in a puppy that you and the Husband can raise together.....