I'm not one for resolutions. I used to make them, lots of them, but they were the same ones every year. At some point, I came to terms with the fact that many things are never going to happen--and that it really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things either way.
But here at the start of a new year is the best possible moment to pause and get one's bearings. This year, more than most, I need to do that.
The old year brought extreme lows and extreme highs, and it knocked the little plan for the rest of my life off track and over a waterfall.
I lost my mother in 2008. She was the last of her generation. Parents, grandparents,aunts and uncles are all gone now. The holidays have been bittersweet, filled with happy memories of them, and sadness that they are no more. It was also the year my older son moved out for good, ending our time as one family under one roof.
Then again, it was the year my first grand-nephews were born, ushering in the next generation.
The future I envisioned for us involved early retirement in a paid-off home, with money and time for hobbies and travel and theater tickets; for volunteer work and classes and socializing. We were on track, too, thanks to decades of hard work and lucky choices made during the stock market boom. But old dreams have a way of working their way to the surface, and we chucked all those city notions for open sky and land of our own.
In 2008, we realized a life-long dream of moving to a house in the country. But the economy went seriously south around the same time we closed, and my husband's company had to cut salaries and eliminate bonuses to stay open. The mortgage was a stretch to begin with, and necessary expenses are running higher than expected. Now, money has become a constant worry and retirement will never be an option.
On the plus side, we still have jobs. In 2008 I gave mine my best effort and landed some plum assignments. I am hoping there will be a raise at the end of the rainbow.
So where do I want to go in 2009. Well, obviously I need to find ways to save and to make more money with the resources at hand. (I know, me and a few hundred thousand other people.)
But even more than that, I need to get out of my own way. Grief, worry, fear, regret, nostalgia, inertia ... all of it has to go. It is so easy to get bound up in thoughts of the past and apprehension about the future, and to miss the opportunities and joys of the moment.
There is a meditative discipline known as mindfulness. I've known about it for years, but I've never been very good at it. It is the habit of being in the here and now, seeing the beauty in the small things and present moments, understanding that this moment is really all there is. It sounds simple, but believe me it isn't. At least, not for me. But I have a feeling it would make all the difference if I could learn to live life this way.
And that's about it. In 2009, I will 1.Make more moolah and 2.Mind my own mind. We'll see how it goes.
Here's wishing all of you a wonderful new year.
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