I can't believe that it is the last day of 2014; this year truly flew by for our family. Most of it was a haze of great things. There were celebrations for friends, my husband's most terrific 40th birthday party and his fantastic celebratory chartered sailing expedition, my oldest daughter's fretting over and then rocking her first standardized tests, warm summer days by the pool and nights at the baby's swim meets, beautiful birthday parties for both of my girls, a family trip to the beach, a glorious garden, summer camp, a swoon-worthy back to school dinner, a Fall that went well at a maddening pace between Hebrew, dance and violin lessons, Disneyworld for autumn break, precious teacher appreciation lunches, so much volunteer work, and holiday celebrations enjoyed from the warmth of our home. I think I'll post some of it as I make our family album for the year. I have no complaints, really, but I was in a malaise through most of it. I was not depressed or stressed, but I had a sense the whole year that I was just "checking the boxes." You know? Just getting through it.
I have thought long and hard about why this year, filled with such beauty and excitement, was just okay. It started a few years back. I am pretty sure this blog has only been read by my friend Julie (Hi Julie!). If on the off chance you read this blog, you may remember that I had a dear friend who was diagnosed with brain cancer on the eve of 2013. My 2013 was busy as ever with a calendar full of activities and celebrations and that was even the year I tried my hand a professional party styling (a bar mitzvah and wedding)--more on all that another day. The main purpose of 2013, however, was helping my friend, her family, and our community during her illness. I was not alone in this; there were many of us who devoted the year to driving to treatments, making dinner, helping their kids and making plans. She passed away at the very end of 2013 and we "celebrated" the new year with her funeral and repast. It was all not-so-neatly put away by January 5th of this year.
I thought that 2014 could only be good after that. During my friends' illness I had gained a bunch of weight (grief bacon as the Germans would call it). I thought I would work-out hard (which I did) and get it off (which I did not, but more on that later too). I thought I would feel refreshed and recharged and enjoy the chance that I had to enjoy all the moments with my family she would not get to enjoy with hers. I couldn't wait to resume my normal roles with friends too, talking about other things than care calendar or her illness. I resumed my normal activities, but it was not so easy. I was still so tired from the year before. So. very. tired--too tired to really enjoy all those beautiful moments.
Another factor contributing to my "blah" this year was that my friend's absence had a ripple effect in our friend group . Not only did we all miss her; there were new friendships forged in her absence and shifting alliances. I know this sounds crazy for a 38 year old woman to say, but I felt like I lost all of my friends this Spring. I was constantly reminding my self of the very thing I tell my seven year old daughter; "nobody "stole" your friends." Some of the shifts are real, no doubt, but much was that I was too tired to put in the effort to really maintain my friendships both near in our newly reconfigured group and with my friends from high school and college. That is probably why everything felt muted.
I have set many goals to get more enjoyment out of 2015 (all of which will be revealed on this blog soon). The goals are things I aspire to do and will devote all my power to doing. Some may be accomplished, some may not. They are just goals after all. The one thing that I truly resolve to do is "say hello first". I mean this on many levels.
Saying hello is an action that requires almost no effort but means so much. I was taught that saying hello is a Jewish value--that when you acknowledge a person with a greeting or blessing, you acknowledge their worth. Why not just do it then? We have all felt shunned by the old classmate who seemed not to remember us or the acquaintance who averted their eyes even though they saw you across the crowded restaurant. I am going to say hello first in 2015--it will make them feel at ease if they really don't remember me, and I won't have my feelings hurt that they didn't acknowledge me first. Same goes for the "lost" friends; I am going to call them and say hello first! Then there are My kids and husband---yes they appreciate the fabulous groundhog day breakfast buffet or whatever I'm cooking up (don't laugh it happens), but it means nothing if we don't really talk to each other. So, I am "saying hello first," and rethinking what it means to really celebrate and connect with them. Finally I am saying hello to myself. It will mean figuring out a lot of things, and I intend to use this blog as a journal along the way. Perhaps some of you will join me. If so, "hello!"