A Series of Vignettes: Reflections

Every year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, I sit back and take stock of my life. As well as reflecting upon the sort of year I had, I think about the year ahead. What did I accomplish in a year? What lessons have I learned? What changes do I need to make, based on those lessons?

This year, I can’t help but think about how much things have changed since I returned from the UK. With that in mind, I decided to write a series of vignettes to illustrate those changes and how I’ve dealt with them. Before I continue, please understand that {as much as I couldn’t wait to get back home}, I knew it meant an adjustment period; my then-therapist reminded me that my life was never going to be “perfect” just because I was home. Even so, I never imagined that my world would change so much in such a short time.


2012 ~ After a 26-hour journey that started in Leeds and took us through Manchester -> Dublin -> Boston -> Newark and finally back to New Orleans, suffice to say, I was relieved when the plane touched down at our final destination. I can’t describe how happy I was to be back on American soil. I missed my daughter terribly, though. In retrospect, I know why she was meant to stay in the U.K., but it certainly didn’t make anything easier at the time.

Reflecting upon the year:

  • Three-year divorce process concluded; decree absolute obtained. The blood, sweat, and tears that went into getting that document is something I’ll never, ever forget.
  • Learned that: 1/ after avoiding chicken pox for 47 years {throughout my 13 years in school and my kiddos’ 16 years in school}, they will, in fact, show up at the most inopportune time in one’s life ~ just before a trans-Atlantic move that involves having to clear out an entire house of belongings; 2/ a parent’s memory gets worse with every subsequent kid, so much so that by the 3rd kid, who can remember which diseases happened to which kid? {my mother couldn’t remember if I, the youngest of 3, had ever had chicken pox, despite my living my entire life believing I had}; 3/ getting chicken pox {at an age when the sufferer has awareness of what’s going on} sucks big time; 4/ despite everything, determination is a very strong force when one really puts one’s mind to getting things done ~ chicken pox or not.
  • Hurricane Isaac wanted to welcome us home in the worst possible way, 3 weeks after our arrival.
  • Even after 16 years out of the country, renewing one’s driver’s license only requires filling out the appropriate form, presenting the necessary documents and an eye exam. Who knew?
  • It’s difficult to blend back into a place {after so much time away} ~ even if you’re originally from that place ~ and I still sometimes feel like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole in certain aspects.
  • It’s very easy to “lose one’s footing” when {finally!} in a realm of safety after years of having to be strong.
  • People aren’t always who they seem, even after knowing them a lifetime. Certain events have a way of revealing true colors.

 

2013 ~ Officially known as “the year that sucked” in most aspects. Yes, there were some highlights, but they were far and few between. We found ourselves dealing with the aftermath of the sudden loss of my ex-husband, followed by the discovery that my mother had a terminal illness and a tough transition for my daughter when she joined us here in the States. I felt relief when she and I were no longer an ocean apart, but we had a long journey, dealing with so many things all at once.

My daughter found losing her father extremely difficult; for me, it was a strange grief process because there were so many mixed emotions to sort out in my mind. I found the circumstances of his passing incredibly sad, but my history with him was so very complicated that it was difficult to feel grief in an “I once loved this person” way {if that makes sense}. The feelings I experienced were more out of concern for my daughter than for me.

I struggled with coming to terms with my mother’s illness which made things a lot more stressful. It felt like “one-thing-after-another” because the aftermath of my ex’s passing spanned months. I had to prepare for my daughter’s arrival in our home and for the counseling she needed to deal with her grief, depression, anxiety and self-harm issues.

 Reflecting upon the year:

  • Trivial things really don’t matter.
  • Our time here is limited, and we never know if a life-changing event is a second, minute, hour, day, week, or month ahead.
  • Taking care of ourselves is extremely important. We may balk at healthy eating and exercise, but when the resulting health problems kick in, so do the regrets.
  • The words “I love you” and {the actions, gestures and affection to back them up} are extremely important.
  • There’s no {emotional} pain that comes remotely close to that of watching a beloved parent gradually succumb to the ravages of cancer or a child with self-harm issues.
  • Grieving begins long before the moment of a terminally ill loved one’s passing.
  • The most beautiful home, the snazziest car, the trendiest clothes, the latest technology, a 7-figure bank balance mean nothing compared to {more time}.
  • Many “rules” and “policies” make things more complicated than necessary, resulting in time we can’t get back and stress we can’t undo.

2014 ~ A year of grief, eye-opening discoveries {hard lessons}, parenting challenges, new beginnings. I was never going to be prepared for my mother’s passing; I knew I was going to grieve hard, but I didn’t expect things to change in so many aspects. I decided that regardless of what happened that year, I wasn’t going to consider it “an awful year” because I knew that would be inviting more of the same if I stayed in that mindset. Granted, some days sucked more than others, but I felt determined to take a day at a time and do what was necessary when it was necessary.

 Reflecting upon the year:

  • I learned the importance of expressing my love for my loved ones before it’s too late.
  • Feeling isolated is far worse when “distance” is no longer the reason.
  • Grief isn’t “put off” by keeping busy; postponing it does not lessen it.
  • Turning “50” isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, especially when I feel “29” in my heart and mind. Today’s “50” is far younger than when my parents were the same age.
  • “Home” is not where I thought it was.
  • Often, what we {wish for} ≠ {all it’s cracked up to be}.

 

2015 ~ I wanted this year to mark the end of a very difficult decade and, for the most part, it has “sucked less” than the last 9 years. I expect next year to be the start of a better chapter. There are plenty of things to look forward to, plenty to do, plenty to see. With the end of this challenging decade, I have decided to rid my life of toxic people and situations. Positivity is an absolute “must”, as well as being vigilant about self-care, as per my promise to my mother. I no longer tolerate bad treatment, because it’s a waste of my time. My focus {outside of my family} is on helping people through my Outreach program and Life Coaching. The best part of it all is that I’m able to incorporate my passion for writing by contributing to blogs that support my businesses. This means I get to “use” P.J.’s as my office; coffee is the awesome magical potion that fuels my creativity, not to mention the sinful pastries. Apart from missing my mother, I would say that life is better than it has been in a very long time at this time of writing and I only see it improving in the coming days, weeks, months, years.

 Reflecting upon the year:

  • The school I attended for 12 years may not be open anymore, but 33+ years later, I’m still friends with many of the people I saw daily for most of those 12 years. The friendships I established in my early life have withstood time and distance and I am grateful.
  • Positive qualities such as patience, strength, compassion, tolerance, understanding, and respect are constantly tested for learning purposes. So many times I’ve looked up toward the heavens and ask how much more I can be tested…and I’ve come to realize that the answer is “for the rest of my life”. It’s not a test we can pass and put behind us. We don’t reach the maximum levels of those qualities so that we can’t be tested anymore. The stronger we are, the more we’re given to test that strength. Those who don’t learn such qualities don’t experience growth but they’re not our concern.
  • The key to being Zen is being mindful of the way Nature works. Nature doesn’t question its cycles; it just accepts them as a given because those cycles consist of a series of processes that are necessary for the survival of our Earth. Nature doesn’t second-guess or over think. It doesn’t resist or compete. It just is, as it’s always been.
  • The best way we can live our lives is to find what makes us truly happy and pursue that which fills us with passion and purpose. When we feel joy, there’s no room for stress and that makes for a better world.
  • We can’t always be prepared for what happens but accepting that things happen for a reason, even if those reasons aren’t known, help us deal with adversity.
  • A “good” thing can sometimes be the worst thing that has ever happened to us. A “bad” thing can sometimes be the best thing that’s ever happened to us. Time is necessary to show the true nature of every circumstance, but one’s attitude is also a huge factor.

 

As 2015 draws to a close, I am awestruck by the changes that have happened in the last 3 years. Further, when I consider how my life has evolved in 50 years, the lessons I’ve learned along the way will undoubtedly shape the next 50 {or so}. I doubt that I can encapsulate what I’ve learned in 50 years in once sentence, so allow me a paragraph:

We should never count on life turning out the way we envisioned…or that certain people will be around forever. Nothing is guaranteed. Ever. Not life. Not relationships. Not plans. Change is inevitable, whether or not we like or want it. We fare better when we stop fighting against and worrying about what’s supposed to happen. The best gift we can give ourselves ~ and each other ~ is to practice self-care and strive for peace and serenity in every aspect.

Looking ahead to 2016, I have some wonderful things to look forward to ~ the arrival of my first grandchild {now a grandbean}, more coffee meetings with my dear friends, continued success with my businesses, publishing my first book {and perhaps even a second}, traveling and whatever else is meant for us. It’ll be interesting to see my reflections at this time, next year.

Until then, one day at a time.

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18 thoughts on “A Series of Vignettes: Reflections

  1. Beautiful post! I really loved reading this, and seeing how much you’ve been through and how you’ve chosen to grow from it. The way you can reflect and handle things is really inspiring. Here’s to a wonderful 2016 for you!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, my dear! It means a lot to hear comments like yours. I am so pleased we crossed paths and I will be writing you later today, as promised.

      I hope your Monday goes smoothly! {Big hugs}

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m super happy we crossed paths as well. 🙂 Thank you, I hope your Monday is going smoothly and well too!! That sounds good, but take your time and just get back to me when you have time, no rush! 🙂 {Big hugs back at you!}

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for sharing these reflections, Carol. It is very generous of you to give us such an insight into your life, warts and all! There is so much to identify with here. Why? Because we are all human and much more the same than we are different. I loved the part about the key to being Zen as being mindful of the way Nature works, the awareness of her cycles. We are part of nature too and when we see it like that we can accept our cycles as just being part of the normal process of life. That will help me. X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Corinne! I’m glad you dropped by and thank you for your kind words.

      Part of the reason I blog is because I want to share relatable experiences with others…I’m okay with sharing everything because it gives a more “human” feel to my blog…a place where my readers can visit and know that they identify with me.

      Please keep visiting. I enjoy hearing from you. {Hugs}

      Like

  3. Hi Carol
    I am back sooner than expected. I have just nominated you for the Blogging Recognition Award and I hope you will accept it. I love your blog and I am looking forward to being a regular contributor in Feel-Good Friday. I have just posted the Blogger Recognition Award post at actmadelyrical.com and linked to you. I hope you will accept and if you do it tells you what to do on my post. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Corinne!

      I am so honored that you nominated me. Thank you so much for your kind words about my blog. It truly means a lot when sweet people like you tell me good things about my writing/blog; it means I’m on the right path!

      I accept your nomination for the award and I’ll post something in the next couple of days. {Big hugs}

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Shannon! I am so glad dropped by and appreciate your kind comment.

      You’re right, I have been through a lot, but I’m a much stronger person and I’ve found my purpose because of what I went through.

      I have followed your blog and look forward to reading more from you in the coming weeks. I do hope you’ll continue to visit! 🙂

      {Hugs}

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We also have a blogging group on FB, if you’re interested. We offer support, feedback, promote social media and help fellow members with questions about WordPress. Hope to see you there!

        facebook.com/groups/cafeblog 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! The “vignette” idea was actually an assignment WordPress gave during the course I took a couple of months ago. I decided that it was a great series and I use it during those times I’m stuck writing a new post.

      Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

      Like

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