This joy makes me thankful. These thanks make me joyful.

Happy New Year, all. I like to look back at the previous year and see what I can see.  I like looking at the full arc of that year’s story, somehow.

summer catLast year was a good year for me. I’m learning to take a breath or two, and to just be. I’m learning to grab joy when I see it. I’ve learned there is joy in the doing of things, and in the not doing of others.

I’m learning to chill out. I’m not always successful, but that’s okay. For finally figuring out that it’s all okay, I am thankful.

foggy mountain tipperary

foggy mountain tipperary

Last year I walked the wild Donegal coast, and fell asleep listening to rain hit the roof of our Inishmore Aran Island cottage. We discovered the Roses of Tralee by happenstance, and had high tea in a castle all to ourselves. Last year we drove – gobsmacked by beauty – through the foggy mountains outside of Tipperary.

Last year I went on a road trip to the Florida Keys with my Stepmother. I love road trips, and that one was special. I explored Quebec City with the man I love, wandered PEI with my daughter, and took great day-trips in my own not-explored-enough Nova Scotia with a dear friend.  For these travels with people I love, I am thankful.

I made that!

I made that!

Last year I discovered weaving. I cannot describe adequately how wonderful it is to learn something new. I am a student at heart, and to find something so rich with lessons is a joy. It is a craft and an art, with sometimes tedious lessons in patience (warping, untangling, threading) that reward me with  beauty and accomplishment.  I’m still a baby on this journey, but I am so thankful I saw something I loved and took steps to embrace it.

Speaking of seeing something I love and embracing it, my dear husband Mr. 761 was home for the holidays and though he’s going back to Kandahar next week, he will soon be home for good – waking up in his own warm bed on 01 February with no need to go back ever again. I think 5 years is long enough, no?

For his return, I am thankful. For my life with him I am so very thankful.

For the continued health and happiness of my astonishingly wonderful children, I am thankful. Both have challenges – being in your 20’s is no picnic, and they each have their fair share of stuff to deal with. Having them both home with us at christmas was so great. They are women I would be happy to know, even if they weren’t my children. If I was their age, I’d want to be friends with them. As it is, I’m very proud to have them in my life, and I am reminded daily of their coolness. They’re funny, smart, and beautiful, both of them. For them, I am so very thankful.

Last year I reconnected in a real, warm, and joyful way with a long lost friend. That has been a real gift. There is nothing like the friends one makes in childhood – even with all the intervening years, we reacquaint ourselves easily. New friends are great, but with old ones there’s such a depth to it. For her, and for all my friends old and new, I am thankful.

The year  had loss too, and while not thankful for that I am nonetheless thankful because, well, it could have been worse. I am sad that people I love are in pain, and I hope that time helps to soothe those hurts. I am thankful that I can have a part in helping. I saw great courage and grace in a friend who died exactly how she wanted. For her, I am thankful. For her caregivers who thoughtfully and lovingly shepherded her though those last years, I am thankful.

For the happiness that is my life in general – I am so very thankful. I know I am very lucky, and I count my blessings on a regular basis. Here’s to a fruitful 2014. Here’s to embracing thankfulness and finding the joy when you can.

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just… breathe.

What’s so much better? I am.

Not sure if you recall my previous post about my withdrawal efforts, but I’m getting there. Pharmaceuticals are a bitch, and I’m staying away from the damn things from now on. I’ve been doing some reading on Paxil, and although I really appreciated the almost immediate relief it gave me, I wonder now if it was worth it (and wonder if my relief would’ve been effected just as well with a sugar pill. Who knows?).

If there’s one thing I should’ve learned by now, it’s that no matter how crappy things are, they will always get better. Always.  Time will take care of it, usually. Not the inevitable counting of minutes, days, hours but some applied effort, some time to take a deep breath, some time to see the arc of the story unfold. Usually, things become clearer, right?

Breathing is the key for me these days. I mean, how many times have I counselled my daughter – take a deep breath, relax – while she was in the midst of a spasm? How many times have I seen that breath turn into instant and an almost magical soothing of those tortured muscles? How many times do I have to see that until I take my own good advice and take a few deep breaths myself?

I don’t doubt that there is better living through pharmaceuticals. Not at all. For me, though, I’m starting to have a sick feeling that the drugs are worse than the condition for which they were prescribed. For me, I think that maybe a more holistic approach will work. I don’t have a condition that has to be treated with medication; it got me through a bad time, and then it caused a bad time. This is a common story, and I’m lucky that I’m not dependent on these drugs in order to function in the world.

So, no. I’m not saying that breathing, or warm baths, or a walk around the block are solutions entirely. What I can say for myself, though, is that all three of those things seem to be helping me. They’re helping me a lot. One reason they’re helping is that I finally decided that I needed the help, if that makes any sense.

These days I’m not pretending to work at relaxing. I’m really putting in the time, and it’s making a difference.

Imagine that. Just… breathe.

Sarajevo

And now for something completely different…. Mr. 761 and I are leaving for  two weeks tramping around Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Montenegro. We’ve planned some of it, but are leaving much of the Montenegro leg of the trip to our whims. It’s a little wee country so we’re going to wander about and stop where something grabs our fancy.  So far, what we have planned is to fly into Sarajevo and spend several days there. We’ve arranged for a room in a pension right in the old town – not grand, but will serve our purposes. I plan on being out and exploring most of the day.

After a few days in Sarajevo, we’ll be  travelling down the coast to Dubrovnik, Croatia. I’m

Dubrovnik: a walled city. A gorgeous Adriatic coast line, and no cars. Such loveliness!

especially excited about this one. We can’t rent a car and drive through three different countries, really, so we’re going to bus/train it down to Dubrovnik.

After Dubrovnik, we’ll wander over to Montenegro (train?) and then rent a car and really explore. We’ll have about a week there and then Mr. 761 goes back to KAF from there, and I fly home to Canada and the breathtaking autumn in Nova Scotia.

Montenegro

More Montenegro

MORE Montenegro!

Now, I have to admit that while breathing is helping, the planning and anticipation of this holiday is also helping. I can’t lie to you about that….

This will be the second trip that Mr. 761 and I have ever taken together (I do not count driving to Disney in Florida with the kids, as much um… fun as that was. Sorry kids!). We decided on these places because they are new to both of us – it’s so much fun to explore and discover these new places together, I think. Mr. 761 will keep up a running dialogue with regard to food and atheism and toilets; I will do my best to wax on about the history and beauty and food and romance. Between us, we’ll be able to give you all a fairly complete (if quirky) view of this part of the world…. stay tuned.

He will, alas, go back to this:

while I return to thislifted from the internet

Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

Some articles of interest: