Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Good and Mostly the Bad in 2014

2014 was a pretty difficult year in a lot of ways, from start to finish. Here's a list of the things I survived in 2014, starting at the very begining of the year and ending at (what else?) the end. I don't normally have a pessimistic, negative outlook on things, but my attitude towards last year is mostly pessimistic and negative (and for good reason!). I don't want to be overly critical so I'm adding parenthetically to the ones that are appropriate some good that came out of the debacle/challenge/adversity.
  • Being stranded in Washington, D.C. for two days without our luggage. (But we had a fun time exploring D.C., which is an amazing city.)
  • Our cat Bentwood got really sick with some kind of a virus that apparently had been lying dormant in his system his whole life. He was sick from February until August, with wheezy breathing and a diminished appetite. As the months wore on, we were increasingly worried that he wasn't going to get better. (But he did, and he's in great health now.)
  • Getting food poisoning in New York City and having to travel home on my own with my kids that day. (But I got to witness the kindness, helpfulness, and sympathy of others as we traveled from New York to Chicago to Cedar Rapids when they saw a very pale, weak woman traveling with her children.)
  • Getting painful shots in my feet that crippled me for a couple of days and made me literally hobble around, trying to avoid walking on the balls of my feet. They were quite possibly the most painful shots I've ever received in my life. (But they did help to destroy some of the plantar warts on the bottoms of my feet.)
  • A few painful canker sores, one of the banes of my existence. (NOTHING good here!)
  • I backed into a fence post at the Cape and put a ~4-inch rip in the back of my SUV. 
  • Major seasonal blues when we returned from Massachusetts in August. The second half of August is my annual personal hell. I go from being seaside almost every day in one of the most beautiful areas of the country, with my family there, to being cooped up in my house in landlocked Iowa because of seasonal allergies that flare up for me from mid-August to mid-September, with no extended family for company, and summer (my favorite season) almost over. It really bums me out, and it was particularly bad this year. I need to come up with some kind of a preventative plan this year to combat this! 
  • I didn't have a baby, which was no big surprise since that hasn't happened for us in over five years now, but it's always a hope. (But I do love having two boys--there are many benefits and blessings of having two children of the same gender and a smaller family. We really like it. However, I'd love to have another baby, boy or girl. Either way, I totally trust in God's plan for us.)
  • The tragic, sudden, and somewhat traumatizing death of our beloved dog Yogi. Making it even more difficult was the fact that it all happened when Peter was traveling for the whole week, so I handled everything by myself, and it was so hard, emotionally and logistically. Yogi's death was by far the hardest thing that happened in 2014. (But it brought us closer to the Savior in a special and significant way at Christmastime.)
  • I got the flu the week of Christmas. I was so sick for my favorite day (Christmas Eve) and time of the year. (But now I should be immune for the rest of the season. I better be!)
  • December was a horrible month. It was the worst in recent memory. In addition to the above two things, our DVR box malfunctioned and we lost all of our recordings, DISH dropped Fox News Channel (a mainstay in my life; I truly missed it until it was restored last week), I couldn't find John's piano recital location (his first ever piano recital) and we got there late (but in enough time for him to play), the Christmas tree farm we always use was totally sold out of good trees, and more--it was just one thing after another, some small and trivial, and some very hard. (But we came out of it and we were fine. I lost about ten pounds due to my worry and grief over Yogi and then the flu. My mother came to visit for a few days after Christmas because of everything that had happened, and that was really nice. And then the year ended, which was also really nice.)

It feels a little cathartic to get all of that out of my system and onto a list. I love lists. (Even when it's a list of the crappy things that happened to me.) So here's another one, although it's shorter. There were some good things that happened in 2014, too...

  • We love to travel, and we went on some really fun vacations: two to Wisconsin Dells (we switch off between our two favorite indoor waterparks there); Hershey, Pennsylvania; and Orlando, Florida. I got to go out to Cape Cod by myself for a nice weekend in May to shop my happy little heart out for the house and get it ready for summer.
  • And of course, our annual summer stay in Massachusetts and on Cape Cod. This was our tenth summer on the Cape and the first time having our own place. It was wonderful. It's a beautiful blessing to have the ocean practically in the backyard and a sweet little house of our own in a place that has become very special to us over the years. I love the Cape and the ocean more and more with each year that passes.
  • We had the basement of the Cape house remodeled and the transformation was beautiful and amazing. 
  • My sister got married in New York City's Central Park! The boys and I got to go out for the wedding and it was so special. (Except for the food poisoning I got!)
  • I did a unique copyediting project for a family member of a friend in which I got to exercise my old political science and international relations muscles from college. The author is a former FBI agent who wrote a book about understanding Islamic fundamentalism, something he knows and understands very well through his work in the FBI. This was when ISIS was in the news a lot in the fall (the beheadings, trying to take over cities and countries, etc.). After going through his manuscript, I understood so much better why these fundamentalist groups are doing what they're doing--where their justification and motivation come from and why they're really doing it. It really is true that understanding history helps you understand the present much better. It was a good and helpful experience to edit this manuscript. And an interesting side note: when the book gets published, if he includes me in his acknowledgments, he can't use my name, just my initials, because he said that terrorists will read this book and try to retaliate against it. Crazy! But kind of cool too (in a crazy way).
  • John made some significant achievements and progress in school. I really like the kid he's growing into (...most of the time. He still definitely has his moments! But I guess we all do.)

2014 was also our last year of having no children with an age in the double digits. John turns ten in less than two months and that's crazy!

I'm sure there are other things that I could add to both of these lists that I'm not thinking of right now, but these are the things that come to mind first. I wasn't sad to say goodbye to 2014. Usually I'm at least a little nostalgic, but not this year. 2014 was full of hardships, but I realize that there were many good things in it too, and I know that I came out of it a stronger and better person than I was before. I'm looking forward to 2015 and am very hopeful that at the end of the year, its good list will be a lot longer than its bad list!