End of an Era—2019 and the Decade

By the time you read this, 2020 will be here. But today being New Year’s Eve, I asked Henry what he was looking forward to in 2020. You know, the kind of question everyone asks on the eve of a new year.

“Grapes,” he said. Not quite what I’d expected to hear, but to each his own.

Um, those are not grapes, Henry.

Though they weren’t asked, Lazy Buns and the Squeezamal chimed in with, “Catching some Zzzs” and “Tacos” respectively.

And Malik added, “Continuing to be awesome.” Perhaps having low expectations is the way some cope with the changing year.

Henry’s new BFF, the Bunny Cupcake (who sadly will be moving away soon), had very little to say other than bidding Henry a tearful good-bye.

And so, we bid good-bye to 2019 and the decade. I’m hardly tearful however. I’m glad to see you go, 2019! Thanks to the polar vortex, various family illnesses, manuscript rejections, pet deaths, and job losses, you will not be missed.

But as I consider those challenges, I can’t help seeing what they shaped in me, my family, and friends. Resilience is formed not in ease but in hard times. So 2019, your peaks and valleys left a residue of resilience that we can all carry into 2020—a year of endless possibilities.

I’m not one for making resolutions. And if you follow this blog at all, you know that I hardly ever post goals. (Some might say I never post goals.) But I’m writing three books that I’m looking forward to finishing in 2020.

What are you looking forward to in 2020? Comment below!

Happy New Year!

Photos by L. Marie. Squeezamals are a product of Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Company. Lazy Buns is a Pop Hair Pet, a product of MGA Entertainment.

2015: The Thing That Will Finally Leave

On Saturday Night Live in 1978, John Belushi participated in a horror movie trailer spoof with Jane Curtin and Bill Murray called “The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave.” Christopher Lee hosted the show, so the spoof was appropriate, based on Lee’s earlier career. (Sorry about the video quality. If you show this video to your kids, you might have to field questions about the telephone Belushi dials and other items your kids might wonder about in this age of cell phones and song downloads.)

Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience with an acquaintance or relative who wouldn’t take the hint to leave, but instead made excuses to linger and annoy. This sketch came to mind, however, as I thought about the close of 2015. If I could sum up this entire year, I would say it often seemed like the annoying thing that wouldn’t leave, thanks to its many challenges. So I’m delighted to finally see the backend of 2015. I wouldn’t care to repeat one day of it.

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Many people dear to me have had a hard year due to job loss, tornadoes, loved ones with cancer, health issues of their own, financial reversals, multiple rejections, and other disappointments. If you’ve read this blog this year, you know I can relate to all of those.

I know. I shouldn’t blame 2015 for the hard times I and others faced. Recently a friend sent a post to me that really hit home and caused me to see those hard times in a new light. If you have a minute, take a look at it. I won’t mind if you dash off to read it. Rachel, the writer of this post, makes a good point about the way trials test your resilience. Just as rough terrain tests the quality of a tire, you find out what you’re made of when life’s terrain grows rocky.

So many times I’ve felt like I was made of gelatin, thanks to my tendency to shake with fear or melt into a puddle when the heat was on. Yet by the grace of God I’m here still with dirt under my fingernails. And so are you.

Now I’m suddenly reminded of Metapod, a Pokémon with a skill called harden which always seemed useless to me whenever I played a Pokémon game. After all, it is a defensive skill, rather than offensive. Its skin hardens to help it defend against attacks. But now I see the usefulness of this skill. In the game of life, we could all use this skill to help us persist when the blows come. Yet, the temptation to grow harder in a cynical sense will beckon, however. We have to fight against that temptation in order to show compassion for those around us who are suffering.

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So, good-bye, 2015. You’ve taught me that when life is tough, I must be tougher.

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What has 2015 taught you?

“The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave” image from engineeringwellness.com. Year changing image from sageone.es. Metapod from memeaddicts.com.