Sunday, January 01, 2017

Happy New Year!

Happy 2017, friends! I hope this January 1 finds you healthy and happy and ready for the adventure of a new year. I know that I'm glad to see 2016 end for a variety of reasons, and I'm moving into 2017 with enthusiasm and some new clarity and a bunch of goals for the coming year.

But first, some reflections on the last year:

Highlights from 2016

1.     We added a new member to our family:  Starlie, a sweet English Cream Golden Retriever.  She's added several highlights to this list: going with Miss C to choose her from 2 litters of 19 puppies; going again a few weeks later to bring tiny 8 week old Starlie home; and, of course, all of the amusement and joy and entertainment that Starlie has brought to our lives since.

2.     Miss C and I took a wonderful road trip this past summer, up through Oregon into Washington, to ultimately spend 10 days on Whidbey Island. Miss C isn't the most eager of travelers but she was game for our trip and we had a very good time. We spent time with some good friends, we spent a fair amount of down-time just enjoying our little rental cottage and the water and the beach, and we ate a lot of great seafood. (Whidbey Island is the home of Penn Cove mussels.)

3.     A big highlight of that trip (among many) was the fact that our very dear and longtime friend Abby happened to be in Seattle visiting from her Maine home.  She hopped the ferry and we had a very nice visit with her.  Abby and Miss C were babies in the same orphanage in China, and are the closest thing to sisters they will each have. We have so many memories of a lot of fun times when we lived in New Hampshire and saw Abby and her family often. It was amazing and wonderful to see both young women together, now that they are into their 20s, and to see what smart, beautiful women they have become.

4.     Last March I took an impromptu trip to Southern California where I met up with a friend from college and we spent several jam-packed days in Disneyland.  I now know that the best way to handle the long lines at Disneyland is to go to the park with someone you can talk endlessly with -- because we had so much to catch up on and talked constantly, the time in line flew by. As fun as Disneyland was, it was nothing compared to the pleasure of spending time with a dear friend. Plus, I sketched while I was there. Disneyland is definitely a great sketching place.

5.     My sister and I found ourselves newly immersed in a new papercrafting adventure, and we started hanging out together (in person or via Facetime) to make cards and stamp and die cut and just have fun playing with paper. It has been so fun to have a new enthusiasm emerge -- and to make something with almost instant gratification. And sharing it with my sister has been a blast.

6.     In June, I took a crafty workshop taught by Jane LaFazio. The class was fun, and the classmates were lovely women, including several good friends. I knew I'd have fun. But what I didn't expect was the instant and close connection I felt with a friend I'd only known online.  She came to Northern California from Canada, traveling with a longtime close friend of hers. And within minutes I swear I felt like I'd known them forever.  We had so much fun in the workshop, and then afterwards they came and stayed with me for a few days. We did some local touring (wine tasting of course) and had a gorgeous, truly fantastic day together in San Francisco. It was a wonderful reminder that we never know what friendships and life-changing relationships are just around the corner. I'm planning to travel to Canada to visit them this year, so stay tuned for that adventure!

7.     The summer also brought another visit with far-flung but very dear friends Helen and Dennis from the UK. We had a lovely visit and as always it went too fast. I think it's my turn to go to England next. (Here they are while I was trying to explain Pokemon Go to them.) 

8. Thanks to Starlie, I'm walking a lot, and both of us are enjoying it enormously. We head out into the neighborhood once or twice every day, and as a result I've met neighbors (and neighbor dogs) I'd not known before. It's good exercise, it's more social than I expected, and it's also a great time for reflecting. At first I took my phone and/or camera, but I've come to realize that I enjoy myself more and can focus on Starlie's training better if I just stay present on the walk. Puppy lesson #327: be in the moment!

9.     2016 was not a big sewing year.  But one very satisfying thing for me was completing a selvedge quilt I'd been working on for years -- literally years. I'd collected selvedges from my own fabric for ages, and friends started giving me theirs, too. Over a few years, I'd intermittently sew selvedge strips to a foundation to just make selvedge fabric -- which was oddly satisfying in itself.  But getting this quilt finished felt so great! It hangs in the upstairs hall and makes me happy every time I see it.

10.     It has been a terribly (with emphasis on the terrible) challenging year for my family as we have watched my brother cope with an aggressive colon cancer. Lots of hospital visits, lots of phone calls, lots of prayers -- but so much love and faith and hope, too. I can report that at the end of 2016, it is truly a highlight that he is doing well, looking more like himself than he has in a long time, and he's weathering the chemo process fairly well, all things considered. He's not done, but he's doing well, and that's excellent.

11.     Clarity. I won't go into specifics, and it's really not necessary. A friend once told me that clarity would come, that it just would, on its own. And she was right. I have had some challenges this year that have had more to do with my own attitudes and difficulty letting go of some illusions I've held -- clung to, really -- for too long. I've been reminded that it's hard to move forward when you're holding on to the past. Thanks to long talks with good friends, a lot of reading and contemplating and journalling, and a bit of just facing up to hard truths, I feel like I arrived at the end of 2016 with a new sense that the past is truly past.  I have finally, finally, FINALLY put some heavy baggage down and I'm leaving it in 2016.

So, onto 2017 with a light heart and clear vision!

How about you? What was the highlight or highlights of your year? If you've blogged about it, link in a comment. Or let me know in a comment. I'd love to know.  

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