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42clusterIt’s the eve of my 43rd birthday. Let’s pretend it’s Christmas in July – that’s the only other time I feel like I have to sit and reflect on a whole year all at once. And please, feel free to drop off presents under our evergreen tree in the front yard! 😉

As I was reading through my journal (aka my Facebook timeline) for the past year, the big highlights were mostly sad. I suffered some devastating losses of friends and family, a good friend went to prison for two years, my transgender cousin’s suicide made international news, a doctor friend was made famous by contracting Ebola, and my relationship with my mother came to a painful end. That last one was not on Facebook as it is still too raw.

Amidst such a long grieving period were many moments of victory, bravery, and beauty. We moved to a town we’ve wanted to live in for years. I taught my first drama class and not only did I love it, it was a huge success. I made two trips back to Wisconsin to visit my family and reconnected with two of my best friends from high school while I was there. I worked on my novel. I fed hundreds of people through the little food bank I run. We reinstated Niki Day and Benny Day into our family schedule. I went to lots of movies and read a lot of books. I nourished old friendships and formed several new ones. I began passionately pursuing my husband again.

In times of reflection, I can’t focus on the bad without the good. I made some really dumb mistakes this past year, but I’ve also had my moments of wisdom and clarity. I’m learning I’m better for both. Through a year of deep suffering, I’ve clung to my joy.

I know who I want to be, but better than that, I know who I am.

In his book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, English writer and humorist Douglas Adams said 42 is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. I’m still laughingly pondering that, but hoping for better questions and answers when I’m 43. Adams also said, “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I’ve ended up where I needed to be.”

Now THAT is the story of my year!

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