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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Looking Back, Looking Forward

This has been a challenging, to say the least, yet rewarding year. My daughter has been through some extremely difficult times, which in turn wreaked havoc on me both physically and emotionally. That's the bad.

Now the good: This also has been a year of change and growth for both of us. We are gradually rebuilding our relationship, although much work remains to be done. I have seen many positive changes in my daughter, in her attitude, in her self-confidence, in her interest in arts and crafts, photography and reading, in her realization that taking care of her body with proper food and hydration makes her feel good. She is much more caring toward others, and able to better communicate and acknowledge her feelings and emotions in an open, positive way. She enjoys going to visit 'her' lady in a local nursing home, something she does regularly. She is learning how to give and to accept love.

I, too, have experienced growth and positive change this year. I have learned to take better care of myself. I have lost 8-10 pounds simply by reducing the amount of sugar and carbohydrates in my diet. I have rediscovered my love of writing and photography, talents that never went away but were ignored for too long. I realized how very much I enjoy words -- manipulating them to get just the right sense in a sentence, trying to find a better way of saying something to convey the right meaning and connotation, reading and savoring a particularly well-written sentence or paragraph. I now fully realize the pleasure I get from writing, especially while working on a book about my experiences as the mother of an adopted daughter. This has been an empowering and therapeutic experience. I also have learned to be a better mother to my daughter, who will turn 16 in a few days. Finally, after all the drama and trauma of this year, I am emerging a person with a greater sense of calm, a better sense of self, and a sense of where my life is headed.

We will visit our new house in New Mexico together (the first time my daughter will see it) over the Christmas holiday. We're going to paint her bedroom (her current thinking is that she wants to just 'splash' some contrasting paint onto the walls but leave them their current color) and paint the Pepto-Bismol pink guest room as well. More important than the work to be done, however, is the opportunity to spend time together. She mentioned once that working together to paint the room/s would be a good chance for us to bond.

From there, we will drive to Santa Fe, an amazing city any time of year, but it's supposed to be magical during Christmas. The lights, the farolitos (brown paper bags with sand in the bottom into which a lighted candle is set) and maybe a dusting of snow, should provide a beautiful setting for Christmas. We will walk Canyon Road on Christmas Eve, enjoying the farolitos displayed in rows along walkways and on top of adobe houses.

When my daughter asked recently what I want for Christmas, I could think of nothing material. I told her that I have all I want or need: her, our dogs, a secure job, my health, a new home in New Mexico, and the promise of a new life in the coming year. Work will continue on the book, I am exploring some new volunteer opportunities, and I have taken up 'active wishing' for some things that are on my private 'wish list.'

After a turbulent year, it seems that we are starting to enter calmer waters. The days and months ahead are full of promise. We both have learned valuable lessons and gained important insights into ourselves and each other. 2010 won't be perfect; no year ever is. But we can look forward to a year of continued growth and change, a deeper bond between us, new skills to deal with life's challenges, and a new life in a state with the most beautiful skies I have ever seen.

We wish you all a wonderful Christmas season, happy holidays, and a bright, fulfilling New Year full of love and dreams fulfilled.