Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reflections on 2010

I used to spend most of my time looking ahead.  Now I spend a lot of time looking back.  I'm pretty sure this reflecting is supposed to happen later in life, but with the traumas of the last two years, I've changed (perhaps into an 80 year old little lady in a 28 year old's body).

I'm not sure at what point I stop looking back to 2008.  Everything is viewed in terms of "Before the fire" (or "BF" at our house) and "After."  When I reflect on 2010, I am actually reflecting on the last two years, viewing my year through the lens of a woman whose life changed in the course of an hour.  I think back on the person I was before the fire and make comparisons.  Maybe it's because I'm immersed in writing about the fire right now.  Or maybe I really will be an eighty year old woman, sitting in my chair, talking about the summer of 2008 and the person I thought I'd become.  And instead, the person I did become.

Twenty-eight.  Less than two years to thirty.  I attended a seminar four or five years ago about goal setting.  I was a planner.  Two days of listening, of creating lists of how I envisioned my life would be.  A millionaire at thirty I wrote.  A foster mom.  On my way to creating a camp for foster kids.  One hundred items of ambition, drive, a plan.

Nowhere on that list was there "Home burns down" or "chronic illness."  I expected to be conquering the world, not quietly watching it go by.  But, you know what?  I'm not always sad about those events.  The person before the fire couldn't possibly imagine the person I was going to become.  Maybe she needed these huge life altering events to make meaningful change.

I've learned you don't get to plan your obstacles.  And worrying about potential threats does you little good because usually those aren't the things that are going to actually stand in your way.  You probably couldn't even possibly prepare for the life changing moments ahead.  And there's no use wasting energy on anything but the day, the moment in front of us.

I've learned to live in the moment.  I never thought it would be possible for ME, Ms. Five Year Plan, to stop and live in this exact moment, enjoy the laughter of a two year old without thinking about who he'd be in first grade.  I can sit and watch the birds.  Or look at the stars.  And just sit.  Who knew?!  Part of this change is grounded in fear, fear that I won't live to tomorrow, fear that some new devastation is lurking right around the corner.  And that is unfortunate because it often clouds my ability to see the absolute beauty of this moment.  But I'm working on letting go of that fear because I know that tomorrow is out of my control.

I've also learned through the last two years to let go of my need to save the world.  In planning out my life, I thought that it was my job to save everyone else from their own life and circumstances.  If I could protect them all from making mistakes, then I would have lived a productive life.  I don't have the energy to do that now, and I've actually come to believe that trying to save people from their own mistakes is actually not helpful at all.  That's not to say I don't value caring and compassion and giving.  I do very much value those things.  But I have let go of the need to save others.  And that's allowed me to direct my energy to helping in more constructive ways.

This is the week for RESOLUTIONS.  But I don't believe in making unnecessary promises.  Change doesn't happen on January 1.  For me, change started on August 25, 2008, but it is ever evolving.  I hope for a calm 2011, but I don't worry about it because I know I can only focus on today, and if life throws us another curve ball this year, I'll worry about it then.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

(Our Christmas letter):
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 

2010 has been another doozie in the Linville-Thurber house. 

Dan finished another semester of school, finally passing that pesky college algebra course!  We are expecting a Spring 2013 graduation with his degree in IT Management.  We continued to root on the Broncos in their quest to become a football powerhouse and were crushed when they lost to Nevada, but we are excited for next year’s season already.

I spent the year on heavy duty antibiotics dealing with late stage Lyme Disease.  We spent last weekend in Seattle and got the news that I can stop antibiotics.  Unfortunately, it’s looking like there may be some permanent nerve damage, so while I’m excited about not having to take meds any longer, I am learning to accept the limitations created by chronic dizziness and make adjustments as I can. 

I also published a story about our first Christmas in our new house in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas Magic, which was released in October.  I continue blogging at http://lifeafterthefire.com.  I’m hoping that I’m able to dedicate time this year to establishing a non-profit to help other families deal with the emotional stress of losing a home.  It’s amazing how many plans though don’t seem to happen when you have a two-year old at home.

Speaking of Kellen, he’s becoming quite the opinionated and stubborn child.  We’re still trying to figure out exactly which side of the family he gets those genes from because I was definitely a meek and quiet child.  He started Montessori preschool in October and loves his teacher.  We love the school, and it’s proven to be a great environment for Kellen.  He makes us laugh with his language development with phrases like “Get out of here Mommy” and “Where’s Daddy’s be butt (belly button)?”  He also has quite the fascination with trains and gets out his wooden tracks at least once a day.  He likes his “ups” (hills) the best. 

We are all looking forward to an uneventful and healthy 2011. 

We hope you have a great holiday season (though this card will probably reach you at the tail end of it).  We are wishing you all a very healthy and happy new year as well!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Our halls are decked

Christmas is such an interesting time post-fire.  It's so rooted in tradition, family heirlooms, the past.  And yet, for us, that is gone.

The ornaments are all new, with a different kind of significance.  We don't think back on generations past because the ornaments they handmade no longer adorn our tree.  Rather, we look at several ornaments and think about my mom's generous friends who gathered ornaments for our first Christmas.  Each year, I try to add more, though our tree is still quite bare.  I'm sure ten years from now, we'll be having to decide which to put up on the tree (especially if school projects have anything to say about it). 


We got a great Santa last year, sitting at a table writing his Christmas letters.  I haven't found the right spot for him, but this year, he sat on the piano, which worked ok. 

The white-glittered JOY letters sit on the red ladder bookcase in our living room and remind us of the first Christmas in our house that wasn't yet complete, a fold-up table and plastic chairs the only furniture inside.  Speaking of which, have you picked up your copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul? 

After the fire, I re-bought the photo stocking holders from the old house, but they don't work the same now.  The stairs are such a great place to hang them.  I've found this happens a lot throughout this reacclimating process.  I thought I wanted the same things I had in the old house, but they just don't work the same.  It's a bit of a struggle letting go of that desire to recreate instead of just doing what works now. 

I am having a hard time getting into the Christmas Spirit this year, but I know that Christmas morning this year will be magical.  Kellen knows who Santa is, and we read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" nearly every night.  He's been practicing Jingle Bells, and as soon as I can get a good video I will post it.  He may not FULLY get it this year, but I'm sure that his expression and excitement will be a great moment to treasure. 

Merry Christmas!