Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking Back, Looking Forward: 2010

There are so many good year-in-review and decade-in-review memes out there already so while I won’t be joining in on them, I can’t let 2009 slip by without some commentary on it.

In my little corner of the universe, 2009 definitely had its high points: I signed a deal for my second book during a very tough economic spell, I met Bill Clinton and chatted about health care reform, and I pursued new academic and freelance opportunities. I am incredibly grateful for all of these experiences.

I thought and wrote a lot about hope this year, a word that is as closely related to these high notes in my life as it is to the low ones. In fact, I’d argue that when I felt fragmented and run down or when I was disappointed, when all I could do was focus on just making it work, hope was even more important.

I’m not into making resolutions this year. I’d rather take what I’ve learned from 2009 and apply it to 2010. Despite some really great developments, 2009 was a long, tough year, a year that pitted my strengths against my weaknesses in a major way. I am a planner and a control freak, and the more crazy life (and health) gets, my tendency is to push back even harder. I had a ton of pressure on me this year, and so much of what I needed to do hinged on me being able to control the one thing I can never fully control: my health.

In a much broader way, I think 2009 was a year that challenged so many of us on that front, healthy or otherwise: sometimes we can do our very best but other factors can dictate so much of our success or failure.

It is one thing to say that having hope is important, but it is another to be truly willing to accept things that are out of your control, to have hope things will work out even if in the moment, you can’t see how or when. That is the hard part for me, anyway.

When I think about the past year and the past decade, I have to admit that some of the most important and life-changing developments were ones I never planned for, never even knew to look for: meeting my husband (six years ago tonight, actually); getting my MFA, meeting the friends in college, graduate school, and beyond who mean so much and who feel like family; starting this blog; etc.

There are many more examples like this, but the point is, sometimes you just have to be open to chance and possibility. All the planning in the world does not guarantee we will get what it is we think we want, and sometimes we don’t know what we want or need until we find it. At points this year I think I was so bogged down in surviving that I lost sight of the importance of the unexpected, that sometimes hope means trusting in what we cannot yet envision.

In this post, I reflected on the idea that a person needs three things: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. This is what I want to carry with me into 2010, and into the next decade.

Have a wonderful (and safe) New Year’s, and may 2010 bring you as much health and peace as possible.

Thank you for reading.

8 comments:

RA Guy said...

Happy New Year 2010!!!

britta said...

Laurie--great post! I too HOPE you have a healthier and better 2010!

Faith Berry said...

"being open to chance and possibility"

I like that a LOT!

Happy new year.

Lyrehca said...

Great post, and happy 2010!

Kairol Rosenthal said...

I have a fortune from a fortune cookie taped to my fridge that says "Accept one thing you cannot change and you will feel better." It is so true.

I also don't make resolutions. I'd rather set goals that makes sense for what is happening in my life at the moment and not around an arbitrary day on the calendar.

Congrats on all of your accomplishments this year!

Kairol
http://everythingchangesbook.com/

emily said...

Thank you for putting things in perspective with this post. And reminding me that I can't control a lot of things and need to be open to the unexpected! It's been hard to look back on the decade and look forward to this new one...I'm going to focus on being open to new possibilities. Thanks! Emily

Andy said...

Laurie-

Happy New Year. Yours is a wonderful blog. And I admire you.

I'm 36, single, gay living with two chronic illnesses: Colitis for 4 years and prostatitis for 2 months.

I have a couple of questions on relationship (related to "someone to love"). (1) Why would anyone want to have a relationship with a chronically ill person? Practically speaking, I am not so special -- I am a decent guy, an average Joe next door. Why choose me? (2) Is there anything to look forward to if you don't have a family or a relationship? How much can you hang all your hat on your career?

I am sorry if I sound depressed, but these questions are haunting me for the past few years.

Thanks,
Andy.

Laurie said...

Thanks again (belatedly) for the well wishes--may 2010 be a great year for all of you.

Andy, thank you for your kind words about the blog. I've thought a lot about your comments/questions the past few days, and am worried that anything I write here may come across as trite. But from my personal experiences, the most important thing I had to realize when it came to relationships was that my self-perception was more important than (and often very influential to) how others perceived me. If I saw myself as a bunch of diseases that no one would want to take on, I would set up a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once I truly began to believe that my illnesses were only a part of the many facets that make me who I am, instead of *the* defining characteristic, it was easier for me to believe someone else would see things that way, too.

I hope that is remotely helpful....

 
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