This has been one of those years. We didn't take our tree down until a week ago because the sight of it so delighted us. Bob and I thought -- for about two minutes -- about just leaving it up as a permanent decoration. But we soon rejected that idea. We don't need any more evidence of our eccentricity on display. And maybe making that glowing tree permanent would make it somehow less special. So we packed it away.
And we started talking about whether to make New Year's resolutions.
Bob decided resolutions were unnecessary this year. He is living his dreams: he is slim and fit, having lost 35 pounds over the past year and is running again on a daily basis for the first time in years. He is more active than ever with his music. He is taking a fascinating array of courses on tape, online and in person at our ASU extension center here. He is going to the movies weekly and to the library more often, with an impressive reading list. He is meditating daily, eating healthy food, practicing Tai Chi -- in short, doing everything he set out to do in retirement. He is absolutely delighted with how retirement has turned out.
Such a life!
I have to admit, I'm a bit behind Bob in all this. I weigh less than I did last January, but still have a way to go to reach a healthy weight. I'm exercising almost daily, but need to ramp it up a bit for maximum benefit. I'm writing again -- not only the blog, but also am working on some book proposals. I read a lot, meditate several times a week, am stumbling through the initial exercises of Tai Chi. I have fantasies of learning how to play the banjo and rediscovering Spanish. I'm eating healthy foods. So retirement is working well for me, too, but I have a way to go before I can catch up with Bob's healthy, active retirement lifestyle!
I've decided to skip the tyranny of specific resolutions in favor of ways I intend to pamper myself this year:
I want to take the risk of doing what I love. I found inspiration for this recently when our neighbor Hank, a Superior Court judge by day, a heavy metal rocker by night, invited us to a nearby gig. It was wonderful to watch him singing and playing his guitar in a local dive called The River Bottom Bar and Grill. Bob and I discovered that the River Bottom, a place we had been too afraid to try for the past two years (so many bikers and just a stone's throw across the Gila River from the massive Arizona State Prison complex), was really quite delightful and had excellent hamburgers. But the greatest joy of the evening was Hank's inimitable musical performance. Following his dreams day and night, Hank is a great role model for living fully in midlife.
My version of this might be writing more and tackling -- with joy and excitement -- two memoirs so long deferred. It might also mean singing more often with Bob in the evenings, adding new songs and musical styles along the way. It might also include some self-pampering in the form of dance - however awkward, however basic in comparison to what I used to do, just because I love it.
I want to take time to cuddle and make warm contact with others. This may mean reaching out more to Bob or to a friend who needs a hug. It may mean not walking past a cat who stretches out before me or who meows for attention. My cats, in fact, are a wonderful example of the art of cuddling:
I want to savor the meaning of family. That means pampering myself with more contact not only with my brother Mike and sister Tai, but also with my dear sister-in-law Amp and also the next generation: Nick, now 22, and Maggie, 2 -- along with the new baby Mike and Amp are expecting this summer. When we can't get together in person, I'm going to send more emails and make more Facetime visits and, if it comes to that, I'll even do some texting. I was so excited to get a text from Nick last week! Okay, I can do this. I'll follow my friend Sharon's example. She became an expert texter in order to stay in touch with her two busy adult children. And I want to be in touch more often, too, with my wonderful cousins and have another Cousins' Reunion soon! I'll give myself the gift of contact with them all -- in whatever ways work best.
I want to celebrate each day with good friends - both old and new. I don't want a day to go by this year when I don't rejoice in friendships. Some span much of my lifetime -- like Pat Hill, who has been my playmate from kindergarten to my young old age and Mary Breiner, so dear to me for more than forty years and so many others from various life stages -- from college friends like Tim Schellhardt and friends from various workplaces like Betty Price, Rita Warren, Michael Scavio and Nora Valdiviezo.
And I want to celebrate and thoroughly enjoy some of the new friends we've made in Arizona -- where neighbors have become a whole second family. Neighbors like:
And there are a number of others -- either camera shy or gone for the holidays -- not pictured but treasured daily! This coming year, I will pamper myself with memories and contacts with friends both old and new!
I want to create fun adventures -- whether traveling or at home. Every day is full of opportunities for new discoveries and adventures! I plan to pamper myself by taking the time to notice and enjoy both planned and totally unexpected fun and enlightening moments. Bob and I want to discover more of Arizona and its fascinating history. I want to have some fun adventures in learning -- maybe picking up a musical instrument for the first time in my life. I have fantasies of learning to play Bob's banjo -- a tall order, I'm sure. But it's worth a try. And I want to enjoy memories of past adventures -- like our trip to visit my brother Mike and his wife Amp at their home in Bangkok for a the holidays a few years back. Every moment was a delightful adventure -- including our memorable visit to the restaurant Cabbages and Condoms (where condoms replace after dinner mints and profits go to family planning clinics throughout Thailand).
I want to pay extra attention to health. That means healthy eating, careful flossing and daily exercise. It won't be a chore: I've come to prefer fresh fruits and vegetables to my old sugary treats. And the gym here has become a second home to me: wonderful exercise opportunities, fun socializing and all the best gossip -- all in one place!
I want to find new ways to let special people in my life know how very much I care. There are so many ways to communicate caring: the words we speak, the words we write, the time we take to notice, to listen, to try to understand another's point of view. I want to support family and friends I love -- as well as those in the blogosphere who have become dear to me -- in moments of challenge and pain, and moments of triumph. I want to empathize in rough times and celebrate the joyous times -- all the days of our lives in 2012!