Monday, January 2, 2017

     How do you evaluate how good any given year was? Do you determine how happy you were? how successful you were? how healthy you were? how much money you made? How often you laughed or how seldom you cried or lost control? Everyone’s scale is different, so if you are one to look back and attempt to put a label on your experience, remember that everyone’s definition of happy, successful and wealthy is not your definition. As a teacher, I am always evaluating—giving myself grades on so much of what I do. I do not recommend this practice, but it’s just hard-wired in me, so I go there in my head even when I try not to. Was this a C+ year or an A year? Usually, I use a 10-point scale, as it allows more room for error. 
     My 2016 was a +9. Does this mean I never cried, never got angry, never had moments when I wanted to throw up my hands and say, “Screw it!” No. For me, it means that the
positive highlights overshadowed all the normal negatives that humans endure.

     The positives for me centered around stellar performances on stage, a recognition of friendships that will nourish my soul forever, a few health bullets dodged and surprise visits from my children that made me feel loved and appreciated. So many experiences are both happy and sad like leaving cherished friends and moving to more sunshine and warm air. Making new friends is exciting and stimulating, but I know that it will take time and trust to see those new ones equal the value of the old ones. Giving up our beautiful custom home and moving into a cookie cutter three-year-old jewel with pool and pond view still gives me pause. Knowing that I have to start my music performance career all over where no one knows me or cares about my show is daunting, but the first stage appearance will be all the more rewarding, as I will have created it from nothing. 

     In the next couple of months, these two worlds will meet one another. Our dear friends from “before” will visit our new home and lifestyle for the first time. I wonder if they will think to themselves, “They gave up all that for this?” or “Wow! Look at what they have now.” Does it matter what they think? Sort of. Anyone who can say they don’t care what their dear friends think is much more mature and grounded than me. I do care, but I know I can’t live my life waiting for the approval of others, no matter how dear. I’ve learned the hard way that someone will always have something better, something bigger, something more expensive. Does that make them better or happier? I doubt it. 

     2017’s evaluation will depend on how well we adjust to all the changes that continue to test us weekly—making new friends, growing into our new home, trying new activities, new adventures and staying healthy as we face the challenges of aging. 

     What criteria do you use to determine how good your year was or will be? What will bring you joy and peace of mind? What strengths will you discover about yourself as you face the challenges before you? What keeps you grounded? Who is in your circle that will cheer you on and hold you up? What really matters?