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Thursday, January 05, 2017

On Closing Yet Another Year, Changes, and Sameness

Jean Sexton muses:

Another year's end has come and a new year has started. I find that it is a good time to take stock of the world and see what has come and gone during the span -- sort of a mental inventory of my life. That way I can make plans to do better in the coming year. I invite you to walk through the year’s end review with me.

Looking back over 2016, I see so many changes in and to my life. I realize that still having my life is a miracle and a gift from God, so I am trying to live more wisely and kindly. For me that can be a challenge as I have a temper and can be impatient.

This was a year when I tried to focus on my health, more than anything else. I still feel a bit selfish over that, but I remind myself that if I don’t, I cannot contribute to the world around me. It meant working on patience as I struggled to make progress and wanted things to just happen and to happen faster. While I started the year in the hospital in ICU, I did make steady progress. I moved to a regular part of the hospital, and finally got sent home on oxygen 24/7. I had multiple doctors’ visits each week. A big step was coming off of daytime oxygen early in February. That was after it was determined that I had a complex case of sleep apnea and got a CPAP to help me keep breathing. The very next day we found out that I wasn’t making fluid around my lungs anymore. By the end of March I could drive again and then I finally came off the oxygen completely. By year’s end, I was a one-year cancer survivor and over 30 pounds lighter.

That also meant I spent more time walking. I’ve slowly built my endurance back up to walking for about 30 minutes at a time without being unreasonably tired. I’ve tried to eat food that would be healthier for me. That meant cutting out my beloved sweet tea completely and all caffeine after about 2:00 pm. Sodas are a rarity for me now.

Some of this means I cannot work as much as I did. Time is spent walking and preparing food. I still have more doctors’ visits than I like. I am trying to cut down on the stress that was in my life. Wolf benefits from all this time. He likes walking and petting him reduces my stress. He’s been such a companion this year.

Still, I did get some things done. For the Glory of the Empire got out as a Kindle book. I got the Prime Directive PD20M Supplement started. It is proving to be challenging to reconcile what was written in the original PD One RPG books and the GURPS books. Still it is fun and I get to put a little more background into the species. I spent a lot of time proofreading and marketing. The big project was going to AmaCon which saw our return to having a booth at a convention.

I had fun this year reading books from new (to me) writers and some old friends. I had a goal of reading 50 books and I read 84 books, not counting one I just couldn’t finish. (I proofread enough at work; I don’t need to read a book littered with poorly edited prose and improbable situations.) My heart is saddened by the realization that many people actually don’t read for pleasure after they’ve finished school.

I listened to lots of good music, culminating in seeing the Trans-Siberian Orchestra for the first time. Music makes me so happy. I’m glad that I also get to see musicals performed in the area, from Broadway tours to local productions. I no longer have to haul my oxygen tank along as I did when I went to see Annie in January, here in Amarillo. By November, when I saw Elf: The Musical, I could actually walk down the steps to the front of the theater unaided.

I continued to review on Amazon and slowly moved closer to the ranks of their “Top Reviewers.” Finally, near the end of the year I showed up in the top 10,000 (out of over 45 million!). It has been fun on a personal level. Most of the time I buy books and music I’m pretty sure I will like, so I end up giving things a good review. I enjoyed reading two books that were sort of work related. Zones of Control focused on wargames; Cinema and Sorcery examined sword and sorcery (broadly defined) films.

I have rejoiced to have friends both near and far. Without the Coles and Steven Petrick, so much of the beginning of the year would have been nearly impossible. Two of my friends helped watch Wolf while I was hospitalized and continued to help walk him when I was on oxygen and fairly weak. Simone stayed with him a couple of evenings when I had sleep apnea appointments. Facebook friends offered encouragement when I struggled and rejoiced with me at each bit of good news. I am so lucky that my mother and brother are not just family, but friends, as they encouraged me each step of the way.

So where am I now? I am so happy to be alive as I might well not have been. I am enjoying better health. I have stayed connected with far-flung friends and added some new ones. I have companionship and a walking companion in Wolf. I have a job I enjoy and which needs more focus on it in the coming year. I have a hobby I enjoy.

I think in my inventory I have found health, challenges, joy, and friendship. I have hope that my future will continue to be bright. And I hope that each of you find positivity in your own life inventory.