New Year Means Living in the Present


The New Year. It means different things to all of us. Time to reflect on the past; time to reflect on the future; time to make new resolutions; or some may choose not to recognize it at all, trying to live their lives only in the present.

Since we’re at the end of the first decade of the “new” (is it still new now that it’s 10 year old?) century, pundits are choosing to reflect not only on the year, but 10 years.

Time Magazine called it “The Decade from Hell.”

In many ways, it could be seen as such with terrorist attacks, two major wars, an almost catastrophic financial meltdown. But I’m sure if we looked, we could find a lot that went right with this decade too.

For me, personally, it certainly was a decade of upset, a lot of grief, and challenges. This was the decade my mother turned “old” and needed my care. At the beginning of the decade, we lost my brother and toward the end, my mother. We also said goodbye to our beloved Doxie, Hershey, and two cats that had been with us most of our marriage. We also lost two of Dale’s beloved aunts and an uncle who was a strong male influence in his life while he growing up. We’ve each had a major medical challenge (the first in our lives), and certainly, we’re still living through the effects of this horrible economy.

I hate to sound like a cliché, but it’s true that we wouldn’t be the people we are without the “downs” that come with the “ups.” Each step we take on the path of our lives leads us to the next adventure, or prepares us for the next challenge. If we had never rescued Hershey, we couldn’t have known first hand the special bond a rescued dog can bring into our lives and if we hadn’t lost her after she lived a good life with us, it wouldn’t have opened up room in our home and hearts for Dakota and Sade.

My brother’s death was tragic and of course, if I could have him back, I would, but his end led me on a journey of my own and helped me on my own path. Among other things, I wouldn’t have met some of the amazing people I did while writing “No Immediate Threat: The story of an American Veteran,” the story of his life. The same goes for my mother, whose death propelled us into moving to our Little House, which has brought us endless surprises, from making me aware of The Small House Movement to meeting the great people (including my readers here) involved in it. Even the economic and financial challenges have presented us with opportunities to learn and grow.

So, as I reflected on the past yesterday, and did the little rituals of cleansing (thanks readers!) by clearing some of the old year’s clutter in file cabinets, pantries and closets, and we did our ritual toast, my mind was in the present while hoping for a happy future.

Happy New Year, Dear Friends of Living Large!

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7 Responses

  1. theshebearofeleven says:

    This past decade has been one of ups and downs for us, also. The ups were that three of our children were married to great mates, 15 grandchildren were born. We began gardening and enjoy growing our own food. The downs were my dad developed dementia and it has been very hard on me emotionally. Also, the economy has been a challenge with my husband’s business.
    I like your positive attitude on this post, lessons are learned through the ups and downs!

  2. Sandra says:

    For me this was a tough decade. Especially since Sept. 25, 2004. My parents lived in Florida. Father was mis-diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He had extemely slow thydoid and cataracts. This is the toughest part. My mother tied him to a chair and left him to die. My husband called Adult Protective Services. They removed him from the home. Somehow he got put into hospice with no terminal diagnosis!!! In Florida they prey on the elderly telling them it is free. Meidicare pays for it. From there the nightmare got worse. For 18 months we fought and fought the system. My sister lied and said she had Power of Attorney. Get this she visited her parent one time in 27 yrs. to go change Power of Attorney’s to move all they stock money. But did not get POA over my father. I found out later we had joint. She hid the paperwork. Bought herself a condo in Maryland telling out mother as soon as dad was dead she could move into it. All we wanted was dad to get cataract surgery so he could watch TV and read. Being PI’s we got the gov’t HHS involved. As soon as my sister and nursing home knew they were in trouble and knew we would get custody of my father, They stopped medications he got pnuemonia and died. My husband felt like he failed my Dad and he had a heart attacked and had to have quadruple by pass from all the stress. This was in 07′ Within a two month span I buried my father and took care of my husband. My sister’s response was too bad Rick made it thru. Dad needed to be put out of his misery. You see he never made her happy. Our mother she left her there in Florida to remain in the nursing home. She has since sold the condo and bought her a retirement home.

    Us we have slowly recovered. My husband health is good. He has made an excellent come back.

    My father did not have alzheimer’s. When he died the autospy showed otherwise. I wonder how many other people are mis-diagosed?

    But this has been a hard pill to swallow. I made the gov’t pull an audit on my fathers medicare billing. To date out of 426 claims that were sent to medicare by the nursing home and hospice provider all 426 were denied and they had to pay every penny back. I don’t have the strength to fight anymore. Nor do I want to drag my husband thru it all again.

    Some things are good. We have our first grandbaby boy. Never thought we would see that. Our Son is in the Navy and travelled alot.

    • Kerri says:

      So sorry about your troubles, Sandra. The whole healthcare system in this country needs to be fixed.
      May your next decade be a better one.

  3. Mo says:

    Looking back, it was a good decade for us. It began with building our primary residence – a source of many blessings and the decade came to a close with us finding the Yonderosa and building another dream.

    There were challenges and low points but so far we’ve weathered them – even benefited from the experiences when viewed with a wider perspective.

    Your advice is good – live in the moment, worry about the things you can do something about. The rest will take care of itself.

    Have a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous decade!

    • Kerri says:

      This was of course, also the decade we built The Little House and we had many good times here even before we moved.

      You have a Happy and Prosperous decade as well!

  4. Kerri says:

    Happy New Year to you as well, Kathy – and congratulations on that wonderful writing gig you just landed. I look forward to reading all of your essays.

  5. Kathleen Winn says:

    I understand what you mean about needing the “downs” in life, in order to appreciate the “ups.” This past decade has been for me, a lot like yours- a mix of good and bad. Certainly the best thing about the last ten years is that I finally stopped fantasizing about being a writer, and actually made it my full time job.

    I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to realize that I could make a successful career out of a dream. Though there is still much I want to accomplish with my writing, I’ve had enough success to know that it’s my calling and the only kind of work that truly satisfies my mind and spirit.

    We bought South Fork almost a decade ago. We had no idea the adventure and changes to our lives that would come about with the purchase of the property. It is now our haven, our place to retreat from busy urban life and connect with nature.

    My father’s death from Alzheimer’s was certainly a low point in the past decade, but time has helped me come to terms with his loss and accept his passing. I can smile when I think of him now instead of tearing up. Still miss him of course, but I was blessed to have such a wonderful father and I’m grateful that his love and spirit endure.

    I am looking forward to the new year and consider my latest writing gig, coming right at the beginning of it, to be another sign from the universe that I must persevere in this craft. I will be cleaning out clutter and re-organizing my office, just as you are doing. I think it’s the best way to begin anew in 2010. My most critical New Year’s resolution is to respect my writing and give it all the attention and focus that it deserves. Good luck with all of your own endeavors Kerri- I look forward to another year of your wonderful writing!