1. I made a major move from the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia to south central Virginia. That’s definitely “deep south” y’all. From the accents I could listen to all day, to the friendliness of most of the folks to a whole different vibe (but a good one), I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Also, I freaking love living in the middle of a forest with lots of privacy. No one was more worried about this city-bred girl adapting to our environs than my husband, but he has only seen me blossom. I think humans were meant to be regularly connected to nature, and man, have I gotten ginormous doses of it everyday since coming to this wondrous place. Between the woods surrounding our house and neighborhood to the backyard lake, the place is teaming with wildlife, the stars are plentiful at night, and there is a solitude and rightness about being here that fills me up.
2. Despite a) selling our home ourselves and b) making an arduous move (which we mostly tackled on our own; don’t ask for details as I’m trying to repress it) and c) learning we have no business being on opposite ends of lifting a couch together let alone moving an entire house, garage and woodshop, our marriage remains intact.
3. I left some disappointments and frustrations back in Charles Town that I didn’t drag with me. I was looking forward to a new slate, and intentionally made it so. As a result, I am lighter, happier and more aware of being in control of my wants and needs. It’s refreshing. Another takeaway: stop waiting for people to go do things and just do them yourself. I put life’s desires on hold many times waiting for friends or family to join me. We aren’t getting any younger, so go do what you want, where you want, when you want. I promise your company is enough!
4. I launched two books into the world. I published the novel, Fifty, Four Ways, in January. Fiction is challenging to write well, and this effort was funny, poignant, relatable and told by four interesting females. Reviews and comments were overwhelmingly favorable. It hit the Amazon best-seller list, and was ranked five stars by ChickLit.com and Elle’s Book Blog. In November, I published my nonfiction effort, The Self-Loathing Project. This project is near and dear to my heart. Started fifteen years ago and worked on over the years, I was ecstatic to finally pull these candid interviews and information together in book form and put it into the universe. The response has been uplifting and heartening, and it’s my hope many more women will find it, read it and realize they are worth embracing and loving just as they are. It is important to me to put positive, thought-provoking, intentional content into the world, and this meets the criteria in spades (I would argue Fifty, Four Ways does as well). Writing is a lifelong passion, and pursuing it continues to be rewarding and fulfilling, despite the discouraging moments.
5. My youngest graduated from college and did it in an unforgettable way: on the ball field, in his baseball uniform, with his graduation regalia over top. When graduation coincided with The Fairmont Falcons vying for a spot in their conference championship tournament, the president of Fairmont University administered commencement at the field for the fifteen seniors on the team. Not only did my son feel glee at skipping what he assumed would be a long, boring ceremony of pomp and circumstance, but he graduated in a baseball uniform, something he’s been wearing since age five, when he began this whole baseball journey. My son’s baseball career is likely over, and that knowledge tugs at the heartstrings. It has been my privilege to watch him play from a tiny kid, to graduating to the big field in the “Little League majors,” to finding travel ball, to donning that high school uniform, to playing all four years in college (and even getting some scholarship money to do so). I am incredibly proud of him for his perseverance and growth through the sport, dealing with adversity and earning good grades throughout. Along the way, I fell in love with baseball and his role in the game. Time will tell how the sport manifests through him from this point forward, but I’d be shocked if there isn’t more to this story.
6. I fell in love with pop country music. I still don’t love the old twangy stuff, but I sure do love the tempo, sound and lyrics of many newer artists, especially the male artists and bands, whose music sounds less produced. For those who love to hate country, I’ll say this: music is one of life’s greatest joys and embracing different genres can only bring you mo’ joy. Don’t gyp yourself out of something you might like because of your prejudices. Music continues to be an immediate mood enhancer for me, and I’m happy to be listening to more of it, in general, since moving.
7. I threw down in another CrossFit Open, and finished in the top third worldwide and in the country, able to complete every workout as prescribed instead of scaling for the first time since 2014. I admit, I felt a tad badassy. That said, when CrossFit added a second Open competition in October, I was not physically well enough to compete and not even that interested in doing so. Sometimes you’re hot—and sometimes you’re not!
8. Family dynamics continue to have its ups and downs. Through talking with a couple of close friends in one debilitating moment, I realized these dynamics persist for many (we just often aren’t aware), and it took much of the strife and burden away. I also am cognizant other relationships fill those needs, meaning I have brothers and sisters from other mothers, so to speak. Whether related or not, I value and treasure the interactions that aren’t laden with all the history, mystery, drama, intricacies, disappointments and misunderstandings the way our relational kind can be. In short: throw all the rules and expectations out the window and feel free to create your own “family” with your band of misfits if the one you’re born/married into ain’t cutting it.
9. After my husband regaled us with a story about a carving of Adam and Eve created by his great grandfather Henry Bernhardt (once profiled in Life magazine for his eccentric art), I decide to research the man. I quickly discovered one of his relief carvings on Sotheby’s was about to go up for auction for a hefty sum—and it looked very much like the item my husband told his very tale about. Said artwork had gone missing in his youth during a cross-country move (was it stolen? Lost in the move? Destroyed accidentally? Alas, anyone who would know was deceased). It was a pretty thrilling couple of weeks as I investigated the whole thing and learned about his great-grandfather. In the end, the provenance suggested there was more than one relief carving depicting the Garden of Eden. We do wonder where the other may reside, as well as any other art Henry created. I was soberly reminded that once enough family has passed on, much of this type of thing (original art, photographs, letters, etc.) are likely discarded. It seems like such a tragedy. We are fortunate to have a few pieces carved by his great-grandfather. As for the story? In his youth, my husband charged his friends to glimpse the “anatomically correct” carving—until his mother got wind of it!
10. I really enjoyed a trip to the Asheville, North Carolina area to visit my son and daughter-in-law. Appalachia for days. Waterfalls. A good-vibe city. A wonderful visit. And the pair is tackling a big project; seeing it in person was impressive. I also love traveling and don’t do nearly enough of it. This very son has a good idea for a travel blog or series the two of us can do together, and it’s a thought never far from my mind.
I’m already gearing up for 2020 and am excited for what’s in store. I wish y’all peace and blessings as we kick off a new decade. CHEERS!