Since I became a doctoral student, I have had to “quit” blogging as my blogging writing style and APA style are not really simpatico. My last blog post was last New Year’s Eve, and I thought that once a year should not interfere with my doctoral writing. Yes, on this New Year’s Eve, I could continue on with Chapter 4 of my dissertation, but thought that perhaps a blog to reflect upon 2015 would be more appropriate.
Tonight, I had New Year’s with dear friends once again. One of my friends, who has also had her share of difficulties over the past year, remarked when leaving. “We made the best of opportunities that we weren’t looking for”. While last year’s post was about the chaos that led to many changes in my life, I thought about how this year, the opportunities that arose out of many changes that I did not actively seek out would be good to reflect upon.
So how did these changes represent opportunities? First, let’s talk about my new (well not so new now) job. It is true that I was not actively looking to change jobs in the midst of all the other big life changes occurring in 2014. But the life changes freed me up in a way to seize on an opportunity. And I can say, now that I have gone through one year of my new professional opportunity, that it is precisely what I needed to recharge my professional battery. I am so blessed to work along side some of the most talented, funny, compassionate and caring group of five women that I call both colleague and friend. Despite any difficult moments, we have each other’s backs, and I am very grateful for their friendship. I love the work I am doing and yes, it is still my “dream job”.
Also, on the professional opportunities category, I have to reflect on the opportunity to work on my doctorate. Some might have thought this was an absolute crazy move, especially in the midst of the chaos of spring 2014 (death of my dad, divorce, and moving out of my house), but this opportunity has been stimulating, challenging, overwhelming, and quite the ride. The opportunity to have this set of classmates in my cohort on this ride has been great. We are each other’s support system as we travel through this EdD journey and I too am grateful for their gift of friendship, the laughter, the ability to reach out to anyone about how to run a certain statistical test, and sharing burgers and beer at our doctoral hangout. To my professors, who have accompanied us throughout this journey, I am also grateful to the opportunity to learn from you.
If you had asked me three New Years ago about the opportunity to move, I never would have seen myself leaving West Concord. But now after being in my new home in Maynard for over a year, I love the opportunity to live in a town in a new home that I love. This “opportunity” has provided me with the chance to shovel through 110 inches of snow last winter and figure out what has happened to the electricity on several occasions. Yes, I have had to be dependent on only me and this
opportunity has been empowering. I feel stable once again, an opportunity that probably would not have existed if I had stayed in my old home. This opportunity allowed me the chance to have a wonderful vegetable garden, and to take up snow shoeing since I live nearby to a golf course. I love the opportunity to host family and friends in my new home. I love the opportunity to be two minutes from a movie theater and from fun shops, restaurants, and cafes.
Another unintended good opportunity has been the ability to travel and to try new things. 2015 brought lots of those opportunities. Over the past year, I
spent Easter weekend with Christopher in Los Angeles. I got to go to the Pacific Ocean twice, climb a dusty mountain with great coast vistas, and cook with my son. In June, I traveled to Baltimore to see Christopher and Emma. While there, I had the great opportunity to go kayaking on the Potomac River. Being on the water in a small boat with yachts and pirate boats around was certainly pushing myself out of my comfort zone. But in my old life, I probably would not have had the opportunity to do something like kayak. In July, I traveled down to see my good friend in Long Island. There, I got the opportunity to go to the horse races for the first time. It was a blast! For Christopher’s 25th birthday, we saw Billy Joel in Philadelphia. And then in late August, I went to a silent meditative retreat in Barre for a weekend. Again, I was presented with this opportunity from my angel neighbor Carly to apply. If life had still been the old status quo, I would not have applied. And this was a magical, incredible weekend. I am looking for the opportunity to do this again in 2016.
And 2015 also provided me with the opportunity to do some new physical activities that I had either not done for 30 years or had never done. Starting with my California trips, I started to do some hiking, an activity that I had not done since 1985. In April, for my birthday, Ben brought me up to Mount Monadnock. He elected to take me up the “shorter but steeper” route to the top. After a tough winter, the mountain was still icy in many spots, the wind was gusting pretty hard, and this 55 year old was pretty dubious about climbing up some of the rocks that we would need to do. But Ben was wonderfully encouraging and we made the top finally. While it was really windy and I thought I would get blown off, I cherished our time up and down that mountain that day. Ben and I then did Mount Watatic on Thanksgiving and Christopher and I did Mount Tom the day after Christmas. These opportunities have led to some wonderful moments with my sons (who sometimes I think they
forget I am old!). The excursion on the Potomac led to four more times kayaking on the Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord Rivers with my dear friend Nancy, with Ben, and with Ben, Emma, and Christopher.
So, while I get ready to turn the calendar ahead to 2016, I wonder what opportunities await me in the new year? Maybe the best opportunities aren’t necessarily the ones that you are actively searching for. Maybe the best opportunities might be the result of the ones that you aren’t looking for and that arise from the difficult moments and changes that life sometimes throws you. Something to ponder…….
Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God’s handwriting — a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Happy New Year to You All