Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Decade in Review - and Dreams of One to Come

Looking back on the first decade of this new century feels like a daunting task, one I'm not sure I really want to undertake. But I feel compelled to post SOMETHING and stuck between review and looking forward I find myself without other inspiration. But the thought just hit me that while the media recaps a decade - just another 10 years in time - and takes a long historical look, for me right now a decade encompasses more than a quarter of my life. And the decade just ending closes the first adult chapter in my life.

It's a full chapter.

The world is a different place than it was 10 years ago. America no longer possesses an illusion of invincibility. The New York skyline and the New Orleans coastline will never be the same. My children have never known a world without war. Our country's occupation of foreign lands is now their baseline. Technology and connectivity surround us, and they can't imagine a world without computers or cellphones for instant access to information and one another. One of them dreams of driving a Mars rover someday and we all marvel at pictures of the universe previously beyond our imaginations. A black man sits in the White House - something my grandparents can't believe and my children can't grasp the significance of. So much has happened over these past 10 years that I can hardly wrap my mind around it.

Personally, my decade in review consists of incredible shifts in my life. My role changed to include mother of two - after considerable effort and strain. My partnership with my husband survived real challenges. We've been through several job changes and even a stint without (not a lot of fun when you are expecting child number 2). I've gained two step-parents with all that entails. We've dealt with extended family turmoil and parental illness. We lost a matriarch to whatever mystery lies beyond. My faith has been sifted and tried. I have embarked on a new path, one that will continue on into the next decade of my life, and have almost completed a master's degree. I've invested heavily in discovering who I really am and figuring out where I'm destined to be. The decade has been a grand adventure, filled with hope and sorrow, joy and pain, connection and loss, insight and anger. And all of it, as one of my dear friends would say, has woven threads into the rich tapestry of my life - a tapestry shot through with threads of gold.

So where am I headed as we start this second decade of the 21st century? What are my hopes and dreams and plans and goals? I'm not good at making resolutions - but I'm going to dream a little about what might be. So here's a Top 10 for 2010 and beyond.

1. Broaden my horizons. I'm starting this adventure with a trip to Europe in 2010. This trip will be my first venture outside of the good old USA save two quick excursions to tourist destinations in Mexico. My first real international travel. But I hope my adventure doesn't end there.

2. Continue to learn. My return to higher education has whetted my appetite. I want more. I want to pursue more in-depth learning. I want to become an expert in my field. I want the credentials and the degrees to prove I know my stuff. Zurich looms large. Pacifica holds promise. The opportunities are there if I can seize them.

3. Do something with what I've learned. When I review this decade in ten years, I want to be able to see what I've contributed. I want a successful practice that allows me to walk alongside others on the journey. I'm steps away from that yet - I have credentials I'm still in the process of obtaining. But I'm on the road. This next year will hold important steps in moving toward this goal.

4. Create community. My community base has shifted. This year has seen some of the community I've been involved in come to an end. I'm feeling a little isolated. But I've also had glimpses this year of new community that waits out there. I need to find it. And I may also need to create it. I need to spend some time and energy putting my dreams of community into concrete motion.

5. Honor friendships. Over the past few years, I've taken a lot from my friends. Support, encouragement, tangible help in times of need. In some ways, I've taken much more than I've given. I want to find a way to honor the friendships that are important to me in meaningful ways.

6. Know myself. I've spent two years already invested in this grand adventure. I think it's a never ending journey, but I'm committed to the process for as long as it takes. Looking honestly takes courage. I've found a willing and capable guide to help me explore the depths of myself, and I have finally lost some of the fear of looking. Continuing this adventure into the next decade holds promise of unfathomable discovery.

7. Guide my children into adulthood. At the end of the next decade, my kids will be nearly 21 and 16. Embarking on the first adult decades of their own lives. I know I cannot begin to imagine the hills and valleys we will walk together in these next 10 years. Zen practice speaks to me here. Live in the moment. It's all I have. It's too frightening to do anything else.

8. Be a partner. My husband has been a constant support and companion to me through this period of transition in my life. Most likely, the next 10 years in his life will hold some transition for him. I want to support his dreams just as he has supported mine. And I want us to grow together into this life laid out before us.

9. Navigate the losses. This decade just ending has not held many losses. One immediate family member at the end of a long, well-lived life, and two of our extended circle whose lives were cut too short. But the decade to come holds the potential of significant losses. If at the end of the next 10 years, we've simply celebrated the well-lived lives of two more grandparents, we will be fortunate beyond belief. Grieving well will be a challenge. And I must not only do it for myself, I must help my children learn how to do it too. Finding that thread of gold will take all the strength and courage I have.

10. Roll with the unexpected. Ten years ago, I would have never dreamed my life would be where it is today. Ten years from now, I will probably say the same thing. So my goals are broad, my dreams are a bit vague. Because I've learned that no matter how much I script and plan, life brings things unexpected. I want to recognize the shifts and move with them into my larger destiny. I want to live to the fullest whatever life brings in the next 10 years. I want to keep my eyes wide open and take in everything and not miss a single moment.

Happy New Year.

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