Thursday, December 31, 2009

The New Year: A Time for Reflection and Hope

The annual changing of the calendar causes most of us to reflect on the year past and ponder about the new one to come. Too often, these "reflections" boil down to, "Last year really sucked. I hope next year is better." I'm not referring to those for whom the year was a struggle. I'm referring to those for whom the statement itself becomes an annual event. Fortunately, I've rarely seen the new year that way.

A New Year

My favorite comment about the new year was on Twitter a few days ago: "I just checked my 2009 New Year's resolutions and I've got 54 hours to lose 13 pounds and write a novel." (my apologies to the author, I can't find the tweet to link).

For me, 2009 began against a bleak backdrop. Beyond the pay cuts, the market crash and the uncertain economic future, other things weighed on my mind. I fully expected to lose a parent in 2009 - so much so that I bought a suit for a funeral and after a promising start, Robbie's situation at school was deteriorating. I did not look forward to the New Year with a lot of hope.

Fortunately, things changed. After a lot of prayer and persistence by my brother and sister-in-law, combined with the healing properties of the almighty banana (it's a long story), both of my parents are still with us. In fact, I'm not sure I've seen them both stronger in years. To say I was grateful for this would be an enormous understatement. It's been a wonderful gift for all of us, especially Kelly and Robbie.

I've documented the changes in Robbie here in this blog and as challenging as the business climate was in 2009, the predicted economic catastrophe of biblical proportions never materialized (though I know it was very tough on many).

Through the power of social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter, 2009 brought back connections with people I'd not encountered in years. I can't count how many times I thought, "I haven't talked to this person in over twenty-five years" when adding a new Facebook friend. In some ways, I know many of these people better now than I ever did. In addition, I've made "friends" with people I've never met - or, at least, before I met them. At this year's Backspace Conference as well as a few Notre Dame Football games, I had the chance to meet many of these imaginary friends. Crazy thing this Internet.

If I was sum up the year in a word, it would be "turnaround".

A year in numbers (yes I keep track of this stuff):

Words written: 72,500 (49,000 book-related; 23,500 blog-related)
Books completed: 1* (another draft is likely necessary but it's readable)
Books read: 52 (presidential biographies, special needs memoirs, & thrillers top the list)
President Biographies Remaining: 1 (I've read a bio of every president except Jimmy Carter)
Songs written: 3 (one I actually like)
Overseas Trips: 7 (ties a record)
Days out of the Country: 59 (a record)
New States Visited: 1 (Alaska; four more to go)

A New Decade

Without the drumbeats of Armageddon upon us, like with Y2K, the arrival of a new decade has snuck up on us. I've barely given the idea any thought, whereas 2000 was anticipated long before Prince wanted to party like it's 1999.

While the 90's were a period of unimaginable personal and professional growth for me, the 00's were a period of unimaginable personal and professional adversity. The first half of the decade was marked by professional challenges I could have never fathomed. The second half was marked by one big challenge I never foresaw but consumed me like no other.

In a way, the end of the 00's, especially 2009, saw me fully emerge from my bunker. Like Punxsutawney Phil does on occasion, I popped out and didn't see my shadow. Instead of crawling back into the bunker, I hung around. The result has been an early spring. I can live with that.

What will tomorrow, or January, or 2010 or the 10's bring? I don't know. I'm anticipating the "turnaround" to become a "breakthrough" on several fronts. I'm not going to bore you with the details of those fronts in any New Year's Resolutions.

Let's just go live and find out.

Happy New Year, everybody. And thank you - for reading this far.

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