Saturday, December 31, 2011


As the sparkle of the holiday season begins to fade, it is hard not to reflect on the year. Try not to, I dare you . . . This year has been the longest of maybe all of my life - so many changes and events. And I wish that it would go on and on. It hasn’t been perfect – far from it, but there were unbelievable moments I would wholeheartedly relive.

Regrets and failures, there were plenty. (And I do relive those words I wish I had said differently, those things I wish I had done, those steps I should have stepped better, over and over and over again in my mind. The failures replay on repeat.)

There was bad news and pain and illness. There were hospital trips taken that I wish hadn’t been necessary. There was the loss of a dear, dear soul. Pain resonates with memories. Wishes are made for wanting to do more, to heal pain, for a magic wand for those coping with lingering maladies.

There were joyfully welcomed additions to our lives – and more soon to come! There were sunsets so brilliant I still see them when I close my eyes. There was laughter for no reason at all, smiles for the best of reasons, heartwarming moments that make you believe again. There was wine and chocolate and meals shared with loved ones.

I am blessed beyond what I could possibly deserve for all the wonderful people I know – those new in my life who I’ve been so honored to get to know, those in my life that I cherish with every passing year, and those whom I regretfully do not see or speak to or email nearly enough, who are often on my mind and forever in my heart.

This year, I met a president. I went on safari. I got an A+ in Financial Management and in Statistics II. Good and rare things, my friends, good things.

I’ve learned much. I can only hope that I have contributed to the betterment of this world. I’ve seen realities of life –joys and heartaches, the simplicity of what life could be and the complexity of what we make of it. I’d like to believe amidst all of this, growth occurred. It sometimes feels as if I simply rewind all my struggles to replay on a rainy afternoon. Possibly, though, there was growth. I can’t imagine that I’ve done and seen and known all of these things, recognized that I have, and still haven’t grown. There must be growth. There must.

But I know that I was capable of so much more. I should have given more of myself; I should take more chances on myself, on others, on opportunities. I should allow myself to be more vulnerable. There are things I know I could have done better; I was capable of more, I know it. It’s hard to believe that there was growth when I know I should have been more.

As you get older, I think you realize that a new year is less of a fresh start and more of a foundation. You can’t dismiss all that has happened to you, all of your choices (good and bad), all of your woes and blessings, and begin again because all that stuff contributed to where you start from right now. So you have to recognize, and embrace, this past and this present in order to begin your future.

This is your starting block. Midnight is your start gun. Dive in. (Summer Olympics are in 2012, after all!)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Word Project

My Christmas break project has been to look at the blogs I've blogged over the course of 2011. (Because analyzing my most recent pasts is more exciting than considering my near future...)

In case you haven't heard of Wordle, here's how it works: you put in a bunch of text; it gives you a picture; the most used words are large; the least used words are small.

This is the Wordle of all of my blogs this year:

Because I posted an inordinate amount of blogs about Tanzania, I also made one of the whole blog minus Tanzania and one with just Tanzania-related posts to control for extraordinary moments; and one pre- and post- Tanzania; and one of just fall semester. No matter how you slice it, the words 'think,' 'like,' 'life,' and 'people' are among the most prominent. Interestingly, 'time' ebbs and flows throughout the year. And 'know' is prominent in every one except the Tanzania blogs.

A bit of qualitative analysis tells me that I think too much. If I were a New Year's resolution-making person, I'd resolve to stop thinking so much. But really, that would just set myself up for failure.