I have found myself looking back over memories of the past year. While some of the looking has been within the vast memories of my mind and heart, most of the thoughts have been invoked from the photographs that depict the life I have lived. While I appear in but a few of the photographs (part of being the photographer), they depict what I have found to be inspiring, beautiful, profound, enlightening and without doubt, some of the most exceptional moments I could ask for.
I have learned that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you know (or think you know), there is more to learn. People are complex and, at the same time, simple and beautiful My niece Gracie has Down’s Syndrome, but I’ve learned from her that the things that make people different aren’t an anomaly or defect, but something to be praised and honored. She reminds me that, if I get lonely, I only have to look into myself to find company. She only sees the beauty, the positive and she never fails to offer a smile. She reminds me to smile, even when I don’t feel like smiling.
I have learned that I don’t have be alone when I want to go to the hard places; that there are people willing to go with me, not because they want to go, but because they know I want to. A long and arduous trek to the White Rocks this Autumn brought this thought process to fruition. My sister knew how much I wanted to go and because she didn’t want me to go alone, she, along with my niece, Sophie and cousin, Emily, made the journey. It was exhausting and breathtaking and full of fellowship and fun. It reminded me that there are people in my life who care about the things that are important to me and want to help me succeed in finding them. These are memories that, as long as my mind lasts, will stay with me, for they are precious beyond words that can describe them.
I learned, through my niece Sophie, what it means to be courageous and not to balk when an obstacle presents itself in my path. She is fearless and has a sense of adventure that makes me proud. I’d like to think that, somewhere in her heart, she has a tiny bit of me and that between the two of us, we can see and experience everything. She, while sometimes a challenge, is an inspiration to me and a constant comfort. She is beautiful and strong and reminds me that life, even when it seems to be mediocre, is an incredible journey that should be loved, for the moment, at the moment; the rest will fall into place when it should.
I have been reminded that music has no boundaries when it comes to what moves the soul. I have been introduced to new music that has touched my heart in such a way, that it will never, ever be the same. Friends come into my life and then fade away, but the mark they leave is everlasting and causes a chain reaction of the thirst for knowledge of music in its purest form and the peace that it brings to my mind. For those who have influenced me, I am thankful, for there is much I would have gone my whole life without knowing had there not been special ones to show me that there was more than what I thought possible. Music always has and will continue to be a balm to my spirit. I am grateful for the musicians that have graced my life and made it, because of their presence in it, richer and more beautiful than I could imagine.
I have been reminded just how wonderful it is to have the love of a beloved pet. One who will let me hold them way too tightly as I cry into their soft fur. One who knew all of my secrets and then took them to heaven with them, for I cannot imagine that these sweet animals that stole my heart could be anywhere other than in Heaven. They were my friends, my confidants and my loved ones. As I think of them now, tears run down my face, for I miss them terribly. They were the best of me. The purest of me. And the most loyal of any friend I have ever known. They were an extension of myself and brought me great joy, teaching me even as they lived, what it meant to be a friend. I have learned so much from them and thankful to have had them, for but a moment, it seems, in my life.
I’ve been reminded that sometimes, something as simple as a ride on a tire swing can bring joy unspeakable. Through time and space, I was transported to my childhood and immersed in the beauty of the memories that bring me happiness. There is nothing like being reminded of happier times to bring a smile and moment of happiness to my heart. I am thankful that the little ones that I am blessed to be a part of their lives, who remind me what it was like to be a child, to be carefree and to have no worries other than when I get to swing again. My blessings continue to mount as I reminisce over the past year.
My parents, whom I am blessed to still have in my life, have been a profound influence on me. The took me to church when I was but a babe and, while there were times I didn’t want to be there, it all came full circle when I came to the point when I wanted to give my life to Christ. They encouraged me when I was down, supported me when I was an embarrassment to them and loved me when I was, as I know there were times when I was, unlovable. I owe so much to them. My parents. My biggest fans. My rocks.
I am reminded of those who have gone to be with God, who will grace this life I live no longer, other than in memory, and am not ashamed at the falling of the tears at there absence. I am richer for those I have known, more blessed for the ones that have graced my life and more fulfilled because some of the most wonderful people I have ever known have passed through my life. It has, while moments of sadness would say otherwise, been an incredible year of learning and discovery. I am blessed beyond what I deserve and am thankful for every experience. Not all of them have been good, but through each one, I have grown a bit, both spiritually and in the human factor. I have no regrets. I have no wishes for do-overs. While there are those that have left a lasting impression on my life, be they alive or dead, I am grateful. Each experience has brought me closer to that which is written that I should accomplish. I am thankful. I am grateful. I am in awe of my Awesome God.
Through it all, there is joy unspeakable in the beauty that my Heavenly Father reveals to me, through His astounding beauty and wonderful works. I am thankful for all that I have learned this year and anxiously await what He has in store for the next. God Bless my friends, followers, family and everyone who feels that their life has, for one reason or another, been in vain. Know that you are important to so many and that without your influence, things, at least for me, would have much less wonderful.
For each moment, each experience, each happiness, each sorrow, each disappointment, each joy, each heartbreak, each smile, each tear, each lesson … I am grateful. I can only hope that the next year will bring as much knowledge, love and friendship as this one. I am grateful. More than words can say, even through the hard times, which have been many, I am, thankful and optimistic. That is my nature. I am a Christian and a Sagittarius … What choice do I have, after all?