It’s almost the New Year.  The end of 2008 is a hopeful time for me.  It’s been about the most challenging year of my life, the HARDEST thing that I’ve ever had to experience.  I thought at the end of 2007 I had experienced everything that I could handle.  But that was only 3 months of being ill.  Now after having an entire year of this hardship, I know that 2007 was a pretty successful year.  

In 2008 there were some highlights: 
  • I went to India, and had some life changing experiences observing the lives of those who live differently than I do, but also do so in a wonderful way that I enjoyed so much.
  • I learned to bake and decorate special cakes, even though they are something that I can’t eat, they brought joy to others. 
  • I was able to put a name to some of the terrible things that were going on with my body.  Although I don’t have all the answer, having some answers brings a bit of comfort in knowing it’s “not all in my head.”
  • I found some great blogs and websites dedicated to those with chronic illnesses.
  • I learned that eliminating gluten and dairy from my diet made me feel a whole lot better.
  • I got to spend 6 weeks with my sister and her family.  My nephew and I had wonderful conversations, did some great imagining, and played some games that I was able to stay on the couch and have just as much fun as if I was able to run around and or hike.
  • I read a countless number of books with topics ranging from chronic illness, mountaineering, Janis Joplin and other amazing 60 and 70s musicians, and some spiritual encouragement along the way.
  • I developed some of my photography, crocheted some beautiful projects, and decided that I really enjoyed creating.
  • I started massage therapy, which I learned is not just a luxury for some people, but a necessity for many with chronic pain conditions, including me.
  • I got a cat named Popeye who is the sunshine of my life on my darkest days.  And Scarlet our snake continues to grow and provide entertainment and a glimpse of God’s intricacies in creation.
  • Barack Obama was elected president.
  • I learned about a wonderful girl named Aimee Dickey who was battling an inoperable brainstem glioma.  Aimee died on December 12th, but her life’s wish was to educate people about childhood cancer and put an end to the suffering of cancer.  I hope to carry Aimee’s legacy into 2009.  
  • I never met Aimee or her mother Annette, but I feel very close to them, and I feel that I became a friend of Annette’s during 2008.  I hope that this friendship will continue, and that we will meet face to face sometime in 2009.

I hope that these things will carry me into the New Year, and enhance my life.  I already have a few things lined up for 2009 including a yoga class that I am very excited about.  I feel so blessed to have found a yoga studio within walking distance (even for me) from our apartment.  I’m not sure if I will ever set foot into a gym again.  

I will also be seeking disability from the Social Security Administration this year.  My initial application was denied, but I am working on contacting a lawyer to help with the process.
I have been attending counseling for several weeks now, and will begin group therapy most likely on January 12th.  This will hopefully be where I learn the skills to live a life that worth something more than what I feel it is now.
I am excited to celebrate the New Year here in Pennsylvania with family friends who have known me for a very long time.  They love me unconditionally, and it will be a great time.
I hope that you find grace and blessings in this time of transition.  Happy New Year, and God Bless.