As 2016 winds down to a close and 2017 nudges its way into the room, it causes many of us to reflect on the past year. We jot down our resolutions and loudly declare we are going to make changes for the better as January inches closer.
Each new year brings its own blessings. Like many parents, my sweet three as I call them, Chad 20, Josie 16 and Ian 14, are the reason I work so hard. My eldest has moved out and on his own, my daughter is now old enough to drive and my youngest has shed the “little-man” label as he flies over the 6′ 2″ mark. Yes, things are changing, sometimes far too quickly.
During these last couple of months, I have been chewing on the fact that the dynamics at home will soon be forever changed. There is a bit of a melancholy tug as I watch with joy and admiration my children grow, evolve, discover new adventures and move along each of their journeys as capable teens and young adults. I thought about what this may mean for me in the next couple of years, and I began to feel a bit of an odd, enthusiastic sparkle.
Parents place many items on the shelf for “some day”. Time goes by, and these goals and aspirations become forgotten. There are a few items on the shelf that have been gathering dust for 20 + years and I decided to take stock of my old dreams and ambitions. What I found there made me catch my breath and brought tears to my eyes. I am actually living the life I have always wanted. It just happened so gradually, I didn’t realize it’s here. My “some day” shelf is near to empty:
Writing Career: I wanted to write for a living. At the age of 12, I envisioned a high-powered newspaper journalist position. Obviously, that isn’t exactly what I am doing, yet what I have created online is perfect for me. Not only does it encompass everything on my list, I am in complete control of the daily activity and what runs on the site.
Cooking for Friends and Family: My grandmother owned a restaurant and cooked for friends, family, her community and strangers passing through. She struck up conversations with everyone, fed them well and had a grand time living life with fierce exuberance. I admired her greatly and it was always in the back of my mind to follow her footsteps in that industry. While I do not have a restaurant or cafe, what I do have is a publication based on the culinary world and I collect and distribute recipes and restaurant recommendations for my readers.
Gardening: While I have never aspired to be a master gardener, I have always wanted to grow my own food. Plant in the spring, tend during early summer and harvest late summer / early fall. I don’t have room for a large garden, so the past two years, I have kept it to container gardening. Tomatoes, lettuce, sage, rosemary, lavender, cilantro, parsley, thyme, oregano and basil. Each year it expands and I expect next year’s garden to be larger. I use these foods in the articles I write.
Travel: At a young age I envisioned myself jet setting around the globe visiting exotic places and writing about my experiences. As I sit here planning out my 2017 travel schedule, I find myself sifting through emails and invitations to locations all over the world.
Reading: In my younger years my nose was rarely outside of a book. I was an avid reader and could polish off a novel a night. I was fairly sure it wasn’t possible to make a career out of reading books. While that isn’t my entire career, it is a portion of it. The amount of books my site receives is phenomenal. I have just created a new schedule that includes time for the reading and reviews in a more timely manner. The volume of books that come in initially took me by surprise. I love it.
As for the last two: Anthropology and Historian, I will keep that on the shelf, for now. Who knows where the next 50 years may take me?
As I look at the near to empty shelf, I am humbled by what I see and my soul is filled with thankfulness. You read what I write, thank you. Wineries, restaurants, resorts, hotels and travel destinations send invitations to host me, so I can bring those experiences through photographs and written words to you, my reader. I am thankful for them because it’s a privilege to be included on their guest lists.
This is where that “enthusiastic sparkle” I mentioned before, is beginning to shine. You may think this a strange analogy, yet I feel as if I am breaking out of a cocoon. It’s been warm and comfortable in here and it’s now time to emerge and once more explore the world.
Just as my children are embarking on journeys that take them away from the nest, I am able to spread my wings and fly a bit further from home as well. In the past 20 years, I have become very comfortable in my skin and surroundings. I have fulfilled so many of my desires without realizing it. I am exactly where I envisioned I wanted be. How could I have not noticed this before now?
That sparkle I mentioned? It’s flaring into a dazzling light ~ It’s time to move beyond the comfort zone, cast a wider net and explore new possibilities as I sift through invitations and create the 2017 travel schedule. Thank you for reading what we do here and for being a part of my journey.
Happy Holidays to you and yours and cheers to a bright New Year!