Early yesterday morning about 1:45 am, after bringing in the New Year with most of my family at my parent’s home, I sat on the side of my bed and pulled out my bucket list of 100 things I hope to do…. but I only have about 73 items on my list so far. This is a common occurrence on January 1st in my life. During my first day of the new year ritual for the past several years I have used the yellow highlighter to cross off three to four things that were accomplished that year. This year was different. I only highlighted one item and it was Read the Scarlet Letter. Bigg whoopie doo. It was sort of sad after many years of mucho highlighted crossings-off.
The year-end review was good for my soul, however. 2011 was one of the hardest years of my life. It was a happy year, yet difficult for me adjusting to being a mother of four children. It began with the strain of hardly being able to communicate in Spanish with our precious daughter. After a month home, even with the language barrier, I realized I had not had a talkative seven-year-old kid in my house talking at me all day long for over seven years. It wore me out! I haven’t taken this many naps since I was four-years-old…. not even when I was pregnant with child number three with a four-year-old and a one-year-old running around the house. I love having Nora here, don’t get me wrong. For the first three months we semi coccooned, always having either Rick or I with Nora… when she was awake. She needed the stability and the attention. As soon as her black hair hit the pillow, we did try several escapes for date-nights, but usually I was too tired to enjoy them.
It was at Nora’s Gotcha Day (the one year celebration of her adoption) when I realized that I almost felt back to normal. It took a blinking year! When I mentioned this to my thoughtful and insightful husband, he quizzically asked, “Oh. You think you’re back to normal?????” I didn’t want to know what that meant, so I never asked. But I felt like I had accomplished something quite monumental….. surviving the first year of adopting an older child… and not having visible bald spots on my head. A well-meaning friend and fellow-adoptive mom told me to call her when I felt like I had wrecked our family by adopting. Thankfully, that feeling hasn’t surfaced and I haven’t needed to make that phone call. That’s a big deal.
Even though it seems like I only read The Scarlet Letter this year, it’s not true. For the first time in my 45 years, I read the Bible through in a year. I’ve read the whole book before, but never in a year. That did my heart good. If only it had been on my bucket list. Maybe I should add it so I can highlight it! (I secretly do that with my daily to-do lists.) Shhhh.
The second non-bucket list accomplishment is truly a lifestyle change that is in progress. I gained 20 pounds with each child that came into my life… including the child that came to us through God’s gift of adoption AND the baby that didn’t make it to see the world. Needless to say, I was not on the top of my health game at the beginning of 2011. I’m getting closer. Through the program Take Shape for Life, I have managed to rid my poor body of 62 pounds so far. I can barely lift 62 pounds…. good grief! I still have a ways to go, but I feel SO MUCH better. No more sugar induced headaches, or deep-fried onion ring stomach aches. No more pumpkin pie comas or entire empty bag of Cheetos guilt. Part of the success was due to the reading of another GREAT book, Made to Crave: Satisfying your deepest desire with God not Food. If that doesn’t smack me upside the head, I don’t know what would? It was real life in black and white. It was encouraging and heart changing. It changed me in 2011.
So, Scarlet Letter aside, I’m pleased with my personal positive progress in 2011. I have big plans for 2012… there will be many highlights this coming year…. our 25th wedding anniversary… (I know!)… our eldest graduating from highschool homeschool…. and three semi-big trips to look forward to. But I feel the need to up the ante… to choose somehow to serve others… to reach out to hurting people around me… I haven’t figured it out yet, but that will be my resolution. I’ll keep you posted.