Here we are, once again. December 31st. As has become tradition, I’m curled up on the sofa completely engrossed in a Walking Dead marathon. I took some time to go back and reread year-end notes from days gone by. And, as usual, I had a good laugh recalling the mindset I was in as each note was being written. It’s crazy…what a difference a year makes!
Actually, last year’s note was pretty impressive. It recapped the challenges of 2013 without spilling into a whine-fest. The events of that year truly affected my behavior and outlook for 2014. Should you care to read it and get caught up, you can do so by clicking here.
Not much changed for us in 2014, where our financial conundrum is concerned. Bills from all of the surgeries and hospital stays for my lung in 2013 have been piling up. We’ve no idea how to get out of this hole, and that’s scary, but we never stop trying. In spite of that, we managed to have a lot of fun this year and create some wonderful new memories.
I’m still not singing at 100%, but I’m leaps and bounds better than where I was this time last year. Singing and laughter really are my favorite forms of airway clearance. Working those muscles and taking control of how I breathe really benefits my overall health and well-being. I have had to learn when to say ‘NO’, though I wasn’t very good at it. Listening to the cues that my body is giving me when I am pushing myself too hard isn’t easy. But, it is necessary. I needed to understand that I don’t have to give things up entirely. I just have to do them differently. Different can be quite good.
Taking better care of myself enabled me to be here for some very important events in my daughter’s life. ‘Sweet 16’ can be anything but. Finishing up sophomore year and beginning her junior year, the kid had a lot of ups and downs. It was a year of firsts and of important milestones. I’m grateful to have been here for her every step of the way. Within just a few weeks of getting her driver’s license, the kid was involved in a golf cart accident. Aside from the emotional trauma, she injured both feet, thus rendering her unable to drive for a few weeks. The poor thing drove only 3 more times before missing a step in the school auditorium during theatre tech-week and breaking her foot. She was in a boot until early December. Maybe she’ll get to drive again…some day. She and I had a lot of fun this year, though, no doubt.
2014 was a tough year for losses. I know many people who lost loved ones. Some old…some young…some who fought long and hard…some suddenly. The sky is full of guardian angels, always with us. Some losses weren’t so obvious. Some people slowly slip out of your life. Some, like my Mom, slip away for reasons beyond their control. Alzheimer’s has had its evil hooks in her for a very long time, but this year took its toll on Mom. Which, consequently, took its toll on our family. But, O’Connor blood courses through our veins. Fighting Irish, indeed. Keep her safe. Keep her healthy. Keep her happy. That’s all that matters anymore.
Even with the extra emphasis on family and staying well, I did manage to throw caution to the wind on a number of occasions. I experienced a number of ‘firsts’ myself, enjoying every moment to its fullest potential. I went to concerts, saw touring companies of Broadway musicals, I took many road trips, and I participated in all that I could…within reason.
As promised in January, I filled my Jar of Shine in 2014. Not every single day, as I’d intended, but as often as I remembered. I’m looking forward to reading all of the little notes tonight as we reflect on the year that was. Tomorrow begins a new year, a new journey, and with it, a new chance to shine.
With each passing moment, I become more afraid, drowning in a sea of life’s uncertainties. And though it seems I have dozens of reasons to cry each day, there are hundreds more reasons to smile. I’ve no way of knowing what will come next. Will we be able to control this debt? Will we be able to send our daughter to college? Will I be able to make things right for my family? Will my cystic fibrosis stay in check long enough for me to try? All valid thoughts and fears that I refuse to ignore or sugarcoat with rainbows and butterflies. Happy little thoughts don’t erase your problems, they merely put them on the back burner, stewing until they bubble over. No, in 2015 I long for balance. I will find a way to deal with our situation and still live. I will not let the bad define me or control my life. I will embrace it and find a way to make it work while continuing to enjoy this beautiful life that I’ve been given. 2015 is all about balance.
“You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.”~Grandma [Parenthood]
Month by month, I created incredible memories in 2014. Here are some standouts:
January: Drove to Nashville with Caitlyn to visit Spin for her birthday. Covered the Charlotte Mini-Con, which renewed my cosplay spirit and inspired me to start dressing up more.
February: We had SNOmg in our area and it was blissfully wonderful! I wore my first-ever backless evening gown to attend a benefit gala for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation–something that took courage as it was the first time I publicly showed off all of my surgical scars.
March: I finally saw Evita live on stage. I volunteered with Long Walk Productions and Shakespeare Carolina at the Mad Monster Party convention, where I sang karaoke to the Misfits and did the Time Warp with the cast of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
April: My first cosplay for the year was Jubilee from the X-Men. It was for ‘Promicon’, a beautiful event in Charlotte for the LGBT kids who couldn’t attend prom at their own schools. I wore the costume again for Charlotte Comicon.
May: The kid turned 16. We were invited to be the only media outlet at the Supernatural DC Con and rapped on stage with members of the cast in front of an audience of thousands–I’d never been to Washington DC before. Very memorable weekend!
June: Attended Heroes Con in Charlotte in my first ever outing wearing a leotard. I was Gozer the Gozerian from Ghostbusters and it was a big hit! Well worth the ankle injury and bruising.
July: Took the kid to see Kiss (her favorite band). Drove Mom to NY with Spin (her first time there) where we did super touristy things and visited my family. Got my little Dixon arrow tattooed on my pointer finger. Then we took a pit stop in Philadelphia on the way home so that I could run the Rocky steps. Bucket list item! Had a friend offer me a front row ticket to see Lionel Richie in concert. Great time.
August: We held our biggest Charlotte Comicon to date, and I cosplayed as the T-1000 from T2: Judgement Day. Drove to FL with the kid, Mom and my sister to visit her son and his daughter, whom I miss all the time.
September: Road trip with a friend to GA where we visited a friend I haven’t seen since graduating high school. While there, he gave us a personal tour around Senoia and some TWD filming locations. Then we headed back up to Atlanta to see Garth Brooks in concert. Yet another Bucket List item.
October: Got to see Once live in the theatre. Beautiful show. Covered the 2nd Annual Walker Stalker Con in Atlanta, which was a dream (getting to actually do things up right this time and without a chest tube). Melissa McBride knew who I was. We cried. It was so special. Worked at the Old Town Zombie Crawl in Rock Hill for the Heart2Heart Foundation with TWD star Addy Miller. Cosplayed/Halloween as Regina George and Sara Sanderson (Hocus Pocus). Survived a car wreck that involved 3 deer whilst dressed as Sara Sanderson.
November: I turned 41 (suck it, CF). My great-nephew, Liam, was born. I got to be a guest host for Brian Mahoney’s weekly #toastandpost the night after Thanksgiving.
December: Had another successful Charlotte Comicon, cosplayed as a tutu version of Superman. Enjoyed every minute of the holiday season, watching movies, singing songs, and baking until it made me sick. Got my Supernatural inspired tattoo.
There are too many wonderful memories from 2014 to even try to type here. I am so thankful for all of my family and friends, both near and far. Thanks for all of your support. I look forward to the magic and mystery that 2015 has in store for us all.
Remember, as we’re Learning to Thrive While We Survive, a wise person once said…
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away.”