You've been an interesting year. In nature, you've been a bit difficult. (Insert eyes rolling viciously at the prior statement's understatement here.) I'm not sure though if you've been truly painful or if it just seems that way because the horror of some of the other trying times in my life is fading in the recesses of my memory. I suppose either way you go it's alright.
In spite of the extra stresses that you've thrown at me, I have learned to be truly happy in my little sphere of life. It is not what I expected for myself at this point, but it is beautiful. We are happy and safe. We don't have much, but our needs are always met, and as my seven year old says, "we have enough, Mom. Don't you think we have enough?" I have my kids, and they have me. Just as important -- to me, at least -- I have a job that allows me to be home at almost any time that my sweet girls are.
During the course of your stay, my kids have grasped more tightly to their new normal. They have put down roots and found their niche in this life of ours. They have learned to feel normal again. M learned that she's brave enough to go to church with a family friend when her sister is sick. She is finding her own strength and sense of purpose, and in it, she shines! L is finding her own voice as well. While this can create a bit of friction, she is learning to stand up for herself in increasingly appropriate ways. It is grand to see her finding her own inner strength.
Over the past year, I've been able to continue my education. This last semester, I finished up all the requirements for my minor and all except three classes for my major. If all goes well, I'll start the teaching program in the fall. It's been a long road, but when I reach the end of it, I'll have my degree in a field that I am passionate about and in an area that will allow me to be home with my children as much as possible. Despite the challenges, it will be worth it.
It's been a challenging year musically as well. This year, I have: accompanied the choir for our local church congregation, sang a duet in our worship service (for the first time in close to a decade,) and I have begun accompanying our local congregation periodically on the organ. All of these things are a great challenge to me. I'm grateful that I've had these opportunities to stretch though. It's both a trial and a blessing. I am becoming more than I am.
Even in the most trying times that you've sent my way, I've seen the hand of God guiding my life, strengthening me to face my challenges, and making up the difference when what I had to give just wasn't enough. I've seen miracles over and over, so while I might hope for a few less surprise challenges in 2012, I can leave you, 2011, without regret. I've made my share of mistakes, but I'm learning to be my best self.
With heartfelt farewell,