Are you bursting to begin the new year, leaping into January with a brisk clapping of hands, resolutions written down, and a detailed plan of how to achieve them? Ha. Me neither.
I am definitely not leaping into 2019, my friends. Thoughtfully strolling, meandering would be closer to the truth.
sunny day and snow covered river
It was a frosty New Year’s Day on the river.

In fact I’d describe my first day of the year as anything but brisk. Instead it was quiet, languid. Over-full of good food, stuffed with last week’s turkey, in all its myriad shapes and forms. Will we never finish the darned thing? We’ve eaten turkey, then turkey leftovers, then we made a new concoction with the leftovers, then had leftover leftover concoction. That turkey is like the Dogpatch ham, as my mum used to say when a certain dish seemed to last forever. Yep, I’m full of turkey, and stuffing, and gravy, and shortbread, and the delicious chocolates that Brenda Coffee from 1010 Park Place sent me (thanks Brenda), and of course, last night’s lovely seafood risotto which Hubby and I made for our New Year’s Eve feast. As DA Wolf said in her New Year’s post “what was I thinking?” And as a result of my overindulgence, today I’m feeling lazy, and even a bit slothful.

Still, even though I’ve not been thinking enough about not overindulging, I have been doing a lot of thinking about other things. I’ve been looking back on 2018, precipitated in part by the ubiquitous “Best Nine” photo collages on Instagram. Like last year, mine does not represent my year in any meaningful way.
Here are the nine photos I chose instead. From left to right, top to bottom. Dawn on the Rideau last summer when I was sleepless with shingles pain, planning outfits for and looking forward to Italy, beautiful empty canal-side street on Burano, a road that leads we’re not sure where in Italy, Hubby and me (naturally at the centre of all things) replete after a day of exploring and a great dinner, me on a Vespa in Rome (going places?), Boris and the full moon, Hubby and me on the ski trail, winter on the river with our Christmas Eve visitor.
a collage of nine photos
2018 the year in review.

So what of 2018, that old year which started last January with our renovation, and lots of dust, drilling, and upheaval, and ended last night with a surfeit of cold white wine, seafood risotto, and old episodes of Midsummer Mysteries on TV? Well, I didn’t travel as much in 2018 as in 2017. In fact, 2018 saw me housebound for much of the summer due to shingles. I spent a lot of July and August in my jammies dreaming of Italy. And even though Italy was not the most wonderful trip we’ve been on, it was still pretty wonderful. One thing I learned this year: even slightly fraught, and (at times) disappointing travel is better than no travel at all.

Last year at this time, I was pondering the nature of friendship, and I guess I’m still doing that. Just in a different way. This year I said good-bye to my dear friend Barbara. I’ll miss her. That’s her standing beside me in the picture, below, from June 1997. I’d just given the good-bye speech at the retirement dinner of my friend Rennie, and at the end of my speech, I was joined by these four ladies. We sang the song with which Carol Burnett ended her television show every week for years. “I’m so glad we had this time together….” For those who don’t remember the show, at the end of the song, as she said goodnight to the audience, Burnett pulled her earlobe, which was apparently a special signal to her grandmother. That’s what we’re doing in the photo, as we ended our song, and said good-bye to Rennie. I smiled when I unearthed this photo the other day, at how appropriate that song seems again.

Five women singing and pulling their earlobe
Marylou, Peggy, Joanne, Barb, and me singing “I’m so glad we had his time together.”

I thought how truly glad I am that Barb and I had our time together. And what I learned from her. When she and I first met she had been out of the classroom for several years, and even though I was much younger, I had more recent experience teaching English. So I taught her about new curriculum, and she taught me about life. I used to tease her that she taught me how to be “a woman of a certain age.” Barb was a wonderful teacher, a wife, mother, and lately a doting grandmother, but she never lost sight of who she was in her own right. She taught me that we don’t necessarily have to lose sight of our own needs, even while we’re attending to everyone else’s. That’s a pretty important life lesson, I think. One I’ve been thinking of today.

So yeah, along with being slothful, I’ve been quite contemplative this New Years Day. Thinking about friends and family. About myself. About the year that just ended, and the one that’s just beginning.

Last year at this time I had a whole list of lessons I’d learned; the writing of my post on what I learned in 2017 was a catharsis in itself. This year, I’m not so clear on what I’ve learned because 2018 was, in some ways, a year of treading water, of recovering from 2017, you might say. But also because when a new year dawns, we don’t wipe the slate clean and begin all over again with brand new lessons. It’s not like starting a new school semester, with new courses, and a fresh page in our notebook. What I learned in 2018 was merely a continuation, an affirmation, of the things I learned in 2017, or I should say the things I began to learn.

And today, as I’ve been languidly reading Barbara Pym, eating one last (and I do mean last) turkey sandwich for lunch, pedalling my exercise bike, and writing this post, I’ve had a whole wack of ideas rolling around in my brain. Ideas of how I might move forward, of how I might make 2019 a good year, a moving forward year, not a treading water year. Some are only tiny glimmers of ideas yet, just beginning to flicker in the very back of my brain. I’ll have to wait for a bit to see what they become. As one wise university professor said to me, sometimes deadlines and inspiration do not work together.

I guess you might say that this is not one of those posts that explains how I’ll be “killing it in 2019.” Ha. As if. I’m far from figuring out what my 2019 will be, or even what I want it to be.

So today, the thought of leaping into January, briskly clapping my hands, and then committing to paper my goals and how to achieve them makes me roll my eyes. Today I’ve been too busy processing 2018, too busy thinking, and meandering.

Next week. Next week, I’m sure I’ll be ready for leaping and maybe even some galloping.

three people look out to sea from a terrace
Looking out to sea from the terrace of our B&B in Agerola, Italy.

What about you my friends? Any lessons you learned in 2018, that you want to share with us? Plans for 2019? Or are you like me, not quite ready for the planning stage yet?


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20 thoughts on “Meandering Into 2019”

  1. I think if I were to sum up my attitude towards the new year, bearing in mind the happenings of the last one, I would say: enough. Inasmuch as I rather like the concept of lagom and things and events and attitudes being enough. And as a warning: Enough! There are certain mindsets I want to dump forever so I may not be the most charming of company in the coming months. Plus: stop over-planning. I know that life is going to get in the way of my plans this year, no matter what. This may sound negative but actually, it's a relief. Far fewer instances of frustrated fury, she said, alliteratively.

    1. I think that was me last year.. with the "lagom" thing. 2017 was a very fraught year, so I said "enough" at he end of it. 2018 was like a vacation from 2017. I'd be interested in what mindsets you want to dump. For me it's the guilt thing. I imagine once I have straight in my head what I want to say, there'll be a guilt post coming.

    2. I shall be interested to read that. Catastrophising. Leaping in. Trying to solve. Those are the big three. They need to go. I'll be better for it but perhaps spiky while getting used to it. There I go catastrophising again…definitely a post on that in the works.

  2. Your post is reflective of my own thoughts moving into 2019. A bit of a jumble with lots of free floating ideas I am not yet ready to pin to paper. Starting off the year with a trip overseas next week, so putting off serious reflection until my return. That said, 2018 was my first year in retirement and one I enjoyed precisely because I did not try to plan it out in great detail–with a riot of expectations on what I might achieve. Maybe that was my lesson learned.

    1. My head was really jumbly for the first two years after I retired. I had to quickly abandon expectations when Hubby became ill the same week as I retired. It's hard to see all your plans go down the drain.
      A trip away sounds like a great way to gain perspective on the year. Have fun.

  3. This line in your post struck me, Sue: "She taught me that we don't necessarily have to lose sight of our own needs, even while we're attending to everyone else's." That lesson is and always has been terribly hard for me. It was hard before I married and became a mother, very hard in the relationship with my ex-husband (it was always his career first and his needs first (which he told me!), then the kids (he said), then me (yup, he really said that). It was hard after I was a single mom raising my two little boys just because I think it's hard for every mother! Then it becomes habit. Not a good habit, either. I'm glad you have reminded me of this lesson with your contemplation.

    Reading your post I had another thought about your year that applies to so many of us. Even in a year that seems less packed with events (travel for you, for example), it is nonetheless packed with life experience in other ways — even when stuck inside. (And I'm so glad you're doing better. And so glad you were able to get to Italy!)

    Reflecting on your year I can't help reflecting on my own (and 2017 as well), both years having had me stuck inside and a bit cut off from "life" due to injuries after relocating — and despite that, we have the "living" that goes on in our imaginations that helps us get through those tough times.

    My latest relocation toward the end of 2018 will, I hope, offer greater opportunities for participating more fully in my own life and the lives of others. That's as much as I can "plan" or hope for in this new year — um, other than continuing to do whatever I can from my laptop to battle against the intolerance (insanity?) of the divisive political tides in the country to your south. (sigh)

    Wishing you a very healthy and adventurous 2019! (And thanks for the link love about.)

    1. There is lots of time for reflection when you are housebound. I know you know that. Hope 2019 is a healthy and adventurous one for you to, DA.

  4. Thank you for sharing! I'm definitely not in a "brisk" mood either. Spring feels more like a natural time for me to make decisions and set plans into motion. For now, I'll also just continue to meander 🙂

    1. I love the kind of enforced isolation of winter though. Good time to reflect and make plans. Then we can hive off in all directions come spring. 🙂

    1. It wasn't a great year, but not a terrible year either. Yours certainly sounds difficult. I can empathize. Moving on can often be as difficult as going through the tough time, though. Look after yourself.

  5. Hi Sue,
    My motto: Go with the flow in 2019 and all will be fine.

    After a busy autumn of serious health issues, surgeries, hospital visits for my husband (no ski season this winter for us, but there will be next year) and assisting my daughter with a move, a week before Xmas and babysitting baby and dog, a son who moved to Europe, Xmas stuff …I’m really toast!
    An opportunity turned up…a week away to Palm Desert. My husband can’t go…he’s recovering nicely and back at his retirement gig….but I can go! I’ve been to this area before and felt ok to go.
    This is the first time I have ever considered travel by myself and to rest.
    As it turns out…my daughter who is on mat leave, desperately needs a break too…so myself, daughter and 10 month granddaughter head out on Monday.
    I’m feeling better already!

    1. Go… go and have an amazing time, Robin! And how wonderful that your daughter is free and able to join you. I mean… that's serendipity.

  6. I'm glad to be done with 2018! My retirement (much anticipated) did not go as planned, and I'm back working part time as my department tries to put itself back together again. Diagnosed with a disease that cannot be cured and may lead to dementia, two major renovations that were problematic (aren't they all?) — I could go on and on. But I think the major sorrow was the divisive leadership of the US and what it has done to people. My focus this year is to find a way to try to help turn things around without becoming consumed by the negativity. Not sure how, but one step at a time!

    1. I hear you. I sometimes (okay…a lot of the time) despair of our leaders. Our new-ish premier (provincial) is a Trump-ish kind of guy. One cannot believe at times the choices that he makes. I have to try hard to tune out Hubby's roars of frustration. I don't want to put my head in the sand… it's just self-preservation.
      Sounds like you've had a hellish year. One step at a time sounds like a good plan for 2019.

  7. I'm enjoying a moment of feeling optimistic, aware that things can change at any moment but the good when it comes is good. Love to you Sue, all the best for 2019.

  8. I'm still not in the mood for contemplation or making any big plans,yet
    There are some ideas from last autumn….I agree that winter days are for plans and spring is for realization….

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