Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year

I don't often send out Christmas letters. I can't even remember the last time I did. Usually it's because I assume people don't want to read a summary of my year. I could tell all the things that happened, hit the highlights, briefly mention some of the difficulties, remind people where I'm working and what my family is doing - but why would they want to hear/read all that?

The funny thing is: I like reading those kind of letters from my friends. Even though I keep current with a lot of my friends through Facebook, it's fun to see their year summarized in a Christmas letter. I look forward to the stories and to hearing how the last year has affected them. It's definitely a double standard. I'm interested in their lives (your life) and convinced they're not interested in mine.

But, this has been an interesting year, so I'm going to share.

Here are some highlights:

I taught a number of classes for NNU's graduate counseling program.
Being a college professor was never in my plans. In graduate school my only focus/intention was to become a school counselor. I wanted to be around kids, in a school environment. I wanted to impact students, families and teachers. Several of the program's doctors approached me soon after I graduated. "You should really get your doctorate Chris. You need to be teaching."

"I don't want to be a professor!"

However, the more classes I teach, the more I enjoy the job.
The more feedback I get, from students and faculty, the more my confidence grows.
I don't know how long I'll do this. But for now it seems I'm in the right place - right where God has planted me - so I'm blooming here.

I took over the job as newsletter editor for the Boise Camera Club.
After I left the board of the Idaho School Counselor Association, I avoided leadership positions. I didn't want to be on any more boards. I just wanted to be a member. Not that being on the ISCA board was a bad experience. On the contrary, I enjoyed it. I was a member of the board for 8 (?) years. I met and worked with some great people, learned new ideas, developed my leadership skills.

I was approached more than once and asked if I wanted to run for a BCC board position. Each time I declined. I like being an involved member, but didn't want more than that. However, once again I find myself enjoying something I was reluctant to do.

I added new doctors: a new ENT and a urologist.
These may not seem like highlights, but new doctors mean new perspectives.
New perspectives mean new ideas and possibilities.

I continued learning to play the ukulele and to speak Spanish.
I have a LONG way to go, in both areas. But I like both. I like listening to Spanish radio, even if I only understand a few words. I like playing the few songs I know, even if nobody else hears.

Grampa Latting died.
This doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the year's highlights. The others are all positive experiences, and having a grandparent die isn't a good thing. It was sad losing him - I was sad. However, he did get to spend the last few weeks of his life here in Nampa, close to his daughter. And that's a good thing. During those last weeks, Mom and Grampa got to share some important time together.

But even better, Grampa is finally reunited with Gramma. When she died, he lost the most important part of his life. He talked often about wanting to go home to be with Rena. And although it would have been nice to him around for longer, I'm glad he's back with his honey.

I published a book.
The story and the process was recorded mostly for myself. I didn't want to forget what I had been through. By the time I got around to writing my book, I had already forgotten some important lessons. I'd forgotten some of the steps I had taken to reach my conclusions. But now it's in print. I don't have to remember any more because I can re-read it. I can remind myself where I was and how far I've come.

The positive responses I've received are just icing on the cake.

2014: A New Year
Now I'm in a new year. There will be new highlights and lowlights. I'd like to decide which I'll have this year - or at least I think I'd like that responsibility - but the control isn't mine. God will direct my path and I'll follow taking each day as it comes, each moment as it meets me in the present.

I did have a realization today - one that I'm not very happy with.
In May, my disability will be reviewed. I looked online to find out what that review will look like. On the form, there's a question: Is your condition Better, The Same, or Worse?

My condition will never be better. I have a degenerative disease for which there is no cure. There's no chance of someday hearing my doctor say, "Chris, the arthritis is gone. You've RA free!"
Plus, I'm at the age when normal, healthy bodies start deteriorating. From here on out, as long as I live, every year will be worse than the previous year - physically speaking. My joints will get stiffer, my pain will get worse, I'll take more meds, see more doctors.

That's a difficult prospect to consider. The realization came suddenly today and it'll take while to consider the implications.
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