Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thirty-three and Still Counting: A Year in the Life...

From birthday 2010 to birthday 2011 (March 21st) was quite the roller coaster. A year in the life of Cat... As far as years go, this was probably the most eventful for myriad reasons. There were losses and gains. The losses, at the time, hurt like hell, and the gains have made my life so bountiful in ways that I'm not sure my limited capabilities can express. SO, here goes nothing. Let's measure this year in the life...

March 21, 2010 was six days before I was supposed to walk down the aisle and pledge my life to another. However, March 27th ended up being a day and night where, instead of pledging eternal love, I gathered with friends and family to watch the paper symbols of that event go up in flames. It was, in a way, my own Phoenix moment. Looking back on this past year, I really feel like I have risen from those ashes, the death of a love (but was it ever really love?), stronger and more cognizant of who I am as a woman. I have purged my life of all physical connections and reminders of that time in my life, but I'm not sure I will ever purge the memories. They still come upon me like waves on the beach. Sometimes they are calm, little waves that merely graze my feet, but at other times, (although these powerful waves are so rare these days, they still show up) they are sizable waves that come and knock me on my arse. The waves force me to deal and process and discover who I am and what I want my life to represent. I have learned from the heartache and the tears. At times I still want to punch the wall, and the tears still stain my cheeks. BUT then I look inwardly and around me, and I know there are endless reservoirs of strength at my disposal.

In April of 2010, I became a homeowner. Honestly that decision and action almost literally scared me into incapacitation. THIS wasn't how things were supposed to play out. I wasn't supposed to purchase my first house on my own. These were not the decisions I was supposed to make solo. BUT, I did it. I learned. I figured it out.  I walked around with an anxious pit in my stomach for weeks as the process unfolded, unbelieving each step of the way and seeing my unbelief turn into belief as each step began to fall into place. I still have the pen I signed that mountain of papers with at the closing. Pushing that key into the front door and knowing that THIS worked when everything around me seemed to not was a moment that I will treasure.

Later on in June of 2010, I ventured, for the first time, 700 or so miles off the coast of Miami to the tiny island nation of Haiti. This trip has become a milestone in my life and in the year 2010 for several reasons. Call it a reality check. Call it an eye-opener. Whatever it is called, this trip changed me. I have helped people before. I have seen poverty before, but nothing prepared me for what I saw during my first trip to Haiti. I don't want to dwell on the negatives of this country though because it gets too overwhelming. It is definitely a place where a middle class girl from suburban Texas can get blindsided by the tragedy if she doesn't look into the eyes and hearts of the people, eyes and hearts of people who live immersed in community. It truly takes a village in Haiti. The smiles and spirits of the people in the midst of such brokenness resonated to the depth of me. I was searching for the meaning of relationship and connectedness when I got on that plane. My world had been ripped apart at the seams and shattered, and I was still making desperate attempts to reassemble it.  While there, I saw the beauty of community all around me in the spirit of the Haitian people.  The beauty that I saw there forever changed me.

Spaced throughout late spring, summer, fall, and winter 2010, a friend whose presence I didn't realize had been desperately missing returned to my life. Thank you, thank you, Ann Pittman. She is the first friend who was a sister to me. Although the distance from Midlothian to Austin keeps our friendship physically apart, I have no problem heading south on 35 for the conversations, Biblical discussions, musical viewing, movie laughter, and the partaking of coffee, drinks, and meals where much of the aforementioned happens as well. Ann keeps this mess that is Cat in line, and I owe her more thanks than I will ever be able to express.

2010, the holidays, oh the holidays. Thanksgiving saw me back on a plane headed to Haiti once more. I can't think of a better place to give thanks for the things that truly matter. I can't think of a better way to express thanks and love than helping a family rebuild their home that had been destroyed by the earthquake. I can't think of a Thanksgiving meal that has ever tasted better than the one we had on Friday, not Thursday, because after all, it's Haiti, and you just roll with it!!! As the sign made by the Haitian workers said at dinner that night, this truly was a "Happ Tanks Given!" Christmas was a different story. Christmas didn't have the distractions that Thanksgiving had that kept my mind off the loneliness. It's hard to be the single, no children having family member and friend during the holidays. I searched for the joy and found it, but in the midst of the joy of the holiday season, I still cried a few tears when the loneliness really crept in.

On the anniversary of the horrible, no good, very bad day (February 8th), I fondued it up with two amazing friends at The Melting Pot, what a beautifully symbolic name for the restaurant chosen to celebrate the year that brought me to that night. We laughed, we talked, and we raised our glasses to what didn't happen and what amazing things and people have entered my life because of the horrible, no good, very bad day!!! I'll take the valleys. I'll trudge through them with amazing people at my side. I'll go through them because I have learned the valleys make the mountaintops that much more glorious and mind blowing.

To reference my FAVORITE song from the musical Rent, "Seasons of Love," I have measured March 21, 2010-March 21, 2011 in love. Part of the year has to be measured in the loss of love, but most of it is measured in the love I have been shown and the love I have had the opportunity to show. I leave you with the lyrics that always cause me to reflect and ponder. May you also measure in love!

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights
In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.

In five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love? Measure in love

Seasons of love. Seasons of love

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes!
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Journeys to plan.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life
Of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned,
Or in times that he cried.
In bridges he burned,
Or the way that she died.

It's time now to sing out,
Tho' the story never ends
Let's celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends
Remember the love!
Remember the love!
Seasons of love!

Oh you got to got to
Remember the love!
You know that love is a gift from up above
Share love, give love spread love
Measure measure your life in love

The conversations over coffee matter. The sunrises and sunsets remind us how small we are. The strife and tears and bridges burned cause us to grow and make us stronger. We learn lessons from our journeys. LOVE holds it all together and binds us to each other. Measure in love!!! Love, when it comes down to it, is the overarching theme of this year in the life of Cat!