It has been an interesting year, to say the least. Looking back, I have a lot to be thankful for. Sure, there were many unpleasant moments, but I’m not the sort to dwell on the negative… not anymore.
These days, people’s memories are measured with the photos they take on their cell phone. I have decided to look back and choose one photo from each month that represents my year the best.
In January, we had no idea the new year would bring so many highs and lows. Field trips to a planetarium and to the movies with friends were certainly highlights. I don’t have many pictures from this month. I think there were almost as many screenshots as pictures. I thought it ironic when I found a photo I took of my son while waiting for an elevator. It’s very representative of the ups and downs of the year to come.
February didn’t bring many photos either. I’m not sure why. Again, we went to a movie with friends, and I’m sure we had a field trip or two. The highlight was the purchase of a telescope in preparation for this year’s eclipse events including a partial lunar eclipse this month. I chose this picture because I remember being in awe of my view when I snapped it. I loved the fact that the scene felt so dark and dreary. I don’t remember if that was indicative of my mood through February, but I sure did love capturing this moment.
March finally brought a few photos worth sharing. One even earned me an award. Most pictures were from a field trip to a park on the beautiful Ashley River. This place was very photogenic and made it hard to choose just one. My photo, Peace on the Ashley, ended up hanging in a museum among other places this year, much to my delight. However, I chose another picture for March because it represents our experience with homeschooling quite well. It shows the beauty of the arrangement, but it also shows the isolation we feel sometimes being cut off from the world socially.
April was busy with plenty of activity. Swimming lessons were certainly a highlight. Field trips to a grand library, a civil war reenactment at an old plantation, a firing range with friends, a Scottish festival, and the county fair were fun times. Enduring state standardized testing was made a little easier by indulging in new culinary experiences and a trip to the beach. Gardening chores were a little overwhelming, but therapeutic. I got lucky when a neighbor’s dog bit my hand when I didn’t have to report to the emergency room. That would have been a nightmare. With so many photos to remember the month, I had to choose two. One reminds me how nice it is to go back home to my family and one lucky find on one of our walks around the neighborhood to remind me of how lucky I really am.
May brought the environmental festival doomed to fail. Nobody showed up. It was a stark reminder of why I do my best to teach my son how to observe and appreciate the world around him. We showed up, and the band played just for us. I’m serious. May was as exciting as April with indoor skydiving, a military museum, the infamous South of the Border and reptile exhibit, a birding sanctuary well worth another visit, and a couple of other action packed field trips. It was hard to decide which of the nature themed trips were favorite, but I’m usually partial to Landsford Canal. We made up our own recipe for blackberry and honeysuckle jam with ingredients plucked right from the wilds of our yard. I should have strained the seeds. Otherwise, it was delicious. May was action packed for my son, but the highlight for me was accepting an award for the previously mentioned photo. May’s chosen photo is the lovely Saluda River taken on one of our field trips.
In June, except for a few culinary outings, more time was spent at home. The excitement from the last couple of months caught up with us, and it was time for some much-needed down time. Of course, the heat of summer brought yet another issue with my temperamental HVAC unit. At least I finally found a tech that knew what they were doing. See? Every cloud does have a silver lining. Here’s a surprise bloom from a plant I didn’t even know was in my yard.
At first I thought nothing really exciting happened in July. July’s pictures somehow ended up in another album and left me puzzled. What happened in July besides some fireworks and a barbecue? Then I remembered. July left me not wanting to look back on things right away, so I didn’t make the usual downloads. What a shame, because I did end up with some great photos and memories. The whole family headed to Illinois for a rocky road trip. My mother-in-law turned 100 years old, and a celebration was in order. This trip was supposed to be so much more, but honestly… I don’t think I could have handled more. Out of all of the great pictures taken this month, I decided on one that, to me, represents the labyrinth some of us walk every day as we try to find ways to please others (sometimes to no avail). It fits what my mood was like at the end of July.
August held much interest and excitement with the Great American Solar Eclipse. We made a weekend of it in Columbia, SC, where we could observe it in all its glory. I was so excited, I accidentally left a day early. Oops. Oh, well. That allowed us an extra day to explore. We uncovered a few of Columbia’s secrets including a hike to Peachtree rock and its unique waterfall. I found myself walking barefoot through the woods on the last part of that hike. Sometimes, I just can’t resist the temptation. It was difficult to choose a picture for August. The eclipse trip was the big highlight, and so many good pictures came from that.
By September, I hadn’t yet realized the home school program we work with wasn’t putting on the usual field trips. All I knew was that we needed to get out a little more. Our one gift of a field trip was fine, but we really need more than this one sunny excursion. Many of the photos from September feature overcast skies, and are a little dark. I’m picking one of the cloudy day photos, because it fits the darker mood I kept finding myself in.
October didn’t leave much room for adventures away from home. We had many within the boundaries of our home and yard, however. My biggest achievement was turning my sun room into a conservatory for my cold sensitive plants. My biggest failure was checking them for critters. I’m used to chasing around the various frogs and lizards that hitchhike indoors hoping not to get caught. I wasn’t expecting the paper wasp invasion that came with a nest under a peace lily leaf. I have to say, the picture that made me laugh the most was an accidental selfie. Yes, they do exist. I just didn’t accidentally post it online for the world to see. I was trying to evaluate the wasp nest situation under a large leaf so I could figure out how to fix my growing problem. All I wanted was to sneak a peek at the nest of invaders, and I caught myself with quite the distressed look on my face. Sorry, I’m still not brave enough to put my face out there. Instead, I’m choosing another distressing moment because it’s more representative of what my family was hit with in October. Any time a family is confronted with the “C” word, it kind of takes over things for a while.
I had so many good pictures in November. There were so many good moments to talk about. There were a few tense moments, too. There was the trip to Charleston to get a top-notch medical opinion for a serious medical issue in the family. Medical treatments commenced with good speed. But, at this point in the year, a new motto had come to me through distant relatives. With all of my family troubles, I have to “find the good”. And, I did my best. I failed to meet several adventurous goals, but I did manage to get to the big Renaissance festival in North Carolina before it closed for the season. I wrapped up some gardening chores before hard winter hit. We dined at some fine places and chowed down at the local pow wow. We did many things and had many ups and downs in November. I could show you great pictures of any of those things. Instead, I will leave you with my best “find the good” moment. Next time you are waiting nervously in a doctor’s office, look at the sink that should be in every room. Look at the paddles that turn the water on. Now, use your imagination. Doesn’t the faucet look like someone with their head down a little and their arms up and out to the side as if to shrug their shoulders and say, “I don’t know.” Well, doesn’t it? Next time you sit in a doctor’s office with dread, look at the sink. You’ll at least smile a little through the stress. You’re welcome.
Finally, December came. I wasn’t ready, but it came anyway. I had a lot to handle, but I also have a life to live. We finally had the second school field trip of the current school year to the aquarium. It was a much-needed break from a very intense and complicated daily grind. I decided to start some seeds for spring early. Hot weather hits us too quick, and as a general rule, I usually have a less than satisfactory spring harvest due to heat. This year will be different, I hope. I took a few pictures, but it’s difficult to pick one that represents December well. Do I give you one that represents renewal of a new year like my seedling trays or the prickly pear champagne cocktail I’m currently sipping? Do I give you a photo of one of my adventures with my son like the aquarium or a great meal that I ate? Perhaps I should give you a photo representing the end of the year like a beautiful sunset. I’m having a hard time choosing because I don’t quite know how to feel about December or this entire year. I guess I do have one picture that sums up December. It’s a picture of the flowers my husband bought me as a thank you for everything I have done to support him as we go through a tough time. I don’t get these niceties often, but I don’t expect them, either. This time, it touched me, so the lovely bouquet ended up in a place of honor right amongst my precious exotic plants in my sun room where I will enjoy them the most.
Throughout the year, many blog worthy events had occurred, but my heart wasn’t in it most of the time. I couldn’t bring myself to share even the happiest times. Plenty of things made me angry enough to write as well, but I couldn’t bring myself to publish them. Maybe I was lazy. Maybe I was too busy. Maybe I just didn’t make the time because I was a little depressed. I’m no stranger to depression, unfortunately. I started a lot of posts. I finished very few. Most would have been great posts. I just didn’t have it in me. My circle of friends keeps getting smaller, and I think acknowledging that hit me harder than I expected this year. Here I am fighting difficult battles alone as usual. Every time something big happens my friends are nowhere to be found. I stopped calling or texting everyone except my family for fear of bothering those I didn’t think wanted to hear from me anyway. My family members are the only ones who will ever stick with me through it all. I just have to be grateful for that. With that realization, I had a period of grief followed by a moment of resolve. My life is what it is. Take me or leave me, but if you stick with me, I will forever be loyal. Leave me hanging, and I’ll drop you like a bad habit. Nobody has time for that drama. Here we are at the dawn of a new year, and I have a lot to be grateful for. I’m even grateful for the trials I endured this year. My trials aren’t over, but I find they aren’t getting me down like they normally would. I finally realized I don’t need to depend on my friends to get me through tough times, for one thing. What I really need is my family who are always there for me and always will be. I’m finally satisfied with that, and it gives me a sense of peace. I owe them all a huge thank you for their support and for never giving up on me. Happy New Year, and whatever may come, find the good.