For the past few years I’ve enjoyed taking time on December 31st to reflect on the previous year. I look forward to the new year and always make big plans on what I hope to do, or learn, or accomplish. But I always feel that before I can move on, I want to take one more look at the preceding twelve months and remember what I did, learned, and accomplished. 2010 was definitely a year of transition for me. I am not yet entirely certain what it is that I am transitioning towards, but I know that it looks different from what I thought I knew. I can also see how far I’ve come and how much I’ve changed within.
In my world of genealogy, it was a year of highs and lows much like my personal life. The genealogy highlight of the year was attending the NGS conference in Salt Lake City – spending hours researching in the library and meeting all of my blogging friends was wonderful! Later in the year, I visited Ellis Island for the very first time with genealogist friends and we had a great weekend in New York City. In my research, I found some success on my Piątkowski line by finding my great-grandfather’s birth record in Warsaw. Polish birth records from the early 1800s helped me fill in the names of eight 4th greats and four 5th greats.
In February, What’s Past is Prologue was named as one of Family Tree Magazine’s Top 40 genealogy blogs, and later in the year it was nominated for 2011. But, this blog became one of my “lows” because I just didn’t write often enough. Sometimes it was a result of being busy with fun things in my personal life, but other times it was because I was at a “low” and just didn’t care enough about genealogy or anything else to put any words on paper.
In my family, my mother had a milestone birthday as she turned 75. Earlier in the year we had an enjoyable lunch with two of our Zawodny cousins. My nieces and nephews continued to grow (literally, as the oldest is now quite taller than me) and they brightened my days every day I spent some time with them. My friendships changed this year when some of my closer friends were kept distant for various reasons and some of my newer friends got closer. Through Facebook, I found an old friend – and didn’t realize how much I missed him until we were back talking and laughing like the old days.
My travels were limited this year, and it was my first year without a trip to Europe in quite a while. Other than Salt Lake City and New York, I had a few work trips to unexotic and unsunny locations – but one included a first-time visit with Jasia that was so much fun! Every year I promise myself that I’ll get to the beach more than once. And I can’t believe this is the third year in a row where I admit I had only ONE beach day. At least if I could only have one day there, this one was very memorable!
I kept myself entertained throughout the year with the usual assortment of fun dinners with friends as well as movies, books, and music. Early in the year a new friend helped remind me of how much I enjoy movies as he introduced me to several I had missed over the years. I’m a big reader, but this year I really seemed to read a lot – so much that I wish I had kept a list of all the books. In fact, if I had spent all my reading time writing a book myself, it would have been finished in no time! Sheri Fenley got me started on the Outlander novels by Diana Gabaldon –the first was written twenty years ago, and now there are 7 rather lengthy novels. I blew through all seven quickly this summer – about 7,000 pages! Other favorite discoveries were thriller authors Gayle Lynds and Christopher Reich, and Sarah Dunant’s Sacred Hearts. I tried to set the tone for my year in January by reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and James Martin’s The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything. Both will be re-read soon so their messages can sink in a little better!
The soundtrack for the first half of my year was Dan Wilson’s Free Life. Although it wasn’t realeased this year, his haunting melodies and lyrics soothed my spirit considerably. Two albums that were released this year that got me moving and singing were Hanson’s Shout it Out and the Indigo Girls’ newest live album, Staring Down the Brilliant Dream. Through a unique series of happy accidents, I attended an Indigo Girls concert in October, and it was the best concert I have ever attended. Most of their songs have brilliant lyrics that are more poetic that anything I studied in my English literature classes. I eagerly awaited new releases from two of my favorite groups, the Gin Blossoms and Sister Hazel. Surprisingly, both albums disappointed me. In a completely different end of the musical spectrum, I saw John Michael Talbot perform for the first time in about twenty years with my brother – listening to JMT and spending time with my brother both brought back some memories of the old days!
My “year of transition” brought me many new things. I started the year ending a long-term relationship. I took a chance and started a new one, which didn’t last, but despite the ending I wouldn’t change a thing. At least I took a chance, I had fun while it lasted, and he introduced me to quite a few things that are now a part of my life even though he is not. I’m ending the year enjoying satellite tv, Boddington’s and Palm beers, a mold-free basement, a heated kitchen for the first time in eight years, and my acne resurgence is under control. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you plan, but (to quote a Semisonic album), I’m feeling strangely fine.
Some people devise a “word” to guide them through the next year, almost as a mantra. I’m too long-winded for one word, so I thought of a few phrases to remember next year to help me be the person I want to be. Yesterday I wrote about my genealogical goals; I have an even longer list of personal goals that I’d like to accomplish – which, if I’m having enough fun, may actually prevent me from getting to any genealogy goals. My vision for 2011:
reach out – create – don’t wait – breathe – don’t give up
Bring it on!
Counting down from ten it’s time
To make your annual prayer
Secret Santa in the sky
When will I get my share
Then you tell yourself
What you want to hear
Cause you have to believe
This will be my year
~ This Will Be My Year, Semisonic
Great post! It feels good to take one long look back before moving forward, doesn’t it? I can relate to many things that you said and have discovered that we have many things in common. Here’s to a bright and wonderful 2011!
Donna, you are so brave to face everything head-on. I haven’t been able to really recall and evaluate all the things that have happened in the past year; I think doing that would make it much easier to “clean up my act” for the new year. Thanks for a thoughtful post. Still hope to be able to visit some time next year – we may be doing a real visit to Philadelphia in the middle of the spring semester.
I hope you continue to find joy in your family and that you keep taking chances. Wishing you only sunshine in 2011!