It’s another New Year’s Eve!  This has always been an important day for me and I have enjoyed the partying that comes with it.   In two months, I will celebrate my seventieth birthday, so I have had many, many new years eves to enjoy.

The best ones are those that Chris and I spent in Denver, staying at the Marriott Hotel downtown, having a delicious dinner, a gorgeous room and lots of fun.  This was our tradition, up until last year.  Those are wonderful memories.

The worst one has become one of the best.  I broke up with a boyfriend that I had been ready to leave for too long, a few days before the big holiday.  My friend Anne, also single had just moved to Fort Collins.  She was available at the last-minute to share the night with me.  She had just returned from a few years working in Germany, and was embarking on a brand new life as a single woman.  I had urged her to come to the area, as it is a fantastic place to raise children and an all-around great city to live in.

That night, Anne made my dinner and we enjoyed looking at her photo album from Germany.  I had introduced her to my German friends when she was there, so the pictures were familiar sights and people to me, as well.  Close to midnight, we walked downtown and saw the fireworks.  I was very sad, for to me, New Year’s Eve has always been a night for romance, and I had no beau.

That was December 31, 1998, eight months before I decided to spend my life with Chris, and thirteen and a half years before my dear Anne would suddenly leave this world.  So, in retrospect, that new year’s spent with her has become much more significant that I had originally thought.  And that brings me to the purpose of my writing today.

The fact that all of our feelings, thoughts, and beliefs about people can change over time.  Our perception of an experience, a person, anything is subject to change.  Forgiveness happens.  People we believed we would never have in our lives again, reappear filled with welcoming love.  Dear friends that we never think of losing, suddenly disappear as death creeps in.  Lovers, long forgotten, can reappear and in that time, we can fall in love for real.

That particular New Year’s Eve, I could never have imagined that I would decide to be with Chris and that he would take care of me, literally, until I died.  We had met in 1996, and dated very briefly, and then again a year later.  We were in different places in our lives; he was newly divorced after many years of being married to his high school sweetheart, and I had been single for sixteen years!  There was an instant friendship between us, but the romantic part took a few iterations of our dating before it developed and blossomed completely.

Seventeen years ago yesterday, I had to put down my beloved cocker spaniel.  He was with me for thirteen years and my constant loyal companion.  I held his paw and sobbed as he went peacefully to sleep.  It would be thirteen more years before I was ready to love another dog with the same total giving over of myself, loving her almost like my own little baby.

Family relationships and blended families can grow to create a new family constellation.  When we look back at some of our history, we can remember former feelings about people and situations and understand the meaning of hope and possibility.

For me, this day is full of appreciation and hope for the coming year.  As I reflect on all the huge changes that have illuminated the darker points in my life; the wonderful transformation from pain to joy, it demonstrates for me the possibility that life can become better and better.  If we let go of our expectations and knowing how things will work out, and let in the possibility of all the beauty life can provide, we can rest easy in that knowing that almost anything is possible.

I am in gratitude, hope and even some excitement.  I’m thinking about what this new year will bring.  A visit to our kids and precious Kila in Bend, a longer visit with Shaun and family, then Dad in the first quarter.  My bucket list is humble.  I have no need of grandiose trips or material things.  I want to go to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Falling Waters” house.  I want to visit the Holocaust Museum in D.C..  I’d like to see Austin, Chapel Hill, and drive up route one on the California coast.  That’s a good start!

I wish every reader of this blog deep peace in your lives.  I would suggest that you take a moment to remember all the times you thought life or people were a certain way.  You were so sure!  And then, a miracle happened and love happened and your perception would forever be changed.    Know that whatever you are holding onto that is negative, can be changed.  You have the power to shift your perception.  And that, my friends,  is truly beautiful.