Readers may notice that my name is very Italian. Despite both my sets of grandparents being Italian, it’s taken until the middle of my life for me to visit my ancestral land. I thought I knew something about being Italian, since my family followed the traditions, cooked the food and pastries, and took pride in the heritage. I knew nothing about being Italian until I visited the region, and especially the specific town in Abruzzo where my paternal grandmother was born and grew up.
Since I’ve been back, I’ve barely had time to think about this profound experience. In the next few weeks, I hope be able to make some space to reflect on all I learned and what it meant to me. For now, these photos provide a slice of my time there.
Each New Year`s Eve, I perform a ritual that is so ingrained now that when I think I might not get a chance to do it, I actually begin to panic. It`s just something I need to do in order to face a new year with renewed faith and optimism in myself and my future.
Here`s what I do:
I take out my journal from the previous year, which has a list of goals for the year. I assess each goal with the following criteria: 1) accomplished, 2) still to do, 3) abandoned for good reason. I tally up each list and that gives me an idea of the balance of the year. Did I accomplish more than not? Did I rightly abandon some goals? Is my still-to-do column a repeat of last year’s?
Once I see where I’m at I write out my list of highlights for the year: work, personal life, health, family. This time ’round it helped that I had kept a Joy Jar that held little descriptions of some of the happier moments of 2013. This is the part of the ritual where I count my blessings and remind myself that, no matter the difficulties, the year was still filled with fun, joy and fulfillment.
Then I create a new list of goals. Some are continuations, some are totally new plans that are built on the progress, or because of a need to change direction.
I start this all at around 11 pm so that by the time midnight rolls around it’s done, and I’m filled with resolve and energy for new opportunities. Some people I know are full of this forward-looking momentum at the beginning of the school year, a throw-back to their years when September marked a fresh start. But since I have an end-of-the-year birthday, it just makes sense for me to do my review then. In fact, it just naturally happens that way.
I had a difficult work year in 2013, and I know I’m not the only one. What a relief to know that, although that fact took its toll on me, my Joy Jar revealed that my most content moments came through time spent with friends, surrounded by music, with my nose in a book, or with the two activities that sustain and inspire me: baking and writing.
For twelve years I blogged, with a great deal of success, under the URL herkind.com. I named the blog after a poem by my favourite poet Anne Sexton. I just really relate to her creative journey (not the suicide part, thank goodness) but the discovering her talent around age 40 part.
Now for purely practical reasons, I’ve decided to change my website to my own name; easier to find, no misunderstandings. It makes sense.
The day I began this process I worked on figuring out the new interface into the evening. Then, when I lay down my head to sleep I began feeling slightly anxious about the whole thing.
Herkind.com had about 3,000 hits per month, not bad for an ordinary blog. Readers – whether regular folks like me or the editors and other professionals I try to impress – got used to my style, my emotional truths and my willingness to talk openly about difficult topics like loneliness, regret, grief, longing, and the like. (which isn’t to say I don’t sometimes write about fun things too, I hasten to add) I hope people can still find me and won’t give up when they type in the old site.
By far the biggest reason for the anxiety, however, is that I began this blog on my first ever personally owned computer, in my first apartment in Vancouver, where I experienced a few years of extremely important personal growth. I moved there after giving up a successful career, in mid-career, just before my 40th birthday, and began my journey as a writer and independent person – that is, independent of past obligations and constraints. It was an incredibly joyful, sometimes difficult and always worthwhile time in my life that marked a stark and necessary departure…. and arrival.
Try as I might to hang on to memories of those times, they are slowly fading through the mists of time. I worry about that. And it makes me sad. Though I hold on to the lessons, which of course is the most important part of it all.
I think I’ve found a way to feel okay about this website retirement though. Posts titled The Vault will bring the best of herkind.com into this blog, not for a rehash , but to remember and commemorate all the hard work. And also to introduce new readers to those parts of me.
Not to mention, no writer ever wants to let go of past good writing!
I’ll be slowly migrating some of all that, and the links to my writing work over here so bear with me as I’m a work in progress for the time being.