Happy New year of Course...

I was not one of the many people who chose to go out and celebrate the stroke of midnight with large crowds of people...but I did want to do something to celebrate the beginning of a new year and the end of another... I invited a few people over for dinner and a couple of rounds of the game Cards Against Humanity, which I had never played.  I had invited quite a  few people and had also posted an open invitation on my facebook page... mostly because I hate the idea of people who don't want to be alone on New Year's Eve to be alone on New Year's Eve... As it worked out it ended up being just four of us...(me, Jamie, Suellen, and Mike)  which meant great conversation, lots of laughter, and too much food.  One friend brought crock pot lasagna, which was very good, another brought buffalo chicken dip (one of my favorites!) and I had salad fixins, garlic bread, veggies and guacamole and a couple of desserts... It was nice to have a chance to sit and eat with Suellen and Jamie.  (Mike had to work, so he arrived later.)  I am lucky to have other women in my life who are the head of their households, who are professionally successful, and are wicked smart!  Each of us has overcome adversity... I am almost 40 remember, and these ladies are in the final few years of their thirties... so of course we have all faced some challenges! And.. we have all doubted ourselves, our choices, but (thinking of Maya Angelou) as we knew better, we did better... and we continue to do the best we can do... Mike arrived later and after he had some food we began playing Cards Against Humanity... Oh. My. Gosh!  If you want more information about this game, click here.  The best way I could describe it is Adult Mad Libs.... the kids version of Mad Libs involves one person asking the other people to give a random part of speech, which later gets placed into a story, and the random words make the story pretty funny.  Cards Against Humanity is similar, in that there is a 'prompt' that includes a blank or is a question. One person plays the random prompt card and the other people playing choose (from the ten 'answer' cards in their hand) which word or phrase would be the 'best' answer.  (The 'best' answer is chosen by the person who played the prompt card, so knowing the people you play with, their sense of humor, is an advantage.) The premade cards, that list the words or phrases, are often inappropriate... and sometimes the prompts are also inappropriate... you should have a twisted sense of humor to enjoy the game... and comfort with the people you play with also helps! 
Here's an example (I will try to keep it somewhat tame...)
Prompt Card: 
      What's the next Happy Meal toy?
Here are a few random words/phrases that may be played: 
     - An Ugly Face
     - Tom Cruise
     - Dead Parents
     - Morgan Freeman's voice
     - Pictures of boobs

Another prompt:
     During sex, I like to think about ___________.
 Here are a few random words/phrases that may be played: 
     -natural selection
     - Michelle Obama's Arms
     -All you can eat shrimp for $4.99

Of course I chose some less controversial/raunchy answers, but it gives you an idea!  The game is recommended for people ages 17 + ... and should add a label: Playing with one's parents will be super awkward!  I definitely want to play again soon.  I also think having an even bigger group of people would be even better. 

Ok... so... At the beginning of a new year it is natural to reflect on 2014... In thinking about my 2014 a few highlights come to mind... my trips, Denver and Oregon... those trips are very significant to me, for many reasons... among them realizing that the miles between my Friends and I are irrelevant to our connections... Of course I wish I could spend more time with Rico and Michael, and hope to see them more in the future... Both of them were amazing hosts, generous, and helped me see parts of this country that are breathtakingly beautiful.  I am grateful.  those trips also helped me gain confidence in traveling, which I hope to do more... and also got me to do some things that involved facing my fears... I still say I had two near death experiences in Oregon...(The Astoria Tower and the ski lift!) And riding a horse was a lot of fun and takes a lot more coordination that it looks like in the movies!)  Another highlight... Time with my nephews... I was able to spend a week with them in February then two and a half weeks with them in the summer, plus a few visits in between.  I am lucky to have the connection with them I do.  They are amazing individuals and I am lucky to be a part of their lives as they figure out who they are and who they want to be.  They are so unique yet remind me so much of people in my family.  I got to go to NYC a couple of times to see great theater... I am in awe of people who can engage an audience the way people in the theater do... I love seeing shows there and love the diversity in NYC.  Kayaking, of course, is a highlight for me as well.  I love being on the water, love seeing wildlife, getting some good pictures, and allowing myself to disconnect.  I need to do that more, in the winter.. not kayak, but do things that help me disconnect from my day to day life, from work.  I hope to do that more in 2015, hoping to use art as a way to do that.  And.. a big, well, huge accomplishment for me in 2014, was paying off my student loans!  I am thrilled to have that monkey off my back! 
Of course the people in my life continues to be a highlight for me.  I have amazing people in my life.  I continue to be grateful that Betty and Jacey are a part of my family.  And I can say now...that when I go to visit Dad and Betty at the lake, I do feel like I am going home... My sister is doing so well, I love seeing her feisty spirit and am so proud of who she is, the parent she has become, that she takes time for herself and allows herself to lean on others. 

Of course the year had some difficult times... Some of my friends lost a parent in 2014... and my heart ached for them as they faced their new reality.. one of my friends continues to battle cancer... and I am grateful she has allowed me to spend some time with her and hope I get more time with her in the near future... My kids, my students, had some very difficult times... I only hope that they feel my support. 

So... hopes for the new year... well.. I am investigating buying a house... I need to move this spring as my landlord is going to sell this place and I would like to move out before it begins being showed... but that may not be possible... I would like to buy a place, but I need to see if that is feasible for me yet... I do not want to move into another rental just to move into a house...but it may have to be that way... I also hope to finish the kayaking book that is still in the works... I hope to have more social time, more fun, (perhaps a little romance?!)  and traveling would be nice, but will take a backseat to buying a house... for now... Professionally, I hope to reach out more to my community, to get parents more involved, and continue to advocate for what is right for kids. 

Happy New Year to my Family and Friends near and far...

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