On the last day of 2009, I've taken some time to review where I've been, what I've been doing, and what I've learned over the last decade. I realized that in the last decade I've lived in 12 different apartments, 7 different cities, had 3 different boyfriends, 4 different cats, and been in 2 different degree programs. I started to think about how many different jobs I've had and realized I didn't have the patience to figure it out. Between office jobs, teaching jobs, and singing work, it adds up to a lot! At the end of 1999, I lost a beloved grandmother and my dear stepmother. I was fraught with so much anxiety that I suffered a number of crippling panic attacks. In the beginning of the year 2000, I lost my other grandmother and also that year made a career move that allowed me to quit my job in a hotel catering office so that I could work full-time for myself as a voice teacher in my home. I had no idea that the next decade would not only take me out of Rochester, NY, where I had lived for nearly a decade already, but all over the country: New England, the Midwest, and California!
I had no idea that each time I moved to a new place I would have to start all over again, that it would take a great deal of time and patience in each place to establish myself as a singer and a voice teacher. I had no idea how difficult it would be to be so far away from home, from my family and friends, and I had no idea how terrible the grief would be in losing my two elderly kitty cats who had been like children to me for much of my adult life. I didn't know that experience would not make it easier to survive another break-up, that the emotions of losing a deep and valued friend could be so agonizingly painful and intense even with the additional benefit of age and wisdom. I didn't see ahead to the ways in which my body would break down and the resilience that would be required of me in order to keep up appearances in my various circles.
One of the most important things I have learned this decade is that laughter is essential. I am very grateful to my last boyfriend not only for teaching me just how healing laughter can be, but more importantly, how many places one can find funny things on the internet! Also, I have learned from a number of people I work with that we all have our burdens to bear and it *is* possible to put a smile on your face and do your job in spite of them. In fact, I've learned that often right action leads to better feelings. I've learned that ignoring problems does not make them go away and I've learned that I need to take what other people say at face value even if it's not what I want to hear and even if there is part of me that doesn't think what I'm hearing is true. Also, I've learned is that if there's something I want for my life, I have to make it happen. I have to be brave enough to admit that I want it and take action and not wait for someone/something else to help me or worse blame the world for the fact that it hasn't happened.
I have also learned that I am not always a good person. I make mistakes and I hurt people, even though I don't mean to or want to, and I have to own up to that and take responsibility for it. And, everything is not black and white, as my mind sometimes wants it to be. It's rather unlikely that at any one time *everyone* hates me, even though sometimes I think that is the case. It's also unlikely that everyone I encounter thinks I'm the "dog" that everyone apparently thought I was in high school. It's possible that some of the people who have told me they think I am beautiful are actually telling the truth.
I guess this sort of summarizes much of what has changed about me over the last decade or so. I used to think that at some point everything was going to fall in place, that I'd find someone who would rescue me and then everything would be alright. What I've learned is that in those times I thought things were good because of someone else, that sense of security was faulty. Also, things are always in process and, I think, the more you are able to live with your own imperfections and the imperfections of those around you, especially those you love, the happier you will be.