Home for the Holidays: Party Like Its 2012

I don’t know about you, but on New Year’s Eve 1999 I heard Prince singing about partying like there was no tomorrow so many times that his song was stuck in my head for most of January. I have to give Prince credit – he took the supposed end of the world as we know it and made it seem almost like fun.

I never once believed that I’d wake up on January 1st, 2000 to a world where life was turned upside down because of faulty computer programming. I figured my computer and other electronics would fare just fine, and if they didn’t I might get a few days off work while the geeks got us all back up and running.

I was 29 and just starting to feel like I had the world at my fingertips. I was an eternal optimist.

So that night, I did what I do just about every New Year’s Eve. I spent the evening celebrating with family and friends, and near midnight we slapped some sparkly tiaras on our heads and rang in the year 2000.

Here we are in those last minutes of the 90s, doing what we we still do best:

And here I am again, more than a decade later. When I look at that photo, it is hard to believe so much time has gone by. I certainly don’t feel like I’ve managed to climb from my 20s to my 40s in the time that has passed. At least, I don’t feel that way on a good day – catch me on a normal Monday morning and I might tell you differently.

The girl in that photo didn’t think her convenient, on-the-go little world was going to change all that much. But I also had no clue what challenges and changes the coming years would bring me. Since that night we partied like-and-because it was 1999, I have:

– Ended a marriage
– Lost some very near and dear friends to both expected and unexpected death
– Experienced a scary financial roller coaster

But that’s not all. I also

– Managed to wing it by the frayed seat of my pants as a solo homeowner
– Fell in love again
–  Went to beautiful places I had never seen before, including Bermuda, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, Key West, Nassau and Belize.
– Served in a lead position for a major project at work, an experience that beat the livin’ crap out of me but also skyrocketed my confidence
– Lost a significant amount of weight in a healthy and gradual way
– Became a published writer
– Watched my Steelers bring home a few more Superbowls

If the girl I was on December 31st, 1999 had any inkling what awaited her in the next decade, she would not have been celebrating. She would have been cowering under that table with a drink in her hand. She was young and unaccustomed to the loss of loved ones. She was unfamiliar with true financial fear. She was certain her marriage would last forever.

If she had known those things were lurking around the bend, celebration would have been the last thing on her mind, even if she could also see that longer list of good stuff awaiting her.

With the years that have come since then behind me, I look at life a little differently. I know that trouble and heartache and loss are real and inevitable. But I also realize that even in the midst of them, so many good things can and do happen. I am still sometimes afraid, but I am also excited.

The list of amazing experiences that have come my way in the last decade outweigh the harsh but shorter list of hardships. Without my divorce, I never would have found Lee.

I have proved that even if I don’t exactly do it well, I CAN lead rather than follow when it comes to managing money. I have overcome work challenges I often thought would make me quit and go live in a cardboard box rather than face another day in the office. I won’t pretend I enjoyed those things any more than I’d like finding a big green booger in a half-eaten restaurant meal.  But I’m pretty sure that doing them is a big part of how I finally grew confident enough to write regularly and begin submitting my work for the world to see.

And those are just the big things. Let’s not forget all the hugs and laughs and sunrises and sunsets the last decade has brought my way.

Once again, we are about to celebrate the ushering in of a year that some people speculate will bring major changes. In 1999, our computers were supposed to go on the blink. The harbingers of 2012 doomsday speak of much more serious events. If you believe some of them, we’re looking at a big “lights out” next December – the 21st to be exact.

I don’t believe that. If I did, I’d be handing in a resignation letter and living on credit this year. Who wants to spend the last year of life as they know it in an office? But I am absolutely certain that if I did that, I’d wake up on December 22, stare at my ginormous credit card bill as the sun rose like it always does, and  go “oh, shit.”

I figure that next year, I’ll be heading up to the pub on New Year’s to usher in 2013 the same way I’ve welcomed in the many years before it.

But there is one thing of value that I do take away from the doomsday believers. I don’t think they’re gonna get their “end of the world as we know it.” But I’ve learned that our own individual lives, the ones in which we are each the centers of our own little universes, do shift and change in ways we can’t predict. It is a beautiful thing that we don’t have the power to see those changes. Some of them would break our hearts, because we don’t know that we’re strong enough to withstand hard times until we find ourselves living through them. And the good times are ever so much more magical when they come with an element of surprise.

I know there are no guarantees. To a certain extent, we should all live every moment like it is our last. That doesn’t mean existing in a perpetual state of worry or throwing all caution about our futures to the wind. It is simply grabbing happiness and holding on tight.

In the last year, I’ve gotten very good at investing my time in doing the things I love rather than living every moment for ‘shoulds.’ In 2012, I am also promising to invest a few resources in myself.

I shy away from spending money on things I don’t need. If life was football and I was the quarterback, my financial game style unfortunately has never been to throw one in the end zone. I’m always stuck going for it on 4th down and breathing a sigh of relief when I manage to convert.  That’s left me overly fearful of not having enough money for what I need – food, a roof, warmth and transportation. As a result, even as I’ve invested more time than ever before on my stories, I have held back on providing myself with things I believe will help me improve my writing.

My welcome to 2012 is to take that leap of faith. I am investing money in creating a writer’s haven – a bright, happy and private place for me to work. I am also buying a laptop, so that I can write whenever and wherever I choose. These sound like such simple things to some of you, I’m sure. But to me, these are huge steps.

They say “Hey you, chick in the mirror – guess what? I believe in you enough to invest these resources we guard so closely in your talent and your future. And I believe that if we do this, and then something happens that makes you wish you’d held on to that money, we are resourceful enough to figure out another way through the trouble.”

My new haven will be my spare bedroom. Lee is turning it into a Steelers-themed room for me as a Christmas gift. Here’s how it is coming along so far:

My willingness to do this – to invest a little money in myself when I would usually be saying ‘ but what if I spend this and then the van dies and we’re too broke to fix it?” is a statement about the woman I’m trying to become. She’s a woman who believes both in her own talent and the world around her, and equips herself accordingly.

 Bring it on, 2012. We’ve got places to go, things to see, and a lot of words to craft. We’re Superbowl bound.

What about you? What are you doing to make 2012 your best year yet?



About hawleywood40

Writer, Steelers Fan in Baltimore, Frequent Visitor to the Shot Fairy
This entry was posted in Personal Development Mumbo-Jumbo Stuff, Slices O' Life, Steelers, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Home for the Holidays: Party Like Its 2012

  1. l'empress says:

    I worked Y2K temp jobs in 1999, and I never believed the world was ending. I do not believe that, just because the Mayans stopped counting (maybe they ran out of stones), the world will end. In my unerstanding, this is year 5772; next December will already be 5773. So what?

    I have been reading you for almost ten years. That’s great. Our biggest goal for the new year (you knowI don’t do resolutions) is to survive. I believe we will.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Hard to believe it has been ten years, isn’t it? So much has changed in our lives, good stuff and bad, and there were many times in the last decade that I was very thankful for the wise advice I got from you after a blog post : ). I am looking so forward to another decade of writing and reading!

  2. Selena says:

    Live well, laugh often and love much! Great post!

  3. theladyinredink says:

    It’s really hard to believe that celebration was over ten years ago. Sometimes I feel like the 90s really weren’t that far away, or the early 2000s. My life has changed drastically since then, just by nature of growing up (can you believe that was HALF my life ago? Crazy!). My only goals for this year are to be healthier and more positive than I have been in the past. And I suppose that’s a good goal for ringing in the New Year.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Those are the BEST goals! I think when we focus on health and happiness, we position ourselves to be better able to make other goals and dreams happen without them being resolutions. And if those goals take a long time in coming, we feel better and have more fun along the way! Happy New Year!

  4. Writers need their own space to work. When I hear about writers who started out writing at a woobly kitchen table while keeping watch over a half dozen children and I’m not sure I believe it. If your Steelers decor motivates you, then go for it. Our study is plastered with family photos. Looking at them makes me feel good and when I feel good, I’m a better writer.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      I am so looking forward to having this space, and also to the flexibility to work outdoors this spring when the urge hits me. “When I feel good, I’m a better writer” is so true for me too, and something I learned when I cut back on writing to get into the gym again. I was so afraid it would hamper my writing productivity, and just the opposite happened. I write fewer hours a week, but I like what comes out better. Happy New Year!

  5. Jeff says:

    What a wonderful entry! And I’m caught off guard, I must admit, by the question at the end. I haven’t given it a lot of thought. I’m going to have to ponder that one a bit. There are some things that definitely need to be different to make 2012 the best ever. I’ll have to get back to you on that one. Thanks for the challenge, though. Oh, and I don’t think the world will end in 2012, either. I was also not at all worried about Y2K.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Thanks Jeff! I learned a long time ago that “resolutions” don’t really work for me, but I think “what will I do to be happier” will. After all, every day is a chance to start over when it comes to being happy. Happy New Year!

  6. Catie Rhodes says:

    In 1999, I didn’t believe society as we knew it would end; however, a little part of me was worried it would. At that time, I was investing a great deal of time an energy getting a degree–that turned out to not be worth a flip.

    Over the last decade I’ve learned so many biiiig things. One of them is that you never can count on anything. The other is something like laugh often, cry when you need to, love like you mean it, and live like there’s no tomorrow. And…don’t sweat the things you can’t control.

    What a long strange trip it’s been. I’m glad I met you and am glad we became friends–though I knew we would the very first time I read your blog. 😀

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Me too Catie! Your friendship has been one of the blessings that came my way in 2011. Looking foward to another year of writing, getting closer to our dreams, and doing exactly what you said – laughing oftening, crying when we need to, loving like we mean it, and living like there’s no tomorrow (I love that!). Happy New Year, my friend!

  7. Marcia says:

    I’m so happy to be friends with you. You and all of the other folks I’ve met in this writer’s world have truly enhanced my life and taught me a lot. I know you’ll be successful in 2012 with all your goals — it’s just in the way you’ve expressed yourself that tells me so.
    My goal is to stop f&%$ing around and get myself fit so i can do all the active things I want to do. I’d like to be able to avoid all those old-age diseases and be around a long, long time for my kids, grandkids and for my future great-grands.
    I figure, the more fit I am, the more creativity will flow and I’ll become unstoppable as an author!
    I wish you all the best for 2012 and more blessings than you have right now.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Marcia, I know you’ll meet those fitness goals! You’ve been a great inspiration to me this year – I’ve so admired how you find time not only to write to organize and keep the LLC rolling along! I need to keep going with my fitness goals too – the holidays have had me slacking a little and this week I’ve been giving myself a break and just being in “total vacay” mode, but I know I’ll get back on the horse and keep up with it because it really does help me to write! So glad to have met you and so many other writers this year and looking forward to another year of successes and shared inspiration : )!

  8. Great retrospective and review of what might be next. You write so well–easy and comfortable.

    Typically I don’t make resolutions or future plans. I’m too much a believer in change and know that I cling to fiercely to my expectations. I take it one day at a time and do my best to make a positive impact of someones life every day, It doesn’t have to big, just positive.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Thanks Lorna! I feel very much the same way. Like you, the closest I’m going to resolution is making a point to stay more positive and be happy, even if being happy means I sometimes have to dig down deep or look for joy in little things or unexpected places. Happy New Year!

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