The Year Before, an Optimist's View

I'd started writing a summation of the past year the other day and got so bogged down in the mire of self-indulging whining that I stopped. I didn't understand why, until I got an end-of-year holiday email greeting from a friend from church, Angela Rogers, who wrote

What I think about most is ... what have I been doing for the last 60 years, AND what am I'm going to do with what time I have left on this earth?  What matters? 

I honestly could say if I was to have my last breath and meet my maker today, I would not feel robbed or unfinished.  I feel completely satisfied and content of the life, love, family, friends, experiences and privileges I've had.  

This, of course, set my perspective a'right. It was a tremendous year. Yes, there were some struggles, but nothing we did not overcome with God's grace and a little patience (sometimes a lot of patience).  To wit, the non-whining look at the past year here at the Keohane household:

The first six months were the wrap-up of what I refer to as my "sabbatical" as I'd taken the retirement package from Fidelity along with so many other folks in 2021. In that time, I published Plague of Locusts, my first science fiction novel, finished an experimental collection of stories / devotionals called, for now, The Psalms Experiment, though I have not yet published it because of some comments from a couple of beloved proof- readers (thanks, Paul and Marty!). I think I know what this project needs, but that also seems to change daily. In addition to all this, I finished the first draft of PoL's sequel, currently titled Morningstar. 100,000 words and it keeps telling me it wants to be something else. I am most likely, when the writing resumes in my life again God willing, going to revises a major portion of it.

On the writing front, I also completed an entire historical (old west) Christian romance novel, as part of a ghostwriting gig. Enjoyed it, learned a lot and discovered I'm pretty good at it.  It's finished and for al I know published somewhere (say that because they won't tell me under what author or title it comes out as because, well, it's a ghostwriting gig and privacy for the client is pretty key).

As you read in my last entry, I've taken a hiatus from everything around writing, as well as anything not specifically related to family, church, or my health - the latter which is in serious need of improvement with exercise and better diet. Working on it. 

Elias turned 8 this year. He joined the cub scouts the year before and we finished up an abbreviated season over the winter and Spring. We've begun this year as a Wolf den (2nd graders). I handed the reigns to another parent to run it, hoping he was more organized. Elias is working on his Pinewood Derby car now, with the help of his brother Andrew. 

Speaking of Andrew, he's come up from NYC for a few extended stays here in Massachusetts. It's been wonderful. The kids love him, and he seems to enjoy the chaos. Nice thing about his job in the big city is that he can work from anywhere. We had a fun visit down his way as well this summer with a trip to NYC and the Bronx Zoo. Five visitors to a studio apartment - always interesting and cozy. 

Audrey's job as a financial advisor has been going strong and this fall, she took, and passed with flying colors, her Financial Advisor certification (a grueling 7 our exam). She and her BF Mike (who nabbed himself a great job where he's been shining) moved into a new apartment in Brighton, and they are finally learning the perils of inner-city apartment living. Oh, and for Christmas, they gave me and Linda a present that counts towards next Christmas and birthday: a trip to Ireland in 2023! A child-free trip to boot. Andrew is going to watch Elias and the two littles will need to go into a respite home for a week, which they'll be quite upset about but they're fosters and there's only so many people who can watch them. More on this another time.

In other humongous news, Amanda and Joel have officially announced they are having a baby! Due in June. Amanda has finally moved into the less-pukey second trimester and is feeling a lot better. Exciting news. Linda wants to be called G (I'm pushing for her name to be The G in honor of the Zawalich's matriarch, long story, that). I think I want to be Pappy. Pappy and The G. Like the ring to it. 

We took on (mostly from a series of unexpected events) a new foster child, making it two boys ages 4 and 2 in the house, along with Elias. Sometimes it feels like my life has been rewound and turned inside out, the movie Family Man mixed with a Hallmark film mixed with an old Afterschool Special (look it up).  One thing I've tried to do this year is connect better with the A Team (my adult kids), because the young ones demand so much of my time and energy, I had been giving less focus to the older ones. Especially as we make the big decision of keeping these two little foster boys permanently (not a definite - we're still letting ourselves pretend we haven't decided for a while longer, I don't want to lose out on the rich relationship (usually) with Andrew, Amanda and Audrey them in this next stage of our lives. It's been a balance, but a better one.

Yet another reason the writing, and many other non-family / church interests and activities, has had to be it on hold for a while. I mean, just getting these blog posts back up and running has taken some serious focus in my addled brain. 

The year was a lot of work, sure, but it was also a lot of fun, with weekly cookouts with my amazing (and growing) church family, even one Sunday when I gave the sermon (and Linda gave the sermon for the Easter sunrise service), visiting friends, going to see a bunch of shows at Hanover Theater. I even worked as a videographer for a fancy schmancy wedding in downtown Boston. We had a couple of comedy shows this year, visiting NH to celebrate my awesome son-in-law Joel's birthday, co-hosted a hilarious and fun Christmas pageant, went on vacation in North Conway for a week and Newport RI for an extended weekend. Saw a lot of movies I'll talk about in an upcoming blog entry. A lot more, including a Christmas where everyone was able to come and stay for a spell, together.

Can't argue. 2022 was challenging at times, but from these moments, I grew up a lot. We all did. Overall, it was a wonderful year, a gift from God I - and a lot of us - take for granted too often. Like a wise woman recently said, if I was to have my last breath and meet my maker today, I would not feel robbed or unfinished. Life is good. And I'm grateful. 

Here's to what's next in 2023. 


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