The Year of Living Without Deprivation…

christmas tree_stevep2008All things considered, Christmas wasn’t too bad this year. I spent a ridiculous amount of time baking, and since most of the gluten-free baked items turned out to be inedible, I reneged on my vow to stay gluten free over the holidays. I made dozens of cookies, I baked at least four batches of sausage balls. I cooked for the family gathering and got saddled with most of the leftovers. Today I gave away as much of the baked goods as possible, though it hurt a little to do so. Cheese straws that were crispy and flaky with just the right kick, shortbread and gingerbread cookies, a melt-in-your-mouth lemon pound cake, a whole tray of ham biscuits, too. The sausage balls, I’m keeping. I’m down to the last few and there is no point in giving them away. I’ll eat them and when they’re gone, they’re gone. I only make them once a year anyway–and I typically eat them until I can’t bear the thought of another one. By that time, they’re all gone, and when the holiday season rolls around again, I’ll be looking forward to them once more.

But for now, it’s back to being good. This week of indulgence reminded me of all the reasons I gave up wheat and dairy in the first place–not the least of which is the ever-present heartburn. So yeah, indulge once a year. I’m okay with that. And the lovely care package from my good friend, margec0, will help stave off temptation in the next few weeks–thank you,Marge! Thanks, too, to everyone who sent Christmas cards this year. My wall board is filled with them and they make me smile every time I pass it.

The day with the family passed almost scott-free. My mother did decide for some bizarre reason that the BF and I have been engaged for the last five years but that I have also turned him down for embarrassing reasons–none of which was true. That didn’t stop her from announcing this at the dinner table, however. Yay. However, aside from that, as family gatherings go, this one wasn’t too bad. My mother is becoming obviously more frail, and this particular delusion is a bit concerning. Given that she has always been as formidable as a tornado and as ferocious as a tiger, this is disconcerting to see. It also foreshadows my own future, which scares the crap out of me every time I think about it. Which leads me back to the realization that I can no longer put my own health on the back burner–it has to be a priority from now on.

A bit of good news: after fighting with the national health care website for over 10 weeks, I finally got health insurance today. After jumping through hoops and sending in proof of identity, and listening to dreadful hold music again and again and again, and dealing with a series of people who varied from the bored and inarticulate to the sympathetic but unable to help, today, I finally made a payment on my new health insurance. I’m getting better coverage for half of what I was paying before. Go me. 😉

The last few years, I’ve been in the habit of naming the coming year. The Year of Living Passionately. The Year of Living without Fear. Grandiose intentions that have been better as ideas than actual actions. I suspect I’d be better off not naming the year at all, but for some reason, I keep ‘hearing’ 2014 as The Year of Living without Deprivation, which is ludicrous, given my current situation. But maybe deprivation is more than doing without material things–maybe it is doing without things that feed your soul as well. One of the things that has become painfully aware to me in recent months is how stretched thin I’ve been for so long–long enough that the state of being in tensile traction feels normal. Long enough that I almost don’t know how to manage free time when I get it now.

Backyard H_snow_resizedChanges in my work schedule recently have significantly cut my hours. Not great when I was living on a tight budget to begin with. But one of the things I’ve discovered during all of this is how disconnected and out of touch I have become with so many important things in my life. Recently, when out on a walk with the dog, it dawned on me that I didn’t have to turn around at our ‘usual’ place–that I could continue walking all day if I wanted, that I had no where to be at a specific time. It was an incredibly liberating feeling. I want more of that in 2014. More joy in doing the things that I love. Reconnecting with the people and things that I love. For the first time in a very long time, I am not so exhausted that my creativity has been completely stymied. No, I can’t do it all. On any given day, I still have to pick and choose what I’m going to do, but for the first time in a very long time, work is not sucking the life out of me. Of course, I’m having to pick and choose which bills to pay at the moment, but overall, I count this as a plus. Life is more than just clawing out a bit of space on a ledge so you can survive the night. 2012 was so bad that I requested a do-over by March. 2013 was a test of endurance. I’m ready for 2014 to come. I’m ready for things to be better. Bring it on. 🙂