Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reflecting on 2008

It's been an interesting year. For many, we feel like this poor filly to the right. When we opened our 401K and investment statements, we felt like our heads were stuck in a tree.

For others, it was much worse, home foreclosures and job losses. I don't know anyone who doesn't know someone who wasn't adversely affected by the woeful economy in 2008.

And this year has an added second on it as well, stretching it out to make it longer than last year to catch up with the earth's rotation. As Stephen Colbert said, "WHY would anyone want to make this year longer?"

For me, 2008 was a good year. We're lucky. (so far as it's still 2008 until midnight!) Dh and I have our home, our jobs, and things are pretty much status quo. We didn't lose anyone in our immediate family, two-leggeds or four-leggeds and I'm very grateful for that.

Sadly, a few people I know passed, including a co-worker who died of pancreatic cancer in June, who was only a few years older than me.

We got a new addition early 2008 with Dolce. I'm very grateful for him, as heartbreaking as it was to see his owner give him up. He's a delight and a joy in our lives, and has adjusted so well that it's like he's always been with us.

Health-wise, it was a year of ups and downs for me. A good reminder that I need to find more time to relax and rest, instead of charging ahead at full steam.

FIL is still with us and in fairly good health, despite a couple of scares earlier in the year.

In Feb, we spent the weekend on the west coast and got to see a good friend and her sons, whom we hadn't seen in years.

April was RT and the moldy Hilton in Pittsburgh, and catching up with friends, and hanging out at the bar, which proved to be hilarious. Note to self: NO more moldy rooms. I was sick with a severe sinus infection for a week after, and had to take a week off work.

DH added more to the train layout, and added his skill to the train club he joined, building a new layout at a local train museum.

I went to Haiti, Nicaragua, and Honduras this year, and saw some heartbreaking stories of poverty as well as uplifting stories of hope.

Hurricane season came and went without a hurricane for us, though we watched with dread hurricanes hitting other areas, including Gustav hitting poor Texas and Haiti getting battered by four storms this year, causing massive loss of life and widespread destruction.

In September, I got to see my brother again, after 8 years. It was wonderful, and even though we didn't spend a lot of time together, it was great to see him at last. His job takes him constantly on the road, so family get-togethers are pretty tough.

On the writing front, I wrote one novella, one historical (The Lady and the Libertine) and one Nocturne (Immortal Wolf). I also accepted contracts to write two more Nocturnes, one more Bite and one novella in the Holiday with a Vampire anthology.

On the writing front, I wrote a book in two months. Pretty decent, considering I have a day job and also had to travel to Nicaragua at the same time and kept an eye on the hurricanes threatening our coast.

I also spent a week alone at a lovely B&B in east Tennesseee, which had inspired me to write Immortal Wolf, the book I wrote in two months. It was a nice writing retreat for me, and I hope to do it again sometime in the future.

Dh and I vacationed in Colorado, rode trains, tossed snowballs at each other at 8,000 feet in Estes Park, and drove all over.

Dorchester finally went back to press on The Falcon & the Dove, something I'd wanted for a very long time. And more of my titles got printed in other languages, including German and Japanese.

Went to the beach in March to write on the Alpha Smart and resolved to do it more often. Never did, but that one time was very nice.

Spent this summer finishing writing The Lady and the Libertine, which will probably be my last Egyptian historical, and was proud to make my deadline.

Spent more time experimenting with free writing, and reading books on creativity to free up my muse instead of making it work all the time.

Was a guest blogger over at The Wet Noodle Posse (love that name!) on writing and reducing stress. Failed to take my own advice. HA!

Got some distressing news in October about a former co-worker at the newspaper where I once worked, she killed herself with a gun after her former partner was found dead from over 100 stab wounds with a screwdriver. Police said she killed the ex-partner. Could not stop thinking about that one.

Made time to read in the backyard instead of always writing, writing, writing.

Discovered PUPPYCAM!!!!!! SHIBA INU! (smile)

Voted for a new president and got to see history made; election of the first black president in US history.

Did a great booksigning at the Altamonte Mall with the Central Florida Romance Writers yet again, and got to have dinner with a good friend from college.

Banged my head against the desk over the frustrating and growing issue of e-piracy.

Cleaned the linen closet. Watched it become a jumbled mess again, with hunting for Christmas linens.

Got rejected by a publisher, who like my writing and wants me to submit again.

Learned that some things in life are not worth stressing over, and that I can't save the world, maybe only try, in my small way, to make it a better place, one person at a time.

The last, I think, may be the best thing I learned in 2008.

The world never changes, much. There is still fighting in the Middle East, still hunger and poverty while others grow fat and greedy, still corruption and selfishness.

There is also generosity, people who sacrifice all for the sake of helping others, world leaders who care about their countries, creativity and inspiration and new ideas to make the world a better place.

And there are romance novels, to give us all a much-needed escape and bring smiles to our faces.

Last night I spent a few quiet moments sitting in the Florida room, staring at the little silver Christmas tree DH bought me last year. I had wanted such a tree for that room for a long time and he kept searching and finally, found one.

I looked at the lights, sipped wine and listened to the Coventry Carol playing on my I-pod. For those who don't know what this carol is, it's an old English Christmas carol about Herod's soldiers killing newborn boys in the search for the Christ Child.

I kept thinking about the world, and how it hasn't changed much since Christ was born. We still have wars, killings, torture, and poverty, and hatred, and heartache.

All we can do is try our best to make small changes in our own way. I'm always touched by donors to the organization I work for who contribute out of their need, sending a dollar here and there even though they are on SSI and probably barely have two nickels to rub together.

People like that make me want to fight the good fight.

As well as those from the younger generation who volunteer on their vacations, who donate their time, talents and birthday and Christmas money, to the less fortunate, or to causes they've embraced, be it saving the planet, animals, the arts or whatever.

I have an inspiring story to share. 2008 marked the 15th anniversary of my working for the poor, writing materials to raise money to help them, and traveling to countries like Haiti.

Many years ago, I visited our orphanage in Haiti and met an inspiring little girl who was 7. I'll call her Ginny. She spoke only Creole, but she was intelligent and poised. Her parents had abandoned her at the orphanage when she was 3 because they couldn't afford to care for her. If you've ever seen the photos I've posted in this blog of my travels to Haiti, you'll understand.

They wanted her to have a better life. Ginny was among some of our first girls in the home. I remember when the orphanage opened. I was on the trip with the president when he made the decision to open a girls orphanage in Haiti, because the need was so great.

Five years later, I visited the new home we opened for older girls. Ginny was there. She was learning French, had some command of English and she wanted to be a lawyer. She wanted a good education and to help her people in Haiti, as she herself had been helped.

Two weeks ago, Ginny came to visit our office. She's now 18. She is attending college in the US, after earning an international bacclerate scholarship and attending school in Norway. She speaks fluent English, takes notes on a laptop and she's bright and intelligent, gentle and sweet. She wants a profession in accounting or economics.

At a party recently, a longtime friend was shaking his head over Haiti, over the state of the world, really. He asked what good is it helping, when it seems like nothing good is accomplished?

I told him about Ginny. One young woman. That's enough for me. One life changed for the better, who maybe, just maybe, will go on to effect even more change.

2008 wasn't a good year for many. There's a lot of greed and corruption that got our economy into this mess.

There is also a lot of good, and people who can and do make a difference and make the world a better place to live. People who care. That's what gives me hope.

Happy New Year, everyone. May 2009 be much calmer, less stressful, more prosperous for all, and wishing all of you peace, love and joy in your lives, always.


Gillian Layne said...

Bonnie, it was a pleasure to read your year re-cap. 2008 was a long year, to be sure. I've enjoyed including your blog as a part of my routine this year.

I wish you all the very best in 2009, and thank you for sharing your talent with us.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Bonnie!

You're going to be apart of Holiday with a Vampire III? cool! I can't wait for that, and to see many more books to come.

I don't read historicals, otherwise I'd read yours (no offense. I just don't like them.)

Bonnie Vanak said...

Happy New Year to you both, Gillian and Lou. I hope this year is very very good to you!