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Eight Things I’m Proud to Have Accomplished This Year

At year’s end, my thoughts.

It was, for me personally, a very full year. It was full not just with busy-business (though there was some of that to be sure) but full of value and purpose, full of meaningful engagement.

I look back on several accomplishments with some pride. So, with no further humility…

  1. I wrote my first grant, and it was successful. Actually, I wrote the application in late 2012, but the award wasn’t announced until 2013. It’s enabled a new initiative I call Sustaining the Dialog, which sent three Xavier faculty to Smith College this summer to learn about contemplative pedagogy. Many thanks to the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society for funding this work, which continues into the next semester at least.
  2. I brought two speakers on to campus for workshop sessions in a series which I’m calling “Contemplative Practices in Diverse Traditions.” In January we learned about lectio divina with Rev. William Thiele. In December, we learned about Zen meditation with Rev. Michaela Bono. It has been a great blessing and a privilege to work with spiritual practitioners in the local community, and to help them share their practices with teachers at Xavier.
  3. Continuing the work-related theme, I went all the way up to Amherst to deliver a presentation on “Contemplative Faculty Development: From Spiritual Emergency to Visions of Wholeness.
  4. On a more personal note, I stopped drinking. Kinda sorta. I guess it would be more accurate to say I cut way, way back on my drinking. About every couple months or so, I’ll still indulge in a few libations. But it’s so much more dramatic to say “I quit drinking.” And from a New Orleanian perspective, I am practically a teetotaller. This is just what I felt i need to do to maximize my health and happiness.
  5. After having lost 20 lbs. over two years, this summer I started pumping iron and bulking up. I’ve gained 25 lbs. since then. I wish I could say it was all muscle. It’s not, quite. But I feel like I’m ending 2013 in better shape then I started it, and considering I started the year in fine health, that’s an accomplishment.
  6. The Mayor of Bloomington proclaimed July 7 as National ROX Day. There’s a tale to tell there, but it will have to wait until I get some choice video edited. Thanks to Councilmember Steve Volan for his advocacy.
  7. I was nominated for a Cox Conserves Hero award. And I won! The $100,000 prize went to the local nonprofit of which I was a founding member and president for three years. Many thanks to all those who voted for me and promoted my cause.
  8. I officiated a civic tree blessing ceremony on the banks of Bayou St. John.

But wait, there’s more!

It was also a year full of celebrations.

  • For Candlemas we planted a light garden with Persephone’s pre-K class.
  • We masked as Greek gods for Mardi Gras.
  • We attended both the Chinese New Year & Midautumn Festival celebrations, sponsored by the Confucius Institute at Xavier.
  • I made an Earth cake for Persephone’s fifth birthday.
  • We had some friends over for a egg-hunt and fairy-making craft activity in celebration of the vernal equinox.
  • Yuri’s night was a bigger blast than ever.
  • I made and distributed anarchy flowers for May Day.
  • We had a cookout for Loving Day on June 12.
  • We made sun cookies the summer solstice.
  • Persephone came up with the idea of Kittie Fest. She spent a week planning it and it was a screaming success.
  • Our Lammas was especially memorable as we removed a dead raccoon from under the house.
  • In September, Xy and I celebrated our 20th anniversary by buying a new mattress.
  • For the autumnal equinox we prepared a superb feast. We even printed up a menu.
  • We did a tree blessing on Samhain. (That was a small private affair which led directly to the bigger one mentioned earlier.)
  • For the winter solstice I commissioned a family portrait sculpture by local folk artist, the Rev. Lance “Varg” Vargas.

Photos really can’t do Varg’s work justice, but here’s a snapshot nonetheless:

Everpax by Varg

There were some other family happenings that I want to remember.

  • We made a trip to Roosevelt State Park in late March and spent three nights in a cabin on Shadow Lake.
  • Xy ran a glitter tattoo activity at the Morris Jeff Feria de Primavera.
  • Grandma Susie took Xy and Persephone and Ella Dee on a summer trip to Disneyworld. That was part of our big summer vacation wherein we also visited Grandpa Mike and of course my family. We stopped in Memphis on the way back home to visit Mike and Amanda.
  • Xy managed to trap, neuter and release virtually all the feral cats in our back yard.
  • Persephone started Daisy Scouts, and Xy has helped organize some activities there.
  • Just a few weeks ago, Xy started LEAP tutoring at Morris Jeff. I’m very proud of her for volunteering for this.
  • And even now, the last big trip is of the year is underway. Xy and Persephone are in Indiana. I stayed in NOLA to do things like write this list.

Looking back on the year, there are two key memories that stand out, both related to that big summer vacation.

I was driving from Indianapolis to Bloomington, all by myself. I tuned the radio to 91.3 and listened as some commercial pop station faded slowly into static. I drove through the static and pondered many deep thoughts. Finally Bloomington’s community radio station started slowly fading in, emerging from the white noise.

I think that may be my favorite memory from the whole year, but this one comes a close second:

When I got back home to New Orleans on a Friday night, I took a jog around our Mid-City neighborhood, and I just thought to myself, I love this place. I’m glad I’m here. For one night at least, there was no place I’d rather have been.

Finally, if there was one overriding theme for the year, for me personally, perhaps it was an ever-increasing sense of lucidity. We’ve all heard of people going insane, losing touch with reality and dissolving into a spiral of self-destruction. How come we never hear of people going sane, adopting healthier habits and behaviors, connecting to reality rather than detaching from it? That’s what this year felt like it was all about for me.

Which is probably a sure sign that I’m losing my mind.

Looking back, I’ve got to say this was a great year. I’m kind of intimidated. It’s going to be tough to top this one.

I know for a lot of people 2013 was a tough year. I feel for you. I’ve been there. I hope it gets better. That’s my New Year’s wish for everyone.

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