It is the last day of the year; the time to reflect on life and its obstacles, dreams, desires, and if we stayed on course in our pursuits. I have to admit, I look at 2010 with bittersweet memories. Charles Dickens said it best in his opening line of ‘A Tale of Two Cities’: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; …it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”.

I spent most of January healing from a nasty fall and just as I was recovering, my husband ruptured a disk in his neck. All attempts to allow it to heal naturally failed and by March he realized surgery was inevitable. Then the transmission went out in my car, and my oldest German Shepherd was getting more feeble. The car could be repaired, my lovely spirited, protector could not be. She died in May. Even now, I am reduced to tears just thinking about her and how very much I miss her. We were bonded in a way that is hard to describe and I thought I was having a heart attack when I found her. My chest tightened, I couldn’t breathe. I was told it was an anxiety attack, but it lasted for three days. My friends were looking at me with the round, wide eyes of shock as each new trauma befell me. But I surprised them by having an unexpected perspective. “I’m getting all of the bad stuff out of the way and then the rest of the year is going to be wonderful!” And so be it!

I tried to rehabilitate sore tissue and lose a little of the weight that being sedentary for half the year had allowed me to gain. I tried some new things; Zumba, Jillian Michaels, (heaven help us all with her workouts), and Jari Love. Add in some walking and enough weight peeled off to encourage me.

I registered for a writing workshop. Not just any workshop. The one I wanted to attend was in Essoyes, France; ‘Writing from the Heart…in the heart of Champagne’. Assignments were sent via e-mail and eventually we had a facebook page dedicated to our specific group. I was writing every day.

In September my husband and I spent a week at the beach and in October I was off to France. My journey began in Paris, proceeded to Troyes, then to Essoyes and back to Paris. The trip changed my life in many ways. I could exhaust pages in reflecting on the people I met, the highly accredited instructor, the food and accommodations, the beauty and diversity of each of those cities juxtaposed against each other. But I’ll save that for another blog as each deserves its own singular focus. One of my reflections can be found at http://www.storyhouse.org/reneej and entitled ‘What is it about Paris’.

The final two months of the year are a blur of celebrations; four birthdays in the family in November, Thanksgiving, Christmas and now the New Year’s Eve party which is going to be at our house this year. I have Champagne from Christian Senez Champagnerie in Essoyes. It traveled back with me in careful layers of bubble wrap and scarves that I bought for souvenirs. I have replaced the table decorations with glittery gold chargers and candle holders and have been working on a French theme for my menu: Tiny Tarts, Scallops Wrapped in Bacon and Puff Pastry Appetizers, Poulet a la’Parisienne, (Parisian Chicken with mushrooms and a silky gravy), Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans with Almonds, Rolls, and Napoleons for dessert. Of course there will be bowls of nibbles placed throughout the house; spicy almonds, fudge, chex mix (the final batch I intend to make this year), olives, cheese cubes and crackers.

I am looking forward to this evening. It will be twice as glorious because of the past year. Adieu 2010!

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