"There will be peace in the valley..."
Almost every morning I run up a small hill near our home to take in this view of the Texas Hill Country. The last couple of days of 2019, I was greeted with this image of golden light, crisp blue skies, and mist forming over Lake Travis. In my mind I could hear Elvis singing "There will be peace in the valley..."
That's not surprising, since over the past few weeks the word Peace has been catching my attention more and more. I'm not sure if it's because of our country's current political rhetoric or because the last few months - no, the whole past year - has just been more hectic and demanding than I could ever have imagined, but it's clear Peace is going to be my word for 2020.
I will aim for the inner peace that comes with knowing I am doing my absolute best each day, even if I don't accomplish everything I hoped to accomplish or if others don't appreciate or understand all that I'm doing.
I will strive to be a peacemaker, to help others... friends, clients, colleagues... find resolution, perspective, and common ground in conflict. I won't run away from conflict (how could I be at peace with myself if I did that?) but will look for constructive ways to handle it.
I will pray for peace in our world, for more wisdom and education and tolerance and LOVE, and less pride, ego, selfishness, and greed.
I hope you will join me.
~William Ewart Gladstone
Speaking of 2020, doesn't that number just seem surreal? How did it get here so fast? I realized on this past Christmas Day that I had no memory of last Christmas Day, except for the Facebook memory that popped up. That's another reason I feel Peace is a good focus word for me this year, to help me be still, process, and (hopefully) remember more of these precious moments.
That being said, last year was an awesome year for my business. I helped more families than ever with their real estate needs, even doubling the number of listings I sold. We paid off our credit card debt (I won't tell you how much, but if you knew, your jaw would drop and you'd be impressed), plus we have money saved for expenses we know are coming. For example, both my computer and my car recently celebrated their 10th birthdays. I have emotional ties with each which I really need to sever and move on from. Wish me luck!
In 2010, my focus was on being a writer. We had two kids in college and one recently graduated. We were empty-nesters, enjoying the freedom that brings. Every weekend we were celebrating someone's 50th birthday, going dancing, listening to music.
It was a lot of fun, but it actually makes me tired thinking about it.
We lost my father-in-law in 2012. Shortly afterward, my own parent's health began declining rapidly. I was constantly driving back and forth from Austin to Houston for my parents' doctor's appointments.
2013 was truly a year of highest highs and lowest lows. My oldest got married in April of that year. Shortly after that, I realized that neither writing or photography would provide the extra income we needed at the time, so I finally took my sister-in-law's advice and started completely over at the age of 54 with a career in real estate.
Just as I began my classes, my parents' lives changed: Daddy had a stroke, Mama fell, and they both ended up in the hospital, then a nursing home, where Daddy died a couple of months later.
Just before we said goodbye to 2013, I moved my mom to a nursing home near me. Weekly trips to Houston to check on her were replaced with daily visits. Just part of my normal routine until she passed in 2016.
In a way it was a time of mourning, watching her steadily decline no matter how hard I fussed and fought, but I am so grateful for that time I had with her.
When both of your parents are gone, it is such a lost, scary feeling. You realize you are an orphan, no matter how old you are. You aren't someone's child, you're just a grown up, the matriarch or patriarch of a family. Your own mortality stares you in the face and, if you're lucky, you come to terms with it and decide to make the best of the time you have left, which brings me to the highlights of the past 10 years. These are just skimming the surface...
As I've mentioned, my oldest got married. (see The Most Beautiful Wedding Ever)
My real estate business skyrocketed after Mama passed. I know she had something to do with it. Thanks, Mama.
My two youngest graduated from college and both got jobs right away...in Austin. Still close to me!
I spent a week in Italy with dear friends I've known since high school. And we're planning a trip together to Paris this year.
I became a grandmother... or BiBi, as I now prefer to be called.
My daughter met and married the love of her life.
In 2010 I never imagined how challenging my life would get within a few short years, calling on every ounce of faith in my heart. I wouldn't have believed you if you told me I would be running my own real estate business in 2020, and I honestly don't think I would be as successful as I am now if I hadn't been faced with those earlier challenges.
It's never too late to learn and grow, to start over and change, when necessary.
"Never give up, never surrender."
As we move forward into 2020... into the inevitable highs and lows... the peaks and the valleys... I wish all of you joy and gratitude in the peaks, and peace and faith in the valleys. Happy New Year!
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
~ John 14:27