To my beloveds,
I hope that this time of year has found each and every one of you happy, healthy and energized to begin your journey into 2010. Please know that you are all in my thoughts this holiday season and have once again supported me in my life's decisions, and for that, I am eternally grateful. Whether you have provided me with an encouraging word, been along during a time of celebration or shared a living space with me for a short or longer period of time, you have all been vital to my evolution in 2009.
This year has been a very sentimental one for me. I have been fortunate enough to spend the year of 2009 reconnecting with myself and all of the wonderful people whom have helped shape my adult life. As we continue on our own personal path, it is easy to loose touch with those whose paths you may have crossed or even merged with along the way. This year, I was lucky enough to retrace my steps a bit and see what directions my dear friends and family have chosen. I've even walked alongside many of you for a bit. I have also been given the opportunity to share life with some beautiful new friends. This time was invaluable to me. I feel so fortunate to have such unconditional love in my life and to have been able to share time with people who mean the most to me. In order to further illustrate this, I must take a moment to reflect on the numerous experiences that have composed my 2009.
The new year started in Montana where I was reunited with a few of the members of "Team Fun" including Sarah, Sherm and of course Canyon, Poncho the dog and Carlos. A back country cabin in the Montana wilderness to ring in 2009 seemed to set the tone perfectly for times to come in wonderfully wild "Montuckybama!"
Spending time with Canyon and Carlos in Eureka, Montana was incredibly introspective for me. Being somewhat isolated near the Canadian border in a home built with love and spirit during the coldest months of the winter taught me solitude and humility. Canyon and I collaborated on a few projects and even got a couple of articles published...much to my delight. Canyon is an incredibly talented person and to share a creative space with him was simply glorious. Montana in the winter is a memory that will live on in my mind for eternity. Thanks for your graciousness my dear friend.
From Montana, Canyon and I drove down to Arizona to embark on the journey of a lifetime...white water rafting on the Grand Canyon. How I got included in that still boggles my mind. To this very day, the entire experience feels like a dream. There we were aboard a 16 ft inflatable raft for 23 days and 200 miles floating and "teeing up" to rapids on the great Colorado River. 14 others joined us on our journey and words cannot possibly express how indebted I am to them for all of the life lessons I learned on that trip. Completely letting go of all social norms and inhibitions was the name of the game, and we got on famously!
From the Grand, I picked up Mick at the airport in LA and we began our cross country journey in what would be my newest vehicle, Blue Bonnet: a 1993 Subaru Legacy wagon. She had 160,000 miles on her when I got her, and she's still hangin' in like a champ! Mick and I began in Southern California staying with friends in San Diego, my old stomping grounds. Marty and Mike put us up in their wonderful apartment right across from world class surf (which Mick fell in love with!) and I was able to introduce Mick to all of my So-Cal homies. Dersu, Mel, Sam, Sarah, Sherm, Jordan, Jena, Morgan, the whole crew! What a blast! I even got to "guest star" in the Billabong XXL award night with Jordan! How's that for timing? Southern California, so dear to my heart. I'll be back soon!
From southern California, we headed north up Route 1 along the beautiful California coastline stopping all along the way for camping and surfing. No matter how many times I've done that drive from southern California to San Francisco, it never ceases to amaze me. So wonderful and scenic. Once in SF, I was able to contact my dear friend Rachel whom I haven't seen in nearly 5 years. We always had an amazing connection, and the spark was still there. Rachel is one of those friends that no matter how much time has passed, it's like none has passed at all. We spent a wonderful few days in SF and then headed over to Santa Cruz where she hooked us up with a friend named Kelly who let us stay with her for a bit. We were very, very close to staying in Santa Cruz for an undefined amount of time, when I though, dang, I gotta get this guy over to the east coast so he can meet my family! And off we went.
We stopped at all my favorite spots along the way including Tahoe where the magical Michelle (also part of Team Fun!) made us feel more than welcome. Another one of those friends you can always count on for a good time! From there, we stopped in central California farmland where my dear Zachary was working on a berry farm. Every time I spend any amount of time with Zach, my energy level is raised at least 20%...maybe even more. He's an incredible spirit, and I was so delighted to have he and Mick meet. Love you to bits Zach. And then of course to none other than Yosemite National Park. Need I say more?
On and out of CaCalifornia for a quick stop in Vegas, and into the Utah desert to my favorite parks in America, Bryce Arches and Zion. Ahhh, breathtaking. Mick was so inspired he did some painting of the magnificent landscapes so different to his native land of Australia.
A few more stops and parks along the way and POOF! We were back in good old Boston eating Pizza Regina with Mom, Auntie and Beaner!
Bringing Mick to meet my tight knit family was a treat in and of itself. My "rock" Auntie Maryann allowed us to stay in my cousin Matt's room for the summer (Matty, I can't thank you enough!) and needless to say, Auntie and I got very close...sharing a bathroom and a love seat on a daily basis will do that to people..especially relatives! I got my old job back at the Fairview Inn and Restaurant for the summer and got to make great money and reconnect with some friends I had made before my first journey to California nearly 5 years earlier! What's more, I got to hang with some of my fabulous friends from Highschool whom I hadn't seen in nearly 10 years! Sarah Ferullee and Kristen Rainville among others including JoJo, Stoosh, Danielle, Pegs and so many more. It was so great to spend time with the beautiful women who were among my marvelous group of friends and teammates during the MHS days...and then there's Alison.
Ali has been my friend for 12 years. Being away from here for the last 6 has been tough on both of us, especially since she had two beautiful girls in the last 3 years. Spending time with precious Anna and Hazel was like a dream come true this summer. To see their mother's face in those beautiful little girls was a gift from the heavens. To see how happy she is to be a mother is beyond explanation. There really is something about seeing your best friend grow into a beautiful mother and wife that is priceless. I miss you girls so much, and you know I do.
Family is a whole other chapter. My dear sister Jilly has become an incredible woman. She has excelled terrifically in her social life and is doing increasingly well in school studying to be a Music Therapist. She and I had some wonderful intimate times this summer. She is truly the wind beneath my wings, and I can't being to explain how proud I am of her. Reliving childhood moments with my mother and father whom have been so supportive of me over the years gave me such great joy this summer. As I am getting older, I am finding how similar we all are and am starting to really recognize traits and characteristics that I have inherited from them. I am so thankful to them every day for bringing me into this world.
My brother and his daughter Scarlett spent a few weekends with us as well. I was lucky enough to take Scarlett tent camping for her first time down on Cape Cod. She reveled in the fun of camping and boogie boarding in the waters of the Cape. Speaking of the Cape, Uncle Roy and Auntie Liz were wonderful to me this summer as the treated Mick and I to a few wonderful events chock full of food, wine and laughs! We had a wonderful time at Uncle Roy's 70th birthday where I got to see rellies I haven't seen in years. I even was able to trace back some of my history with Frances and Michael and spend some wonderful quality time with my dear Auntie Fran. Probably the cutest thing on the earth. I love you Auntie Fran! Hang in there I'll be home soon!
Towards the end of the summer my thoughtful father splurged and bought us plane tickets to Florida to visit my sick Grandma and my aunts, uncles and cousins whom I hadn't seen in years as well. I thoroughly enjoyed the company of Aunt Beth, Uncle and cousin Steve and Aunt Laurie and Hanah and Lauren. Again, invaluable experiences that will forever stick in my mind. I was also able to do a bit of investigating into my father's side of the family which proved to be very interesting.
I was also lucky enough to spend time with 2 people incredibly dear to my heart. Nancy and Larry O'Toole. Although the relationship between them has changed, these "surrogate parents" to me have never let our relationship slip. Nancy is very much a spiritual guide to me. Plain and simple, if it were not for her, I would not be on the path I am today. The same goes for Larry, but in a very different way. I got to spend time with each of these marvelous people this summer and reconnecting with them was so good for my soul.
On my way back to Australia, I decided that another week or so would be good to say hi to my west coast friends. I stopped again in San Diego and LA and had one hell of a Halloween in LA with Jena. Such a beautiful and creative soul that Jena. I love her dearly for she always makes me special, bad-ass and just a little bit fancy.
Since I've been in Australia, I've made new friends. I've been introduced to some of Mick's best friends and had a glimpse of what his childhood was like. Getting to know someone means getting to know their friends and family, and I feel much closer to Mick having done so. Oh, I also spent my first Christmas on the beach! Swimming in the ocean on Christmas Day!
Now here I sit, back in Australia reflecting on the wonderful memories of 2009. I know that this past year was a time for reflection for me. Time to reflect and reconnect is so vital to our growth, and as a result, I feel renewed and rejuvenated. I wonder what 2010 will be like? What comes after reflection? I think it's time to make some new memories!
In love and grattitude ...