I want to wish all of my incredible readers the healthiest and happiest year ahead... warm memories and big smiles, new opportunities, and quality time with the people you love. Most of all, I wish you the strength to get through the hard times and the courage to enjoy and believe in the good times. When you're living with chronic illness, there is usually something to dwell on. As I've said before, being sad is okay for a short while, but fight hard not to let it last. It's never too late for fresh starts and I believe 2011 will bring good things if we go out and get them... if we welcome them in.
My time in Rochester with John's family was special, as always. I've felt loved and welcomed since day one and this year was no different. The stocking his parents had custom made for me was hung and filled with so many gifts and the thoughtfulness of his entire family blew me away. John's aunt Linda, for instance, gave me a beautiful children's book called Our Tree Named Steve. She hoped I could use it while working with kids one day and let me tell you...it's a major tearjerker. John's parents spoiled me with jewelry, clothes, gift cards, etc...but perhaps the gift that meant the most was a gift for Kenneth- an at-risk kid in Rochester who now has a winter coat in my name. It really moved me.
We had lots of time to relax with John's parents and sisters. We baked, watched movies, and even visited the Equicenter, an amazing place that offers therapeutic riding to individuals with various challenges. We fed peppermints to Sara's favorite horses and just being near those incredible animals filled me with joy. At one point, Laura's head got mistaken for a peppermint and she got a nice big lick on her noggin. As you can imagine, we all got a big kick out of that! John and I had a yummy home-cooked meal with his incredible grandparents (his grandma was so considerate about my new gluten-free diet). Another highlight of our time was an engagement party for our friends, Rob and Katie. We had a blast and I'd say wedding "season" has officially begun. All in all, it was a great week catching up with my other family. Now it's just nice to be back home with my family and on break from school until mid-January. Yep, all is right with the world.
How were your holidays and New Years? Did you have special plans or did you just lay low? Unfortunately I caught a nasty bug in Rochester, so I had a hot date with my parents, John, my couch, and a cup of tea. Even though I'm not ringing in 2011 in top form, I do have high hopes for this coming year. I spent most of 2010 in pain that I'd never known and now I'm just grateful for the simple stuff. I thank God for every day that my disease is manageable and, more than ever, I want to maintain my health and make the most of my opportunities. I want to really live.
I'd love to hear what you're hoping to get out of this year. Feel free to share your hopes, dreams, resolutions, or anything else that might be on your mind...and thank you all for being in my life!