End-of-year reflections (giving and getting)

Every year I kind of set up an expectation for myself – a mantra or guiding principle on how I want to live and be. It’s usually just a word or concept – like ‘optimistic,’ ‘enthusiastic,’ ‘strong,’ ‘kind’.

IMG_2345For the past year or two, it’s become really clear to me that one of our values at work is really my overriding value and goal too – simply, just ‘doing the right thing.’ Making day-to-day, even moment-to-moment decisions about how I want to act. Prioritizing right. Putting people, and projects, I care about first.

I challenge myself (even when I’m stressed or running late) to do something I will not only NOT feel bad about, but will feel good about after. Even if it’s the hard thing … actually, maybe especially if it’s the hard thing to do.

IMG_2346I try to listen to people and be present; take the phone call from my kids, no matter what; give away something I like that I think someone else will like (or need) more than me; hold the door, smile, say hello, be polite. Simple things.

With some scary, distasteful, even hateful things happening in our country and world, I could pretty easily feel terrible all the time. And I imagine like most people, I can be happy and, almost at the same time, sad about some things in my life (work’s ups and downs, my kids being happy but away, etc. … more on all that in another blog). But as I reflect on the past year – and look ahead to 2019 – I’m looking to stay hopeful, IMG_2344positive and hold the people I love close. In my ‘smaller world.’

Wise people, like my friend Pam at work, point out that when you give to others, you get back so many times over. And while that’s not at all why I do it, it feels good too.

My birthday this year was a good example. I took the mid-week day off, with the simple goal of slowing down from my fast-paced work space and pampering myself a little. I slept in late with my cats William and Lucy, and Bruce Springsteen (well, his autobiography, Born To Run, anyway, which I got as a gift last year!). I did a little holiday shopping and walking, and we went up the road for tasty fish tacos for dinner.

One of the really special parts, though, were the super nice cards, texts and calls I got from friends and family, near and far … some making a point of saying they’ve been enjoying my blog. (You can’t imagine what that means to me!)


My mom called me at least half a dozen times (mainly because her cell phone seemed to stop working that day, so she kept yelling EL, EL, HELLO, HELLO???, then hanging up).

For some reason, I just found that so endearing. Especially since the first couple of times, I could clearly hear my dad and the local orchestra he continues to participate in rehearsing their string version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody rock anthem. And I laughed to myself, remembering how a week or two ago I had to explain to her who Queen and Freddy Mercury were, and what the song was about, so she could introduce it at the concert.

When she finally called me later from her home landline, she told me the day I was born was one of the happiest of her life and still is. And when my birthday happens to be a clear, blue-sky, cold day in December, she tells me that’s just like the beautiful day I was born. I know I’m super lucky to get that constant affirmation from my mom.

The night before, my dad continued a many-years-long tradition and played happy birthday for me on his violin, accompanied by another violinist and violist in the small group that comes to my parents’ condo every Tuesday night to play.

One of my closest friends, who I’ve known since junior high school, drove all the way from New Jersey to spend the day with me. Again, we kept it simple, just eating Greek salads at my kitchen table, talking, sharing stories and laughing. We walked at the shopping mall too (since it really wasn’t a beautiful cold day, just COLD!). And she spoiled me, showering me with all these special gifts, like we always do for each other. The prize: AMAZING otter slippers from LL Bean, yo!* (And, of course, some otter swag!)

IMG_2343Friends at work the next day gave me thoughtful gifts and cards too – totally unnecessary but so nice!

In short, I enter the New Year feeling extremely grateful to have so many great friends and family members around me who, in all ways, give me so much more than I could ever give them!!!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year everyone. I look forward to blogging with you again next year. Also, I already have a few surprises in store – in the form of a few ‘guest bloggers,’ including daughter Jamie and work friends Kellie and Pam. Bye for now …

*Continuing my own birthday tradition of the past few years, I bought myself a pair of sneakers. Converse All Stars for just $24.99 on the clearance rack at TJ Maxx, where my mom and I went to spend the gift certificate she gave me. Love the color and the cool polka dots on the inside. And my mom said, “They don’t even look like size 10s.” Sold!

4 thoughts on “End-of-year reflections (giving and getting)

  1. Thanks for this Ellen. This is such an uplifting sentiment I will carry with me into the New Year. Happy Holidays and Happy Birthday ❣️
    Love, Julie


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s