New Year Reflections

In five days, 2013 will be merely a memory. In six, 2014 will come gallivanting and we’ll start over. New year, new possibilities, new hopes.

When I was a kid, I spent New Year’s Eve at family parties, where we’d blast the salsas, vallenatos, cumbias, and merengues, and dance, eat, and have fun while we counted down the remaining hours and minutes of the year. Then, right before midnight, the tias and tios would pass around 12 grapes, the suitcases would be placed by the door, and we’d get our champagne–or apple juice for the kids–ready. At the stroke of midnight, the room would burst into a frenzy of hugs and kisses, spilled champagne and “Happy New Year!” Those who wanted to travel in the coming year would take to the streets and walk with the luggage in hand. Those who wanted luck every month of the new year gobbled down the grapes. And everywhere, the air was ripe with the energy of possibility.

Now, I don’t always go out on New Year’s. Some years, like last one, we travel. Others, we stay home, watching the shows in NYC and counting down with the world. But the end of el año viejo and the anticipation of the new one continues to bring about that eagerness of all that could be. And it’s a great moment for reflecting on what was, what is, and what is to come.

This last year was a mixed bag.

Health: there were many challenges, like a flare from hell that lasted for more than half the year and an allergic reaction to a new medicine. But there were also breakthroughs, like the relief that came after getting off said medication and the ensuing period of remission. There were still some hiccups, but overall, the worst (for now) is over.

Writing: I finished a second manuscript and started a third. The second is in the query and contest trenches. I learned more about my writing process, about where my strengths and weaknesses lie. I attended three conferences, finished a Certificate in Creative Writing. I made it through final rounds for Pitch Madness and Baker’s Dozen and even snagged some requests. And I’m finishing off 2013 by working with Dannie Morin, who is my PitchWars mentor. It’s an amazing opportunity. Overall, 2013 for my writing career was successful. I am in a better place than I was at this time last year, and that is success. Sure, there have been rejections and self-doubt and “what-the-hell-am-I-doing?” moments, but I’m coming out all the much stronger for them.

Work: I got to teach some fun classes this year. Hispanic American Literature. Creative Writing. Special topics composition courses, which included The Hunger Games and creative nonfiction. I had students wow me with their work. I’ve heard “You’ve made a reader out of me” and “Because of what we read in class, I knew the answer to a question on Jeopardy.” And I came across this comment, which made my heart swell: “She completely changed the way I read & write and really helped me find my voice in writing.” There were times in the beginning of the year where I struggled–mostly because of my health–but I pushed through. The rewards far outweighed the challenges.

Home: We’ve gotten older and wiser and our faith has grown. We saw our son finish Kindergarten and begin first grade. We rejoiced when he got Principal’s Honor Roll, even though he’d struggled at the start of the year. While we didn’t travel out-of-state this year, we did get to visit Orlando and Jensen Beach a few times. We relaxed and enjoyed our times together. Summer, especially, was nice as I didn’t teach this year and got to fully disconnect. More than anything, I’m in awe of how much my son has grown in one year. It’s insane and scary.

I’m looking forward to what 2014 might bring. I’m hoping for some good news in all fronts, of course, but also excited for what is promised. Friends are having babies, stories are being written, hubby and I are celebrating our ten-year anniversary (and hopefully taking a belated trip to Europe to celebrate!). I’m looking forward to being on break, to more writing conferences, and for the magic of storytelling to continue.

What are you most looking forward to in 2014?

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