As I sit here, less than one hour into the new year, I look back on what the year 2010 had to offer. For me personally, it was a year of accomplishment, of tragedy, and of hope.
I started out 2010 as a nobody. Just another person, living day to day in a small town in a state the many thought might actually be a town in another state. Perhaps nobody is a broad term. I was someone to those who knew me, but that seemed few. Suddenly, upon making the decision, after finding myself out of a job in December 2009, to run for my town's select board, I found that people knew who I was. I feared rejection due to my age - at 25, what the hell could I really do? But for so many, it was so positive - to have a young person in the community that wanted to help make a change. I suddenly found myself, uncomfortable, trust into the tiny spotlight of this small town.
Whether it was luck or what, I won the election in March - much to my surprise. I thought, "I will run, and I will learn something. I won't win, but I won't give up." While I know that my parents are always "proud" of me, in that instance, I knew without a doubt I had blow their mind and proud was an understatement. I went from calling people and having to give a long explaination of who I was and what I wanted to, with many, just simply having to say a name and them knowing who I was. Here I am, nine months later, still wondering why people look at me differently in the grocery store. No, I have not changed the world. But, I have gotten involved in my community, and each day, and each meeting, I learn more and become more comfortable in my own skin and with my own voice. As someone who has never had the greatest of self esteem; a self image issue, I find myself impressed - impressed that I didn't give up.
In 2010, I ushed in 6 years with my wonderful boyfriend Kyle and our third year in our home. I was lucky enough to find a job with a local non-profit, helping low and moderate income individuals and families in our community. A job that some days is exhausting - it leaves you thinking of all that is wrong with the world. But on the days when you can help someone, it is the best day ever.
The year saw marriages of family and friends. It saw death from fellow school mates and former community leaders.
We had a close call with my father in September. Nothing quite makes you question your existence other than not knowing if you will never get to hug your father and tell him you love him again. Thank goodness he pulled through and is stronger and more determined than ever to help prevent a future heart attack. I am thankful for this every single day.
I look at our nation as a whole today, and I worry. I worry about what we will be facing in not only 2011, but the years and decades ahead- what problems will my yet to be born children face? How are we going to fix social security. How will be fix the deficet. How will we fix unemployement.
It was good fortune I suppose that decided upon annoucnement at the end of September, to attend Jon Stewart's, host of the Daily Show on Comedy Central, Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington, DC. A road trip with two friends brought upon some wonderful times and memories and a moment feeling connected to with many other in my country. With 250,000 in attendance on the National Mall that October 30th day, I felt so small, yet so big. In this sea of people, we all connected in ideas and values. So many people from so many different backgrounds and walks of life, exisiting peacefully - it made me realize, people do still care about America.
I have never been a crazy patiot. I would never consider myself a crazy liberal. I am an independent. Sometimes I agree with one side, sometimes with another. Sometimes, I think they are all bat-shit crazy! With the 2010 mid-term elections, there was huge shake-up in Washington, with Republican's regaining control of the Senate. This is to me, is concerning - not because of the party lines, but because of the reactions and remarks of many of those returning and incoming individual have made. With a Lame-Duck session of Congress that at first seemed to be something destined for failure, I am please that if nothing else two major items - the 9/11 First Responders Bill as well as the Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, succeeded.
These are hard times for our country and our communities. It was big news in the last several days that the unemployment claims dropped recently. While part of me is optimistic that it means things might finally be going uphill, I am more concerned it is just so many that are no going without any benefits because they have been out of work for so long.
We need to stay postive and first look at our lives, and our communities and work to make things better. If each individual in each community took this step, our country as a whole would be on its way to a brighter today.
Today, I sit here, thankful for all that 2010 brought and taught me, and for those who are nearest and dearest to me. I sit here curious as to what 2011 will offer...optimistic that together, things will only get better.
Happy New Year - make the best of it!