Well, here we are. Another year has come and gone, leaving behind both wonderful lifelong memories and painful scars alike. 2011 was a year of incredible transition for me: I lost my job (good riddance!), donated my kidney to an incredible woman and kick started a chain that has saved at least three lives, got engaged to the most amazing man I’ve ever met, started an exciting and promising new career, and committed myself to a huge lifestyle change that includes the switch to a meat-, wheat-, and dairy-free diet. Yup, 2011 was certainly one for the books.
As much as I complain about January – it’s neverending, it’s bone-chillingly cold, and my warm blood drives me into a virtual social hibernation – I’ve always had a soft spot for the month of all-things-new. There’s my end-of-January birthday (the big 2-7 this year… I’m officially approaching 30 and I’m not pleased about that), but beyond that, January brings a fresh start for us all. It’s another chance to do things right, to start over, to forget the woulda, coulda, shoulda, and just do and be. All that overindulging, the pessimism, the rushing around, the failure to enjoy the moment, the missed opportunities and the chances you wished you’d taken – that was last year. SO 2011. But 2012, this year… well this year will be a different story. A story of health, optimisim, c’est la vie and carpe diem and all that good stuff. We can’t forget what the past year brought us, but we can accept it, learn from it, and move forward.
Thinking about all the changes I went through in 2011 and all those – known and unknown – that await me in 2012 makes me a little emotional. Not just because of what 2011 meant to me in so many ways, both good and bad, but because today is my kidney recipient’s birthday, and I can’t help but think about what 2011 meant to her. 2011 brought her – literally – a new life, a fresh start, a chance to make every day count, for many more days to come. The fact that she is alive and well and celebrating her birthday today is a testament to the miracle of living donation, and a great example of the power each of us holds to transform a life. I don’t have any spare kidneys left to donate (though I wish I did!), but I have something just as good – my time and my compassion.
That’s why this year, on top of all the other wonderful things I have planned – getting married (!), traveling to Europe for the first (and second) time, perhaps another move – I’m doing something a little different. Instead of leaving 2011 completely behind, I’m taking it with me by using the negatives to become more positive, and by moving full steam ahead with all the great things that I began last year. That means continued work in the donor community, more time volunteering for other causes that are near and dear to my heart, constantly pushing myself to eat healthier and work out harder, and seizing every opportunity – both personally and professionally – that comes my way. And this time around, I’m doing it not only for myself, but for my loved ones, for my kidney recipient, and for every person out there who would give anything to have the opportunity to start again like we do – not just each Janaury, but every single day our lives.
If 2011 was the Year of Change, 2012 will be the Year of Results. Yeah… I like that way that sounds.
A year from now you will wish you had started today. [Karen Lamb]