For Dec. 23 -- New name. Let's meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?
I've been Beth for more than 63 years now.
As a child, I did not like my name because it calls to mind the delicate, generous, charming Beth of Little Women, and I am far more like Jo than like Beth, not to mention that whole dying thing.
I'm not an Elizabeth either, so no chance to change it to something different. I'm straight Beth.
I tossed around the idea of Tallulah, the name of a tall, eccentric actress (Tallulah Bankhead) whom I admired once upon a time. I thought about another favorite name, Hannah. Rejected them, and a bunch of others.
They are not me. I have imbued this name with my own flair, my own style, my wit, my outspokeness, my loving heart, my loyalty, my honesty, me
My parents called me Beth; my brother and sister-in-law call me Beth. My friends and my beloved husband call me Beth. My cousins and aunts and uncles know me as Beth, or perhaps BethKay. I know them; I love them. They know me by this name, and I hope they have a good feeling when they think of Beth.
Shakespeare wrote: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
So I'll stick with Beth. I don't want to be anyone else.
For Dec. 24 -- Everything's OK. What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?
You know what? Sometimes everything is NOT all right. Sometimes there is no 'best moment' that you can point to in a year and say it all will be okay. Sometimes bad things just happen, without warning, and not because of anything you did or didn't do.
I wrote here about hard times, and said, "It's not the good times that make us strong, it's the tough ones and how we handle stress, pressure, uncertainty, fear. The good times may give us the knowledge that this, too, shall pass, however, and that there are still good things to come. But it's in the fire that we are shaped and tempered and glazed."
This has been a year of fear and uncertainty and stress, of angst and drama, of days upon days of just walking through all of that. There have been good times too -- being with friends, enjoying family visits, laughing at plays and movies and stories, being by the ocean and with my wonderful husband. Those moments have been cherished, each as they came, and recognized as good, as peaceful and with contentment.
But this year I do not remember one single defining moment when I 'knew' everything would be okay. What I did learn was to walk through each day with some measure of serenity, on most days (not all), grateful that I was alive and okay and that those I love and cherish are alive and trying hard to make it work.
What I did learn is to be grateful every day, to say out loud those gratitudes even when situations are not ideal and emotions are tumbling over and around me. In enumerating my blessings, I can find a moment of 'all right' every day, and that has been enough for this year.
For 2011, I hope to find more 'best moments' -- but I will always count my blessings, every single day.