BY Amanda

12/01 Direct Link
November was a month of huge upheaval and uncertainty and I suspect December will be similar. I don't know what will happen with my job, I'm taking a different path to some of my friends and facing another semester of study. But, the good news is the show was awesome! We had a huge last minute run on tickets and played to a full house. I was firm at the start of the show and it ran really smoothly. I nailed by songs and the whole show was fabulous! I'm so glad to have gone out on a high.
12/02 Direct Link
We raised over $3,700 last night and I suspect once we add on discounts and in-kind donations it will be considerably more than that. That's very exciting. It means we can spoil about 8 families for Christmas this year. I'm still thrilled about the show. All the song choices were perfect and the audience loved them. After having to fight so hard it was nice to be vindicated. The backstage crew were amazing and we wouldn't have had a show without them. I don't know how to thank them, just saying thank you doesn't seem enough. They're awesome!
12/03 Direct Link

The show is over and the other challenges that I have been ignoring are finally raising their heads and demanding attention. I find myself particularly melancholy as I anticipate taking a lonely path. It's one I have to take to be true to myself, but no one promised it would be easy, and I'm really sad at the moment. Mostly I'm happy with my life but many things are uncertain at the moment and I'm feeling  a little insecure. It's at times like these that I miss having a partner the most. But that isn't the life I've chosen.

12/04 Direct Link

Following a computer malfunction yesterday that meant I got almost no work done, I've spent my Saturday at work catching up on some urgent things. However, tonight, I've enjoyed the company of an extremely handsome, cute, endearing young man. It's been Tyler and grandma time while daddy went out. We played in the wading pool, had pizza for tea and watched Christmas movies. I have a Santa with dangly legs that has been adopted by Tyler and spent it's time on his toy pony to shouts of oh, oh, oh (we haven't learned to say ho, ho , ho yet) 

12/05 Direct Link
They remembered my talk from last week. They smiled at me and they sang! It was pretty awesome really. I guess it helped that we sang carols. Who doesn't love Christmas carols? Actually, I love pretty much everything about Christmas.  I also heard one of the best poems today at church:
I have wept in the night for the shortness of sight,
That to somebody's need made me blind
But I have never yet felt a twinge of regret
For being a little too kind.

Definately words to try and live by, and Christmas is the perfect time to start.
12/06 Direct Link
There's something magical about Christmas. At least there is for me. There's not too much about it that I don't like. I get sad when I see people become frustrated and unkind at the very time of the year that gives us the perfect opportunity to become more patient and more kind. But other than that, I really love Christmas. The smells, the food, the smiles, the decorations and the tree, even the hustle and bustle. And,  I love the fact that I understand the real reason for the season and can be grateful on so many levels.
12/07 Direct Link
I've turned a corner. After being melancholy and sad for the last week or so I'm starting to regain my natural optimism and enthusiasm. Some days, not too many thankfully, I become aware that my life is nothing like I had planned or hoped it would be - and I get sad. It is painful, both emotionally and literally. I'm struggling with arthritis and realizing that I'm not immortal and eternal youth is a myth. But, then I try to focus on what I have rather than what I don't have and things seem brighter.  
12/08 Direct Link
I'm getting ready to do the 12 days of Christmas and it's such fun. It is a little project to help make life a bit nicer for someone. On day 1 you send a letter from the Christmas Elf advising them that they have been chosen to receive special attention and for the next 12 days they will receive a gift each day. For the next 12 days they get progressively more gifts, commencing with 1 and culminating with 12 gifts on day 12. They are just small tokens but can make such a difference. 
12/09 Direct Link
I confess. I'm now playing catch up. So much has happened and December has been exceptionally busy, even for someone who is used to busy. I've tried to stick to the rules, but life has got in the way. So, do I ignore this month and try to start again in January or do I play catch up?

Writing is therapeutic for me and I don't get much of a chance to explore any kind of reflective or creative side usually, so I choose to play catch up, record things at least important to me and attempt compliance in January.
12/10 Direct Link
Christmas - to paraphrase the words of Charles Dicken's, this was the best of times and the worst of times. Christmas can be a time of wonderful joy or a time of deep despair. It is a time for carefree abandonment or a time of guilt and depression. I hear people feeling guilty that they dont feel the Christmas spirit and yet they do nothing but sit and wallow expecting it to find them and impose itself upon them. In contrast, there is the genuine sorrow that makes my heart ache in sympathy. The dichotomy of Christmas.
12/11 Direct Link
I am convinced that they key to coping with the dichotomy of Christmas is a proven recipe for life,and that is to lose yourself. Look outside. Find someone you can help, even if they aren't worse off than you are. Look outside rather than inside. Life becomes a whole lot rosier when you focus on others, and it's addictive.

I've seen the joy in people's faces as they've opened small, inexpensive gifts for Christmas. 1 Christmas deocoration, 2 gift tags, 4 christmas cards, 5 christmas mints. They're tiny gestures that say "I care" and "you're important". They work!
12/12 Direct Link

We bought a tree today. I tried so hard to find a real tree to remind him of his childhood, but as no one would deliver we bought the best artificial tree I could afford; and it is a magnificent thing of beauty. It took nearly 5 hours to assemble and decorate which says something about my commitment to Christmas and my love for him. This year I was influenced by the presence of grandchildren and also bought a train that winds it way around the bottom of the tree playing carols and making chugging noises. It's a huge success.

12/13 Direct Link
I made our first batch of mince pies today and they were pretty good if I do say so myself. The secret ingredient is some grated apple. It's a simple modification but makes all the difference. I haven't made pastry in about 12 months, probably since my last batch of mince pies. I have  little time for cooking these days and would be happy munching on a sandwich while studying, but my family would feel really deprived and so I made mince pies. It seems to me that the distribution of workload is markedly different betweent the genders at Christmas!
12/14 Direct Link
I haven't bought a single gift yet. I'm trying to fit Christmas on top of a hundred hour week of study and work and it's not particularly a pretty sight. But, at the end of the day, I am achieving it and that is a feat to be applauded. Tomorrow I have a 3 hour block and I will focus on buying the gifts. My list of recipients is complete and I will go pen and paper in hand. I never preplan gifts for people as I think there is something wonderfully special about just letting the perfect gift find you.
12/15 Direct Link
It is amazing how much can be accomplished in just a few hours if you are focussed. True, there is a nagging feeling of rising concern that refuses to be completely stilled as I put aside study in favour of Christmas preparations, but, life still goes on. My hundred hour week will simply not stretch any further. My body and mind now protest at less than 6 hours sleep and I don't function. I resent the mutiny, but accept the inevitable,and so, that leaves focussing better to achieve more in a shorter amount of time. Today, I managed it.
12/16 Direct Link
I should have found a gift wrapping service because it has taken as long to wrap the gifts as it did to purchase them! I like to take my time and ensure that the wrapping reflects the love and care taken in purchasing. I try to choose just the right wrapping paper to suit the person and the gift. I know that's OCD and no one else will ever know, but for me, it's an unspoken part of the gift. In years past I have elaborately wrapped with ribbons and bows, this year the paper will have be sufficient.
12/17 Direct Link
Tomorrow my baby turns 31 and I struggle to remember where the time has gone. It is very true that the older you get the quicker time seems to go. I don't feel especially older, although I do feel a whole lot wiser and my body won't cooperate like it used to, but time is certainly moving quicker. Was it really over 30 years ago that I held my firstborn, marvelled at the miracle in my arms and felt the feelings of motherhood that have never left me? Was the incredible man before me ever the tiny babe? Remarkably, yes!
12/18 Direct Link
Such a full day filled with socializing when all I really long to do is open my books. I'm getting scared. Time is flying past and each day puts me further behind. With that fact acknowledged, it was a pretty good day. Lunch with family and a birthday dinner with special friends would have perfect had I been in semester break. My grandhchildren are delightful, albeit a handful most of the time. They remind me I am a grandmother and it was 30 years ago since mine were little. A family dinner 30 years ago would have been very different.
12/19 Direct Link
I heard you were back in town and felt torn between being thrilled that you were visiting and sad for you at the circumstances that brought you back. We ate dinner and chatted about nothing in particular. I hoped you would just chill out and feel at home, but then I felt guilty that I hadn't treated you more like a guest and entertained you. I'm glad you reassured me this was just what you needed and I hope you meant it and weren't just being polite. It has been a great blessing to have you in my life again.
12/20 Direct Link
Five days to go until Christmas, two days left at work, a week's worth of work to get through before I can go, and today I'm on my own, doing 3 people's jobs. I am feeling the pressure as well as the excitement. It's been a long time since I had a substantial time off work, unless you count the week I had off when I had my wisdom teeth out (and I don't). It would take 6 months to achieve all the plans I've made, but the planning is delicious. I just need to survive the next 2 days! 
12/21 Direct Link
Last day at work. I got almost everything done and only had to send one document home to work on. That's an achievement! The filing is still sitting there and I may go in on a weekend to sort it all out. It should only take an hour or so, but we'll see. It is ridiculous that the workload is so high you need to go in on holidays to complete it, and work until 9pm the night you leave to make sure you are up to date. That is the reality of life in the public service these days.
12/22 Direct Link
My first day off. I had planned to do so much! I did manage to do quite a bit of study but nowhere near the amount I needed to do. I'm tired to the bone and it caught up with me today. I slept late and couldn't get as motivated as I needed to be. But, I did accomplish some things. The house is almost ready for Christmas, the presents are wrapped, the cakes iced, turkey defrosting, ham in the fridge, and tonight we shop for the rest of the food. I think we're almost ready for Christmas! 
12/23 Direct Link
 I found a quote the other day that made me stop and contemplate.

"May your hearts be a little warmer, your days a little brighter, and your life a little better each day for the love of a baby lying in a manger".
It reminded me why we get caught up in the Christmas rush, or at least why I do. For me, it's about emulating the love God has for me. It's about smiling at a stranger, hugging a friend and involving myself in Christmas traditions when I really don't have time just for my family.
12/24 Direct Link
Strange, tomorrow we celebrate the birth of the Saviour of the world, and yet, even at this time, I hesitated to mention Him in my last post. We live in a world where it "feels" unacceptable to talk about God. That's sad. Christmas, for me, is not only about the birth of the Saviour, but the sacrifice of His Father. As a parent, I can't imagine how hard it would have been to send His son to a world that would shun, hurt and finally kill him. I will be forever grateful that He loved me that much!
12/25 Direct Link
A perfect evening last night with family and friends was complimented by a very quiet morning. We slept late, much later than either of us had expected, and felt all the better for it. Grandchildren will be here soon and it will be time to open presents. While they are being collected there will be private time to reflect on blessings and give thanks. The lights seem a little brighter today, the world a little nicer, life more hopeful and manageable. There is pain and suffering and the world is a less than perfect place, but there is also infinite beauty.
12/26 Direct Link
The morning was spent with my grandsons, the afternoon at church and the evening driving around Lobethal looking at Christmas lights. The evening was marred only by the comedy of me trying to push my friend's wheelchair up the undulating main street. It felt like a serenade of "Climb every mountain" would not have been out of place. I bit my tongue as she made suggestions about how I might steer more effectively and chuckled to herself about my exercise for the day, while I grunted up the hill, perspiration flowing freely. But the lights wer lovely.
12/27 Direct Link
Finally, a day of uninterrupted study and I've achieved so much! If I keep going like this I will be up to date before I go back to work. It will just take 14 hour days!! This isn't exactly how I would have liked to have spent my holiday, but, if I can pass this subject well it will have all been worth it. My degree feels more like a marathon these days than the wonderful blessing that it really is and I need to remind myself frequently why I am doing it, but when I do my resolve returns.
12/28 Direct Link
A blast from the past! An amazing trip down memory lane. There was no awkwardness at least none I was aware of. We ate, talked non-stop, went to the beach, laughed, shared thoughts, philosophies and experiences. What a wonderful blessing it is to have lived long enough to reconnect with old friends. I'm realizing more and more that while I wasn't grateful for the tough times, I'm very grateful for what they've taught me and who I have become because of them. You're happy and that's wonderful. I'm so pleased! What a blessing to catch up again!
12/29 Direct Link
My brain has gone into overload and won't cooperate! My eyes won't focus. I need to study and am really struggling! The print seems smaller today, the words more confusing, the task more daunting. It will pass, but today its hard. I wish you were there to talk to but although I know you care, you're so busy you don't even acknowledge my emails these days. That's ok, this is my path and I'm grateful when our paths intersect. In the meantime though I need to find a way to focus, achieve and retain. I really wish I was smarter!
12/30 Direct Link
As 2010 comes to a close its interesting to look back at an amazing year. Was it really ten years ago that we were concerned about the millenium bug? Where did the last 10 years go? I feel that it was only yesterday and by some miracle of time travel that astounds me, I'm now here - ten years later - with memories of the last ten years that seem out of place with the time frames. 2010 seems to have flown by in a blur once more and we are now looking at the start of a new decade. My goodness!
12/31 Direct Link
My last entry for this month and  2010! I've been writing now for 10 months and it's been such fun. This has become a welcome outlet for thoughts and feelings. 2010 has been an interesting and significant year. The most important things for me are that I have renewed contacts with family and friends who are family that I haven't seen for very many years, and I've significantly changed my lifestyle. I'm thankful for lessons learned if not for the challenges that brought the learning. I reflect with gratitude on life and blessings. 2010 has been a good year!