Not so much. There have been some changes, and some of them have been good (more on that in a minute), but most of them have not been changes as much as simply swapping one sort of waiting for another, or trying to push out into new areas and finding that it doesn't work. A woman who prayed for me at a church meeting several weeks ago gave me a metaphor that about sums it up: me, approaching a house with excitement, throwing open the door, and having it slam shut to lock me out. Then approaching another one, with the same excitement but a bit more caution, and the same violent result. Wash, rinse, repeat, until I hardly dare to approach anything without extreme caution, peeking through the window rather than even knocking on the door, for fear of being disappointed, excluded, shut out once again.
I'm still out of work. I've started some part-time tutoring, but it's very part-time, and I'm still on unemployment. I thank God so often for the friends who have helped me with financial and other gifts this year, because I don't know where I'd be without you. And thank you to Dan, my boyfriend, who doesn't let me stay in the dark, scary tunnel of not knowing what the hell I'm supposed to do next. (Even though after much thought and prayer I still have no idea.)
One of the good things about my tutoring gig is how much I've enjoyed the actual teaching. I detest the prep time, and the unreliable schedule is driving me into anti-productivity in almost every other area of my life, but my 8th grade boy interrupted one of our lessons to ask me bluntly: "How long have you been a teacher?" I told him I hadn't tutored since I was in college, and he asked, "Why not?" So I asked him if that meant he thought I was a good teacher, and he gave me a look like, "Well, DUH." I'm really glad that my kids enjoy working with me; they're both learning, so I'm doing something right. But I don't think I could stand teaching in a classroom environment, and I don't know if I could ever support myself as a tutor (though, per a conversation with friends last night, perhaps I should look into the requirements to tutor child actors).
Church leadership stuff was better this year because we had a pastoral liaison who was also trained in Stephen Ministry! However, I continued to fail utterly in figuring out the politics of a large church, and discovered that when I am unable to understand underlying patterns I entirely lose my ability to be assertive and either end up passively allowing others to dictate everything or become seriously aggressive, neither of which is very helpful. *sigh* Also, that pastor just got promoted into a different position, and we will now be under another pastor who knows absolutely nothing about how our ministry works.
Lately, I've just wanted to drop out of this altogether. It's a good program, and I'm glad I was able to serve and teach and lead, but I'm so tired of the responsibility. I did drop off the prayer team; I am desperate to put down some of my commitments, there are so many and even though they're all small in terms of time requirements, I've started forgetting them because I just can't juggle them all.
Writing: so much for planning to get more original work done. The whole schedule thing and financial worry almost killed my creativity. I don't know what to do to get it back, or how to stop myself from feeling so guilty over my lack of productivity. I did manage to write a short in a week, for the Write of Passage contest, and though I didn't even make it to the finals, my writer's group liked it. And in fannish writing, I hit the deadline for Yuletide with a solid story in a brand-new fandom.
Among the changes: I am now a "professional" writer. Sort of. I write a blog on Crime Dramas for Examiner.com, for which I am paid. First time in my life I've been paid for writing work, but it's far too little to make even a dent in my financial needs, regardless of the effort I put in. I also did some unpaid script coverage for a management company, but I couldn't focus on it and dropped out a couple months after they hired me. (If they could've paid me, I would've done better, I think.)
The other great change is one which I only referenced obliquely in last year's post: I started dating an awesome, brainy, geeky man, whom I love to death. He's been as much of an anchor for me as I have allowed him to be (I need to be less self-contained, seriously), and most of the reasons I am looking forward to this coming year involve walking into it with him. It's such an odd fairytale feeling, when everything I've dreamed of doing falls apart around my ears, and yet at the same time I'm given something I had no idea I longed so deeply for. For all my frustration and longing and emptiness, I have been blessed this year.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
I keep having a sense that I can't shake but also can't figure out where it's coming from: that this coming year holds things so good I haven't dared to imagine them, and all I need to do is find my courage and walk forward into them, all I need to do is stop hiding from hurt, keep reaching out for hope, and it's waiting right around the corner. It feels ridiculous, but I believe it.
Even if 2010 turns out to be another year of waiting, I think it'll be a good one. And maybe, just maybe, 2010 will be the year of plenty, of fulfillment, of more grace than I could ask for.
I'll leave you with a quote from Christian writer Henri Nouwen, a great acknowledger of pain and great poet of the love of God: "To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings."
This is me, shrugging off 2009 so I can walk into the newness of the coming year. May God bless each of you with a better year than you dare to hope for.