No matter where I am in life, I will always look back on 2012 and say,

That was a very good year.

I’d go so far as to say that it’s been the best year of my life, second to 2008, the year I left a job I despised and lived off savings until I started a research assistantship six months later. It was the first time in my life I just “was,” and I grew enormously from the experience.

This year, to my surprise, some fears melted away and my creative self resurfaced. It was the last thing I expected, but today, on the last day of 2012, I feel closer to my true self than I have in decades. There is no happiness quite like getting back to your roots. That is what I will be wishing for you at midnight tonight, dear reader: that you find your way back to your roots. Because nestled in them are some gifts you ought to be using.

2012 taught me good lessons. Here are some:

  • The things I love now are the same things I loved when I was ten years old. Avoiding them for forty years was like trying to hold a beach ball underwater: exhausting. Much easier to relent and be the good things you were meant to be.
  • I no longer care about how much money I make, other than enough to pay my bills. It is more important to do the work I love.
  • I want to live the life of an artist for the rest of my life.
  • It’s okay not to go to Ohio. For the first time in the nearly sixteen years I’ve lived in Wisconsin, I did not travel to Ohio once all year. Although my family and close friends there may not like it, I think they understand that every once in a while you just have to live in your cave.
  • I’d rather have ten people in my life who show their true selves, warts and all—who are sometimes annoying because of those warts—than one person who takes great pains to hide them and then out of the blue tries to mess with my head.
  • It’s not often you can get four people together in a room and all get along, much less eight. In our band, while we don’t always agree with each other, we are clearly eight people who like each other. With the added bonus that we make good music together. This is gold.
  • When you have a chance to reconnect with significant people from your past who still mean a lot to you, take advantage of that opportunity. This includes beloved teachers, old neighbors, lost relatives, and the ex-husband with whom you are still on good terms.
  • Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. When I arrived at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference in Chicago at the end of February, I never would have believed that by the end of it, I’d start creating a Web site. And that I’d publish personal essays there. And that they’d attract the attention of a New York Times reporter, the family of a man in jail who doesn’t believe he should be there, the family of my first-grade teacher, and readers from all over the place.
  • Take individual people on a case-by-case basis. Generalizations just don’t work.
  • Be careful about who you let into your life. That heart of yours is sacred.
  • You can’t please everyone. Even if you have a good heart. And that’s okay. If you’re a jerk, though, you really should work to please a few more people.
  • Among the best gifts you can receive: an unexpected phone call on your birthday; a note that says “I’m proud of you”; a “Miss you big time” post on your Facebook; a card signed “With much love and respect.” All from people you’ve loved and who’ve loved you for years, warts and all.
  • There is no better man for me in this lifetime than John, and I need to let him know more often than I have been. I don’t ever want to regret not letting him know.

While I’m sad to see 2012 end, it’s all a continuum. So I say to 2013: “Hello there. I look forward to living in you.” Tonight I’ll be lifting my glass to you all. Happy New Year.

Edwin Starr wrote “Oh How Happy” in 1966. The Shades of Blue made it a hit that same year. They broke up in 1970, the same year “War” became a number-one hit for Starr (after scoring big with “25 Miles” in 1968).


  1. I am filled with contentment, reading your post, Miss Robin. A lifetime of new oxymoronic statement, I know, but this is true. I am proud of you, as a woman, and as a person. I chose the artist life, and financial gain, beyond basic needs, with the exception of rummage and junk sales, is nowhere near the top of my list. Freedom is. Art is. People are. My sons are. My insane husband, is.
    I really hope we get to meet some time. I want to hear your band, and meet your man, who I think is fabou, also.
    Rock on, Miss Robin. You are in the groove.

  2. Kathleen, thank you so much for your lovely comment; it makes me really happy. You and I could have a really good conversation over cups of tea or mugs of beer, it sounds like. You are my kind of gal. I hope we get to meet sometime too; I’d love that.

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