By Joe Rector

It’s time to reflect upon the 2014. I do that instead of making resolutions, which, in my case, are nothing more than a list of good intentions that rarely are fulfilled. Instead, I reflect upon the past year and try to figure out what I’ve learned. For the last 365 days, the learning curve has been rather steep.

As I’ve discussed several times through the year, I’ve returned from retirement to take a job. No, I didn’t want to re-join the workforce, but circumstances dictated it. The pay is low, but the benefits have been rewarding. I’ve met new folks and made new friends. A van filled with us old guys is a good place to discuss politics, sports, and jokes. What I’ve discovered is I like the routine that’s involved with having a job. I also appreciate the free time I have much more now that it’s in short supply.

Amy and I have learned to live with less. That will happen every time a family’s income disappears. Yes, it is tough, and worries about enough money at the end of the month arise. However, we have learned to cut back. Our decisions as to what we really need have changed. Spending on extras has been curtailed. What we have learned is how to make it. Oh, sometimes we might feel the squeeze, but during the last year, Amy and I have budgeted even more than before and have kept our heads above water.

In the process of cutting back, we have spent much more time with each other. Guess what. We have enjoyed it. In fact, we look forward to evenings when we can sit together, discuss our days, and solve problems that we might face.

I realized over the past year that I’ve not been the best grandparent. The truth is that I don’t do well with little ones. Now that Madden is a bit older, I’m determined to be more involved in his life. We can play kickball and football and baseball. I want to get him to help me work with tools so that he won’t be as helpless as I’ve been most of my life. I also plan to pass along some words of wisdom on a variety of topics, some good and some, perhaps, inappropriate in others’ opinions.

I plan to continue channeling my energies. The fount from which it flows is finite, and I know that it’s important that  I pour it out wisely. That means that my temper doesn’t have a hair trigger anymore. Instead, I try to breathe deeply in order to diffuse a volatile situation. I also am working on letting go of hard feelings toward others. That means in the coming year learning how to forgive. Just mastering these two things will keep the energy reserve at higher levels.

What the past year has taught me is that change is inevitable. Some of it is good; some of it is painful. The point is that I have little control over most things. I am a traveler through this life who can affect some things but who must accept others. Nothing remains static without ceasing to exist. My job in the coming days is to accept that change and to learn how to live in and with it.

In 2014, I fretted over our misfortunes. I berated God for not coming to the rescue. When I reached the realization that I couldn’t do anything else to change the situation and gave up things to a higher power, life became better. Now I know that God watches over us and cares for us. My faith in Him is stronger than ever before, and I will get out of His way from now on so that He can reveal what path I am to follow.

Unlike 2014, I look forward to the coming year and discovering the things it brings. I am thankful for the family and friends that are in my life. I am blessed with the knowledge that God is present each and every moment. Life is good as long as I keep those three in mind.

I hope you have a blessed and wonderful 2015. Give yourself the gift of enjoying your life to the fullest. Happy New Year.