2011: The Bipolar Year

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.Charles DickensA Tale of Two Cities
English novelist (1812 – 1870)” 

You know those insurance charts that give points to events and — if you’ve had so many, you’re likely to suffer health consequences? If they’re true, 2012 is primed to be a year of health consequences. The thing that surprises people about these charts is that both bad and good events are stressors, especially if they are “big” events.  So here’s the list of big events from 2011 (and yes, I know, it’s not over yet…)

Weather:

First part of the year: Largest snowfall on record in Connecticut.

Middle of the Year: First tornado in 50 years hits Springfield. I was two blocks away from the center of storm.

3/4 of the way through the year: first Earthquake in memory hits Springfield area.

October: Power outage for 10 days.

End of the year: Wettest year on record in Connecticut — just reached in the last month or so.

Health

First part of the year: found out I needed neck surgery and if I had whiplash just once before the surgery, I could be paralyzed.

Through June: worried I’d be paralyzed.

May or June: Had surgery on my neck which could have resulted in paralysis or death.

June: I found out it didn’t. Now I’m fine.

Ministry:

June: after years of languishing in document limbo, I was given standing again in my denomination. Nothing bad, just lost in the shuffle. A wonderful thing to get back, though. Thanks, John Clarke, Jack Cooke, and Committee on Ministry!

April through July/August: majorly ministered to by Kyle Watson, Stephen’s Minister at South Church, also George Harris at South Church

Spring through present: Personell Committee, South Church — tough work, but important, not always my best, not always my worst.

July: I preach at Plantsville Congregational. Had a great time. Consider preaching and parish ministry again. Thanks, Barbara!

September through now: Emely Goodnow, field ed student gives two really good, deep sermons at South Church. I was lucky enough to catch them both.

August: re-connect with Charlie Crook from seminary to do Bible study for Carrol. Also included: Leigh McCaffery for the Spiritual Side

October: Charlie dies suddenly.  On the positive side, reconnected with his sister and connected for the first time with his brother and sister-in-law. On the negative side, his death still sucks the life out of me. I just grieve.

December: Second “in-care” student nearly through “the pipeline” — Congrads Carrol !

Work:

Private Practice grows quite a bit.  Agency work up and down and up.

Jan through May: Taught a new class on Biology of Addiction. June: Stopped teaching for the foreseeable future.Until surgery: busy, busy, busy, extremely busy.

After surgery: tired, tired, tired, not so tired.

Since then: busy, busy, busy, extremely busy.

Soon: Not busy at all, really.

New year: some balance?

Political Scene:

First part of the year: sort of hopeful. Obama still president, economy bad.

Second part of the year: totally hopeless. Obama still president, caves in on everything, economy worse.

Occupy Wall Street happens: A renewal of hope (wasn’t that the subtitle to Star Wars?). Obama still president, says nothing, but stops caving.

Post Occupy encampments: Obama still president, says a lot, acts like the man I voted for. The people lead and at least one leader follows. I am hopeful for the first time in years! Who knew?

Friends:

My best friend, Al: didn’t see nearly enough of him. My fault.

Todd Farnsworth: Good to be with you.  Good to have you back.

Deering friends: wonderful to reconnect! I can’t even express that love.

David Hauser, Sue Tatem and AbilityPlus

John Odams: Back in my life.

Hall, NY folks: again, wonderful to re-connect.  Derek is growing so much internally, I’m so impressed. All the Sloths and former Sloths are so warm and incredible and doing great things with their lives. My daughters felt immediately comfortable with them.

Charlie Crook: Still dead. OK, it depends on what you mean by that.

Usually, I talk about how cool my friends are and feel like a “hanger-on” to their fame. This year, Ron Bottitta is by far the person I’m most proud to know — not because he’s a great actor (he apparently is), but because he’s a great citizen. The number of times he was at Occupy LA this year impresses me. I never made it to Hartford.  Also, Bitsy Eddy — arrested at Occupy Oakland!  Incredibly brave people.

Boston folks: I miss you greatly and want to spend time with you.

Family:

Michelle, my wife: 19 years married, grew a lot this year, a great chaplain, did CPE this year, plus great ministry at South Church. It’s good to be married.

Daughters: growing like weeds.  absolutely incredible children that make me proud of them all the time — in school, at church, at home, just wonderful.

Lisa, our housemate: Nice, friendly third parent to two wonderful children. Thanks for everything.

Sister Michelle: Is already a BIG local star, first album out this year. Next year, conquering the world!

Dad: still as funny and great as ever.

Scott: I’m glad we celebrated your birthday this year. You’re a good man.

So, that’s the synopsis. Enough HUGE losses, enough wonderful surprises. Can’t wait to see my insurance chart.

Peace,

John

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