2017 Holiday Letter - Explorations and New Directions

 Carolyn and Steve in South Africa

Carolyn and Steve in South Africa

This is my “second annual” Holiday Letter to be distributed through the internet.  I like the idea of a holiday letter because it gives me a chance to think back on the past year and to look ahead to the coming months.  The process of preparing the letter helps me evaluate what was important and set priorities for the future.  Putting the letter online gives me the potential of a larger audience, but only those who are really interested.  Everyone else can be spared a recitation of what’s happening in my life.  Of course, the internet does restrict what I can say.  I don’t have permission to violate the privacy of other people, so the letter is mostly about me, not friends and family, except in a vague way.

My husband and I, our kids and grandkids are all in good health and lead active lives, so we are grateful for the opportunities that has offered us.  My parents-in-law are mostly healthy, but suffer from memory issues that so often occur in old age.  Their needs are always on our minds, but we don’t visit as often as we probably should.  We appreciate the efforts our kids have made to visit them in Arizona.  They reside in a Continuing Care Retirement Community which they chose themselves many years ago with the expectation they could stay there as their needs changed over the years. It’s been a blessing to know they have been getting good care in a quality home they are familiar with.

 Exhibited at the Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City

Exhibited at the Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City

Our first trip this year took us to Mexico City and the ancient ruins of Southeastern Mexico, as part of a Grand Circle tour group.  In May we flew to Pittsburgh as part of a Road Scholar Signature City tour.  We combined that trip with a mini-reunion with a good friend from high school and a visit with our son and his family.  We were home most of the summer, but went to Ocean Crest resort on the Washington coast in July to celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary.  In August we attended Eliot Institute family camp at Seabeck Conference Center on Hood Canal for our 27th consecutive year.  This time we attended the Creative Arts Camp and have already signed up to go again next summer.  At the end of the summer we were thrilled to welcome our kids, spouses and grandkids to our home – the first time all of them had been here together. In mid-September we headed out for the biggest adventure of the year:  three days in Amsterdam followed by three weeks in South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, and Botswanna.  This was another Grand Circle bus tour (including a couple plane rides) and we had a great time.

 Performance at the Swazi Village, Swaziland

Performance at the Swazi Village, Swaziland

You may have noticed that we’ve been doing a lot of international travel.  Believe it or not, we think this is not going to continue.  Early next year we will travel to Cuba for a short visit and after that we expect our travel to mostly be within the U.S.  We have loved traveling the world as retirees with an empty nest at home, seeing so many places we had only dreamed about, and revisiting some of the spots I’d visited as a student 50 years ago!  However, we’ve now been to our top destinations, gained a better appreciation of all the beautiful spots we have nearer to home, and found ourselves not eager to deal with extremely long plane rides or worry about excessive heat, humidity and insects at travel destinations.  In addition, we have now been grandparents for 5 years and are constantly trying to learn how to do a better job in that role when family members are so far away.  Expect to hear more next year about being grandparents.  Suggestions on how to do grandparenting well are also welcome!

Close to home I’ve taken on more church responsibilities, serving on the Transition Team in support of our Interim Minister, on the membership committee, which includes being a greeter a couple times a month, and on the Steering Committee of our Women’s Group, which involves coordinating programs or leading local excursions. I’ve also been exploring how to be more active in advocacy regarding the need to address the challenges of climate change, among other issues.  I participated in the Women’s March in January, the March for Science and a demonstration in support of Native American efforts to stop the transportation of oil through their lands.  I’ve been trying to be more strategic about charitable and political donations, learning about issues, candidates and organizations and looking for the best way to be supportive without exceeding my limits regarding time, energy and money.  Recently I’ve attended meetings of the local Citizens’ Climate Lobby chapter to learn about and support their carbon fee and dividend proposal.

This has been a challenging year for our country and for many disadvantaged people here and abroad.  We are grateful for our friends and family and the beautiful place where we are privileged to live.  We take seriously the slogan we hear at church that says “Standing on the Side of Love” but it’s now transitioning to the more active “Responding to the Call of Love.”  Most of us want to respond in a loving way to challenges around us, but we struggle to know how best to do that.  We will be continuing on that journey in the coming year.

Sending our best wishes for a Happy Holiday Season and a Peaceful New Year!

Carolyn

PS  Click on my name to get to the form you can use to respond to this letter.  Also, take a look at my other blog posts.  There is also a subscribe page if you want to be notified when something new is posted.

 Carolyn at the top of Table Mountain, Capetown, South Africa

Carolyn at the top of Table Mountain, Capetown, South Africa

Carolyn Hayek