Searching for the light of the New Year

As the final few hours of 2016 go by, I am sitting here trying to review this past year and make plans for the next year.  This was a tough year. Not specifically for me, but for many around me, and most definitely for anyone living and working for progressive causes and values. I know many who have experienced loss this year—loss of a loved one, loss of an idol who might have helped them through tough times through their music or art, loss of a relationship or job.

For me, personally, as I say goodbye to 2016, I know I’m exhausted. I have been an activist for LGBT equality and progressive causes for several years and seen so many amazing successes in the past eight years. Through this, I have worked on local issues in Portland, Salem, and all of Oregon, and national issues in Washington, DC.  I have long pleaded with those around me to get involved, to call their representatives in Congress, to show up to Town Halls, to even travel to DC to meet with their members of Congress or their staff.  I know that this is the way to get things done, this is the way to move forward. This is how we resist. This is how we get things done.

OK, let me get back to the reason for this post, to look back at 2016 for me and prepare for 2017.

2016 began so wonderfully and peacefully for me. I was in Rehobeth Beach, Delaware, ringing in the New Year with the man I love. James and I had brought our dogs with us for a weekend at the beach. As an Oregonian, where I have celebrated many holidays on the beach, walking along a quiet beach on New Year’s day was very enjoyable and peaceful.

2016 was the first time I have lived through a blizzard. For someone who loves the snow and loves storms, this was a great adventure, watching the snow pile up for over 24 hours from my apartment window and then going out in the deep snow once the storm had passed was so enjoyable.

In 2016, I began to explore photography through the lenses of old, vintage cameras. I very much have enjoyed walking around wherever I may be, with one or two of my old cameras and looking for images that might translate well through that lens. I know that exploring new places with different cameras has helped a lot to keep my mind off the negativity around me this year.

I was able to travel a little this year, though not as much as I would have liked. We made a couple of trips to New York City, primarily for theatre adventures and I did make one trip to Oregon in the Spring.  In New York, we saw Hamilton—every bit as amazing as the hype behind the show. I also had front row seats to see John Slattery, John Goodman, Nathan Lane, and many other fine actors in Front Page. Broadway and Lincoln Center in New York; Kennedy Center and Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, DC. So much fine theatre and so happy to have a partner who enjoys good theatre as much as I.

For the first time in many years, I have ended the year working the same job I started the year with, and no thought of needing to renew a contract or search for new employment because my current employment was ending. I am finally able to plan once again for my future, to plan for an eventual retirement in several years. I have been able to begin investing in an IRA and also once again starting a 401K through my employer. Additionally, I have begun some initial investing in a few funds, hoping the market continues to grow in the future, despite the incoming government.

Overall, this year has been a good year for me. I have a good job, a beautiful partner whom I love, and I live in a great city.  As I prepare for this new year, with a new President moving in a few miles from me, and so many unknows, I know it is important to keep these things in perspective, even when I know it might not be as good for everyone else.  I will always turn to photography to help me frame the world around me.

I may be tired, but I know that I cannot stop. I cannot rest. It is the responsibility of every concerned citizen to be engaged, to speak out, and to listen, but question, our leaders in government. Together, we can get through anything that is put in our way. Together, we will make it through another year stronger.


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