Friday, December 30, 2005

Hurricane Season Redux

I thought that hurricane season was over on November 30th. No more compulsive weather-monitoring and daily visits to the NOAA website. No more listening for reports of the latest named storm lurking in the Atlantic.

But what a minute...tomorrow is New Year's Eve, it's a full month after the official end of hurricane season, and there is another freakin' named storm!!

Granted, Tropical Storm Zeta is 2700 miles away from Florida, and it poses no threat to land. But it's a symbol of just how screwed up the atmosphere is and/or just how vengeful Mother Nature is feeling towards the puny humans cluttering up her nice, tidy Earth. 2005 set some hurricane records, and now it's earned additional distinction as only the second year that has featured two named storms in December. If Zeta can hang for a couple more days, it will be the first storm since 1954 to span two calendar years.

Still, even with this last little blast, hurricane season seems so far away. In Florida, December's weather has been chilly but non-threatening, and the last two days have been gorgeous. I love it when it's just warm enough to open all the windows and let in a breath of fresh air, and that seems to be the note that 2005 will end on. We might even flirt with 80 degrees this weekend.

It's hard to believe that tomorrow is New Years Eve, and once we usher in 2006, the holiday season will be officially over (that is, unless you're Jewish, as Hanukkah runs until January 2nd this season). Our plans for New Years are pretty low key, since my husband will be chained to his computer from 10 p.m. on. He's a computer programmer, and there are lots of year-end jobs running, so he has to be available in case anything goes awry. Hopefully he'll be done in time for church on Sunday morning...I'd hate to anger God by playing hooky before the New Year is even 24 hours old. Thankfully, we attend the 11 a.m. service, so he should be done by then (barring any major disaster).

Since we have to stay around Duloc Manor on the 31st, we're having some friends over. As long as hubby is near the phone and his keyboard, he should be able to indulge in the partying. We'll probably have some snacks and champagne, then take a dip in the hot tub. It's not as exciting as going to a big party or heading over to Universal CityWalk (where Styx, one of my all-time favorite bands is playing), but I think we'll have a good time.

A quick side note on Styx: They started as a garage band in my old Chicago neighborhood, and they often played at the recreation center in the first suburb we moved to. They were also the band at my husband's prom. In those days, they went by the names "Tradewinds" and "TW4." I never saw them perform back then, and I never would have guessed that they'd become such a success and such a special favorite of mine.

I don't mind missing their Orlando show, since they're rather fragmented now. Only three out of the five current band members are original. Tommy Shaw is among them, but Dennis DeYoung (my other favorite band member) has struck out on his own. While Styx is serenading the crowds at CityWalk, he'll be performing a show called "The Music of Styx" in Reno. Oh well, give them a few more years and they'll probably all end up at Epcot.

As 2005 draws to a close, I've been trying to ease myself into my resolutions. I don't like to draw up a huge, oppressive list and leap into it headlong on January 1st. Doing it that way usually means getting discouraged by the end of the week. Instead, I go slowly, implementing small, non-threatening lifestyle changes that will eventually add up into something bigger.

Over the past few weeks, I've been gradually stepping up my exercise, taking vitamins, cutting down on food portions, and trying to meditate every morning and night. So far it's been "practice," but I'll start recording the workouts and meditation in a journal once the calendar flips over to 2006. If I backslide, I won't use that as an excuse to give up...I can always start again tomorrow rather than waiting until 2007.

I've been busy organizing my travel agency records, too. Since I'll be kicking off my life coaching business in 2006, I want to make sure that my other business records are in good order first. Planning vacations and teaching people cognitive/behavioral life skills are certainly two very different career choices, but I've always enjoyed variety. Over the years I've worked in retail, acted as an equestrian trail guide, wrote magazine articles, did news reporting/edited a newspaper, worked in corporate communications, designed and developed computer-based training, started several websites, done individual, family and group counseling, and taught management and personal development classes.

But none of those can compare to my most unusual job, which was leading funerals on horseback at an unconventional cemetery where peacocks and deer roamed free, children searched for eggs among the graves at Easter, and Santa listened to their Christmas wishes in the front office, across from the headstone display. The cemetery was located on the outskirts of Chicago, in a very urban neighborhood. The horse, Elegant Sam, was housed in the garage, in a stall next to the industrial lawn movers. He had an affinity for dog biscuits and was trained to fourth level dressage, so he performed sidepasses and flying lead changes with aplomb. I loved to exercise him in the back corner, adjacent to a busy street, and watch people's jaws drop as they passed by and tried to figure out if they were hallucinating. Compared to that, being both a travel agent and a life coach with a doctorate in psychology doesn't seem all that strange.

As you can probably guess from my job list, life has been quite an adventure for me. Living in Celebration, Florida, is the latest part of my journey, and I can't wait to see what new adventures the New Year will bring (hopefully less hurricanes that 2005).

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