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When I was little, I used to like New Year's Eve. My dad was a musician and usually worked that night, and my mom would go to wherever he was playing. We three girls would spend the night at our grandma and grandpa's, and that was my happy place: The house was overly warm and almost new. Everything was tidy and beige. In the spare bedroom where we slept, the bed was dressed in heavy cotton sheets and thick wool blankets. There was wall-to-wall carpet, and we would become wild on the floor in a way we never did at home on our hardwoods; we did headstands and somersaults and backbends and walkovers and my grandma would just have a fit. I don't know if she was more worried that we would hurt ourselves or that our underpants were showing. We were so oblivious to either concern. Our grandparents were very old, the oldest people we knew. We were their only grandchildren. I remember one time in seventh or eighth grade, when it was the height of fashion in my crowd to wear rolled-up men's boxer shorts to volleyball practice, I raided my grandpa's dresser and came out into the living room wearing a pair of his. I asked him if I could have them. My grandpa spoke perfect English with a heavy Italian accent, but in that moment he was sure he did not understand my question. Confusion ensued. You want to wear my underpants, to school? Me, French-braided, smiling: Yes! To school? Um, Yes!?!? Could he not see how cool these were? My father gave me $10 and told me to go to Marshalls.

At my grandparents' we would lay on the floor in front of the television and watch all the New Year's Eve shows, and at midnight we would muster a sort of imitated enthusiasm, not old enough yet to truly understand what a miracle another year really is. At bedtime, my grandma would walk around the house, turning everything off. She finally would pull the chains on her cuckoo clock, lifting the heavy pine-cone weights, and then stop the pendulum so the clock would not cuckoo through the night; she'd set the hands for seven so that the next morning it was always ready to start again with just a push. It was so quiet at my grandma's house at night. Our parents were night owls; almost never did I go to bed in a quiet house at home. But at my grandma's you could hear every possible noise: the bed creaking when you moved. The heat turning on and off. The freight train approaching and then going past. Every little house-click and house-thump. Almost twenty years ago I had a panic attack on an airplane in mid-air. Tears streamed down my face. I closed my eyes and was back in my grandma's spare bedroom, in the warm dark with the night-light left on in the hallway, my grandparents sleeping in their twin beds on the other side of the wall. Safe.

I've conjured that place several times this past year, trying to find purchase in my life and in what has, at certain times, felt like being in free-fall. I think that's how most of life is, in a lot of ways. You step forward, and step forward, and then you touch back — everything still here? Still here. Okay. Forward again (then). Life pulls you forward, even when you feel tired. I never was an adventurous person, in my own opinion; I always had big plans but only for little, mostly prosaic things. I always was and still am happiest in slow, mostly quiet places, with long, mostly quiet days. Winter suits me. When I look back on 2011, I am, I have to admit, still sort of bewildered and shaken, not sure what happened or even what to do next. I'm trying to be at peace with that gauzy, half-blurred feeling, and on certain days think it is easy to just — let it go away from me, a long piece of crinkled muslin tossed up and carried off into the wind. On other days I seem to wear it, spiraled and close, like a scarf. Maybe I'll just lose it somewhere, and not even notice. Leave it on a bench or a bus. I won't mind.

I'm not much of a planner, and never manage to remember to make any grand resolutions for a new year. My regular resolutions always seem so obvious. But I like how New Year's Eve prods you say them, even the obvious ones, out loud, along with everybody else. I want to appreciate the health, happiness, and home-life, and the people and pets, that I am so lucky to have. I want to be more generous and helpful, because I haven't felt like I've had much to offer anybody lately. I want to be a better friend and listen more when people are talking. I want my shoulders to relax because they're riding too high. I want to be outside more. I want to cook more and eat healthier. I want to have patience. I want to trust my intuition again, and have more faith in myself. I want to not always feel so left behind. I want to be more free, and even brave. I want to give more love than I do. Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace. That is my wish for 2012.


May the peace of the Lord be with you.

Fleur Cotton says: January 03, 2012 at 03:59 AM

Happy New Year to both of you,

I have been so moved by your posts this year, I feel as though I have shared your journey with you in some small way, I have smiled, kept my fingers crossed and cried along with your posts as your year has passed. Reading this latest post I really hope that you have some peace in your life this year. Much love all the way from the UK. XX

Oh...those are beautiful thoughts! Along with everyone else here, I also love to read your blog, here as the sky starts to lighten and the house is still quiet. You are a sweet, sweet girl. This is always a refreshing place to come and I'll add you and Andy in my prayers, too. Happy New Year!

Kathleen Marie says: January 03, 2012 at 05:53 AM

Thank you so much for your post. I love your blog. Thank you for being you.
Best wishes for a happy, healthy and peaceful 2012.

I'm in tears... Alicia, I pray for you and Andy often. I have totally different circumstances and trials-but I relate perfectly to what you are saying. You write it so much better then I ever could. Even through your trials this past year, you have brought peace to others. I know because I keep coming back to this space to find it often. You have been a blessing to me and I thank you. May God use you even more in 2012. I know He has a grand path for you two to continue on.

As always, I hold you in the light.

Just so lovely. All of it. Your blog, your photos, your words, you.

Thank you for sharing your life and talents with us.

Dear Alicia, you have had quite a time this year. Our priest, in his New Year's sermon on Sunday, said to resolve to be a blessing to others. To go where you can share the blessing that has been given to you in the knowledge and love and gift of our Lord. Best wishes to you this new year.

I love your resolutions so much. They are exactly what I have been feeling but I haven't been able to find the exact words.
Thank you!

Happy New Year Paulsons!! May the New Year bring you all that you richly deserve. Such sweet memories of your granparent's home, I have similar memories of mine. I wish you Peace, Happieness and Love. I am hoping to be half the wonderful person that you are.

Such a moving post, Alicia, the image of the muslin cloth as it wraps itself around you...... as it floats away......... so visual. Hope it becomes a cocoon of love that protects you from sadness.
Wishing you and your family peace, love and happiness in 2012.
Carol xx

Thank you, you have reminded me of the peace of my grandparents' house and their love

Best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful 2012

AMEN!! And may 2012 be a WONDERFUL year for you!! :)

These reflections are beautiful, perfect. You *are* an instrument of peace- your writing brings peace to my heart. Wishing you a year of health and love, Alicia!

What a beautiful, poignant post. 2011 has been a rotten year for our family and what you wrote and how you handle things has resonated with me. Please God may 2012 be a wonderful year for you and yours.

I don't remember how I stumbled upon your blog; but now that I've been, in essence, rifling through your life for almost an hour, I'm glad i did.

Your photos are beautiful. Your words, even more so.

Your "wish for 2012" is everything I hope this year will be for myself as well... just expressed far more poetically than I could dream of doing.

Happy New Year

Lovely. So very well said and felt. Have a blessed New Year.

Happy 2012! How I love your posts, this one especially. Thank you.

Sue Jacoby says: January 05, 2012 at 07:10 PM

Dear, Dear Alicia,

I have just read your beautiful post. I reached out for a small spiral book next to my desk, thinking to find something to share with you. This is the page I opened to:
"The heart is filled by giving love, never emptied by it."

You must have the fullest heart. Some of your pain may be because of the stretching. I am filled with gratitude for the sharing of your life. Blessings to you and Andy in 2012. With Love, Sue

I love the way your words always bring me to a calm and happy place myself. If only I could write with half as much elegance. Best of luck in the new year!

What a lovely post! Always worthwhile to hop over and visit. I can so relate to it--had a whirlwind year that ended with so much going on and all beyond my control. Guess, that's what I need to work on in 2012-letting go of what I cannot change.
Blessings to you and yours in the coming year!

heavens you are the bravest people i know of!!! an inspiration of bravery...xx

Thanks for those words. May He indeed fulfill those words in you.

While not the phrasing I would use, I think that you completely are an instrument of the Lord's peace, Alicia. Let you continue to be so!

I keep going back to this picture of the dog and cat in a sunggle. Your sense of what to shoot is awesome! Linda

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at