As I count down the last few hours of 2008…as I reflect on the last 12 months of 2008…as I remember the last 52 weeks and 365 days of 2008…I am ready to take a huge, deep breath…in and out…and another…in and out…and another…in and out…down through my diaphragm it goes…down deep within my belly. Ah! It feels so good to STOP, BREATHE AND BE.

I did it. I made it through.

Yes, there were the low times, like when I first walked into the bereavement class on that cold Wednesday night last January. All I did was cry for about 50 – 60 minutes while the other widows and widowers had conversations. But, little by little, week by week, I started to talk…to share my story…to learn how to cope…to open up and listen to the instructor guide us on how to move ahead after losing a spouse.

I did it. I made it through.

Yes, there were the many good times too. My daughter’s graduation from college in May. (So happy, so proud, so happy…paying that last tuition bill. Of course, that was before I knew about the ‘after graduation and moving to NYC’ expenses that were to come later in 2008. Although, as my boss says, these bills do not equal a college tuition.)

Yes, there were the many good times too. My son’s graduation from high school in June. (I jumped for joy. So happy, so proud, so happy…that was before I realized that I had another four more years of college tuition to pay…which came quickly in September. And before I blinked an eye it was December and he had already finished his first semester…with glowing grades. So happy, so proud, so happy…only seven more semesters to go!)

Yes, there were the many good times too. Buying my condo on the corner at the shore…all by myself. Wow, wow, wow…I sure did it and haven’t looked back. (Okay, I did look back and I am soooooo glad I invested in my condo on the corner. It is actually one of my only investments that has retained most of its value during these tough economic times.)

I did it. I made it through the winter of 2008 without having to use my snowblower. (May it never snow again in 2009…that is my first wish for the new year. I called the snowblower man and he never returned my call. Maybe his business shut down because of the lack of snow last winter. Now I will have to figure out how to use this large machine that is sitting in my garage. Good thing that last month I finally found the snowblower key – nearby the Thanksgiving serving dishes in the dining room closet. So, now if it snows in 2009, I can actually turn on this machine even if I don’t know how to physically use it.)

I did it. I hit the wall…I smashed through the crescendo this month…the point at which my body told me to slow down or it would slow down for me. It forced me to CHANGE for the BETTER.

And the best part…the best part…the best part is that THE NEW ‘ME’ IS EMERGING.

The NEW ‘ME’ has a great support network…with so many fantastic, talented, incredible lifelines to call whenever I need them…and I’m ready to accept these lifelines…that’s what’s even more important(alright, alright…I’m sure if I asked my lifelines they would say that I’m not always ready to accept their advice…but I’m on the right track more than on the wrong track…and I’m learning and definitely improving on seeking advice and counsel).

The NEW ‘ME’ is sleeping better and even more so the NEW ‘ME’ realizes that I need more sleep if I am going to be better at being the NEW ‘ME. I’m taking my Ambien time release every night (not always as early as I should, but it is working and I am getting more sleep). And the NEW ‘ME’ has a my NEW king size memory foam mattress pad so I can sleep comfortably in my king size bed at home and a NEW queen size memory foam mattress pad, so I can sleep comfortably in my queen size bed at my condo on the corner at the shore. Plus, just today, I also treated myself to a memory foam pillow that the chiropractor says may help my tension headaches.

The NEW ‘ME’ still has tension headaches, but I am much better than I was a few weeks ago. My chiropractor is pulling and pushing and shifting me back into alignment. It hurts and is scary when she cracks my neck…but it is working. I’m not all the way to bright. I wish I could just wave a wand or snap my fingers and all the tension from the past 25 years would slip out of my body. Unfortunately, as my chiropractor and my other lifelines have told me – “changing old habits and aging bodies take time.”

The NEW ‘ME’ is venturing out…and may be meeting a new potential soulmate in 2009 (Whisper, whisper…it is a secret…but I thought I would tell my virtual community since you will need to be my supporters on this one.) This is totally new to me and I’m not sure I’m ready…but I’m taking the plunge. Wish me luck. Not blogging about this yet…but I’m SURE it will be ripe material.

What else is on the NEW ‘ME’ agenda for 2009?

More yoga, more mindfulness, more sleeping, more eating, better balancing my work and my life outside of work, learning to say ‘no,’ getting ready for my trip to the Miraval Spa in Tucson, stretching, reaching (not higher just straight ahead), more growing (growing up and growing a year older)…maybe finally turning my first blog into a book…or at least taking the first step and working with my fantastic editor and amazing designer to start this exciting process.

For now, as the NEW ‘ME’ emerges, I see a relaxing new year’s eve with good friends and some mini Hebrew National franks in their blankets. As my dad always said…an affair is not an affair unless there are delicious ‘pigs in a blanket’ and lots of mustard to dip them in.

I wish you all a happy new year…hope you will stay a part of my community in 2009…my wish is that I will inspire each of YOU to EMERGE and GROW into a NEW YOU. The best is yet to come.