Recapping my 2023

On December 31 of 2022, I wrote this post looking forward to 2023. Anyone who has been following me for this year understands how accurate my predictions were for this year. So, 2023 was an absolutely wonderful year for me.

Prior to recapping 2023’s highlights, we need to review the bad things that happened this year.

Bad Things From 2023

Saying Goodbye to Val

On July 5, we lost Desiree’s second guide dog, Val. I wrote this letter to Val on August seventh. Val was a wonderful friend, companion, and worker. Even though I only knew her for a little more than two years, Val truly touched my heart. A special place in my heart will never feel right without Val being in our lives.

Career Frustrations

Coming into the year, I was hopeful that 2023 would leave me feeling better about my current job and about the prospects of someday having a position that would enable me to use my abilities to make the kind of difference I know I can make. Sadly, this year will end with me knowing there is little chance I will ever make the kind of difference I could make in my current role. Even more disappointing is the reality that I still see no path that will bring me to someday having the kind of position that would help me make a difference and feel like I was working toward my potential.

Toward the end of the year, I applied for two positions. Either of them would have enabled me to supervise and manage a budget. So, either one would have let me do more than I can imagine being able to do in my current job. It’s hard to be a supervisor without ever being a supervisor. Still, I never give up on what I want.

I’m looking at increasing my future job prospects by doing some consulting related to disability law. I’m also going to continue the Demand Our Access blog and podcast. After doing Demand Our Access for a year, I’m under no illusions. I understand most people will not appreciate and/or benefit from the information I provide. Yet, I still believe that for those who do appreciate and understand the information I provide, Demand Our Access is a valuable resource. Someday, I know I will hear from someone who changed their circumstances because of something they learned. And, of course, it’s another platform I can use to demonstrate my ability.

Good things From 2023

Getting Married and Raising the Girls

On September 19, I wrote I was living the life I always wanted to live. More than three months later, I can honestly say my life is richer and better than it has ever been.

Marrying Desiree is the best thing that will ever happen to me. In her I have truly found my lifelong best friend and a better partner than I could have ever imagined having. I always believed that if I found the write person my life could be special. I never realized how special it could become.

Our lives are not always easy, no one’s life is always easy. But our life together is incredible. I’m honored to call Desiree my wife and to share our life. She is and always will be the love of my life. The girls are joys I will appreciate and love until the day I die.

I should say I’m a stepfather, because legally I am a stepfather. But in my heart, these wonderful girls are also my girls. They don’t have any of my DNA. But they will forever live in my heart.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to raise children. While it often seemed like I would never have the chance, I truly hoped I could someday use everything I have learned to influence children to become wonderful adults. I’m not going to speak about the influence I have on the girls, because determining the impact I make on their lives is their individual choice. But I know talking with them, teaching them, laughing with them, learning from them, and so much more makes me a better, happier person every day.

I may never find fulfillment in my career. But helping these special girls learn to be the kind of women I know they can become is more rewarding than anything I could do professionally. That doesn’t mean I don’t want further professional achievement; rather, I’m saying that living with the youngest girls for almost five months has taught me more about what really matters in life than any other experience I have had.

Absolutely nothing at work could ever rival the joy I felt when one of the girls thanked Desiree and I for supporting her through something she knows not all kids get support from their parents. Making a facility more accessible is exciting and necessary. Knowing a child feels like they can share their fears and troubles with you is priceless.

Mom and Barb

I could never write a post about a year without writing about Mom and Aunt Barb. Nothing about this year would have been as wonderful as it has been without these amazing women by my side.

When the movers screwed up, Mom and Barb were there to pick up the pieces. Whether it was fixing broken furniture, giving us rides, or just being a friend, Mom and Barb were always there for me and us. I can’t imagine life without them.

My Health

My health is quite a bit better at the end of 2023 than it was when the year began. Since my blood pressure scare in October of 2022, I have lost more than 60 pounds. I now have an exercise routine that includes cardio, weight lifting, and stretching. For the first time in my life I know what it means for me to practice portion control. The holidays may not have shown that, but I know I’m getting back on the horse in 2024. While I have maintained my weight for the last four weeks, I know I need to lose a bit more. I also want to continue getting stronger and more flexible.

This year was an important one for me physically. I now have so much to live for and to want to watch unfold. The next year will see me get healthier than I have ever been.

Spending Time with my Dad

This year I got to spend time with my birthfather. He is a nice man who has been good to Desiree, the girls, and me. A couple of days ago, I met my half-brothers. I hope I get to spend more time with them and that I get to know them better.

It’s always a little weird when you meet people who are so physically connected to you, but you know nothing about them. I really appreciate learning what I have in common with my dad and brothers. It’s also interesting to see the ways I’m different from them.

Conclusion

There is so much I could have written about 2023, but I didn’t want to write a book. All that really needed to be said is that 2023 was the best year of my life so far.

I will write a post looking forward to 2024 soon. Sitting in the room Desiree and I share and listening to all three girls downstairs, I have a feeling 2024 is going to be a wonderful year too.

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