The big day has come and gone. I sit here at 36 and one day. It seems to me that this is a symbolic birthday we often don't acknowledge. I am no longer in my early thirties. I have passed the hump and I can no longer blame my mistakes on the carelessness of my youth. I would like to say that 35 was kind to me, but in reality it has been one of the most difficult and most rewarding of my life.
I learned this year that it doesn't matter how even tempered and rational I am, it doesn't mean I am always right. A very heavy dose of humility was dealt to me, it was a good lesson and one that I needed to learn to be a stronger better person for tomorrow.
I also learned that just because someone is good and honest and amazing, they can still let you down. Just because something is the right thing to do, it doesn't mean that people will always do it. And that is okay.
Life is often about handling things you can, and letting the things you can't go.
One of the biggest lessons was taught to me in June. I think that was the point I realized that my dad would never recover from his cancer. That every moment was precious and that a lot of the things I had always wanted him to say, he never would. I think it was the first time I ever accepted him truly as he is and not as the person I expected him to be. It seems I always wanted him to be more. Now I see he did the best he could in his own way. It made us closer and I think taught me that things may never be resolved the way you want them to be, and that is okay.
Another important lesson of the year of 35 was brought to me in the form of a 204 lb 12 year old girl. Sadey, who has been largely in and out of my life, was placed in foster care in June. I knew instantly this was not the place for her. What started as a thought grew and a lot of prayers. I'm not joking when I say this was the year of prayers. I have talked to God more this year than I ever have before. My main prayer was, "If this is your will, God, I am here." It turned out he agreed. Doors were open that I never thought would be and Sadey is here. This after a social worker told me in July she would NEVER go to Texas or at the earliest it would be February of 2017. The same social worker called me in September and told me I had a hearing in five days to be given custody, totally bypassing my petition to be Sadey's foster parent to being her legal guardian.
Sadey has taught me that even if I didn't give birth to her, the capacity to love her as much as I do Ben and Logan is there. One of the most precious moments we have shared is the day I asked her who I was and she told me, "You are mine."
Sadey has also taught me a lot of the fears of others. It amazes me how intimated people are by her autism. Some people have embraced it and have seen the sweet little girl behind her diagnoses. Others have disconnected from us, choosing not to include Sadey in their lives. At first I was surprised by this, but then I learned that even good people do things out of fear or from lack of education. This was a very sad lesson for me, because I have always felt so accepted in my world.
35 has also been the year of great professional success. I signed the closing papers on the Throckmorton Tribune and continued a wonderful relationship with the former owner of it, Rhonda. Throckmorton has been a great adventure and taught me a lot about how different communities work.
Clear Fork Publishing had a great boost in many ways. It found its own little foothold in the book market. It also a wonderful relationship with many very talented people. I think next year will be even more amazing as we continue with the goals and plans cultivated this year.
All in all, 35 was not a bad year. I personally think that 36 can be better. Here is to new goals, new and old friends and many amazing things to come!
Callie Metler-Smith is the owner of Clear Fork Media Group in Stamford, Texas. She has owned the Stamford American since 2009 and Clear Fork Publishing since 2014. When not working on her corner of the Stamford Square, she is spending time with her husband, Philip, two sons, Logan and Ben, and her niece, Sadey.