2011 Recap, of sorts

I have been struggling with how I wanted to do a “New Year” type post this year. There’s kind of a lot to sum up, but at the same time, it’s hard to place it all into context. Then I saw TJ’s post, inspired by Sundry‘s, and I figured the internet was nothing if not a haven for creative borrowing. So I’m creatively borrowing.

2011 Recap

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

A lot of therapy related things. A lot of self-compassion related things. I also had the same job in January 2011 as I had in December 2011, which hasn’t happened before.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t really make “resolutions”, or haven’t in the past. My one goal for 2011 was to get better at asking for help when I need it, and to be more compassionate with myself, as an extension of taking care of my mental health, and I think I did both of those things pretty well.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My best friend gave birth to a little boy, Caden, in October, and my coworker had her second little boy in mid-December.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My great-aunt Helen (Auntie) passed away in April, and a close friend of my family passed away very suddenly in December.

5. What countries did you visit?

None other than my own this year.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

A better paying, career-oriented job, and more mental stability.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

No dates, but a couple of weeks and month-long spans are pretty well cemented, thanks to pharmacy roulette. I’m not sure exactly which date my doctors changed me from “Major Depression” to Bipolar Disorder (Classic, Mixed type), but the resulting change in medications was pretty dramatic and created a space where I’m now functioning better than I have in years.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I stuck with therapy, held down my job, and managed to stick it through all the craziness. I also hosted Thanksgiving for 10 and Christmas for 8, both of which I’m proud of, AND I threw parties for Halloween and New Years.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I’m honestly not sure I have a good answer to this question. There are some things I did that didn’t go as well as I’d like, but overall, I handled 2011 proactively and with as much grace as I could muster, and I’m pretty proud of that, even if it was kind of ugly sometimes.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Ongoing mental struggles aside, 2011 was the year of figuring out my joint pain. I was diagnosed with a very mild case of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (either classic or hypermobility) and am now operating 90-95% joint pain free most days. This is a big improvement over June, where I could barely walk and doing simple things like writing with a pencil or brushing my hair was excruciating.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Technically I bought my iPhone at the very tail end of 2010, but that’s probably been the best gadget of the year.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Mortgage (duh), though I did also spend a good bit of money on clothing, thanks to the weight gain.

13. What did you get really excited about?

Star Wars: The Old Republic, Updating my Laptop, hosting holidays and parties, my little brother’s graduation with his Master’s degree. Having people come visit, especially my family. Lots of small things, really.

14. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Yael Naim’s New Soul

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? much happier, though I still fight the depression and anxiety battles on a regular basis
– thinner or fatter? quite a bit fatter, thanks to the medicines
– richer or poorer? about the same.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Meditation, spiritual seeking, and self care. Also, going to the gym (which is hard, because I don’t get that “woo I feel awesome!” thing from exercise). Also playing the piano.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Doing nothing, while wishing I wanted to be doing something (especially something I used to enjoy)

18. How did you spend Christmas?

With my family, here at my house and then up with my brother and sister in law in Waco. It was wonderful, even if it did push the boundaries of my “amount of craziness I can handle” levels.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Um. I don’t watch much TV? So probably Mythbusters or Dirty Jobs.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

I really liked David Allen’s Get Things Done, Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Wherever You Go There You Are, and rereading some of my favorite children’s and young adult books.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

I didn’t listen to very much new music this year, and if anything, I spent more time listening to Audio Books (in my car) than I did listening to music. This is unusual, and I hope 2012 is more musical.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

I saw only one film this year, so it gets to be my favorite (and it’d probably be my favorite anyway): The Muppets

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 27, and I had my mom here visiting. For my birthday, we put in my spring garden, and it was immensely fun.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Finding the right meds sooner. I’d like to say “not being crazy in the brainpan”, but I’m not sure that’s one of those things I can really change.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

I vacillate back and forth between “eclectic graduate student” and “nerdy bookstore clerk”. I’m slowly learning to be more grown up, and I’ve branched out most of the time from t-shirts and jeans, or at least I’ve started wearing fun and geeky t-shirts (mostly from Threadless or ThinkGeek) instead of just plain solid colored ones. I hope 2012 sees me learning more about style and putting together outfits, because I really enjoy doing it.

26. What kept you sane?

My husband, my friends, my cats, and my family. And my therapist. She’s pretty awesome.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

That if you’re comfortable sharing your stories, it’s almost always worth doing so – supportive people are everywhere, and I’ve found so many to offer support and empathy that it’s made everything so much easier. So many people don’t talk about the ugly parts of their past or themselves, and I’ve found that sharing that – even though it makes me more vulnerable – nearly always brings me closer to the people around me who care and who matter.

1 jan 2010

My feedreader tells me that today means something.

It means a new beginning, a new year, a new end to the date on the checks I write every month, at least 17 of which I will screw up before March, and probably one more in June or something, when I’m not paying attention. In popular reckoning, it’s a new decade (thanks to our base-10 system) even if, to the people that make calendars and know things about math and whatever, the new decade doesn’t start until next year.

Quite honestly?

I’m not that into it.

I don’t typically make resolutions on New Years – there’s nothing special about Jan 1 that makes resolutions more likely to stick. In fact, in my experience, they’re /less/ likely to stick, since I come up with them arbitrarily to fulfill the need to have /something/ to say to the ubiquitous “so what’s your resolution for the new year?” question.

I refuse to make resolutions like “I will eat healthier” or “I will lose weight”. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with those kind of resolution, but promises to better myself made in January – when I am inevitably in a mental lull and usually struggling against cold/damp induced pain flares – just aren’t a good idea for me. And really? I eat very well, and am at a healthy weight. I’m not the buff 19 year old martial-arts freak I was in college… but I also didn’t have to worry about overdoing it and not being able to walk/function the next day back then (and I do eat a whole lot better now than I did then).

So I don’t really do the resolution thing.

I’m not the kind of person that can pick one thing and do it for an extended period of time and be happy. I “binge” on projects, for lack of a better term. I get REALLY into something, and then kinda fizzle out after a few months. If it’s going to stand the test of time, I’ll go back to it (like letter writing and pen collecting and making music and writing), but frequently I flit from project to project – and I’m usually pretty happy that way.

I could make resolutions about blogging more here (where my subject matter isn’t as limited), or about writing more – both collaborative and independently – or about keeping up with friends and finding new penpals and reading more books and not spending all my money on pens and paper, and drawing mandalas and keeping myself disciplined about spiritual and meditative things (and I think you get the idea) but… well, I don’t know that I’d keep any of them, and I don’t know that making them would do any good towards keeping them anyway.

As such, since it’s new years and apparently this is what I’m expected to do (even if I can rant about how new year’s resolutions kinda make me want to poke myself in the eye) I think I’ll make the following resolution:

I will do the things I love, focus on the people that matter, and spend my time on the things I know I will continue to be interested in.

It’s not about pens or writing or games or finding a job or writing a book or blogging or … really anything. But it works, I think, for one addled writer in Texas – or at least I hope it will.

And for everyone who reads this blog (or my other blog) I hope the following, in the words of Someone Famous, who has no idea who I am, but who has an undeniable way with words.

…I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.

– Neil Gaiman