Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Birthday-Reflection 2011

Even though I technically have another week to go before the end of the year, my birthday always makes me feel reflective. So what better time to tackle 2011's Reflection Questions?

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?

Wow. That's a tough one right off the bat. So many good things happened, and since this is my reflection and I make the rules, I'm not sticking to just one. In no particular order, they would be losing weight, getting Ruby, Sam starting Kindergarten/John starting preschool, and joining Book Club.

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?

Having to make the decision to put Sammy down. I'm sad about it every day. It was a decision that made our daily life more peaceful, but I loved him and wanted him to get well. And now I really miss him.

3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?

I've begun to reconnect again with my pre-kids feminine self. As I pointed out to Tom, there were many years there that everything I owned-from my bag, to my clothes, to my shoes, to my hair, etc. all had to be ulitarian and kid proof. Now I'm finding that I can dress up again, and can pretty safely assume I won't be leaving the house with not-stained clothes. I can carry a purse instead of a diaper bag. I can wear heels, and have higher maintenence hair. With all the testoterone floating around my house, it's been fun feeling girly again.  

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?

My biggest obstacle to getting anything done is managing the boys' moods. I spend a lot of time helping them navigate their feelings, and trying to keep things on an even keel around here. A lot of the time, I avoid doing activities with them just because I know that it will upset the balance of calm that I've worked so hard to achieve. If I didn't have to worry about their reactions to new situations, we would be out and about a lot more often.

5. Pick three words to describe 2010.

Settled, homey, comfortable.

6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2010 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you).

Cluttered, messy, unpredictable.

7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2010 (again, without asking).

Challenging, busy, return.

8. What were the best books you read this year?

The book I'm still thinking about months after I read it is The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon. I also enjoyed The Art of Racing in the Rain and Midwife of the Blue Ridge.

9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?

Such a hard question! I don't really think you can categorize one relationship as more valuable than another any more than you can categorize one drop of water in a full bucket as more important than another drop.

That said, I was lucky enough to find myself invited to join a book club with a fantastic group of women. They (mostly) live in Glenville and their children all go to a different elementary school. Our paths would never have crossed had it not been for book club bringing us together. And it's not an ordinary book club.  We do have a book selection, that some of us read, but we barely talk about the book. What was supposed to be a two-and-a-half hour long meeting about books, has turned into an into-the-wee-hours laugh fest about anything and everything. In some respects I still barely know these women, but I consider them some of my best and most engaging friendships.
10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?

Really, this wasn't a year of many changes, epecially after last year, which was new in every way. I think this year could be categorized as a time when I took on a few things that made absolutely no sense whatsoever just because they brought joy to my life. The first was getting Ruby over the summer. I've been enjoying working with her, doing obedience classes together, and planning her future as an Earth Dog/Therapy Dog. The other thing I did this year was sign up to be a thirty-one consultant, even though I've never given sales any thought at all. I plan to have fun with it and see where it leads.
11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?

I learned how to push myself harder. Whether it was writing my novel, or going to the gym and trying a new workout, to asserting myself, and making new friends--I think I lost some of my compacency, some of my I'm-going-to-sit-back-and-see-what-happens mindset. I'm willing to take a few more personal risks, just because it feels good to know I made something happen.

12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?

In the fall, I went to a seminar on animal totems, just because New Agey woowoo stuff appeals to me. I found out that two of my most dominate animals are the bear and the snake, which apparently makes me a natural born healer. I'm not sure how much credence I give this, but it certainly changed my perspective about myself and the way I feel about things and interact with others. I often find myself wondering if I'm being as helpful/healing as I could be, and if there's more that I could be doing for others--which, regardless of your spiritual leaning, is a good question to ask yourself.

13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?

I'm physically stronger than I was this time last year, and even though my weight has fluxated up and down (mostly up), I'm still 15 lbs lighter than I was in December 2010. The past year has been a real learning experience for me--figuring out what types of exercise are realistic for my body. I really wanted to run this year, but that didn't work out for me. Instead, I discovered cycling and weight training, which make me feel strong. And Tom and I have started weight traing together as a sort of Saturday morning date, and that makes me feel good too.

14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?

In the past, I think I've been too passive and too busy to reach out to my friends. This year I realized the importance of reaching out, just to reconnect and my friendships are better for it.

15. What was the most enjoyable area of managing your home?

Ok, this is going to sound a little crazy, but I'm taken a lot of pleasure in my "kitchen notebook." Instead of having piles of information all over the kitchen, or worse, not being able to find anything because it got thrown away, before school started I bought a binder with clear plastic sleeves, and I put anything I need to be able to find--school info, business cards, menus, etc. in the binder. In the front sleeve I printed out a stack of blank Box Tops sheets, and as I cut Box Tops off things at home, I glue them right to the sheet. When the sheet is full, I send it to school. I also keep notecards in the binder, so it's easy to jot off a quick note to Sam's teacher. I've been very organized about getting things back and forth to school because the system works great!

16. What was your most challenging area of home management?

Saving money is challenging, especially as prices continue to rise and the quality of groceries goes down. I've  discovered that coupons don't really help when you're trying to move away from eating a lot of processed foods. And even though it was certainly inexpensive for Sam to eat school lunch, the food was unhealthy and sending him the wrong message about what he needed to be eating. Feeding my family wholesome, healthy food on a budget is going to be something I continue to work on through 2012.
17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?

I suppose the politically correct answer is surfing the internet and reading Facebook updates. But I enjoy catching up and hearing about what other people around the world are doing and sometimes it inspires my writing or helps me relax. I think the actual biggest time waster in my life is all the stuff that I do for my family that goes unnoticed and unappreciated or that I do without any benefit to myself. For example, when asked what he thinks I do when he's not around, Sam's response was, "She goes to the store and buys me Cheez-its." I rest my case.

18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?

I did a lot of reading--for research, for pleasure, to the boys at bedtime, and it is always time I consider well spent.

19. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?

That moving to New York was the best thing I've ever done. There's something about being here--our house--my friends--all my cumulative experiences here--that have colored my life with a rosy sense of satisfaction. I really have nothing to complain about.
20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2011 for you.

More of the same. And I mean that in a good way. :-)

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