2013: Year in Review
The year 2013 rocked. I needed a good year. That last few years before it had been difficult. And the worst thing about that was how much of the difficulty was in my head.
Here are some reflections on how the past year has been for me. Questions are from Simple Mom.
1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
I don't know if there was one single thing. I think the best thing was accepting my bipolar diagnosis (first made in 1992) and letting the doc put me on bipolar meds. They're actually seizure meds, but they work well for bipolars who don't respond to the usual ones. I started these meds last year in early February. I can't tell you how drastically they have changed my life for the better. 2013 was my first year since maybe 1981 that I haven't spent a significant part of it severely depressed. And since I can depend on my moods to be stable, I'm now a much better mom. I've also been able to make better-informed decisions and complete quite a few writing projects. All in all, 2013 has been a great year.
2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
We had a renter for our Franklin house, but he lost his job so he and his family had to move out ASAP. That left us with a nice new monthly bill we hadn't anticipated.
3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
Participating in National Novel-Writing Month, completing a my first novel since 1991, and finding a writing partner for yet another novel.
4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
Our buyer for the Maggie Valley house backing out at the last minute. Or maybe it was when the bank sold our loan to another bank at the last minute and all the terms changed.
5. Pick three words to describe this past year.
Serene. Productive. Healthy.
6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your year—don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you.
Undepressed. Productive. Happy.
7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their past year—again, without asking.
Stressful, overworked, stuck.
8. What was the best book you read this year?
Leo Tolstoy, Resurrection
9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
I began to identify as a fiction writer again, for the first time since the early 1990s.
11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
I don't know if this is emotional growth since so much of it is wrapped up in meds, but I finally stopped being a perfectionist and beating myself up when I was anything less.
12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?
My love for the people I love has increased a thousandfold because I'm not spending so much energy being depressed and hating myself.
13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?
For some reason, I shrunk. I think it's probably age. Even though I'm still doing ChaLEAN Extreme, am eating right, and am in pretty good shape, I still weigh about 112 ... when most of my adult life my normal range has been between 120 and 125.
14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
Hubster and I got through a rough spot, which resulted in growth, as it always does. My daughter and I became closer than ever. Because we moved to a new town mid-year, I don't see my old friends as much as I used to, and I haven't yet planted social roots where we are.
15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
Professionally: Treating creative writing as a job! While I haven't been paid for much of it, I'm taking myself seriously as a writer and have had an amazing output compared to previous years.
At home: Living in a smaller house that is closer to Asheville. It's easier to keep a small house clean, and I truly love living in a place where they don't roll up the sidewalks at 4 p.m.
16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
Work: The fact that I didn't make any money. Not that I expected to, even though I entered (but did not win) quite a few writing contests that offered nice monetary prizes.
Home: They were understaffed at Hubster's job all year long, which meant Hubster worked all the time and was never home. It was difficult for him, and it was difficult for us at home. I felt like a single mom for much of the time.
17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
Sleeping in when I knew I should get up and get moving.
18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
Selfishly: I allowed myself time to write, usually three hours a day minimum. I also started reading again. Now I'm as addicted to reading as I've ever been.
As a mom: Spending as much time as possible with my daughter. She's in half-day preschool, so we get to spend every afternoon together. Also, taking her to play with her cousin Ella. I love seeing their friendship bloom. Plus, it's nice visiting my sister. :-)
19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year?
The right medication can make a world of difference.
20. Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.
Interestingly, my statement for 2012 was this: "2012 was intense and unbalanced. I love intensity and am allergic to balance, but I'd like to pursue a less intense, more balanced year in 2013. For my own sanity and for my family's sanity as well."
Well, in 2013 I made huge strides in learning to maintain balance. I know a lot of it was due to the medication. So 2013 was a year of being "normal" for me. I could start and finish projects because I wouldn't get hit by crippling depression in the middle of them. It's been my best year in a long, long time.