Friday, January 2, 2015

Looking Back on 2014

The year 2014 had its struggles. It had its ups and downs. Here are some reflections on how the past year has been for me. Questions are from last year (which I got from Simple Mom, a blog that I, admittedly, haven't read in a long time).

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
I got a job--one where I'm doing meaningful work and working with a great group of people. I love my work, and the income has allowed us to make huge strides toward getting out of debt. And that has been unbelievably good for morale. Oh, and we also moved out of a house that Hubster hated into a house that we both love. It's the first house we've lived in that we both like. That's really helped make life easier--just liking where we live.

(Hubster's answer: "I think the single best thing that happened to you this year was getting your meds straightened out.")

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
Not long after I started my job last June, I started having issues with my medications. This caused a bumpy first few months at work--I was sure I was going to get fired. I tried a new medication in an effort to "get my brain back," and that was a disaster. I was certain that I was going to have to be hospitalized again for depression. I ended up quitting all the meds except one, so things are better now. But it was a huge struggle of a year, mental-health-wise.

3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
I ended up really liking a lot of things I wasn't sure I'd like: our new house, Scout's new school, my job. (Actually, I was pretty sure I'd like the job. The unexpected non-joy was the struggle I had when I first started it.)

Also, Scout is growing more amazing than I ever dreamed she would be. I shouldn't be surprised, but it's hard to expect things you were never able to imagine in the first place.

4. What was an unexpected obstacle? 
The novel I was writing, which was so easy to write for the 40 days it took to compose the first draft, ended up being something I fought against for the better part of the year. This was very disheartening, and I'm still trying to get past it.

5. Pick three words to describe this past year (or to describe yourself this past year).
Insecure. Afraid. Frustrated.

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.
Dedicated. Busy. Distracted.

7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their past year—again, without asking. Improved over 2013! (Hubster had kind of a crappy 2013. Things got better for him on all fronts this year.)

8. What was the best book you read this year?
I read quite a few books on writing, along with a bunch of trashy novels. And then, in November, I re-read Pride and Prejudice. And that was the best book I read this year.

9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
My daughter and my husband.

10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
I am no longer on medication. I also have extremely curly hair, which I didn't have last January. (See picture below!) The curls are completely natural. My hair just decided last spring that it was going to be curly. I couldn't do a thing about it.

11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally? I am learning to stop blaming my shortcomings on conditions found in the DSM-V. It's very difficult to differentiate what is "mental illness" and what is simply laziness or lack of confidence . . . but I'm learning to do that. Or trying to.

12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually? Oh, me. I could write a book on that ...

13. In what way(s) did you grow physically? 
I gained five pounds! Yay! (I needed to gain five pounds!) In the first two pictures, taken in late 2013, you can see that my face is thin and kind of gaunt. Not so in the bottom picture, which was taken in December 2014!


The not-so-great news is that 2014 was probably the least healthy year I've had in a long, long time. So, along with so many other folks, I've made a resolution to get back to my eating-right-and-exercising ways.

14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
Scout is becoming more mature, and that's being reflected in our relationship with each other. I love being able to have conversations with her, and I feel like our relationship is a totally different animal now than it was a year ago. I also improved my relationship with the Hubster. Due to a number of factors, we managed to spend more time together this year than we typically have in the past.

15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)? Learning new things! Working with great people! Being in Asheville! Having an income!

16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)? Starting my job and having it be incredibly hard to learn because my medication was making me so stupid. It was unbelievable how much easier life became after I stopped taking the Depakote.

17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
Oversleeping. But I think I might have a sleep disorder of some kind (my new Fitbit tells me I average about 2.5 hours a night of sleep, even though I'm in bed for 8-9 hours per night), so maybe my answer next year will be different.

18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
One-on-one time with Hubster, and one-on-one time with Scout.

19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year? 
My kid and my husband are more important than my writing dreams.

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.
Struggling for/against contentment? (That doesn't seem to make sense, but it does make sense. Trust me.)