Sunday, January 1, 2017

Looking Back on 2016

2016. Most people agree that it was an awful year. It's true that a lot of celebrities died. We are a culture that worships celebrity, and it can be devastating when our gods pass away. I felt sadness over the loss of the 80s icons I loved, particularly Prince and George Michael. They didn't mean much to me personally (though they did at one time), but the sadness came when considering how "my era" is drifting further into the past. Not much anyone can do about it, but it made me sad.

So, on that happy note, I'm going to pick up a tradition I've had on this blog, on and off, for years: a year in review. The questions below are questions I've answered most years. The last time I answered these was when I looked back on 2014, so I'm going to include short versions of those answers here, along with my husband's answers to

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
2014: I got a job that I love, and we moved into a house that we love. (Dan's answer: "I think the single best thing that happened to you this year was getting your meds straightened out.") 
2016: I'm still at that job, we're still in that house, and I have managed to stay off meds for two years now. (The meds in question were Prozac, Depakote (for bipolar disorder, which turned out to be a false diagnosis), and Ritalin (to treat the ADD that was a side effect of the Depakote).

As far as the single best thing that happened in 2016 ... I think it has to be that Dan and I are still married. Seriously. Without going into details, I'll just say that we've had a difficult few years. 2016 was a year of arguments and compromises and decisions and tears and frustrations. Some of the frustrations are still there, but we're in a much better place than we were even three months ago. We both took steps toward trying to make things better, and those steps worked, for the most part. I think it's because we both wanted this to work, for Anne's sake if nothing else. And it's starting to work again.

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
2014: Medication issues.
2016: Marriage problems.
  
3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
2014: Loving our new house, Anne's new school, and my new job.
2016: Girl Scouts. I decided this past summer to be a Girl Scout leader, specifically for the Daisies (Kindergarten and first grade). I did it for two main reasons: (1) I wanted my daughter to stay in Girl Scouts, and she was losing interest after just one year; and (2) I was grabbing at straws to have something in common with my husband, and he was already involved in Anne's troop. I didn't think I would like being a leader; I'm extremely introverted, and I've never considered myself a "kid person." So I was probably more surprised than anyone when I took to Girl Scouts like a fish to water. I love being a Daisy leader; I love my Daisies, I love planning things for them, and I love playing a positive role in their lives. The experience has also made me less wary of social situations, at least with the troop and their parents. I look forward to every meeting I have with them.
  
4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
2014: I was writing a novel, and hit major walls after the relatively easy process of writing the first draft.
2016: Physical injury/pain. I've always been able to run, or jump, or do just about any kind of exercise or activity that I wanted. This year, thanks to a knee injury that turns into a hip/groin injury, I've hardly gone a day without pain. (And the pain-free days are only because I've gobbled up a lot of ibuprofen.) It has been very frustrating not to be able to exercise. I particularly miss running. I've been to an orthopedist, a chiropractor, and physical therapy. While they've been able to help with the pain (particularly the PT), no one's been able to diagnose the source of the pain. So it keeps coming back, and I keep having to treat it.

5. Pick three words to describe this past year (or to describe yourself this past year).
2014: Insecure. Afraid. Frustrated.
2016: Confident. Loving. Happy. (Despite the lows of this year, I've been very happy with who I've become, with my role as a mom, and with my professional life. Having suffered from depression and insecurity for so much of my life, I'm really enjoying the feeling of confidence that comes with getting older and more sure of who I am.)

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.
2014: Dedicated. Busy. Distracted.
2016: Confident. Angry (at times). Devoted (to my daughter).

7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their past year—again, without asking.
2014: Improved over 2013! (Hubster had kind of a crappy 2013. Things got better for him on all fronts this year.)
2016: Stressful. Busy. Focused (on work).

8. What was the best book you read this year?
2014: 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.
2016: I read a book called Story Physics that offered quite a bit of insight about writing--which is saying something, because I've read a lot of books on writing in my lifetime. Another good one was J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy. It wasn't a big year of reading for me, and I read very little fiction--unusual for me, I know.

9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
2014: My daughter and my husband.
2016: Same, although Girl Scouts has brought me a few new friendships that I value highly.

10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
2014: I am no longer on medication. I also have extremely curly hair, which I didn't have last January. 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.
2016: Good news! My hair is long and wavy and pretty now! As far as my biggest personal change ... hmm. I am a lot flabbier, thanks to my knee/hip injury. :( I'm also dedicated to staying married, which is a change from a year ago.

11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
2014: 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.
2016: I had some wonderful therapy sessions this year with a therapist who has since moved on. With his help, I learned to let myself be vulnerable in my marriage again. I have also become much more comfortable with people--I am still an introvert, but I've learned to enjoy social situations.

12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?
2014: Oh, me. I could write a book on that ...
2016: I've adopted what I could call "Closer to Fine" spirituality, from the Indigo Girls song, circa 1990. I no longer torture myself with struggle, and I think that's good.

13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?
2014: I gained five pounds! Yay! (I needed to gain five pounds!)
2016: I sure don't need to gain five pounds anymore! I don't weigh a whole lot more (though I've probably gained two or three pounds), but I'm not muscular anymore. I don't like that. I'm seeing a doctor on Wednesday for a lingering sinus infection, and I may talk to him about what exercises I can do that won't put me out of commission for the next week and a half.

14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
2014: 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.
2016: Mending things with Dan. Even closer to Anne--we have "deep conversations" all the time, and I love it. Also, as I mentioned above, I've made some new friendships through Girl Scouts and hope to see those grow in the year to come.

15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
2014: Learning new things! Working with great people! Being in Asheville! Having an income!
2016: My co-workers! I work with a great group of smart, funny people who make me laugh every single day. I also love the work I do; I feel like I'm helping to make a difference in the world, and that goes a long way. At home, I wrote eleven chapters of a novel and had a great time doing it. All of that came to a halt in the fall when Girl Scouts started.

16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
2014: 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.
2016: Professionally ... hmm. I guess it's that our team grew from three to five, and for a while we had four people crammed into a relatively small office. While I love my co-workers, I don't love feeling like a sardine and felt almost claustrophobic each day. That was a challenge. My responsibilities also changed a bit, and that adjustment has had its challenges (though I'm happy with it overall). Personally? Having to lay my novel-in-progress aside. It's a decision I made, but it wasn't an easy decision.

17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
2014: 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.
2016: Facebook. I hate to say it, but definitely Facebook.

18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
2014: One-on-one time with Hubster, and one-on-one time with Scout.
2016: A combination of camping with my family and being a Girl Scout leader. Definitely both great uses of my time.

19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year?
2014: My kid and my husband are more important than my writing dreams.
2016: I'm good with kids.

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.
2014: Struggling for/against contentment? (That doesn't seem to make sense, but it does make sense. Trust me.)
2016: Landed. I feel like I've landed. I feel at peace and hopeful for the new year.

No comments: