Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Looking Back on 2018

It's 2019! And now, for my sometime tradition of answering questions about the year, with my paraphrased 2017 answers for comparison. So let's take a look back ...

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
2018: I got Henry, my new (antique) grand piano, and I started taking piano lessons again. I also found a voice teacher that I love and joined our church choir. Oh, and I started going to church again. That has been good.

2017: The move to Georgia, and selling our Maggie Valley home.

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
2018: Work issues. I could write a book, but I probably shouldn't.

2017: Rifts with people that I thought were friends.
3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
2018: Henry! Henry came out of the blue. I found a voice teacher, Richard Cook, who also happens to be the music director at a church in Augusta. At my first lesson, I mentioned that I play piano, and he said, "Do you need a grand piano?" Turns out they had an old, abandoned grand collecting dust at the church, and it needed a good home. I went to visit "Henry," as I would name him later. After a couple of days of thought and research, I decided to take him. I haven't regretted it for a moment. The piano itself was free, and the moving and tuning costs added up to about $1,000 ... a pretty penny, but I know I got a great deal.

2017: I love living in Georgia, and Anne discovered taekwondo. And I got to meet Rick Springfield!
4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
2018: Insurance woes, and our renter moving out of our Franklin house with no warning. Oh, and hip pain.

2017: Dental problems and leg pain ... and the related bills.

5. Pick three words to describe this past year (or to describe yourself this past year).
2018: Anxiety-ridden, overbooked, musical.

2017: Novice (at learning voice and guitar), comfortable (living in a nice house with a neighborhood pool), painful (see above).

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.
2018: Stressed, unhappy at work, depressed.

2017: Unsettled, musical, tired.

7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their past year—again, without asking.
2018: Stressful, financially challenging, unhealthy.

2017: Satisfying, challenging, stressful. 

8. What was the best book you read this year?
2018: Body and Soul by Frank Conroy

2017: Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, by Anders Ericsson

9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
2018: My daughter and my husband, as always. But two of my most valued new relationships are with my music teachers. I've also made some valued friendships at church and in my neighborhood.

2017: My daughter and my husband.

10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
2018: I have a lot more anger. I hate to think that I am becoming a bitter old woman, but that is what happened this year. I feel like I've been treated unfairly, and there is nothing I can do about it. The sense of helplessness is maddening.

2017: I'm more guarded and protective of my feelings. I'm not as open or friendly. I'm also learning to live with chronic pain.

11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
2018: I feel like I regressed emotionally this year! If I've learned anything, it's that I need to guard my time and my energy. I was far too willing to give it away this year.

2017: I guess the upside to being more guarded and protective of my emotions is that I am not going to get hurt the way I did last year. The downside is that I have trouble trusting people.

12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?
2018: I opened myself up to the possibility of a spiritual life again. I am still stunted beyond recognition, but I feel like there's a flash of green somewhere among the wreckage.

2017: Not sure if this is spiritual, but with guitar I've found a new way of communing with music. It's been wonderful to develop a whole new mode of creative expression. It'll be a long way before I've reached any level of proficiency, but I'm excited about the journey.

13. In what way(s) did you grow physically? 
2018: None. Thanks to hip pain, I'm now going on three years without regular exercise. But I haven't gained any weight. In fact, thanks to the depression and anxiety of the past few months, I'm ten pounds lighter than my normal weight.

2017: This year was a struggle physically, a(nother) year of starts and stops. Motivation is not the problem; I'm plenty motivated to exercise. But the pain keeps coming back, and a few days of exercise lead to a few days (or weeks) of hobbling around, wincing with every step. I did manage to run a 5K on Thanksgiving (and haven't been able to run since).

14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
2018: I made some new friendships in the past year, though I work too much to give them as much attention as I'd like. I love Dan more than I ever have. My relationship with Anne is changing as she grows older and more independent.

2017: New friends in Georgia, but no real growing yet. Dan and I are much happier together than we were a year ago, but there's still work to do. Anne and I read the Harry Potter series together, and I think our relationship grew as a result of our mutual love for the books.

15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
2018: There are still a lot of things I like about working from home, though there are definitely some downsides. The most enjoyable part with the raise I got with my promotion, I guess. Work itself was not as enjoyable as it's been in the past. I have hopes that that will change in the new year. At home ... hard to say. I pretty much worked all the time this year, and I neglected home duties in every way.

2017: Working from home! I also started doing a lot of QA for new builds, which I enjoyed as a nice change of pace from technical writing. I also seem to be pretty good at it. At home, it's been nice to have a comfortable home that we own. Reading Harry Potter with Anne was also a high point of mom-life this year.

16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
2018: Getting a new role, never having time to sink my teeth into it because I kept being given other priorities. And then losing that role because I never got anything done. Go figure. At home: Working all the time and never having energy to cook, clean, or be present for my family.

2017: Being burnt out at work. The challenges of working from home.

17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
2018: I don't feel like I wasted a lot of time this year. I wasn't on Facebook as much. My biggest time-waster was probably the vicious cycle of negative thoughts that came with 2018's anxiety and depression.

2017: Facebook.

18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
2018: Playing piano, and taking piano lessons. Taking voice lessons. Being part of the choir.

2017: Practicing guitar every morning.

19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year?
2018: I recently made a friend who, observing my life objectively, confirmed that I'm not crazy and was saddened and sympathetic that certain of my life circumstances have made me a basket case. How sad is it that the biggest thing I learned this year was that I'm not delusional?

2017: As I get older, I'm going to have to deal with physical limitations that I didn't have when I was younger. It's been humbling.

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.
2018: I can't do it all, and I can't do everything to everyone else's satisfaction.
2017: Pretending to be a suburban mom. I have all of the trappings here in Georgia, but the shoes don't quite fit as comfortably as they should. Still, life is pretty comfortable.

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