Sunday, January 03, 2016

A Big, Long Look in the Mirror

I know. Blogs are so 2010.

I doubt anyone will read this, but that's okay. I'm considering it more of a writing exercise. For my own edification.

Before I begin, I have to give credit where credit is due. I found this list of questions on That blog, by the way, looks very cool. I'm going to go back to it myself for some good ideas on simplifying and minimizing. It's kind of my theme for 2016.

The list has 50 questions in all. 40 to reflect on the previous year. 10 to think about the coming year.

My 2015

1.What one event, big or small, are you going to tell your grandchildren about?
Our trip to England. It had been 27 years since my husband and I had stepped foot on the shores of Great Britain, and it was a fantastic trip. We'll be back soon. 
  • Driving on the left side wasn't as difficult as driving the massive car the rental place gave us. But it was a hybrid diesel with amazing mileage, and was luxurious to drive - when we weren't concerned we'd take the side mirrors off!
  • Found a beautiful, cozy B&B not far from Cambridge. Welcoming hosts, excellent rooms, and great food.
  • Wandered around Cambridge for a couple of days on foot. Marveled at the history. Enjoyed both the things that had changed, and the things that hadn't changed since we were last there. We love that city!
  • Met some of my husband's family that I'd never met before! I can't wait to see them again!
  • London. London. London. My favorite city. So good to be back. Finally had the opportunity to hit some tourist spots that I didn't get to the last time. Saw some wonderful shows in the West End. Saw more of my husband's family (that I'd met before), and we ambled around London for most of a day together. Just explored and found wonderful places on our own. 
2.If you had to describe your 2015 in 3 words, what would they be?
  • Challenging
  • Affirming
  • Exhilarating
3.What new things did you discover about yourself?
  • I can successfully plan a trip to Europe on my own. 
  • I can manage a lot more stress than I imagined I could. 
4.What single achievement are you most proud of?
  • Getting back to England.
5.What was the best news you received?
  • As difficult as 2015 was, there was a lot of good. One was that our son got a great first "real" job and was able to move out on his own. 
  • Two more things figured equally on the health side.
    • My husband was diagnosed with both gall bladder problems and bladder cancer and had surgery. He was given a clean bill of health in both of his post-operative check-ups this year. 
    • The source of our daughter's agony she'd been experiencing for years was finally discovered as hyperparathyroidism. She underwent surgery to remove a parathyroid gland that was next to her heart. For the first time in years, she is isn't suffering from kidney stones every few months.
6.What was your favourite place that you visited in 2015?
  • I'll lump this under England. I was so taken with finally being there, that I couldn't pick a favorite place out of the trip. 
7.Which of your personal qualities turned out to be the most helpful this year?
  • Patience and calm. I called upon them both in helping the family through all of our medical misery this year. 
8.Who was your number one go-to person that you could always rely on?
  • My husband. He and I are truly partners. 
9.Which new skills did you learn?
  • Park and Rides in Cambridge and the Tube in London. Seriously. The public transit system there, especially compared to the states, is wonderful. 
10.What, or who, are you most thankful for?
  • My family. They are my rock. My husband, daughter, son and parents make all the difference for me. 
11.If someone wrote a book about your life in 2015, what kind of genre would it be? A comedy, love story, drama, film noir or something else?
  • Dramedy. Sad and funny, by turns. 
12.What was the most important lesson you learnt in 2015?
  • No matter how frightening or stressful life is, there's always another day for a fresh perspective. 
13.Which mental block(s) did you overcome?
  • I don't think there were any. No real epiphanies. 
14.What 5 people did you most enjoy spending time with?
  • My husband
  • My son
  • My daughter
  • My mom
  • My dad
15.What was your biggest break-through moment career-wise?
  • Nothing really. My work is the biggest stressor in my life. I love the type of work that I do. I love the team I built and 90% of the others I work with. But the factors that I have no influence or control over are almost overwhelming. I need to find something else in the new year. 
16.How did your relationship to your family evolve?
  • It's stronger and closer. 
    • My husband and I reached our 27th anniversary this year. Not bad for the couple who planned their wedding in three days, huh? 
    • Since our daughter's health issues have been resolved, she's been a much happier and more positive person. 
    • Our son is out on his own now. But I think his daily distance has made our time together more meaningful. 
    • My parents have become more understanding of our ability to visit than in years past. It's made things much less stressful, and actually made us more likely to find the time to spend with them. 
17.What book or movie affected your life in a profound way?
  • None that I can think of this year. Not in a profound way. 
18.What was your favourite compliment that you received this year?
  • That I'm getting "sassy." I'm getting to that pre-menopausal age, and I have to admit that I put up with very little bullshit these days. Approaching the "Fuck-it Fifties" is a great place to be. 
19.What little things did you most enjoy during your day-to-day life?
  • Waking up to positivity.
  • Texting Tony.
  • Sundays with the family.
  • Playing games. 
  • Going for walks. 
  • A good cup of tea. 
  • A good glass of wine. 
20.What cool things did you create this year?
  • This year didn't leave a lot of time for creativity. There were a few things, though: 
    • I created a tracking system for requests for my team at work. It's turned out to be very helpful for us. 
    • My daughter and I, on the spur of the moment, went to a pottery painting place on my birthday. We spent a good two hours making presents for each other. I'm using the darling sunflower-themed tea pot she painted for me. I painted a cute little cup for her.  
21.What was your most common mental state this year (e.g. excited, curious, stressed)?
  • Unfortunately, stressed. It was a year of extremes. Both good and bad. 
22.Was there anything you did for the very first time in your life this year?
  • Learned how to empty urine bags for someone with a catheter. It's not as fun as it sounds.
  • Had both of our kids out of public school. Our daughter graduated high school, and it's wonderful to have her finding her life's path. 
23.What was your favourite moment spent with your friends?
  • Tricky question. My husband and I don't have many friends where we live. It's one of the toughest things about being where we are. I know it sounds sad, but I can't think of a single favorite moment with friends. We had some time with friends, yes. But not enough of them to single anything out as favorite. 
24.What major goal did you lay the foundations for?
  • Traveling overseas every year. When my husband and I started our married life, he was in the Air Force, stationed in Germany. After leaving the military in 1990, we either didn't have the time or the money to travel the world. In 2014, we took the family to Rome and it was wonderful. I made travel overseas at least once per year my goal. This year, we made it to England. Once England is paid off, we plan the next trip. The destination list is long - which means we'll have many places to go for years to come. And I have a lot of pages to fill in my passport. 
25.Which worries turned out to be completely unnecessary?
  • None, really. I seldom worry without need. But I don't worry excessively when I do. Think of it more as planning for all contingencies. 
26.What experience would you love to do all over again?
  • Go to England. Are you sensing a theme here? 
27.What was the best gift you received?
  • It's a tie. 
    • A coloring book from my husband. (Grown-up coloring books are all the rage.) It's exactly what I wanted!
    • A TARDIS handbag from one of our agencies at work. 
28.How did your overall outlook on life evolve?
  • When I'm stressing and feeling frantic, taking the advice I give others. It's all going to be there tomorrow. Go home. Have a glass of wine. Relax. Get a fresh perspective. 
29.What was the biggest problem you solved?
  • There were many at work. Although there wasn't much appreciation for it. 
  • I don't think there was a "biggest" problem at home. It's just life. Just take care of things as they come. 
30.What was the funniest moment of your year, one that still makes it hard not to burst out laughing when you think about it?
  • Wow. That question makes me feel inadequate! Happy moments, yes. Great moments, yes. But I can't think of a funniest moment. 
31.What purchase turned out to be the best decision ever?
  • I'm not prone to claiming anything as the "best," but there were a few good purchases:
    • Plane tickets to England (continuing the theme)
    • A new (used) car 
    • A badly needed new couch
32.What one thing would you do differently and why?
  • I would have planned our England travel earlier to take advantage of lower cost places to stay.
33.What do you deserve a pat on the back for?
  • Planning the trip to England. It went really smoothly. 
34.What activities made you lose track of time?
  • Playing games (boardgames and computer games)
  • Reading
  • Browsing the web (FAR TOO MUCH)
35.What did you think about more than anything else?
  • Time. Again - FAR TOO MUCH. What time is it? What time do I have to take a call? be at a meeting? be at an appointment? be home? etc., etc., etc. Always having to think about the next thing to get done and when. Not enough time to just be. 
36.What topics did you most enjoy learning about?
  • History
  • Travel
37.What new habits did you cultivate?
  • Cultivate. I like that word. It's so much more open than "establish." Sadly, I didn't fully establish new habits. I do fall off the wagon. But I did cultivate several that I'm still working on: 
    • Brushing and flossing twice a day. It sounds silly, but it's true. 
    • Keeping up with my FitBit. I was in the habit of tracking the first few months of 2015, and it helped. But I stopped about mid-year. It's on my wrist now. 
    • Turning work OFF in my brain when I come home. I did better than in previous years, but it wasn't perfect. And as a manager, my company expects that I'm always accessible. Even if I'm not needed, if there's big stuff going on, it's hard to not have the possibility in the back of my mind. 
    • Letting go. This I did a bit better with this year - not entirely successful - but I tried to keep it in mind. Whatever you want to call it. Circle of concern. Gravity. Not stressing over things I have no control over. Trying to affect the things I do. 
38.What advice would you give your early-2015 self if you could?
  • Everything will come out good in the end. The health issues will be resolved. You will be able to meet those goals. Don't be so hard on yourself. 
39.Did any parts of your self or your life do a complete 180 this year?
  • Our daughter's health. Huge, wonderful turn-around. 
  • My husband's happiness. Big changes there due to many factors. 
  • Our son's prospects. Independence, self-reliability, travels all looking up. 
  • Our family relationship with my parents. So much more relaxed and positive. 
  • My dependence on medication for MS. Switching to 3x/wk instead of every day gave me so much more personal comfort and freedom. 
  • Our daughter's driver's license and another car. For the first time in years our schedules were no longer tied to being a chauffeur. 
40.What or who had the biggest positive impact on your life this year?
  • Medical treatments - both medication and surgeries. Some scary stuff - but all to a positive end. 

My 2016

41.What do you want the overarching theme for your 2016 to be?
  • Simplify. Divest our house of what we don't need. Divest our lives of what doesn't move us forward. Declutter. Minimize. Bit by bit. Every day. 
42.What do you want to see, discover, explore?
  • Lots of travel possibilities. We need to plan our next trip over the Atlantic to continue the once-per-year goal. Ireland or Scotland are high on the list. 
  • We would like to go to San Diego and/or a trip up the coast for a wine weekend in Northern California. We have a friend in San Francisco now, too (one of my favorite cities), so it may be a good excuse!
  • We need to make a trip out to see my husband's parents. It's been too long.
  • More short travel in the states. Perhaps Seattle or New Orleans.
  • More trips to my parents' lake cabin this summer to get out of the cities. 
43.Who do you want to spend more time with in 2016?
  • Would love to see a friend out in the San Diego area and another in San Francisco.
  • Family - in England, in the states, and our own little clan here.  
44.What skills do you want to learn, improve or master?
  • My writing. Yes, I write for a living. Marketing writing. But I want to improve it in other ways. I've set a weekly reminder to put virtual pen to virtual paper on my blog once per week. 
45.Which personal quality do you want to develop or strengthen?
  • Organization. I'm good at organizing, once I take the time to do it. Which leads me to the next skill... 
  • Time management. I can fit plenty of stuff into a day, but I often don't think it's the right stuff. I need to be more selective about what I do and focus on what's truly important.  
46.What do you want your everyday life to be like?
  • Relaxed. Prepared. Prepared helps me to be relaxed. Every day I want to be able to: 
    • Keep work in its proper place. 
    • Be active. 
    • Get something meaningful accomplished.
    • Show my appreciation and gratitude for the people around me.  
47.Which habits do you want to change, cultivate or get rid of?
  • Increase my activity level. I sit on my ass far too much for things that don't help me. 
  • Decrease my unproductive web use. This means you Facebook. 
  • Minimize my TV habits. I come home from work, drop my butt on the couch, and watch too much. And if I'm not sitting on my butt, I'm getting necessary things done in the house.
  • Read more. If I'm going to drop my butt on the couch, it'll be to read. 
  • Get away from my desk for lunch. This is a tough one. I know it won't work every day - but I need to do it whether I think I need it or not that day. 
  • Get more "me" time. Real "me" time. It does me good.
48.What do you want to achieve career-wise?
  • I've been trying to make my work place a better place to be for years. This past year I came to accept that this is one of the things I have no influence over in any real sense. It's like bailing water from a row boat with a hole in the bottom. It takes all my effort to just stay afloat that I'm not getting anywhere. I need to find a new job. I want to stay in the same career field, preferably the same industry, but with less stress, less time commitment, and less corporate bullshit. 
49.How do you want to remember the year 2016 when you look back on it 10/20/50 years from now?
  • It was a year of challenges and of accomplishments. 
50.What is your number one goal for 2016?
  • To have our home and lives in order for bigger changes in 2017. If we want to move, travel more, plan for bigger goals, we'll be set for it. By the end of 2016, I want our home completely decluttered, our financial ducks in a row, giving us the options we need for real, permanent change. 


Wayne. said...

Yes, still here. You're on my breakfast Internet reading. Great summary. We're here if you add New England to your list.

GeekGoddess said...

Well, I'll be! Hello, Wayne!