Well, the old year is gone – good riddance – and the new year is slowly settling over us. I was definitely glad to see the end of 2016 from a global citizen perspective. (Although I have to agree with Kerry that anyone who thinks 2017 is going to be less stressful than 2016, from that global perspective, is in for a rude awakening.) But from a personal perspective, 2016 was decently good to me. Not perfect, but good. I started the year stressed and unhappy where I was (location-wise and job-wise) and I was able to make a major life change midway through the year – moving back to D.C. – that solved those issues for me. I felt very blessed that such a move was an option for my family, and we are very glad to be home. D.C. isn’t a perfect city, but it’s my place, where my people are.
The move was the biggest deal of 2016 for me. It was sort of the fulcrum point, the pivot from which everything swung. Everything leading up to July was getting ready for this major change, and everything after that was adjusting to being home again and soaking it all in, and starting to put in place the systems for making this new life work for our family. Because of that singular purpose and focus, I didn’t actually spend much time or energy on my other resolutions. Yet when I look back on them, I at least made progress on several points.
- Get my confidence back. This, I can’t say was one of the areas where I made progress. With the day to day challenges of raising two kids while working as an attorney, my own personal well-being took too much of a backseat this year. I ran a few 5K races, but I was undertrained for them, I relied too much on convenience food and eating out, and I was abysmal at coping with stress. I’ll be revisiting this goal in 2017 with hopes for more success now that I am not job searching, secretly flying to D.C. multiple times per month, looking for child care and arranging a multiple part, multiple state move.
Be a good memory keeper. I think I can say that I have done this. I always have more memory-keeping projects in mind than I have time for, but in 2016 I created my 2015 family yearbook, Nugget’s baby yearbook, and several other projects using my photographs. And I posted a lot about our family adventures here on the blog. I love the process of organizing and preserving family memories, so it’s not hard to stick to this goal. Challenge my bookshelves. I definitely did this. Although I did not finish Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge, and I did not read as many classics as I wanted to, I well exceeded my goal of 33% representation by diverse voices in my 2016 reading. I haven’t crunched the numbers yet, so I don’t know exactly how it finished out, but I made diversity a major focus of my reading this year. I’ll have more to say on that when I post my look back at the books of 2016, but – briefly, for purposes of this post – it was wonderful. Having the benefit of so many different perspectives and worldviews challenged my own thought process, crystallized my thinking on a number of important issues, and gave me even more satisfaction than I expected. Embrace slow. I started the year not really knowing what this goal meant, and I’m ending it still not knowing what it meant. In some ways, I feel like I have really succeeded, but in other ways I think I was a giant failure. Long, leisurely afternoons of knitting and listening to audiobooks, mornings with a cup of steaming hot tea and a good book, dawdling walks along the river, evenings of cooking big pots of homemade soup in my kitchen while music plays in the background – this has not happened. But to be fair, I didn’t think it would. What has happened? Lots of weekend mornings where I sit with my coffee while my kids play together (finally!). A slow-paced beach vacation with zero pressure to sightsee. A string of hot weekend mornings sitting in the grass while the kiddos dug with trucks in the sandbox at our local park, last summer. Weekly walks to the library – both in Buffalo and in Alexandria – to return books and pick up holds (instead of flying past on my way to or from work, like I used to do). Another sun-drenched morning spent at the berry patch with good friends, not actually picking berries. Many, many evenings of ignoring the dishes piled in the sink and the boxes still to be unpacked and instead curling up with a book. In the end, what this goal looked like was giving myself a little grace, permission to exhale, and a moment in the sun.
- Write something off blog. Heh. Didn’t do it. Not even a little bit.
2016 Word: HOME
Last January, I wrote:
We’re preparing to (yet again) move at the end of this month, and as of the writing of this blog post we don’t know where we’re going. (We should probably get on that.) But aside from just the mere shell of a house, we really need to find a home. I haven’t felt at home – really, truly, at home, at peace, at rest – since the moment I pulled out of my driveway in Virginia and turned my car northwards. I don’t know what to do with, or about, that, but it’s the truth. I still feel like a Virginian stranded above the Mason-Dixon line. I’m constantly homesick for Old Dominion. And the fact is – I need to sort out what “home” means to me, and find some way to be at peace no matter where we live.
A few months ago, I told you all about how my 2016 word of the year, home, chose me. I remember the exact spot in the parking garage where I was when it popped unbidden into my head – and I knew exactly what that word was telling me. Move to Virginia.
I did just that.
I’d thought it was a perfect word for the year, and for where I needed to go, even if the move didn’t happen. In December of 2015, things were still very much up in the air as to whether we would stay in Buffalo and change the things that weren’t working for us; or move home to northern Virginia; or take on a brand-new adventure and move to Denver. We were actively exploring all three possibilities. And I knew that whatever we decided on – that was it. The last big move. We were choosing a home for our family. I wanted my word to guide that process, at least for me.
And it did. I started the year packing my life into boxes, most of which were destined for storage. We moved into a rather bleak apartment complex (a relief, after having several lodging options fall through at the last minute, leaving us with no lease just three weeks before our sale closed). Even knowing that the living situation was only temporary, it was easy to get a bit beaten down by an apartment that wouldn’t stay tidy and wasn’t where we wanted to be. I kept my word, “home,” in mind each day as I turned my key and tripped over the piles of shoes that were always spilling down the stairs just inside the door, whispering the mantra, thank you, apartment, for sheltering my family while we figure out where our future is. And then the call came through, and I knew that my word would, in fact, carry me home.
I also wanted my word to do something smaller. No matter where we ended up, I wanted a constant reminder that it is my responsibility to create the sanctuary I crave – I can’t put that on anyone else. Whether that means hanging special family photos; filling my kitchen with the smells of Earl Grey brewing; lining my shelves with the books that have been good friends to me; creating sweet play spaces for my children; or anything else that I want – it’s up to me. I hoped my word, home, would keep me focused on the goal I always have to create a place of rest for myself and my family. I didn’t do quite as well on this point – I’m still living with boxes, although I am gradually chipping away at the unpacking remaining to be done. I’ll carry this focus into 2017 with me.
As the sun goes down on 2016 and rises on 2017, I want to know – how did last year go in your life?