Last year I participated in a year-end blog meme, Rewind 2011, with fun and interesting questions designed to get writers and readers to reflect on our lives in 2011. As luck would have it, I even got to meet the woman/fellow blogger (from Ups and Downs of a Yoga Mom), who introduced me to the meme last December, in person, earlier this month. We both participated in the Coca-Cola Balanced Living Workshop here in Chicago and sat next to each other Tuesday night during dinner at Boka. I really enjoyed getting to know “Yoga Mom” better and thanked her again for introducing me to this way to wrap up my year here on my blog.
Ever since I did this writing exercise last year, I have looked forward to the opportunity to do it again this year. I knew that this time I would have the chance to compare my answers to the questions to those I wrote in December 2011, which I thought would be really cool and interesting and it was for me to see.
As was my experience last year, answering the 35 questions listed below was challenging for me . Some of my answers came to me quickly and others I really had to think about. If you choose to participate (either on your blog, via a Facebook note or you can even send me an email with your answers), please let me know so I can read and comment on yours too.
So here goes Round Two or “Rewind 2012:”
1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before? I purchased my own URL, here at bereavedandblessed.com, and moved from Blogger to Self-Hosted WordPress. I also spoke at a national blogging conference, BlogHer’12 in NYC, with three other friends/longtime bloggers.
2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Overall, I did not keep most of my New Year’s resolutions for 2012. That is hard and frustrating for me to admit. I have already made more for 2013, but they are simpler and I believe that I am more motivated and committed to working to make them happen. Though I also thought and felt that way this time last year. So we’ll see…
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes, a few close friends gave birth this year and my sister and brother-in-law adopted their second child, a baby boy, who was born in July.
4. Did anyone close to you die? No, which was a relief in many ways after losing two loved ones (an an old and very dear friend and one of my cousins) in 2011. We did attend wakes and/or funerals for an older extended family member and older family members of family and friends who died, but it was more about supporting our loved ones who were grieving, than having really known those who passed away. Anytime we attend a wake or funeral with our children, it often makes for interesting conversation, as they make the connection between where we believe their baby sister Molly is, in Heaven, and those who have recently joined her there in the afterlife.
5. What places did you visit? After taking two big vacations, one with each side of our family, in 2011, we couldn’t afford to go very far away in 2012. So most of our vacation time was spent at home, visiting my parents in my hometown of Evanston, IL, not far from where we live on the southwest side of Chicago, in our Beverly neighborhood, and going to Bob’s parents’ summer home in Michigan.
6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2012? More balance and focus in my life. (The exact same thing that I wrote last year and want to continue to work on).
7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? February 29th, a.k.a. Leap Day! I have always had a special place in my heart and memories for Leap Years. I chose that to be the day I took a leap of faith and launched my new blog/URL here at bereavedandblessed.com and also had the honor of writing this post for the3six5 that day.
8. What was your biggest achievement(s) of the year? Outside of being a good mother to our children and good wife to my husband… I returned to therapy, after a five-year hiatus, which was good for my mind, body and spirit. I wrote weekly posts, every Thursday, for The Today Voice. I am proud of myself for sticking with it and honoring my commitment, since it is a volunteer project. I began a new series on my blog called Gatekeeping that I know has helped people who are struggling through difficult and uncertain times in their lives and that means a lot to me. Also, getting to speak at BlogHer`12.
9. What was your biggest failure? Not keeping up with my housekeeping/cleaning responsibilities as well as I could have/should have (same as last year) and not losing the weight and staying in as good physical shape as I intended to (this is the first time in the last eight years that I set out to do that and did not succeed).
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? My years of being prone to/struggling with recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI), or at least that is was they seemed to be, came to a head this year, when I had many “flare ups” but few turned out to be clinically diagnosed as UTIs. I consulted many times with my PCP and met with a urologist who ran all kinds of tests and together they still weren’t able to determine what was wrong with me and my urinary tract. Eventually I made my way to a urogynecologist who diagnosed me as having muscle spasms in my pelvis, that she believed were causing these flare ups, that felt like UTI symptoms. She prescribed a nightly medication (a very low dose of an antidepressant that has helped some women to feel some relief who have these flare ups, like I do), which seems to have helped some, though it makes me drowsy and I find it difficult to wake up most mornings, which she warned me was a side effect. She also referred me to a physical therapist (PT) that specializes in pelvic issues, like this. I have only met with the PT once so far, but already am trying to work on things she has recommended, including some dietary modifications (cutting out foods that might be contributing to the flare ups), as well as breathing techniques that may help with the mind/body connection. I am scheduled to see her weekly, at least eleven more times in the 2013, and am optimistic that doing so will bring me more relief.
11. What was the best thing you bought? Getting the exterior of our house painted. It was expensive, time-consuming and at time,s during the six-week project, our family felt like we were living in a fish bowl. But the job needed to be done and we love how it turned out!
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My mother’s! For so many reasons… She is an awesome mom/friend and an incredible grandmother to my children and my sister’s children, but she is also an amazing human being. In her retirement she works tirelessly as the co-chair of the Peace and Social Justice committee at the Catholic church that my dad and she are active in. Unfortunately, in September 2011 she was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. Ironically, her only risk factor was her age, she turned 70 this year. But besides that she has always taken such good care of herself from eating healthy to exercising regularly. So we were all shocked to learn of her diagnosis. But mom took her diagnosis seriously and followed every recommendation she was given by her doctor and a dietitian that she met with to discuss suggested modifications to her eating habits. In the beginning mom took medication for the diabetes, but eventually, because she manages it so well through her dietary adjustments and regular physical activity, she was told she doesn’t need to take it anymore! I can only imagine what it feels like to be starting the eighth decade of your life and have to deal with something like Type II Diabetes, especially when you took such good care of yourself over the years. I applaud my mom for her courage and self-discipline in the face of an unexpected and unwanted diagnosis in her golden years. She continues to handle so many of the curve balls life throws at her with patience and grace and I am so very proud of her.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? The shooter who killed twenty-six innocent people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. I am purposely trying not to remember his name and instead have vowed to honor the memory of one of the children who died that day, Catherine Violet Hubbard.
14. Where did most of your money go? Into our home (same as last year)! This included getting the exterior of our house painted, as I shared about in #11, as well as replacing our furnaces and air conditioners (we have dual units) and Bob painted the interior of a number of rooms in our house, which look awesome!
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? The birth/adoption of my newest nephew in July, going to/speaking at/experiencing BlogHer`12 in August, watching my daughter in her first creative movement classes this fall (she seems to share my love for dance), seeing my son perform as the narrator in a local youth theater production of The Polar Express in November (so proud of him) and participating in the Coca-Cola Balanced Living Workshop earlier this month!
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Happier (or about the same)
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter (but just a bit)
c) richer or poorer? Richer (but not a lot and it doesn’t feel like it most of the time, because of #14)
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Kept our home clean and organized. Seriously, I really dropped the ball here and know that I can and will do better in
2012 2013. (I didn’t do a whole lot better in 2012, so I will work on this again in the New Year). I also wish I had prioritized commenting more on other blogs and working on a writing project that is important to me.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Procrastinating (Again, same as last year! Hmm…)
20. How did you spend Christmas in 2012? I wrote in detail this past Thursday for my Today Voice post about what “the holiday season looks like for me and my family.” But in a nutshell, we spent Christmas Eve celebrating with Bob’s family at his parents’ house and Christmas Day partly at our home in the morning and after we went to church with my parents. Then we had dinner at my sister and brother-in-law’s home with some close family friends. It was our newest nephew’s first Christmas, which made it extra special to celebrate with him and our family. Bob was sick for the week surrounding Christmas which made things challenging at times, as he was not feeling well and that took some of the fun out of our gatherings. I felt so bad for Bob and also found it tiring to try to do much of what we usually do together preparing for Christmas on my own.
21. Did you fall in love in 2012? I really like the answer that I wrote last year, so will repeat it here:
I didn’t fall in love so to speak, but I did choose to continue to love my dear husband, children and other closer family members and friends this year.
22. What was your favorite TV program? Parenthood (Yep, same as last year!)
23. What did you do for your birthday in 2012? I wrote and shared this post, called 37, in honor of my birthday. I wrote this at the end of it, which was fun to revisit, in effort answer to this question:
The weather here in Chicago today was unbelievable! It was sunny, unseasonably warm and very windy. After Abby and I picked Sean up from school we even managed to get a visit in at the cemetery. I appreciated being able to stop by there on my birthday and have a moment with our baby girl Molly in Heaven.
A little while ago Bob and I tucked Sean and Abby in, considerably past their normal bedtimes, as we went out for a special family dinner, just the four of us, tonight to celebrate. I am ridiculously full from everything we ate. I also feel very blessed and lucky right now to know that my stomach is as full as my heart.
I also want to send some love and wonderful wishes out to a very special little girl that I share this birthday with, my sister’s daughter/my niece/Goddaughter Cora! She brings so much love and joy to all of our lives and I am grateful she has been in our family for two years now!
Thank you again for everything and helping to make this past year in my life and my birthday today so very special. Here’s to 37 years! xoxo
24. What was the best book you read? Falling Upward by Richard Rohr
25. What did you want and get? To speak at BlogHer`12! Our session was called My Blog No Longer Fits Me: Blogging After Life Change.
26. What did you want and not get? To lose 5 – 10 lbs. and keep it off. This was my own doing though, as I know what needs to happen in my life to shed weight and did not do enough of those things consistently throughout the year.
27. What was your favorite film of this year? Les Miserables (It was awesome!)
28. Did you make some new friends this year? Yes, in the perinatal bereavement support group that I attend most months called Caring Connection, through the MOPS group that I go to twice a month with other moms of young children, at BlogHer`12 in August and the Coca-Cola Balanced Living Workshop earlier this month.
29.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? To quote the Indigo Girls, to “take my life less seriously.” Most of what made 2012 not as satisfying as it could have been relates to my own issues, including my tendency to over-think and analyze situations and experiences in my life. I believe that the more I realize and accept this, the better I hopefully will become at not allowing myself to dwell in those moments for too long, which tend to get me down.
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012? A combination of wearing old clothes that seem to be timeless, fit me well and make me feel good about how I look, and, now and then, picking up some new and semi-trendy pieces to update my wardrobe. I shop mostly these days at Carson’s, Kohl’s and Target and am happy with the inexpensive, but fun clothing and shoes I am able to find there.
31. What kept you sane? As I wrote last year:
Writing, exercising regularly and be able to talk with close friends and family members (about the joys and struggles we face in life).
I will add to that, for this year, meeting regularly with my therapist who really helped me to make sense of and peace with a lot of things that I was struggling with personally in my life.
32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Giuliana and Bill Rancic — watching their reality TV show is one of my guilty pleasures in life and I was so happy that after their struggles with infertility and Giuliana’s battle with breast cancer, that they got to finally bring home their son, a healthy baby boy, who was born via a gestational carrier, in August!
I also really enjoyed getting to see and hear Katie Couric at BlogHer`12 and have become a big fan of her new talk show.
33. What political issue stirred you the most? I don’t know if it stirred me up, but I enjoyed following the debates and media coverage leading up to the presidential election this year. I supported and voted for the incumbent and was very happy that President Obama was reelected!
34. Who did you miss? As I wrote last year:
Molly, my grandparents and other loved ones who left this world too soon.
35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
My therapist introduced me to the idea of “missed potential” and how that seems to be a common thread tying together some of what I had been struggling with related to the deaths of my friend and my cousin last year, as well as continuing to mourn the loss of our baby girl Molly in 2008 and others who have left this world too soon. I seem to get caught up at times wondering about the “what ifs” and “what could have been.” I realize that this is a normal and healthy reaction to grief and loss, but my therapist also helped me to see how a lot of the things that I “beat myself up over” are not such a big deal, as long as I try not to dwell in thinking about them for too long at any given time.
My therapist also worked with me on “checking my baggage,” especially when it comes to parenting, as I have a tendency to worry about our children dealing with certain kinds of people and experiences, based on the challenges that I dealt with in my life and friendships when I was their age.
I wish you and yours a very Happy New Year! Thank you for being a part of my life in 2012!