Something about December makes me want to delve into the past year and sort out the good, the bad, the memorable and the lessons learned. Maybe it’s a relic of teachers forcing New Year’s resolutions on me while I was in high school and elementary school, but its somehow become part of my psyche. I recently sat down and made a list of all of our accomplishments, defeats, and highlights in 2011 (side note: how did I do this pre-Facebook?!) but I’ve found yet another way to break down 2011 – #WEverb11.
It’s a movement to give participants the time and space to reflect and look forward, whatever way each person chooses, be it through writing, photos, or via another creative outlet. I’m going to blog through December based on the prompts. I know I’m starting a day late, but every other year this has happened I’ve noticed it partway through the month when it would feel kind of silly to go back through 13 prompts, so one day late isn’t that bad.
Yesterday’s prompt is as follows:
Choose one word.
Encapsulate the year 2011 in one word. Explain why. Imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2012 for you?
Looking back on this year, which was jam packed full of everything from quiet moments alone to hurtling through the mountains on the back of a motorcycle at 3 AM, I’m going to choose growth as my word.
Why? Because I think I have grown in many ways in the past eleven months (and counting). Not physically – I’ve actually shrunk in that regard – but mentally, emotionally, in my relationship, and even spiritually.
Starting in January, I still found myself coping with the loss of my grandmother. I was unhappy, and it was impacting both my life and Matt’s life. My sadness was spilling out all over the place, and I had to stop, allow myself to actually grieve, and start again. I learned what kind of space I need, what kind of support I need, and how I need to treat myself to survive through difficulties. Winter was very dark and very lonely, but we made it through.
In spring I realized how unhappy I was with my weight, having seen a number on the scale I really didn’t want to ever witness. It took a lot of dedication and effort but I managed to turn our household eating habits around, focusing on healthier, natural foods. Like I said, it shrunk me physically, but I learned how much I can accomplish if I have the motivation.
The most growth-inducing event was of course our motorcycle trip in the summer. That will probably go down in my personal history as the craziest thing I have ever willingly undertaken. It still boggles my mind that we woke up one day (after only a few hours of sleep), sat down on a motorcycle older than me, and somehow made it to Vancouver Island and back in one piece. So many things on that trip terrified me, infuriated me, hurt me and stretched me beyond my limits and while I definitely didn’t handle all of it gracefully, or even most of it gracefully, I did it. I didn’t get on a bus and go home, no matter how many times I threatened it. I fought through excruciating pain to get to our destination. I learned to fully, completely trust Matt, quite literally with my life, and everything was okay. I put aside my need to plan everything because we learned very quickly that there is no such thing as a plan when you’re attempting 10,000 km in 11 driving days.
I also managed to cover a lot of ground I’d never seen before, as in, the Muskokas, everything between Winnipeg and Calgary, and everything west of Golden. The Yellowhead Highway was an all-new experience, too. My favourite new places were Nanaimo, of course, Jasper, Valemount, the little town in the Muskokas where we stopped for poutine, and wherever the wind farm was on the Trans Canada through the prairies.
And then to top it all off, I pushed way past my limits to get on a bike a day after we got home and learned to ride it myself, despite fully convincing myself I would fail miserably.
I dealt with another family loss and, thanks to my lessons learned earlier, I handled it a little more deftly this time around. I’ve learned to make decisions that are best for me personally, not for the world at large. I’ve tried very hard to let go of old grudges and forgive grievances; to recognize that I can choose how I react to situations, but I can’t control other people’s decisions. I am a stronger person than I was in January, with lots of new lessons kicking around in my head.
I’d like 2012 to be, in a word, calm. I know some things, like wedding planning, sorting out our career trajectories, living with three cats and continuing to get a handle on our finances are counter-intuitive to that goal, but it’s not life that I want to be calm. I want myself to be calm. I want to keep growing to the point that I can fully accept that I am not in control of everything, that some things are going to happen whether I want them to or not, and that the only thing I can do, sometimes, is sit down and be calm.
I want our day to day life to be calm. I want to wake up in the morning, get out of bed, watch the sun rise and drink a tea with my best friend. I want to leave work at work and let home be our sanctuary. I want to surround us with people, things and situations that promote comfort and peace. That’s the kind of calm I’m seeking.