Thursday, January 2, 2014

It's a New Year 2014

I had really, really high hopes for 2013.

My outlook since graduating from college in 2007 has just basically been Rocky with a capital R. Entering adulthood with jobs, responsibilities, committed relationships, etc, just took a lot of adjusting for me - like 5 years worth. Sometimes I still don't feel fully okay with the reality of adulthood. Once married, I entered a whole new era of first world hardships - mostly pertaining to finances and the constant pressure to "get our lives in order." (And for what, exactly? Babies? Retirement? The Rapture? - well that's another post for another day...) The economical crisis, and being unemployed, didn't help that outlook much, but the benefit was that at least I was no longer dealing with it alone. Tim and I were a team.

I was sure that 2013 was the year that everything was going to fall into place for us. We would pay off our debt, and start saving more. I would lose the 15 lbs that had crept up since graduating, and Tim would work on his sexy bod. I was really motivated to eat right and spend more time in the kitchen. We would live this happy, simple life - eating well, focusing on our health and general happiness, and working towards our goals. The main goal being to just live and enjoy life, whatever it had to offer us.

Of course, you know, much of that didn't happen. Our world was rocked by the appearance of an unwanted guest: cancer, and then by the loss of my dad, and ultimately by deep and unexpected grief. There are three sections to 2013: Before Cancer, During Cancer, After Death. All three were strangely beautiful phases with terrible realities that I do not want to revisit. There are many things I want to leave behind me as we embark on 2014, but I know better than to think the rolling of the clock and dropping of the ball will somehow magically propel me beyond the After Death phase. No, I will be in After Death from now on and forever. I cannot un-learn, un-see, or un-know the overwhelming realities that come with the death of someone you love, especially by terminal illness. I feel more adult, more "old," more heaviness, more plum worn-out than in any other time of my life. But I also know have a better understanding of gratitude, love, and purpose. Just because I'm excited for this year to be over, doesn't mean I can forget or will leave unchanged by 2013, or that I necessarily want to.

However, 2014 is still symbolically a restart for me. January 1st is never any different than any other day, except that we all take a moment to simultaneously reflect on the past year and look forward to the future one. We take note of what we've learned, and what we'd like to change. We promise to make better choices, be kinder to ourselves and to others, and live life to the fullest. It's an opportunity. I'll take it. This year I think I have a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the importance of these opportunities. I believe that 2014 is going to be better.

*  *  *

I began answering this "A Year in Review" questionnaire two years ago. This is my third year, and I always enjoy looking back on my answers from the previous year and comparing life as I know it now to what my expectations were at the start of the year. You can compare my reviews of 2011 and 2012, if you have absolutely nothing better to do. If you feel so inclined - leave me a yearbook message in the comments section below with YOUR answer to the final question. I will enjoy reading them. :-)

1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?
Celebrated two years of marriage, turned 28, "experienced" cancer, lost a family member, planned a memorial, attended an Indian wedding, met Snoop Dogg-Lion.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Let's review.
Goals for 2013:
1. Buy local, Cook more, Eat better.
2. Save money instead of Spending money: pay off debt.
3. Study a foreign language.
4. Watch less TV, Read more books, and Journal/Blog regularly.
5. Maintain active lifestyle and be dedicated about strength training.
6. Work hard at building my business, and plan for the future.
7. Visit Susanna & Nathan in Scotland (tour the UK).
8. Organize my life, my data storage, my business, and get rid of everything we don't need!
9. Try new things instead of falling into habits.

We kept none of these. Big fat ZERO. Except we did pay off a lot of debt and are making good headway on that account - we just haven't saved any.

My only and all encompassing goal for this year is: BE WELL. 
Maybe I'll add a few more to that, but right now it's the only goal I care to make.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No, but they are about to!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes, my daddy.

5. What countries did you visit?
None. Scotland sadly did not happen.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
Peace of mind.

7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
September 25, 2013 - the day Dad left us for good.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Spending time with Dad, and planning his life celebration.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Living in denial. Taking care of my health and physical condition.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
YES - The new year had better bring good health.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
The iPhone 5.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Some of the Hospice nurses we met were simply amazing.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Doctors who obviously didn't care, and the healthcare system in general.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent, gas, and food. We were so exciting in our spending!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Any good news we happened to get from doctors, my new job with WHITT.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Stop This Train, by John Mayer and What Sarah Said, by Death Cab. Also - sadly - Blurred Lines, by Robin Thicke.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

I. happier or sadder?

II. thinner or fatter?
Not much change.

III. richer or poorer?

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Spent time with my Dad.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

20. How did you spend Christmas?
In a rental house in Dallas with the Kingtons, minus Maggie, Milo, and Samson.

21. Who had the biggest influence on your life in 2013?
My dad.

22. Did you fall in love in 2013?
I fell in love with some ideas: strong families and life on a farm. I also fell more in love with Tim's heart. He was and is a true and utterly selfless servant to my family.

23. How many one-night stands?

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Homeland & Downton Abbey.

25. Do you dislike anyone now that you didn't dislike this time last year?
Several doctors.

26. What was the best book you read?
Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn -- was the most entertaining. The best book was probably The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling (way underrated by fans).

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

28. What did you want and get?
A dream job planning and designing events with Gina at WHITT.

29. What did you want and not get?
Remission. A cure. More time with Dad. Travel.

30. Best movies this year?
The best movie I saw was Silver Linings Playbook, but technically that was released in 2012. But there are many others... and I haven't seen any of them yet! Blue Jasmine, Catching Fire, Secret Life of Walter Mitty, American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks, Her, August: Osage County, and moooore.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
My birthday was low-key - number 28. I honestly cannot remember what we did, except I know I just spent it with Tim (I needed a break from the cancer stuff) and I shopped for myself. Tim made me a funfetti cake. And iced it.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Lack of illness on all accounts.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
I wore a lot of pajamas, because I was home a lot!
Otherwise, I tried to keep it classic, and wore a lot of grey and black. So: "a lazy New Yorker?"

34. What kept you sane?
The support of friends and family. Treats from 2Tarts! Whatsapp and Group Texts with my mom and sisters. Cuddles with Oscar.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Jennifer Lawrence - love her! She makes me laugh.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
None that I can think of - it was like we were living in a bubble.

37. Who did you miss?
Before September, Susanna and Nathan in Scotland. After September... broken record... my Dad.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
The Tarts - April and Ashley!!!

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013:
Most cliche advice is dead on: don't take anything or anyone for granted, find the good in people, don't give up Hope.

40. One word or sentence to describe how you feel about 2013:
I survived.

Happy 2014 from My Family to Yours,

Love, Laurel