When I saw this post a couple of weeks ago, I knew I wanted to answer the questions for myself, in hopes of ending 2017 on a thoughtful note. It’s easy to think back 1.5 years ago to how excited I was when I realized I’d turn 37 on 7/17/17 and remember all the hopes I had for this year of my life being straight up amazing. Then Trump was elected and I didn’t get any of the jobs I interviewed for and I lost my classroom at work and people I loved died, and I had to end a long and important friendship, and my in-laws started living in Texas most of the time and it became clear that 37 was not going to be some magic year for me. That in fact, it was going to be fairly shitty. It’s easy to let my self slip into a self-pity spiral, and that is NOT how I want to end the year. So here I am, trying hard to end the year thoughtfully, and feeling very thankful that someone posted some questions that help me do that.
1. What makes this year unforgettable?
I visited South America for the first time. It was also my first extended trip away from kids, doing something that was 100% for me, both personally and professionally. The fact that I planned and executed the trip feels as important as the time I spent in Ecuador, improving my Spanish and reawakening my love of experiencing other cultures through travel. It was also an important first step toward traveling internationally with my kids, which I’m thinking about a lot right now.
2. What did you enjoy doing this year?
I enjoyed my evenings with my husband. I wrote about that more here. Our marriage is still in one of the most-stable and positive places it’s been, maybe ever; that feels really good. I enjoyed listening to Spanish music in the car. It’s been a long time since I sought out new music and I really love the mix I’ve made. I’ve enjoyed building LEGOs with my kids. I enjoyed riding my bike around the city.
3. What/who is the one thing/person you’re grateful for?
I’m really grateful for my husband, who has been a great support to me in the past six months. I’m always so grateful for my mother, especially since her sister passed away suddenly and her sister-in-law lost a battle with cancer, leaving her two college-aged daughters to navigate adulthood without their mom’s guidance. Those loses have been huge reminders of how lucky I am that my mom is here, and healthy, and an amazing support when I need it. I should make more of an effort to spend time with her without my kids. I miss that.
4. What’s your biggest win this year?
My biggest win was making it to Ecuador for 10 days without my family. That gave me the confidence to book a trip to London for a week in April (which is during the school year and will require a lot more work on my husband’s part), and to start looking into an international trip with my kids.
5. What did you read/watch/listen to that made the most impact this year?
Hmmm. This one is harder for me, which is interesting because I am always listening to books that are meant to change my perspective, or help me parent better, or fix my marriage, or some such thing. This year I didn’t read so many books like that, and the ones I did read didn’t seem to have much impact. I actually wrote more about that here. I do have a few books on my to-read list for next year (they aren’t out yet) that I hope will have an impact.
The one thing that did have a big impact on me this year was listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates read his own book, Between the World and Me. That was a hard read, and definitely changed the way I look at the world.
6. What did you worry about most and how did it turn out?
What I’ve worried about most is our president and our country and we don’t yet know how it will turn out. I suppose that is most people’s answer for this year. The reality is the effects of his presidency will be insidious and far-reaching and will still be having impacts for generations to come.
But as far as concerns that are a little closer to home, I’ve been worried for many years about my daughter and this year she finally seems to be coming into her own. That has been very gratifying, and an immense relief. She still has struggles, but they feel so much more within the realm of “developmentally appropriate.” It was a long seven years to get here, but she is showing me that I needn’t have worried so much when she was younger. Who knows though, if I hadn’t worried, and didn’t get her the support that I did get her, maybe she wouldn’t be where she is now…
7. What was your biggest regret and why?
I regret not doing more to purge stuff around the house because now I feel like I’m absolutely drowning in shit, and the state of things is back to the code-red panic-inducing place it was before I did the first major Kondo-inspired purge. Except this time I can’t seem to motivate to make any real or lasting changes.
8. What’s one thing that changed about yourself?
Ha. I think one thing that sets 2017 apart is that I did less to change myself than I have in any other year. Well, I suppose that is not true. I did apply for new jobs, and it was the first time I’d done that in 14 years. So that was a massive thing. And not having a job offered to me was also a massive thing, the repercussions of which I don’t think I’ve quite processed. All I know is that since I applied for those jobs and didn’t get them, I’ve basically stopped trying to better myself. Hmmm, I wonder if they are connected… Do I know longer believe I can affect real change in my own life? I should look at this more…
9. What surprised you the most this year?
How happy I am in my marriage… How awesome 2nd grade has been for my daughter… That my family was okay without me for 10 days… How hard it is being PTA president at my daughter’s school… How many steps back I can take in areas of my life that I’ve wanted to change… How difficult, and ultimately beneficial, it can be to let someone go… How much I can miss someone that I didn’t think was a big part of my life…
10. If you could go back to last January 1, what suggestions would you give your past self?
Oh fuck, this is a hard one. I think I’ll wait and ponder it a bit, and post my thoughts on the first of the year…