The Ups and Downs of 2016 – The Year in Review

2016 was…a year. It was harder than some others were. It was a year of growth for me. It’s early in 2017 and I am feeling optimistic so far. It’s early days, and I though it would be fitting to review what happened to me in 2016. The year had its fair share of ups and downs. There were many things learned and a lot of positive change.

Let’s start with the “ups”:

  • I truly enjoyed celebrating my birthday this year with the impromptu plans that came about. It was great to be surrounded by awesome people.
  • I didn’t increase my debt-load.
  • I reconnected with some old friends.
  • I started a new job and it is the first job I’ve had where I truly feel respected and appreciated.
  • I made an amazing new friend as a result of starting the new job. I can’t imagine not having her as a friend.
  • I learned to love living alone. I’m not so sure I could live with someone again unless they’re REALLY special!
  • I became a lot more comfortable with who I am as my own person.
  • Tobi is a happy kitty and is well on her way to being a healthy weight.
  • I saved up for and built my new computer. (Built with the help of said amazing friend and her husband!)

And now for the “downs”:

  • My best friend moved across the country – This is kind of bittersweet because it was an amazing move for her personal happiness, but I miss the shit out of her.
  • I didn’t pay down any significant amount of my debt.
  • I didn’t manage to save any money that stayed saved. (see “ups” above)
  • Some pretty influential celebrities in my life died. Carrie Fisher was the hardest for me because she is such a strong advocate for mental health. She was a bit of a hero, and not just because of Star Wars.
  • Tobi had a health scare. We caught it in time, but it is looking more and more like the issue will crop up again. It’s almost time for another visit to the vet to avoid the scare again in the future…

I created a few goals for myself at the beginning of 2016 and they included getting healthier and being kinder to myself. I think I am definitely better at being kind to myself than I was. Getting healthier is still a work in progress, but I feel like I will make some serious headway with that one in 2017.

A lot of changes were affected in 2016, including these:

  • I went on antidepressant medication. I was in a really terrible place when I finally went to my doctor to ask about this. He was more than happy to talk about it with me and suggest some options. I stand by this as quite possibly the smartest decision I made in 2016. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t done it.
  • I am finally started doing a better job of looking after myself and working on finding the work-life balance that works for me. I also starting improving at practicing regular self-care.
  • I came to terms with a lot of things and I feel like I finally started to heal. This is especially true in the last half of 2016.

Because of these changes that took place in 2016, I also noticed small things about my habits:

  • I started listening to music again.
  • I started wanting to read again.
  • I was more present in my life than I ever was in the past.
  • My weight started to finally go in the right direction (DOWN instead of UP!)
  • I was able to manage my spending well enough to make the new computer happen and get back into playing PC games again.
  • I finished my big blanket project that I started in the summer of 2015. (I finally finished it in the summer of 2016.)

I started a few projects, however, that were not so successful. I won’t beat myself up over these because being kind to myself is so much more important. The kind of things that I am listing below used to cause me a lot stress and upset, but no longer.

  • Life Reboot and Life Reboot 2.0 were almost complete failures in terms of accomplishing the goals I set out for myself. HOWEVER, the items I listed in these projects have slowly become incorporated into my daily life and continue to become easier as time goes on.  This is why I refuse to call my “life reboot” a complete failure.
  • I got rid of my gym membership that I was so excited to have at the beginning of 2016. Frustrations and bad experience with the gym over and over again prompted me to bite the bullet and cancel my membership early. I have found that home workouts and yoga are a much better fit for me. This isn’t so much a failure or not a success because it was something that I learned about myself.

In 2017, I will continue to be kinder to myself, and focus on getting healthier. In addition to this, financially I am determined to pay down a chunk of my debt and start saving for a house. I also have a reading goal of 25 books and want to pick up my camera again. I miss taking photos. The only times I picked it up in 2016 were for Mason’s and Sloane’s birthday parties. I want to get the creative juices flowing this year. Because I am in a much better place mentally, I think these will be easy to manage. 2017 is shaping up to be a good year around here.

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I had more fun in 2016 than I’d had in years!

 

Keeping Busy with an Eventful Week

Well, I have to say it has been a somewhat eventful week. I am in a bit better place this week, as I spent some time with my therapist developing a self-care plan that has made the difference. I haven’t been able to stick to it 100%, but I have stuck to it enough to feel like I’m not losing my mind, or losing everything, for that matter. I still have concerns, but I’m okay right now. Onto that eventful week…

So, on the 1st, I went to see the CP Rail Holiday Train. It was a lot of fun, and the crowd is just positive and happy and it just all around feels good. My dear friend Alice met me there, even though she was feeling somewhat ill. She brought something I practically begged her to pick up for me. She’s the best. For those of you who must know, it was the Magic: The Gathering Gift Box. Boy, did I get surprise when I opened it!

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This card is worth approximately $90!!!!!!

It’s a mythic rare land card. I posted a photo of it on Instagram, and the artist who created the art for the card HIMSELF congratulated me! How cool is that?! It’s been placed in a Dragon Shield now, and I will probably never play with it. It’s something of a novelty now.

On Thursday the 3rd, in keeping with my 30 before 30 list goals, as well as the sense of mastery that comes from volunteering (as discussed with my therapist) I donated blood for the first time. I did it through a Canadian Blood Services donation clinic that took place at a church nearby my home. I had no idea what to expect, but I was determined to do it. All of the people there were very kind and it was overall a very positive experience. I will definitely be doing it again. IMG_1756I have veins that are deep and small as well, and the nurse who set me up managed it in one try. Considering the size of the needle I was very impressed. The whole process from beginning to end took about an hour, but the actual donating only took about 10 minutes. I had no idea it would be that fast! Next time, I should have my donor card and the process should be quicker. I am excited to do it again. It felt great to know that I could potentially help so many people with this single donation.

This past week has overall been positive, but also exhausting. I hope to be in an even better place next week.

A Little Project

One can’t help but notice that people have a serious tendency to focus on negativity in everyday life. I have paid a lot of attention to this lately, mostly recognizing my own tendencies, and I decided to do a little week-long project. I’m very guilty of this, and in casual conversation it is easy to recognize when other people are as well.  To see what the difference could be, and to hopefully become more in tune with myself and potentially others, I decided that for an entire week I would keep track of all the positive or good events and happenings and put no emphasis whatsoever on the negative or bad things. I knew from the beginning this was going to be an eye-opening and interesting project.

Today marks the end of this project, and it has been VERY eye-opening. Here are the things I documented through the week:

SATURDAY

  • Celebrated my good friend’s daughters first birthday
  • Went trick-or-treating for the first time in years, and for the first time on the other side (taking kids out, and not being the trick-or-treater)
  • Spent an entire day with my friend Courtney for the first time in years

SUNDAY

  • Went and purchased my Davids Tea advent calendar with Jess (even standing in line for almost an hour was fun!)

MONDAY

  • Woke up to sunlight coming through my window
  • Cards Against Humanity arrived from Amazon in the mail

TUESDAY

  • Finished a book for the first time in a very long time
  • Had a movie night at Alice’s, complete with Speckles (her cat) snuggles
  • Tattoo is almost healed; the scabs are all gone!

WEDNESDAY

  • Did a lot of extra walking, and it felt amazing

THURSDAY

  • Helped to make a coworker’s last day in the office as pleasant as possible
  • Had sushi!

FRIDAY

  • Attended the Dirty Dancing live show at Budweiser Gardens with my mom and sister IMG_1392

SATURDAY

  • Saw my nieces and nephew
  • Played Cards Against Humanity for the first time
  • It was a very comfy day

SUNDAY

  • Celebrated my niece’s third birthday at her birthday party today (the first one I have ever attended)
  • I held my nephew Lyndon for what I am sure is the first time

Okay, so I kept track for an extra day. I think that’s a testament to how easy it became by the end. I found it very interesting how profound a difference making a minor change like I did can shift your perspective and outlook on just about everything in your life. It can happen incredibly quickly too. I found that by Tuesday, I was already generally happier and was finding it easier to dismiss the things I usually found upsetting or made my feel like the world was crashing down around me. And believe me, it happens relatively often. Putting no emphasis on those negative things and purposely focusing on the good things that were also happening at that time, made it so much easier to cope with the other things. I could almost just shrug them off.

I actually have a funny little story that can be an example to shed some light on this: I was away from home all weekend. I was out-of-town at my parents’ place because there were a few events going on and it just made more sense that way. I arrived home this evening, and pulled my dish drying mat out from under the sink because I was about to start dishes. There was a hole in my mat, and a tear on the back and little bits of the foam from the inside all over it. Clearly, I have a mouse.  IMG_1440Just over a week ago, I would have been very upset over this and probably would have started to cry; however, today I was able to laugh it off, and I even found it a bit funny. I live in a century old mansion that has been converted into apartments. You really can’t expect there to be no mice around whatsoever! I found the place where it got in, and quickly figured out there is no way for it to get out from under the sink to wreak havoc anywhere else. I will cover up the hole where it got in, and I have a solution to deter anymore mice. I will go and buy a new mat in the near future. I found myself able to laugh it off and figure out a solution to the issue in no time at all because I didn’t get worked up over the fact that it happened in the first place. It was something beyond my control and probably would have happened anyway. I couldn’t know it would happen, and it is something that is easily fixed. Something that was no big deal really wasn’t a big deal for the first time in I don’t know how long. Pretty cool, right?

This little project didn’t take more than a couple of minutes each day, and I highly recommend anyone give it a try. I’ve found it to be a very positive experience in itself!

Reflections on the Season

I’m sitting here tucked in on my ratty but cozy couch looking outside upon what has become a winter wonderland right outside my window. The Christmas tree is up and the lights are sparkling and all seems well with the world.

This past year has been a trying year in more ways than one. There have been financial woes, health problems, family emergencies… All of which we have gotten through little worse for wear. BUT good things have happened too: birthdays, family milestones and just love all around. The result of which is I think we are better people for it.

For a lot of this past year I lost sight of those little things that make life better. I was only focusing on the negative things we were dealing with. Over the last couple weeks it feels like I have come back into myself and my past optimism is returning. I’m remembering other things. Good things. Sure, life isn’t easy. It has its struggles, but we can’t focus on those all the time otherwise, what’s the point of life if not to enjoy the little things that make it worth living. In my case, things like:

1) my cats and their unconditional love
2) our family being there for us and vice versa
3) amazing friends who help me see the good when I seem to be missing it
4) nights in with Jay – relaxing, great food, great company, watching football or whatever
5) the little local events we attend together
6) my perfect little home – it may not be big or fancy, but I look forward to walking in the site at the end if each day
7) the city I live in – there is always something to do, and it’s kind of pretty too
8) my blog – even though it has kind of fallen to the wayside lately. That will be fixed and I hope to evolve the blog a bit this year.
9) I have my own little bit of nature in my backyard in the form of a woodlot – great for photos!
10) there is an end of sight to the current struggles! I just need to be patient.

I’ve learned over the past several weeks that there are much better things to be concerned with than worrying about the bad and not so good things that have happened, may happen or are happening. Why not think of the positive things? I have a few things I can think of this moment including the fact I am finally taking control of my health, and Jay is as well. There is also the fact that Jay is no longer working his “fly-in fly-out” job 13+ hours away, and will be home from here on out. And too, I have my best friend to remind me of all of this on the rough days as I do for her as well. 14 years will do that I guess!

As I continue to sit here and enjoy and appreciate the snow, our holiday decorations and our home. I know it had been a tough year, and a right holiday season as well. BUT I have my home, family and friends to make life great, and I know next year will be better than this one.

With that, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy new year as well.