altarflame: (deluge)
It seems to be universally understood that 2016 was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. For me personally, I haven't felt so much stress and tension regularly since the year I was diagnosed with PTSD. I do have good and bad things to recap, though.

I kept most of my resolutions, which were things like, "spend a lot more time at the ocean," "actually try out meditation at least a couple of times and see how it goes," "take some solid steps in the direction of polyamory that are not just talking about it," and "pick a grad level academic direction and start heading in it."

To that end...I attended several free oceanside beach meditations, of which one was great and the rest were mediocre; a couple of paid, indoor group meditations led by a former teacher, which I found way more helpful but harder to work out logistically since they're during the week; and downloaded a meditation app that I used three times, all of which were mostly spent trying not to fall asleep. In addition to the beach meditations, I started trying to get to the full moon drum circles on Miami Beach once a month, and made more trips down to Tavernier for lunch and The Water. 10/10, must continue all that ocean time.

I joined some polyamory fb groups, and a meetup group, and went - with Grant - to a potluck the meetup group has. Started delving into who will vaccinate an older person (non-teen) against HPV, spent time with a couple of guys in ways that made me understand myself as being "demisexual," (albeit on the nympho end of that scale, which is why I initially rejected the idea since it's on the asexuality spectrum for many), worked through truckloads of jealousy wrt Grant meeting someone else for lunch until I realized all kinds of shit about myself, and then felt better about it. Final poly verdict: I'm only interested in forming friendships that might turn into more but will probably never do traditional "dating," where you're feeling each other out as strangers to see if you want to be romantic partners, because I kinda just don't work that way. While it's gonna take an amazing and fortuitous connection to be worthwhile, I AM very interested in forming those friendships. In their own right, and for the possible lover-potential sometime down the road.

The academic-direction-picking seemed clear once I thought honestly about how many different things I still want to do with my life. I still have angst about this at times, as I was IN LOVE with neuropsychology and studying botany was one of the greatest things I've ever pursued...but I can't be in school in a way that consumes my whole life, I just can't. This MSW and eventual licensure is something profitable that I believe in and think I'm good at, and it checks a lot of boxes re: things I've wanted to do since I was a kid. AND I can still be a parent, and write, and travel, and have a social life, and a million plants, etc.

So! Resolutions aside. 2016 Good and Bad Recap!

BAD:

-I spent so much of this year deeply preoccupied by mental health crises in my 3 older children. I mean each of them, one after the other, occupying months in a row of keeping me up at night and straining my ability to keep calm during the day. I'm very grateful to have excellent health insurance and the time and resources to get a lot of counseling and medication when necessary, but damn. This has been a parenting year to shave years off my life. The happy ending is that everybody is pretty much doing fine for a few months now, with some periodic backslides... And, I guess, that they took turns and didn't all struggle hard at the same time. Gaaaaaaaah.

-My Pa was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer and I was the only one willing or able to speak up and tell him it was ok, if he didn't want to deal with chemo, and just wanted to enjoy the rest of his life.

-I had two seriously taxing, entangled interactions with my mother that needed recovering from... both involving lots of alcohol and tears on her part. Most notable perhaps was the moment when she was reiterating her deep love and loyalty for me and I said, "Those are just words!"

-I have really let myself down with reference to writing. I had big plans at the beginning of this year, and they've haunted me literally every single day, but they've yielded basically nothing. I experience stress about this EVERY day at some point. The urge to write is so strong and...it's complicated.

-I was really caught up in, and then sad about, the democratic primary results - and downright devastated by the presidential election. Both involved so much suspense, late nights, tears, grief, anger... We donated money, applied stickers, erected signs, attended rallies, voted, shared articles, argued with relatives, etc, etc, ETC. I listened to a lot of NPR pretty much daily at the beginning of this year, but just can't really deal with it at all anymore.

-Speaking of constant, oppressive stress... I usually experience a lot of that surrounding major life transitions, and especially success I have no context for. So getting my Bachelors (physical diploma) in the mail, the congratulatory emails from school, applying to grad school, getting accepted to grad school, interviewing with agencies for practicum - they've all involved a WHOLE LOT of this. I've been distant or distracted or irritable with Grant (because I really won't allow myself to be, with the kids) SO OFTEN this year, and then we have these embarrassing conversations where I admit I just can't handle it anymore that every day for a month could be the day the diploma or the decision arrives, or whatever irrational shit. UGH!

-I also had the worst asthma I've ever experienced, and major allergy flare-ups. Sleeping several nights with accumulated dust and foreign cat hair had me relying heavily and regularly on inhalers for the first time in my life, for about 3 months. Whenever I'd try to stop, I'd realize I was moving as little as possible and getting light-headed from the slightest thing. It's really only for a month or so now that I can walk fast and talk at the same time, again, or read to Elise for a whole chapter without hitting the albuterol first. It still comes everywhere I go just in case, but I can actually sing loud along with the music in the car without going into coughing fits.

-Death is just...everywhere? Our beloved pediatrician of more than a decade died, and Elise wore a Spiderman suit to his memorial service (he was known as Dr Spiderman). Someone I have invited into my home, the partner of one of my good RL friends, just killed herself in late December - there have been long phone calls, home visits, a memorial. And then of course we have the neverending stream of celebrity deaths that this year has brought. Alan Rickman and Fidel Castro felt the most personal for me, but it's hard to count the number of times my social media feeds have turned to grief and tributes and sometimes that collective woe really gets to me.

-The sex drive disparity in my marriage has really been almost at it's worst - "almost" because we can be honest now, so that's better than when we couldn't communicate about it well many years ago. This is partially due to Grant's depression and need to focus on himself, and partially just who he is and who I am, but it's just way too familiar for me to be up late by myself night after night as several weeks go by in between times. Conversations about it lead to (shared, conversational, intimate in their way) tears way more often than sex. I understand that this might sound dramatic to some people, but this is really something with the power to make everything else happening seem much better or worse, for me.

-And it combines with general social loneliness in a pretty awful, heavy way. I have made BIG strides toward forming new RL community for myself this year (classmates, meetup.com, OKCupid, a couple of other homeschooling moms, etc), but they haven't really come to fruition quite yet.

Fucking hell man just really laying all this shit out makes me see how heavy it's cumulatively been.

GOOD:

-I got my physical (Bachelors) diploma in the mail! It stopped being weird at some point, and I hung it on the wall and now it feels real and I'm proud of it!

-And I got into grad school!

-And knocked out my first chunk of it! (like holy shit, how do I have one semester of a two year program finished already wtf)

-My actual degree program is amazing. I like the material, adore a couple of the teachers, LOVE some of my classmates. Class time is intense, friendships are developing, and there is excitement about the future in many ways. The agencies I'm going to be working with for internships do really important work I believe in. I had to do academic writing that references specific legislation, policies, and precedents for the first time. A++

-Attending the Herbal Conference in February was amazing. Life changing, even. Restorative, etc. I don't know where to begin. Magic.

-Solo roadtrip in July was also pretty great, with old friends and new. It was also very hard, as the allergies and asthma shit started, but I needed it so bad. Swimming in the cold springs for the first time, hanging out with Kristin again for the first time in a year, staying with Jess and Cale and eating and talking, just very very good stuff.

-Dresden Dolls show in Coney Island was the greatest concert experience of my life, and just...rad. St Patricks' Cathedral, too. The food throughout the trip. Experiencing Ananda's experience of it all. NYC can be fucking rad.


Miscellaneous:

Some of the songs of 2016 for me were -
Gorillaz - On Melancholy Hill (both accoustic and regular)
Beck - WOW
Sylvan Esso - Coffee
Star Band of Dakar - Sigala
Rilo Kiley's whole Pictures of Success album
RHCP - Dark Necessities

Foodwise -
This was the year I learned how to make good polenta and went crazy with it.
Found Chill Bar, along with the rest of the Yellow Green Market.
We put fish tacos and Grant's homemade salsa into the regular dinner rotation.
I felt much better when I ate zero grains, and ok if I just at least stayed away from gluten.


I would like to state for the record that it is SHOCKING that it's already January 16th, and that "2017" still sounds like some kind of wild sci-fi concept shit, to me.

I am still deciding on resolutions for this year, which has been a January-long process for me these past few years.
altarflame: (Default)
1. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?
Drank.
Solicited editors for my writing.
Bared my deepest desires and doubts to my husband and really put my marriage on the line.
Put one of my kids in school.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I went back to college (5 As, 2 Bs and one dropped class...21 credits closer to an AA with a full schedule lined up for the spring).
I established active social lives for all of my kids and feel really happy about that.
And have been more active in my own.
And reclaimed/revitalized/totally saved my marriage.
Iffy on my homeschool improvements, halfway on my writing goals and hell no with weight loss.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
If online counts, Julie's twins after struggles with infertility were really great to behold, and Heather's little girl is gorgeous. My sister is pregnant.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No.

5. What countries did you visit?
None.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
Paid bills.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory?
I don't really do dates. But I'm sure I'll remember everything Grant and I went through, the stuff we recently learned more about/started pursuing counseling over re: Isaac, and turning 30. I've truly loved Elise's preschool teacher and my friend Cybele's family as a resource for Ananda and Aaron - and that job-paid resort stay G and I had on the beach <3

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
One of those things listed above. They're all kind of a big deal. I feel like I did pretty damned well all things considered.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Hmm. Probably housekeeping.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
My hernia is way worse.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Christmas presents for the kids.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Grant's.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
My brother's.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Transportation...between traffic tickets and snowballing SunPass fees, van maintenance and gas and tires, insurance policies, my accident...dear God.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Florence's Lungs and Mumford and Sons' Sigh No More. That's right, two full albums.

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

Thinner or fatter: slightly fatter

Richer or poorer: slightly richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
I really did so much. I mean. I couldn't have done any more of anything.

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

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
This has been previously archived :p

21. What was your favorite month of 2011?
March-April were kind of amazing, relationship-wise.

22. Did you fall in love in 2011?
Well. That's complex.

23. How many one-night stands?
pfft

24. What was your favorite TV program?
True Blood. Game of Thrones is ok, too.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Yes.

26. What was the best book you read?
I mostly read college texts and Harry Potter fanfiction this year. I would love to discover a new amazing book I haven't already read.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Florence and the Machine.

28. What did you want and get?
A miracle with Grant.
Ananda out of her shell.
A paid ride to school.
A particular sweater for my birthday.
A cockatoo for Aaron's birthday.
Affordable and seemingly good counseling for Isaac.
Steaks, dark chocolate and alcohol during periods.
Starbucks many mornings.
To go to Nana and Pa's for Christmas.
My brother graduating hs.
A GREAT Thanksgiving, with my Dad in attendance.
A hammock, for Mother's Day.
A kindle, for Christmas.
A radically improved sex life.

29. What did you want and not get?
The rest of my illustrations from my flaky beloved artist.
The time and resources and motivation to edit my stories and write other things.
For people to do what they're supposed to do around my house without constant nagging. Or even with.
To go to New Orleans with Jess.
Certain sexual things.
Religious clarity.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
Deathly Hallows 2. Limitless was great too, though.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I don't remember, it wasn't much. I was 30.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
An agent.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
Uh. Things that fit.

34. What kept you sane?
Meditation, indulgence, dates with Grant, late nights up snuggling and talking/reading to my kids, my own imagination.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Fancy? I have been incredibly admiring of and in awe of and just loving JK Rowling this year as I watch interviews and read stories about her as the HP story END-ends. As for "fancying", I really only get crushes I'm willing to cop to on fictional characters.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
I mostly ignored politics this year. I felt most upset by stories about birth policy and FDA bullshit, as per usual.

37. Who did you miss?
David, when he suddenly disappeared back into jail and off of my telephone. Dama, Zoe, Maria and Luci, in the fall when they couldn't come. God.

38. Who were the best new people you met?
Seth, at school. Isaac's counselor, I think. I have sort of high hopes for this local chick Ily we just met via Freecycle.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011:
All that crap I talk about total honesty doesn't work if it isn't practiced. And, if you want something different than what you've always gotten, you have to do something different from what you've always done.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

While the priest just sits and weeps
Lamenting the fact that he can see
Darkness and light in so much detail
He has given himself over
Refusing what he knows to be real
He turns away from every meal
Starving himself of goodness
He doesn't think he can heal

But you and I now
We can be alright
Just hold on to what we know is true
You and I now
Though it's cold inside
Feel the tide turning

May 2017

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