Tonight I'm reflecting back on 2011 with the help of Simple Mom. Hop on over and download the free PDF of 20 questions to get you started. I like to do this every year to make sure I keep some perspective on where my life has been and where I'd like it to go. And as usual, I'll be brutally honest.
1. What was the single best thing that happened to you this year?
Feeling like my relationship with my husband is better than it has ever been. We went through some rough patches and I worried that we wouldn't come out of them together. Things between us are in a great place right now and I couldn't be more thankful.
2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
On a late-night drive back home from Virginia, we barely missed a couple of tornadoes and squeaked by a third one by less than half a mile. The kids were asleep when we drove into the destruction and we spent 3 hours helping tornado victims that had been tossed around in their vehicles. It was the most terrifying night of my life.
3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
Finding out that we are going to move to Japan. We didn't think it would be obtained so easily.
4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
We were blessed with a year that makes it hard for me to answer this question. But, for the sake of answering every one, I'll say that my laparoscopy was pretty unexpected. And considering my husband (who nursed me back to health and took charge of the house) lamented that evening that "my job was harder than his," I think it was quite an obstacle for him.
5. Pick three words to describe 2011.
2011 was, for me, renewing. After struggling with post-partum depression for over a year, I felt like I started finding myself again. What a good feeling. The year was... fluid. We moved to a new place and just found out we'll be moving overseas this summer. We'll just go with the flow. It was also a year of the unknown. So many things in our lives were out of our control this year that we had to give up on trying to make the perfect plans. And wouldn't you know, it all worked out splendidly.
6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2011 (don't ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you).
Challenging. The Hubs knows I have struggled with the whole "mom" gig.
Petty. I think that sometimes, he thinks that the things I occupy myself with at home are dumb and insignificant. Don't get me wrong, he's a great husband. But, I would put money on my guess.
Restorative. Like I said, I've found myself again after going to a horrible dark place. I think my man would agree.
7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2011 (again, without asking).
Stressful. As I mentioned earlier, there were a lot of unknowns in our life this year. Stress, at times, oozed from that man.
Fast. We did a lot of things and moved a lot of places this year. I think that there were times when we both felt like we were just hanging on for the ride.
Forgiving. For all the late-nights studying and demanding rotations that plagued the last 4 years of medical school, The Hubs was able to make up for it with a lot more time at home with family this year. It has been wonderful.
8. What were the best books you read this year?
"Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer. Sometimes, a busy mom just needs a little hit of crack cocaine to make it through a bad day. I could snort a line of Edward every day.
"The Veganist" by Kathy Freston. We went vegan for a month, and this book forever changed my view of food.
"The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. Just a damn good book.
9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
Jeanne. Of the THE BEST friends I had during medical school. She was a life-saver when I needed some real life-saving. I couldn't have gotten through those last two years without her.
Stephanie. Despite differences in belief and opinion, she is one person who I can talk more openly with than many other people that I've known for years.
Whitney. A new friend in our new town who has been a god-send. She was my go-to family when I needed any sort of help and my girls have fallen in love with her family.
And oh god, just too many more to name.
10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
By outward appearance, my hair. After 13 years of shoulder-length curly hair, I chopped it off. Now, my husband's hair borders on being longer than my own. My most personal change, however, has been becoming more honest, at ease, and open about my beliefs - even if it make cause me some heartache at times.
11. In what ways did you grow emotionally?
About 2 months ago, I weaned off of my anti-depressant that I'd been on since May of 2010. I had tried to come off of it two previous times, but each time, it did not go well. I was beginning to feel like I was stuck on the medicine; I was not a good mother without it. But this summer and fall, I started cutting back on my dosage. I was nervous when I decided to stop taking it in November, and though I did have about a month where things were a little tense, I'm ecstatic to say that I've been off of all my medication since.
12. In what ways did you grow spiritually?
We found a great spiritual community here and since our kids are constantly growing, we've realized that we need to take more responsibility for what we want to teach them about religion and spirituality. For me personally, it's meant that while I don't push my own beliefs in others' faces, I also don't hide who I am for fear of being different or facing conflict. I want to teach my children integrity and the best way to do that is to have some integrity myself.
13. In what ways did you grow physically?
I actually found a workout class that I like! I joined a gym after our move and started going to a class called "Piyo." It's a mix of pilates and yoga and I love the instructor and all the ladies in the class. I have noticed more strength and flexibility in my body and those things have been a welcomed improvement.
14. In what ways did you grow in your relationships with others?
I think I learned to listen a little better this year and instead of trying to fix someone's problem the way I would like it to turn out, I tried to offer help and support in the way that was the most meaningful to that person. I think I did better at this, anyway.
15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (professionally, at-home or both)?
There is nothing better than seeing your children becoming the kind of individuals you want and hope for them to be. Hearing Thing 1 say, "Sister! You are making me very angry!" instead of hitting her or hearing Thing 2 say, "Made me sad!" instead of just screaming, makes me so proud because I know they are actually listening and paying attention to what I'm trying to teach them. I have also really loved blogging this year. It's been such a great way to express myself and keep a record of all things good and bad on this journey through motherhood.
16. What was the most challenging part of your work (professionally, at-home or both)?
Long days filled with screaming, whining, and crying. Hardest part of the job. You can only take so much before you feel like you're going to blow a gasket.
17. What was the single biggest time-waster in your life this past year?
Definitely Pinterest and, basically, the internet in general. I love finding all sorts of new crafts, DIY things, and organizing ideas but I end up looking at them more than I actually do them.
18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
To ignore what I was planning on doing and spending my time goofing-off or playing with my girls instead. Also, getting up an hour earlier than the kids in the morning (though it's been a while since I did this...) REALLY helped my productivity levels.
19. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?
That I am my children's lifeguide. Looking at things - especially the difficult situations - with this perspective drastically changes the way I react to things. It has made tough times much easier to get through.
20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2011 for you.
2011 was the year that I started finding my way out of some of the hardest years of my life as a young mother. It's so nice to feel like I'm getting to know myself again.