Every year, I try to fill out (and post) these questions from Tsh at The Art of Simple. It's a great way to take a few minutes to reflect on the last year. This year was filled with a lot of good things for our family, and I'm very thankful for that. I hope that your 2013 was filled with more joy than sadness, and I hope that 2014 is even better.
Thanks for being part of this space with me this past year. I enjoy writing and really appreciate your feedback and comments. I hope you'll decide to stick around in 2014. Who knows what it will bring. Happy New Year everyone!
1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
Wow. Single best thing? I’m not sure that I can pick one. Both of my parents were able to come visit us in Japan, I made some good friends, I went to Bali, Indonesia (!!), my first niece was born, and my in-laws came to Japan for Christmas. There were just so many blessings this year.
2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
The most challenging thing for me this year was… well… there were two things. It was very challenging to experience deployments this year. Luckily for me, my husband doesn’t have to be gone nearly as long as others, but parenting solo is definitely challenging no matter the length of time. The other challenging thing for me and my family this year was the deteroriation of my youngest sister’s mental health. She received a more severe diagnosis, went into the hospital, and it became obvious that she needed new living arrangements. It was a big transition for her.
3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
Realizing that despite my husband being deployed a couple of times, our marriage is better than ever. We haven’t necessarily been working hard on our marriage (at least it doesn’t seem like it), but we have just settled into a really, really nice place with each other.
4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
Finding out that my oldest daughter most likely has a gluten-intolerance. It’s been frustrating to not have clear answers and to see her so uncomfortable at times. It’s also been very challenging to reexamine and tweak her diet.
5. Pick three words to describe this past year.
Awakened. I feel like I’ve gotten to know myself better this year, and I hope to continue the trend. It feels good to be comfortable with who I am.
Joy-filled. We have just had such a good year filled with family and friends. The good definitely outweighed the bad.
Challenging. In a good way. I have felt challenged to stick with what I believe in, and to be confident in my decisions - in parenting, in spiritual matters, in homeschooling…. and through the challenges, I think I’ve come out feeling more authentic.
6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your year (without asking them!).
Fulfilling. I have struggled the last few years with finding fulfillment in the season of life I find myself in - immersed in child-rearing. This year I have felt more fulfilled than ever.
Exciting. Being in Japan, traveling to Bali… we’ve done some great stuff this year.
Gratifying. We paid off our debt this year, and have finally been able to save for things we want, like new cars when we move back to the states, and travel.
7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their year - again, without asking.
Challenging. Again, in a good way. My husband has a job that is much different from most other positions he could have been offered. There’s a lot of administrative Naval duties rather than just practicing medicine. I think he’s enjoyed it, even though it’s been a challenging at times.
Rewarding. Because of the challenges of my husband’s job, he’s worked hard to go above and beyond. He’s earned some special qualifications this year, and has found his niche among the ships and commands.
Also exciting. My husband has been to Korea, Guam, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Okinawa, and India. Wow.
8. What were the best books you read this year?
“Love Wins” by Rob Bell
“A Course in Miracles” by Marianne Williamson
“One World Schoolhouse” by Salman Khan
“Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden
9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
My husband, first and foremost. My children, obviously, because they are my greatest teachers. Family, friends… they are all valuable.
10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
Opening up a space online to share and grow my personal spiritual development. Finally.
11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
I became a bit more confident in myself and the decisions I make. I also got a bit better at observing my thoughts instead of being taken hostage by them.
12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?
I feel like I’m just beginning to learn the essence of what God is, after many years of searching.
13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?
Oh lord. I got bigger? This is an area that I have GOT to devote some attention to in 2014.
14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
I think I did a tad bit better at loving others this year, and of listening to them - REALLY listening. But I still have a long way to go.
15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
Watching my children learn new things and discover new places. Their excitement is contagious!
16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
Trusting that I’m doing a good job. I find myself comparing myself and my children to others who are seemingly doing things the “right” way.
17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
Facebook. Hands down.
18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
Practicing Zazen at a local Buddhist temple.
19. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?
My life’s curriculum was planned specifically for me. So whatever circumstance I find myself in, I can find comfort in knowing that things are exactly as they should be.
20. Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.
Live in authenticity.