I’m writing to you from my living room, softly lit by a Christmas tree that has nothing left under it but cat hair and a trailing piece of ribbon or two. My boys are away at their dad’s until after the first of the year, so I have the next few days all to myself. I took a couple of days off from work so I could unwind after all of the excitement of the last month, which gave me time to reflect on the year that is now all but behind me.
While these last couple of months have actually been happy and progressive, the rest of 2018 was chalk-full of bad luck and mishaps; an endless string of one complication after another. This year my will was tested and my patience was pushed to the brink, from the second week of January all the way through to November.
Let’s recap, shall we?
It began with the boys having their bikes stolen right out of our carport on an unseasonably warm day in January. Then they both got rotavirus, followed by the flu two weeks after that, eating up my PTO. My car battery died in the bitter cold, forcing me to spend money on a new one and call Dad to come install it on extra-short notice. There were a couple of surprise bills and expenses that weren’t exactly in my 2018 budget, to the tune of about $1,500.00. And let’s not forget the now-infamous bed bug fiasco…responsible for about a third of that $1,500.00, all before Spring.
What followed were countless little mishaps, all spread out just right so that I could never really feel like things were settling down. A tree broken in a storm. Sudden repairs inside and outside the house. Storms and power outages the entire week of my vacation from work. By mid-Summer I was constantly on high alert wondering what was going to happen next.
Well friends, what happened next was a man. I hadn’t dated in nearly two years, but I unexpectedly met someone who made me want to open up that part of myself again. Since 2018 seemed to be the year of the curse for me I probably should’ve thought better of it. I think deep down, part of me knew to be cautious because I never shared that information with anyone outside of my regular friend group. I didn’t blog about it, take photos with him to share on Snapchat or Instagram, share anything about him on Facebook, or in any other way publicize our dating. I all but kept it to myself, until now.
Which turned out to be a smart move…fast forward a few months and it all fell apart. His ex girlfriend interfered, and he allowed her to do so. He let her back into his life again, and he kept it hidden from me. His behavior suddenly changed, and I had no idea why. When I found out I was heartbroken. Blindsided. Honestly in complete disbelief since I fully trusted him and never suspected a thing. And I was mad as hell.
I would love to say that I handled it with grace, but I’ve been pretty unforgiving following the chain of events as I worked out my anger and re-centered my life after those few months of upheaval. I’m not sure if it’s a flaw or a positive attribute, but I tend to trust and believe the best in people. When you give people the chance to prove themselves, they usually do. In what way, however, is entirely up to them.
The one final big thing that happened in 2018 was the loss of one of my best friends. It’s something I’ve made peace with and don’t want to dig deeply into since I already shared the full story in a previous blog post. The gyst of it is this: I went to Chicago to visit him and his wife one weekend in July. They were evidently having problems in their marriage, but they said nothing to me about it and kept their plans for me to visit. While I was there, his wife flipped on a dime and I was caught in the middle of whatever drama they had going on, ultimately finding myself stranded five hours from home with no place to stay because she decided at 8pm on Saturday that she wanted me to leave so they could have it out in private. I drove three hours south and stayed the night at my mom’s house, and that was the last time I spoke to either of them.
It’s no wonder that by October I had my first anxiety attack in three years. I try hard to maintain stability and peace in my life, but this year more than challenged that. Despite the constant feeling of being unsettled and the stress that grew along with it, I kept my outlook positive. I knew the rotten luck couldn’t last forever and the storm would eventually pass. Through it all I kept reminding myself–it’s just a bad year, not a bad life. This too shall pass.
And so it has. Somehow in early November, the dust of 2018 settled. I entered the holiday season feeling strong, at peace, and ready to jump back on the train of forward momentum. Despite the run of bad luck that dominated the first 10 months of this year, some pretty great things have happened as of late. As for my feelings toward the rest of 2018…well, I bid it adieu Geller style.
With that being said, here is how 2018 ended on a high note:
I lost weight! Granted it was 100% due to stress, so it wasn’t exactly the healthiest weight loss regimen. But at any rate I made it through the year, even the holidays, ranging three-to-five pounds below my original goal weight. Despite losing money to unplanned expenses, things made a good turn-around as of late and I’m ending the year feeling much more financially secure heading into 2019. My friendships have strengthened a lot this year. My whole friend group has bonded and I have some amazing people in my life that I can count on and trust with all I have.
Lastly, despite feeling resentful towards this year’s dating experience, I have to admit that it did me some good. How did being screwed over by someone who claimed to think the world of me do me good? Well first of all, the aftermath left me with a renewed focus on my personal life and my goals, and lit a spark under my writing and creativity. I’ve poured myself into my blog in a way I never have before, and even managed to find direction on a book idea. And despite the way it ended, being told constantly that I’m amazing, inspiring, and that he “isn’t worthy of me” was definitely a confidence booster. As odd as it may seem and as shitty as it turned out, I was forced to recognize my self-worth and stop taking it for granted.
“In agony, learn wisdom” –from Prometheus Bound
Now then, here is what I hope for 2019:
Sleep! Along with the stress of 2018, my insomnia returned. I spent a couple of months fighting it, and am finally back on a downward slope. Just one night of insufficient sleep is always enough to put me at half-capacity for a couple of days. I love feeling energetic so I can go and do and explore with nothing to stop me. That requires sleeping well. At least one night per week it seems that I have a crappy night of sleep, and there is nothing worse than feeling tired! In 2019 I’m going to work on getting that cut back to one night per month.
Yoga. This is something that I started about three years ago and didn’t stick with. But now more than ever I want to work at building a strong core. Perhaps the best thing about the stress of 2018 is that I lost weight. I’m below my target weight and am happy to stay there! But there is much more to loving your body than just being happy with your weight. I also want to be strong and in good shape for hiking and running around with my kids. There is nothing better for core strength than yoga, and it has the added bonus of helping ease stress and keep a healthy mindset.
Explorative Cooking. Along with picking yoga back up to keep my body strong, I’m focused on my eating too. I’ve been saying it forever–I’m a sugar addict! And Lord knows there is nothing worse for a waistline than too many sweets. But this goes beyond just eating for health. I’ve subscribed to a couple of cooking blogs, the Taste of Home Magazine, and some foodie Instagram pages. I’ve been finding a lot of inspiration to try new food combinations and put things together in recipes I never would’ve thought about before. So in 2019, not only do I want to be healthy, I also want to explore with my cooking and develop more recipes to keep in my repertoire and share on my blog.
Fun & Discovery. This is something I’ve come to realize over these last couple of months that I want to do more of. And document more of now that I have a fancy new camera! Trying new things, going new places, meeting more people, learning all that I can. I’m going to make it my mission to have at least one fun experience every week. My people skills have always been a little flat–I was the shy kid growing up and I’ve never been good at just striking up a conversation with a stranger. I tend to keep to myself and can be a little slow to warm up with people in person, and that’s a trait I would like to kick to the curb this year!
Passion. For me, that passion is writing. Obviously I use blogging as my primary outlet for that, but there are other things I would really love to explore: poetry, essays, short stories, and supporting my writing through photography. Most importantly though, is starting a book. I’ve always wanted to write a book. As a child I would sit under a tree with a book next to the playground at recess. The world around me would fade away as I was absorbed into a world on those pages, and I would imagine myself as the author of those books, etching the words onto those pages. I always knew that I would be a writer, and my very first vision of myself as a writer, was of me writing a book. I finally have a book idea, and have even developed the two lead characters. So this year it is time to start researching and writing.
Stop people pleasing. Last but not least…I’m moving into the new year with a valuable lesson that life has spent 33 years trying to teach me, and I finally am starting to absorb. If people pleasing was a high crime, I’d be doing life without parole! I’m always more concerned with how the other person feels than I am with how they might be treating me, and as a result I always let people get by with more than I should, give more chances than I should, and make excuses for them when I shouldn’t. This year I will be drawing lines in the sand, sooner rather than later. I will keep close to me the words of my beloved Maya Angelou – “when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
My word of the year: Explore. That seems to be the best word to describe my goals for 2019.
My color of the year: Orange. This is the color for adventure, and even though orange pairs horribly with my red hair, it seems to fit the theme of my 2019.
My emotion of the year: Hope. Hope for my future. Hope for my dreams. Hope for good fortune. Hope that my friends and loved ones will have the same.
With that, I say farewell to 2018, and look forward to the year to come with renewed hope and peace. In all that you do this coming year, I wish you the very best!