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Retrospective 2008

One of the odd little perks of being a habitual blogger is that you have a record of time passing, reminders of how things were, how they felt. Perhaps some wouldn’t see this as a perk – I do. Sometimes, I go way back. I like to see trends, shifts. Threads of commonality. I counted my blessings at the end of 2005 and 2006.

At the beginning of 2006, I talked about having an “everything, extra pickle” kind of year. See, the thing is, I’ve never really let go of this image as something I want to hang onto in my life.

Everything, Extra Pickle
It was New Year’s Eve and I hadn’t yet developed the head cold. I was planning a party for the evening and, as you do, I thought, “I need a new drill before the party.” Thus, I found myself at Homo Depot around lunch time on New Year’s Eve. If memory serves, I had skipped breakfast that day thinking vaguely that I’d be stuffing myself will all manner of food and drink later in the day. Of course, by lunch I was starving. I found the “drilla” my dreams – not a wimpy cordless piece of crap this time – and wandered over to the Harvey’s lunch counter. When asked what I wanted on my burger, I responded as I always do … “Everything, extra pickle”. In some ways, I’m so predictable.

I sat down at one of those little plastic table/chair things and unwrapped my prize burger, piled high with goodies. Somewhere around the second bite of a Harvey’s burger with “everything, extra pickle”, the juices from all the condiments and the extra pickle can’t help but start running down one’s palm, trickling down the wrist and eventually the forearm unless you are quick with the napkin. Eating an “everything, extra pickle” burger can be a full body experience, if you let it, involving all the senses. If you let it.

I decided then and there that I wanted this to be my theme for 2006 – I want an “everything, extra pickle” kind of year. When this year is over, I want to have to take a shower from being covered with all the run-off from the tasty, indulgent, spontaneous treats I discover. Especially the tangy pickles that cross my path.

There is something in this image, for me, about having a sense of sensual abundance even in the simple everyday moments. And about being in the moment, and “getting the joy of it”, in the moment.

At the beginning of 2008, I didn’t do a “counting blessings” post. The end of 2007/beginning of 2008 was difficult, save for the scrumptious trip to Mexico at Christmas 2007. That was a welcome break. At the beginning of 2008, I was gearing up to quit my one and only contract, an extremely lucrative one, with no specific prospects in sight that appealed to me. It was a mental health decision, weighing my self-esteem and healthy self image against very satisfying financial gain. There are some things I can’t stomach and having an abusive supervisor who is threatened by me for some reason is one of them. It was a very very tenuous entry into 2008. Instead of a “counting blessings” post, I did a reflective retrospective via Kaivalya’s format.

2008 has felt momentous in so many ways. The only way in which I am not in a better place now than I was a year ago is financial, and I’m committed to changing that in 2009, damn the economic torpedos! Which brings me to my resolutions for 2009.

Resolutions for 2009

November, 2008

November, 2008

To continue with my body alteration project and reach my target weight loss of 90 lbs. To date, just prior to the holiday food fest, I had lost 69.5 lbs. This project started on June 29, 2007. Over this past summer, I added strength training and regular cardio to my hockey-playing routines. Thus, my body has significantly re-shaped itself and the weight loss probably looks more dramatic than it actually is. Although 69.5 lbs isn’t anything to sneeze at. I’m happy with that, and very happy with my changed diet and activity routines that make it possible. I do want the full 90 lbs, though. I’ll get there in 2009. (Thanks, Miriam, for the great crop on this pic!)

To end 2009 in a better financial position than it begins. To be specific, I will have created avenues for “passive” income via my various online ventures. More on this later. I have more resources at hand than your average person to make this happen. I write, I observe, I teach. People seem to like to read what I write. I can parlay these elements to my financial advantage while also feeling fulfilled creatively, by having an outlet for expression, while also “doing good by doing well”.ร‚ย  This is my ultimate personal integration project, I think. Stay tuned. ๐Ÿ™‚

This seems a good point for a Melissa Ferrick quote, dontcha think? MF has this great song, Everything I Need Is Right Here In My Hands. I remember hearing this while at the depths of a deep depression following my “divorce”. This would be early 2002. She reminded me of one of the most important lessons my mother taught me – that the only person I can count on is me, and that I possess all the tools I need to succeed. I need for nothing. It lifted me then, while in the depths. Now, when absolutely everything in my life looks rosy, except for that niggly long-term financial outlook, it reminds me again that I am so very blessed with everything I need to look after myself and be happy. I need only to trust myself, my instincts and my abilities.

Well I got money in the bank
And I got a car to drive
And I got a working set of hands
That my guitar seems to like

Cause I got a love that won’t quit
And I got time to rest
And I got a clear and able mind that sees my life
Going fine

Yay
Cause everything I need
Is right here in my hands
Right here in my hands
Right here in my hands
Everything I need
Is right here in my hands
Right here in my hands
Right here in my hands

Everything I need

And I got a floor to dance on
And I got a phone to laugh in
And I got a tub to cry in
And I got a bed to hide in

Oh but sometimes I only see what’s wrong
Sometimes I’m convinced my god has up and gone
I’ll never write a hit song
My love is going to leave me
Hanging

Hey
But everything I need
Is right here in my hands
Right here in my hands
Right here in my hands

OK – enough with the musical interlude … back to the resolution programming …

To continue to grow my hair longer. My hair is longer now than it has EVER been! It is wild woman hair!ร‚ย  It falls in my face when I least expect it to and, lately, against the back of my neck, especially when I’m at the gym. This has never happened before. I’ve never felt my hair against the back of my neck.ร‚ย  I have no idea how this is going to turn out and I guess that is the point.ร‚ย  Referring to the “trust” element in the note above, I just need to trust that my new-found comfort level with longer hair is going to take me in the right direction. (And, it’s kinda fun, this longer hair … ๐Ÿ™‚ )

To read more. Seems almost every year I resolve to read more and I just don’t seem to make it happen. I miss it and it has been missing from my life since tackling the MBA (too much reading!), coinciding with the invasion of the Internet into my life. The natural “reading” time for me, bedtime, means that I can read about a page and a half before keeling over. As I start to snooze and drift, I find myself reading the same paragraph over and over and getting not one ounce of meaning from it. Frustrating. My days are too busy and to filled with other “noise” and information for me to “make time” for this. And there are SO MANY books on my shelf that require my attention. Dammit … I must make this happen!

To take what I’ve learned these past few years and continue to be strong with regard to who I let into my life, and who I do not. I’ve been too trusting in the past and kept “friends” close to me who really were not friends. It is sometimes a really really hard call. I’m getting better at it. I need to keep getting better at it.

To live a simpler existence. I “own” too much. I have too many “things”. I throw things away too easily, opting to replace rather than repair. By the end of this year, I want my living space and storage locker to have the “stuff” in them reduced by at least 50%, and to have given away or donated all of it. Before I toss anything that is broken, I will consider having it repaired. I’m so tired of my “stuff”.

Reflective Meme:

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?

In January, I walked away from the most lucrative “job” I’ve ever had. I was asked to return in various forms (short-term retainer, facilitating meetings, one-off projects….) making the ending of that relationship quite jagged. But, in the end, it ended. And I’m better for it. I still remember the level of gut-wrenching anxiety I had about this, exactly one year ago today. I realize I’m almost taking this day “off” as an anniversary of sorts to write and reflect on just how strong and brave this decision was. I have turned down opportunities before. This was the clearest, strongest choice I’ve ever made in favour of “me” vs. “money”.

I also went on a cycling trip around Manitoulin Island that was pretty darn cool.

I bought and wore a dress for the first time in 25 years. OK, that isn’t “never”, but pretty darn close! I actually wore it twice. By choice. On purpose. Whoa.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions?
According to this post, my resolutions for 2008 were as follows:

– continue to work towards my optimal weight target and, as I get there, work on conditioning the healthy body I’ve been blessed with.

– work on self-confidence. Seriously. Present circumstances have dealt me a serious blow in this area and I need to work on getting my mojo back, so to speak.

– more music in my life … more reading … move towards a simpler existence

I did well with the first two and part of the third. The optimal weight target is so much closer, and I’m in much better condition than I’ve been since I was 18. I’m feeling stronger and more confident, for sure. I’ve had more music this year than in previous years – check. My previous note about reading speaks for itself. A simpler existence? Hm. I’ve had moments of this but, wow, it sure feels like a stronger impulse now – hence the related resolution.

3. Did someone close to you give birth?

No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No. (Knock on wood.)

5. What countries did you visit?

Barbados.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
Last year, I answered this with these words: A sense of personal stability, confidence. Happily, I managed this. In 2009, I need to top it off with a better financial picture.

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Bringing my total weight loss to 69.5 lbs.

8. What was your biggest failure?

Losing interest /momentum in self-employment. I think I’m just not cut out to do it full-time. Also, my pastry-making skills suck.

9. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Thankfully, no.

10. What was the best thing you bought?

My new watch. Both of them. Also, there are some new clothes that are pretty cool to wear.

11. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Gosh – where do I start? So many people I admire in my life. The following people deserve the Venus Award of Merit for Bravery in 2008:

Danica

Cheryl

Ewa

Miriam

(Remember … fortune favours the brave!)

The Venus Award of Merit for Complexity Grounded in Humanity goes to Cate.

The Venus Award of Merit for Most Adorable New Couple goes to Rhonda and Mary-Ann.

The Venus Award of Merit for Keeping One’s Sanity, Intelligence and Compassion Against All Odds goes to Angela.

The Venus Award of Merit for Perseverance In The Face of Crap goes to Hillary Clinton.

The Venus Award of Merit for Surprising the Hell out of Me (in a good way) goes to my brother David.

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

There are a few in my personal life. Names aren’t important. No Awards for YOU!

John McCain, Sarah Palin and the entire Republican caucus get a giant raspberry. Those who supported Proposition 8 in California have forgotten the meaning of the word “freedom” and “equality” – I feel both pity and anger when I think of them.

13. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage.

14. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Barbados.

Pride. Before, during and after. ๐Ÿ™‚

Working @ MaRS.

Manitoulin Island.

Planning my next business morphing.

Christmas.

New Year’s. ๐Ÿ™‚

15. What song will always remind you of 2008?
This one is easy – Viva La Vida!!! Although I tend to say it, “Viva La Vida, baby!”

16. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier. (phew)
ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner! ๐Ÿ™‚

iii. richer or poorer? Financially poorer, but this is a temporary situation. Emotionally, socially, spiritually? So much richer.

17. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Reading.

18. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying.

19. How did you spend Christmas?

I did a lot of baking and had some lovely social times leading up to Christmas, including a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner. My family arrived for Christmas Dinner on the day itself – eight of us here and I cooked the whole thing. I hosted a lively little party here on Boxing Day. Loved the whole thing!

20. Any one-night stands?

Not exactly. Actually, no – I’m going to say no to this. Except … well … This is harder to answer than it looks at first glance!

21. What was your favorite TV program?

Don’t really watch TV. Still love watching West Wing on DVD. I’m a creature of habit.

22. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate is an ugly word and I don’t have room for it in my life. Are there people who have plummeted in terms of my opinion of them? Yes. Does this make me sad? Yes. Am I in mourning for them as part of my life? No. This is the part that has shifted for me. They can return anytime they decide to accept me as I am rather than trying to force me to be someone I’m not.

23. What was the best book you read?
Sad to say, I didn’t finish, to the end, a single book. I started many. The one I enjoyed the most and am still trying to find time to finish is called Hold Me Tight and is about the complex emotional territory of relationships, specifically, life partnerships. What I like about this book is that it asks us to set aside our obsession with the concept of emotional co-dependence. Personally, I think any human behaviour, taken to extremes, can be regarded as a pathology. I also think we have gotten carried away with pathologizing our own complex human behaviours. When we start getting suspicious of people “needing” other people, especially within a life partnership, then something has gone haywire. By the time one has reached a place of partnership with another person, it should – I think – feel like you’ve reached a comfortable interdependence. A mutual “needing” at some emotional place. This isn’t pathology – this is life. And, one hopes, love. I like the way this book approaches this topic, asking couples to draw closer together and find comfort and safety in the “needing” rather than ask them to stand apart in individual analysis and to question their own humanity and vulnerability.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I re-discovered ColdPlay when their new CD came out. Also discovered the Puppini Sisters and have been recently turned on to Queen Latifah.

In preparation for my birthday party, I had such fun downloading artists from my past from iTunes and assembling their tunes into playlists. The Pretenders. Talking Heads. David Bowie. Huey Lewis and the News. I’m just LOVING having this stuff on my iPod.

25. What did you want and get?

New watch. Twice. But I’m not bitter.

26. What did you want and not get?

See previous whining about financial stability.

I wish there was a category for “smartest decision of the year” in which case I would answer “going back to teach at the college”. Given the current economic times, I can’t imagine trying to drum up work to keep myself going, especially since I dislike that part so much. Teaching pays less than consulting, thus my current angst. This too shall pass.

27. Favorite film of this year?

Milk is amazing and Sean Penn is a tour de force. I strongly recommend that folks moved by Milk watch the documentary that came out in 1984, The Times Of Harvey Milk. Also brilliant, and equally as gut-wrenching to watch. Mamma Mia is just such a joyful, campy romp of a film, beautifully lit and spectacularly filmed, and it doesn’t dodge the aging of women, nor does it regard older women as sexless creatures. Au contraire … ! Last Chance Harvey was the sweetest little film and I highly recommend it. I also enjoyed Men’s Group, an Austrailian cinema veritรƒยฉ that knocked my socks off, and Austrailian films don’t generally do that. There are a number of films I didn’t see and should have, Slum Dog Millionaire being one of them.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Turned 45. Had an awesome party, as one should when one turns 45, I think.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I honestly can’t think of a single thing. (except for the resolution of that niggling money thing … I sense I’m not alone with this particular issue)

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?

Triceps.

31. What kept you sane?

Remembering, sometimes quite specifically and dramatically, everything my mother taught me. Except, I should have been paying much closer attention during Pastry-Making 101.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Emma Thompson. I mentally toss my undies and hotel room key at the screen whenever she is on it.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

The US Election, particularly when Hillary and Obama were facing off. I found the media’s treatment of Hillary to be abysmal and shockingly retrograde. Obama rocks, don’t get me wrong, but the vilification of Hillary showed us how far we have to go to have women regarded as fully qualified people with actual leadership qualities.

34. Who do you miss?

My mom.

Warren.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

This is an impossible question to answer as 2008 has brought a host of new, vibrant, amazing, breath-taking and beautiful people to my life. I am truly blessed. An embarassment of riches, one might say.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.

This was the year of making peace with some of my control issues. Of letting go of a lot of them. Of learning to take big risks again and knowing, ahead of time, that I could live with any outcome. Of remembering that fulfilled expectations aren’t as important as the journey one takes towards them. Of taking it as it comes. Of “living the life” that is at once my own creation and a bundle of serendipitous coincidences and bolts from the blue.

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2 comments to “Retrospective 2008”

  1. I’ve never received an award before. I’m so excited. And what a great award it is too! Thank you!!!!

  2. I respectfully accept the Venus Award and laud the person who awarded it for keeping my neurons firing through many a Scrabble game during what was a rather long year for me. After reading how YOUR 2008 went, I am determined to make it MY 2009!

    Missed you today,
    Danica

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