(Belated) Happy New Year!

I had this pre-written post for New Years, based off one of those end-of-year questionnaires that go around, but it was like 45 questions long and my answers were not a sentence apiece. So I decided instead to do this:

13 Things I Loved About 2013

1. In January, my friend Mishka introduced me to her SO at my bday dinner — our varying work schedules had prevented the introduction before. Mishka is the sweetest person I know, and life has thrown some real challenges at her over the past few years. Being able to celebrate her new relationship and pregnancy on my birthday was a great start to a new year. 

2. In February, my beautiful son turned 11 years old. I can’t believe how fast he’s growing. He’s brilliant, funny, clever, verbose, and snarky. I’m so lucky to be his mom.

austin

3. In March, I received my first-ever performance-based raise. 

4. April was a month of much awesomeness — John and I celebrated 12 years of marriage; my good friend Brienne moved back to town; and I had the opportunity to attend the WPC-14. 

John's anniversary gift on his inaugural ride.

John’s anniversary gift on the inaugural ride.

5. In May, I reconnected with my oldest brother, “Drew.” We both apologized for past words and actions, and began the process of repairing our relationship.

6. In June, I received a glowing evaluation (and full credit) in my courses. I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting an evaluation that positive. After the eval meeting, I felt like a valued and respected member of the community — someone who made positive contributions to the discussions and helped her classmates. Given that work had by this time devolved into Ms. Boss nitpicking and questioning everything I did, the affirmative feedback regarding my intelligence and assistance was immeasurably valuable to my emotional well-being.

7. In July, we met some amazing new people. They opened their home to us and hosted an awesome 4th of July bbq/ fireworks show, as well as a UFC viewing night. Great food, great conversations, and great entertainment.

We used to spend it with the in-laws, so this is a nice change.

We used to spend it with the in-laws, so this is a nice change.

They reminded me how cool and invigorating social gatherings can actually be (at some point over the past decade, I began conflating social gatherings with family gatherings, and had therefore soured a bit on the concept). July also saw the arrival of Mishka’s daughter Rayne, a beautiful cherub whom I have proclaimed my adopted niece (with Mishka’s blessing).   

8. In August, I was fired because (as my boss explained) our communication styles did not mesh. I was shocked at the time, but it ended up being better for our family. Plus, we were able to use the last few weeks of summer to pack in some serious family vacation time — including a trip to Silverwood and the Grand Coulee Dam, as well as meeting up with Drew for the first time in almost 6 years! 

I love the old-timey photo places.

The three of us at Silverwood Theme Park in August 2013.

9. In September, I tried canning for the first time, and it was AWESOME. Canned peaches, peach jam, peach salsa, applesauce, apple butter, plum jam — I tried it all and I LOVED it!!! 

10. In October, John took me to Wordstock in Portland, and I was able to get into three writing workshops! Afterward, we met up with Drew at McMenamin’s Pub and enjoyed dinner and drinks with my brother.

That's pretty happy.

Wordstock makes me as happy as this GIF does.

11. In November, John started his new work schedule, which has improved his work-life balance and given us more time as a family (and as a couple!). Then we went to Mishka’s for a three-family Thanksgiving dinner, which may be the start of a new tradition!

12. In December, I reconnected with my other older brother, “Eddie,” who I haven’t really spoken with since his divorce! I’ve missed him a lot, and I hope we can also find space to reforge our relationship.

13. In 2013, my life was enriched by the people I love most. The value of relationships — family and friends — was reinforced to me. John and I fell in love again (as we do every year!), old friendships were renewed, new acquaintances were formed, and family bonds were rediscovered.

All these feels are exemplified in the movie, The Heat. In unrelated news, The Heat was the best movie of the year.

I’ve got to admit — it was hard to find things that were happy in the first 6 months of 2013. During that time, both John and I were struggling with high amounts of stress and depression, mostly related to a complete lack of work-life balance. There was also some on-going family stress in there (for John), and some medical issues (for me). During the first 6 months of the year, my family and friendships renewed and refreshed me. They brought me peace and comfort; an escape from the dreary grey monotony of work and pain.

In the second half of the year, as our work, family, and medical situations were alleviated, we were able to pay it forward to the friends and loved ones who had been there for us when we were aching in the dark. Love begets love, and we have been so lucky to be surrounded with love this year.

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