I was talking to my mom this morning, and she said she hadn't liked 2011 that much--there was just a lot of bad news, she thought. I can understand her sentiment, though also I don't think my mom has had what she might consider a "good" year in a long time. I'm not sure what would be a good year, actually--probably not having so many health problems, and maybe being more financially secure.
But I also know a little bit what she means. We were doing highs and lows around the dinner table last night, except of instead of talking about our highs and lows for the day we did them for the year. Not an easy task, both because it's hard to remember everything that happened over a year and because it occurred to me that it was sort of a difficult year. There were many blessings and wonderful highlights, but also some struggles.
I may futz with these as I remember things and reflect more. But without further ado, my highs and lows for 2011 are as follows:
My family. My girls are here with me, and so is my husband. Most important thing.
My health. I had some hiccups here and there but all and all it was a really healthy year.
My job. All around me, all around the world, people are struggling with losing their jobs. Apart from one fairly big oops at work I never really questioned my job security. And most days I'm happy to go to my office, to teach, to write.
Amazing, delightful, fun- and laughter-filled trips to Monterey, Logan, Bogota, and Kentucky. What dear friends I made on these trips, and the laugh attacks were delightful. Some of my favorite memories are lying on the deck in Logan in the early morning while a hundred bats swooped and dove over my head; skinny dipping (well, almost) in a high mountain lake, and falling on my ass on the hike up there; dancing until late into the night in Bogota, and witnessing the kindness of strangers; tramping around with some amazing sloats in Monterey, drinking wine that tasted like feet; running 200 miles across the Bourbon Trail with some of the funniest and best-natured people I've met. God, just writing this, I'm smiling and feeling incredibly lucky.
Learning how to run. This fall, I ran 2 half-marathons, a 10K, and a 200-mile relay. I stopped running a bit after Thanksgiving but am back at it. Every time I head outside or step on the treadmill I know that I'm going to feel strong and relaxed for the rest of the day because of it. I still hate it sometimes. I still have terrible runs. I'm still slow. I still puke after every race. But I love it, and I'll do it as long as I can. I hope 2012 brings more half-marathons, and maybe even in a few years I'll do the long one. We'll see.
My children being at the same school. Even though it stinks to have to drive them half-way across town most days, we have a home at our school now, and my girls are really happy in their classes. They love their teachers and have good friends.
My beautiful friends, spirit teachers, guides, and adopted family. I'm so grateful for these wacky ladies in my neighborhood, who support me in this mothering adventure like no others; for all of the sisters and aunties, steadfast and hearts bursting with kindness and support; for the dozens of lunches and cocktail hours and hugs and books and music and crying and celebrations and love and love and love. I am so, so rich.
My students and coworkers, who have challenged me, pushed me, made me laugh, taught me, and encouraged me to show up and give as much as I can to my work every day. They were also very, very patient with my idiosyncracies and bizarrerie.
And, of course, Boden's fall line of corduroy dresses was a significant high in my life. Long live the Brits.
My grandma Muggs passed. I'm glad she didn't linger and suffer for a long time, and that she was surrounded by people she loved when she passed. But I wish that I had seen her more before she went, and I wish that I could have spent more time with that side of the family at her funeral.
My grandma June almost dying, several times, and seeing her deteriorate quite a bit as time passes.
The health struggles of friends and family. My mom and stepdad haven't improved much (though stasis is okay), and several friends continue to struggle with illnesses or injuries. Their struggles aren't my struggles, I get it. But still I ache for them and wish them wellness.
Having to fight to be paid as much as male colleagues at work, and falling just short of the mark despite my best efforts. Dealing with the bitterness and anger this engendered in me.
Failing at teaching a new class last spring, which ate up a lot of mental energy.
Struggling with the fundamental mission of my university at times, which I both benefit from and rail against. I invited some anti-mining activists to the university, which got me and some of my lovely colleagues in hot water and took a long time to sort out. I was afraid and angry about this, too.
Leaving a productive research group in order to salvage friendships and a good work environment.
Dealing with marauding hormones. Thank you, dear birth control pill, for coming back into my life.
Still addressing, after 9 years of marriage, stale and unhealthy communication patterns with E. I fear sometimes we will never get them figured out, but I know this is not true, and that we will push through, stay in it with each other, and come out the other side better.
Dealing with Nolie's rotten sleep issues (now mostly resolved, thank goodness).
E.'s misery at work.
Now that I have this all written out, I don't like the idea of saying 2011 wasn't a good year. In fact, it was. Even the sad or difficult times taught me a lot, and I'm a better person than I was a year ago, which is the best you can ask from a year, I think.
Again, I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for all of these blessings, and for all of you. Here's to a terrific 2012!