Monday, February 5, 2018

Farewell to 2017

I've finally managed to complete my usual year-end questions...better late than never!  :)

1.  What did you do in 2017 that you'd never done before?
Geoff and I became cottage owners.

2.  Did you keep your new years' resolutions and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any new resolutions for 2017, though I did decide early in the year that I wanted to continue with my 2016 habit of tracking our finances for the year. I didn't entirely meet this goal, as I tracked our monthly cash flow only through to the end of August. I plan to resume now in January for 2018, because it really, really made a difference to our bottom line in 2016 and I wish I'd continued it through to the end of 2017.

I have made no resolutions for 2018.

3.  Did anyone close to you die?
Yes, sadly, we lost my beautiful sister-in-law, Cathy, on October 16.  It's hard to write that...I can still hardly believe it sometimes, and the hugeness of it snatches my breath unexpectedly at times.

4.  Did you travel?  Did you visit other countries?  Where did you go?
Just two short trips to Vancouver this year...the first to say good-bye to Cathy in August...the second to be at her Celebration of Life in October. 

The cottage consumed the rest of our vacation time, and all of our budget.

5.  What would you like to have in the coming year that you lacked in the year past?
* More one-on-one time with each of the kids.
* More time with Geoff...on date nights, etc.

6.  What date(s) from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory and why?
June 13: hearing that my BIL, Andrew, had been in a terrible accident and was in hospital with burns to much of his body. 

October 16: hearing that my sister-in-law, Cathy, had passed away. When we celebrated her life twelve days later, it was the most beautiful service I've ever been was like she was there. We talked, laughed, shared memories and other deep thoughts, and it was as beautiful a time as I've ever experienced.

7.  What was your biggest achievement of the year and why? or What things are you proud of?
Pulling out some of my dusty conflict resolution skills to help out a friend and some of the people she worked with. I had a strong sense that I was responding to something God asked me to do, and I felt totally at peace and confident throughout these months. I also really loved using some of my old professional skills and I think that the grey hairs I've accumulated in the last 5-6 years actually lent some wisdom and experience to my work. It was nice to know, too, that my contribution made a difference to others.

8.  What was your biggest failure of the year and why?
I think I suck at building family traditions. I tend to defer to spontaneity rather than sticking to tradition, and I regret this. I want my kids to grow up and know as adults that at Christmas time we..., and that for birthdays or easter, we..., and so on.

Another thing is that I barely scratched the surface of all of my year's intended organizational projects. There are seriously so many things that need doing around here.

9.  Did you suffer illness or injury?
The only illness I suffered was just a week or two ago, right before Christmas, when I had the flu for three days.

At the very beginning of the year, January 01, 2017, Matthew careened off of a tobogganing hill and broke his arm in two places.

My Mom was in the hospital for the first six months of the year; my brother-in-law was in hospital for ten days after being involved in a terrible explosion...we're so thankful we didn't lose him; and of course, my SIL Cathy suffered so much before finally leaving us for a far better place.

10.  What was the best/biggest/most novel thing you bought?
Definitely our cost a pretty penny and we're back into having a mortgage! But it's been well worth it so far...we had a blast there this spring/summer/fall!

11.  Whose behaviour merited celebration/recognition?
My brother, David. How he acted in the months leading up to my SIL's passing was remarkable. His commitment and loyalty to her was incredible to witness.

12.  Whose behaviour made you appalled and/or depressed?
One word here: Trump...again.  Sometimes Justin Trudeau, too.

13.  Where did most of your money go?
Easy. Cottage.

14.  What did you get really, really excited about?
A little sadly, I can't remember anything that I got really, really excited about in 2017. I feel a little flat in some ways...not enough to be concerned, but enough that I realize that I'd like to feel excited about something again in the coming year.

15.  What song(s) did you enjoy this year?
Music moves me like little else does...I can get so lost in it. I could probably name 100+ individual songs I've loved this year, but the ones that some first to mind for this year are:

* Two Cellos (if you've never heard/seen them, go check them out on Youtube...amazing)
* Peter Bence...particularly playing Sia's Cheap Thrills and Michael Jackson's Black or White.
* 21 Pilots...lots of their stuff...some fav songs that come to mind are Screen, Ode to Sleep, Car Radio, etc
* Elevation Worship's O Come to the Altar
* Christina Perri - the stuff of hers that I love isn't new, but still...A Thousand Years...
* Rachel Platten's Fight Song
* Havana, by Camila Cabello
* Fink's Looking Too Closely
* Pink's What About Us? (her voice...)
* anything Matt Redman
* maybe even a little Meagan Trainor's Better When I'm Dancing

16.  Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Well, I've certainly struggled with sadness this year as my sister-in-law battled for her's no surprise that it's difficult when someone we love suffers and passes away. And yet, I've had some very happy and fulfilled moments this year, too, mostly during the months I was using my conflict res skills again. And I've also felt more peaceful and relaxed this year during our months at the cottage, when it was so good to just rest a little more, and relax. Finally, I've also felt more comfortable in my skin this be more ok to be myself.

ii. thinner or fatter?  Not much change on that front, I'm afraid. 

iii. richer or poorer? Definitely poorer! Between the purchase of the cottage and the purchases we made towards it this summer, definitely poorer!

17.  What do you wish you'd done more of?
* more time listening to music.
* more time reading out loud to the kids. They're so into audio books over the past number of months and often seem to prefer that to being read aloud to by me. But I've missed our regular tea-and-reading-out-loud times, and want to resume this a little more often.
* I wish I'd played more games with the kids.
* more time going for walks with the kids and the dogs.
* reading my bible.

18.  What do you wish you'd done less of?
Deviating from the school/weekday schedule that I thoughtfully created for our fall/winter.

19.  How did you spend Christmas Day?
For the first time in quite a long time, the five of us were alone together on Christmas morning. For many years we've spent it with family, either on a family trip or having my folks over for Christmas brunch. But this year we were on our own until early/mid afternoon, when we made our way to my parents' house for time and a meal together. It was a lovely day.

Geoff and I decided not to do gifts with the kids this year, other than a book and some PJs. It ended up being so ok to do this. The kids still got a gift or two from my folks, but it was just fine the way it was. In lieu of gifts, we are putting a little money aside for a road trip that the kids and I hope to make in spring. 

20.  What was your favourite tv program(s) in 2017?
In no particular order:
* Velvet
* Timeless
* Offspring

21.  What's the best book you read this year?
That's a hard one, but maybe I'd say Beartown, by Fredrik Backman. The Christmas book I received from Geoff may well be one of my favs of 2018, because Gregory David Robert's Mountain Shadow  (sequel to one of my favourite books of all times, Shantaram) has started out to be that good; but we'll have to see what else I finish in 2018.

The kids and I also really liked reading the popular book Wonder, too, and we loved the movie.

22.  What did you want and get?
Hammocks for the cottage...heaven!

23.  What did you want and not get?
I have enough of everything.  More than enough. 

24.  What was your favourite film?
I saw almost no movies in theatres this year...unusual for me, because I love the cinema experience. But I continue to watch a few movies year after year and they continue to be amongst my favourites:  Anne of Green Gables (the Meagan Follows version); North and South (with Richard Armitage...sigh); Twilight (yes, really, still); and Pride & Prejudice (I love all versions, but my fave is still the Matthew McFadden one). Oh, and Far From the Madding Crowd.

25.  What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
I turned 51 in 2017. I spent the day at the cottage with my was relaxed and great.

26.  What one thing would have made your year immeasurably satisfying?
Sigh...a little weight loss...a little more physical activity.

27.  How would you describe your personal fashion concept this year?
Maybe a little better than in the past?  I tried, regularly, to layer a shirt/jacket over a shirt - this is generally a pretty good look for me.  I generally suck at clothing, though. 

28.  What kept you sane?
For a significant number of years, I have struggled with feeling incompetent in almost every area of my life. As a parent, as an adoptive parent, as a homeschooler, as a friend, as a daughter/sister/wife. I almost never feel competent or enough.

This year, however, I had a few flashes of something different. I did some volunteer work for a school that two of my kids attend on Thursdays, and the type of work that I did was something I'm good at and hadn't practiced in a number of years. I had a glimpse into another aspect of the woman God created me to be, and it added a whole level of confidence to my very being that I haven't felt in a very long time.

29.  Which celebrity/public figure did you admire/fancy the most?
I'm not sure on this front. I think I'll defer this question until next year...I'm not a huge celebrity follower.

30.  Who was the best new person you met?  Who did you meet for the first time?
This year that credit goes to Francine.  Technically, I met her in August of 2016, but that was just a meeting up. It's this year that our paths have become intertwined and I am glad now to count her amongst my friends.

In the past few months of the year, I also met and began to get to know the two new women who, with their children, joined our homeschool Learning Centre on Tuesdays.  Julie and Susan are, frankly, pretty amazing women and I am blessed to be getting to know them.  

When we changed churches in fall'17, I also had opportunity to meet two women I'd been hearing lovely things about for several years. Kellie and Christie have been delightful to meet and start to get to know, and our paths seem to be crossing on at least a few fronts...and I'm loving it. Two of Kellie's boys have become friends with my Matthew now, and I'm really enjoying these connections.

Finally (and I know this list is going on for too long, especially given that the list was to mention one person!), I met a young man named Jordan in September, who is the Student Ministries Director at our new church. He blew me away with his passion for the kids attending the youth program, and it directly impacted my boys...especially Matthew. For a long time, we've been needing more church connections for our kids, and Jordan was for me, a beacon of hope in this journey.  

31.  Who did you miss?
Oh, I miss Cathy. That's an easy one, and the one that fills my heart and eyes immediately. It's only been a few months since we lost her, and I miss her smile and her laugh every day.

32.  Any other highlights / lowlights of the year not already discussed?
Definitely the cottage was a highlight this year. I would never have guessed how much, and how quickly, I would come to love being there.

33.  What valuable lesson(s) did you learn in 2017?
It's not a new lesson, to be sure, but the need to be in the moment is so pressing...we never know how long we have on this earth, and I was reminded of that so many times throughout 2017.

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