Closing the door on 2011

I have a private journal I’ve kept up since 2011. Unfortunately, in the past couple of years its just become a place to dump my Twitter feed to for safe keeping. But once upon a time, I wrote in it daily. A few years, I would take the last week of December to do a year-end wrap-up. I’d write about what happened in each given month of the previous year, taking a trip down memory lane.

Eventually, however, that ceased to happen. And since then, I have given each year end a little bit of a cursory nod, but never the kind of attention I once gave. I’d like to say that this year will be different, that I’ll go month-by-month again. But, I can’t say that, because I, frankly, just don’t have time to go that in depth. I do, however, want to give this year some closure.

My  mom sent me an email with a newsletter giving ways to bring closure to the year. In it, Mike Robbins writes about how we need to give one year closure before we jump into the next one with all these hopes for where it will lead.

Last year at this time, we were in the process of moving. I was forced to find closure on the previous three years of living in the house we were in, and I embraced 2011 with hope and optimism as change was going on all around me. My address changed, and so did many ways I viewed various things. This year, though, I feel like I’m just rolling into 2012 without much fanfare. Its just another year. January 1st, just another day. I don’t really have optimism, but I don’t feel dread either. I’m a bit ambivalent to the whole thing.

So perhaps I am one who has a bigger need to find closure to 2011 than I would normally be as a year comes to a close. I thought I’d tackle the four questions found in Robbins’ newsletter.

1) What were my biggest lessons in 2011?

Absolutely the strong difference between want and need was my biggest lesson. This past year was a rebuilding one, financially, for my husband and myself. With that, I also learned the deep satisfaction that comes with paying for items with cash. I learned how to NOT live on credit and instead was reminded what it meant to put your money in a jar (or in my case, a big envelope) until you’d saved up enough money to purchase that great big WANT.

I learned my love for photography really can be more than just a hobby. I found a deep interest in the creative process of bringing music to life, and I discovered a potential market for documenting that process. I caught myself critiquing other’s photos with a better eye than just, “Oh that’s pretty!” and I soak in how other’s approach photography — both in what to do and what NOT to do.

On the writing side, I finally learned and held my first giveaways. I learned about how social networking in person can help you in the online world. I discovered even more strongly the kindred spirits I have in other bloggers.

Medically, I have learned an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If I will stay on a strict regimen for my sinuses, I won’t be so crippled by infections. You’d think I’d have known that already, but I REALLY learned it this year.

2) What am I most proud of from this past year?

See question 1. I am most proud of the fact that my husband and I ended the year without accruing any new debts. (Outside of an ER bill.)

I am proud that I have embraced myself as a writer and a photographer, not just as “trying to get into it.” I am proud that I’ve kept this blog going and its continuing to pick up traffic and grow consistently. I am super proud of the work I did on Rick’s CD, leading me even deeper down the photography path.

Finally, I am proud of becoming a biggest piece of our work-puzzle. Working more consistently has given me a nice feeling of satisfaction. I’ve met so many interesting people, many of which I’d have never met had I not been behind the bar this year.

3) What were my biggest disappointments in 2011?

I set the bar high for myself. I may not admit that out loud to anyone, but deep down I always set it high. While my blog does continue to grow, its growing slower than I’d like for it to grow. I am disappointed that I haven’t gone to any blogger conferences, nor attended any photo walks. I once again failed to complete NaNoWriMo.

I fully thought I’d be further in making photography profitable for myself, but I have to acknowledge there is still a lot more expense I need to go into first to really get that off the ground. Baby steps… even if I don’t want them to be.

On a personal note, I do wish we were closer to being able to purchase our own house, or maybe be back to two vehicles. And I had hoped we’d be more solidly ready to take steps towards starting a family.

4) What am I ready to let go of from this past year?

My disappointments for the year. They are heavily outweighed by the lessons and successes of the year. When many people look back on 2011, they call it a bust. When I look back on it, I call it a success. Maybe I didn’t grow to the levels I had hoped I would, but I sure didn’t backslide for a change!

But perhaps that is where I don’t feel this big surge into the new year. I didn’t necessarily grow “big time” this past year, but I didn’t backslide. I didn’t stagnate, but I think I easily could do that right now. Just go with the status quo as it stands now, content with where I am for awhile. But I don’t WANT to do that. I want to keep striving forward. I want to keep pushing. I want to build a positive momentum from here on out. And maybe… maybe I am afraid I won’t do that?  Hmm…

5) What else do I need to do or say to be totally complete with 2011?

This might sound bizarre to some people, but I need to clean out my closet. I need to clear out old things physically to be ready to clear them out mentally and emotionally. I may have to actively do this on the 1st since I won’t have time today to do it. But, I need to do something like that…I need to physically let go of things. I need to clean. I need to rearrange a room. Something like that.

Happy New Year, everyone. See you all in 2012…

Texas Christmas wrap-up

We made it home to Nashville from Texas yesterday morning. The 13 hour drive seemed longer than usual, and I attribute that partly to our lack of being in any hurry to come back. We just had that fabulous of a time!

Our plans to head to Oregon for Christmas were canceled thanks to budget concerns and the crazy-high prices of flights at the holidays. So we instead headed to Texas to spend the holiday with my family. Amusingly, the weather, for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, was all Oregon. Misty rain and cold. But our visit ended with warmer temps and sunshine.

I have to say… there was just something about this Christmas. It was so relaxed! It was just filled with this wonderful peace and joy. Its impossible to explain, but it was a special trip for sure. And while my husband and I knew we had to make the trip back home to Nashville to work this weekend, we just couldn’t get motivated to actually leave. We put it off as long as we could before making the long drive back.

Now, any time I am back in Texas, I have this little (okay maybe its kind of long) list of places I’d love to visit and things I’d like to do. I usually do good to knock one or two of the items off the list. This trip? I knocked off more than my fair share of things!

I got to see family, of course. Quality time with my parents, brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew is priceless, and always at the very top of the list. I have cousins I’d really like to get to spend time with as well, but those visits tend to be rare just due to time constraints. I got to see one of my girl friends to do a quick gift exchange. But friends’ visits will have to wait until I am down for an extended period of time for tax season. And that’s okay… we can spend more time than the rushed visits of the holidays.

Food: Whataburger! Freebirds! Mexican food in general! Green’s Sausage House! Czech Stop! Hiway 77 Cafe! Blue Bell and Dr Pepper! (Granted I can get both of those in Nashville, too, but they just taste better when actually IN Texas.) Places: Aggieland! Frenstat, where my husband and I got married, and where my grandparents are all buried. Cavender’s Boot City!

I got to do all of these things! Crazy cool, I gotta admit. Oh, I always leave things left undone. We wanted to go for a drive in my old truck from high school. There are various people we would love to go visit. And there are locations we always want to take time to explore, but we rarely have time to do so.

But you know, that’s a good thing. I would hate to ever leave not wanting more time.

Time visiting Texas is precious to me. Nashville is definitely home, but I’m a Texan at heart for life. And a Texas Christmas? Well… that’s just something super special to me. Now I look ahead to a planned trip to Oregon in the next couple of months. Ready to go experience my husband’s home with him and embrace his list of things to do. Bring it on!

And then I saw it…

Ornaments

My Christmas is not over. Not until I say it is. And I’m not saying it yet.

No, in my family, we usually kept Christmas alive until at least January 1st. The tree stayed lit. There were Christmas goodies left to eat. All the presents were just as new as the day we opened them. Christmas was not over just because the calendar said so.

I am not a fan of starting Christmas too early. Stores start stocking Christmas decor before Halloween, and that is just WRONG. Thanksgiving deserves its own attention, and Christmas can get its own attention in turn. Again, I do not want to rush Christmas… neither in starting it, nor in ending it.

So yesterday, as we took off on a ride through the country, the adventure felt just as much a part of Christmas as did wrapping presents and baking cookies. In fact, we picked up a gift for the people watching our house for us while we are away. (Hey, I do NOT leave my house unattended for an extended period of time… robbers take note. I have people watching over my house, and they have guns and know how to use them. So there.) We even went to look at Christmas lights on the way back home!

But it was while we were shopping that I saw it. I saw the biggest travesty of them all.

VALENTINE’S DAY THINGS ARE OUT ON STORE SHELVES!

There was a lady stocking the card section of the grocery store and I really wanted to go over, yank the cards out of her hands and give her a big, “What. The!?!?!?” if I didn’t know she was just doing her job and probably found the action just as stupid as I did.

I mean. I love Valentine’s Day. Sure. But its DECEMBER 26th!!!! No one has ended their Christmas goodies hangovers yet! Heck some of us are still working on them! And we still have New Year’s Eve to celebrate! And… and… just… c’mon! Really!?

(Can you tell by the sheer use of exclamation points above how very, very wrong I find this entire thing to be?)

I’m appauled. I’m disappointed. I’m reaching for another sugar cookie and peppermint schnapps flavored hot chocolate to drown out my sorrows. Christmas isn’t over to me, yet. We aren’t even in the next year yet. Please don’t rush the next holiday.

Please?