Category Archives: problem solving

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…

Expect the unexpected

If you’ve ever watched CBS’s Big Brother, you know the mantra for the show is “Expect the Unexpected.” I’ve found that to be a pretty good mantra for life. Life likes to throw you curve balls. Some are gentle, and they hardly even register as a curve ball. Some are so curved you can’t possibly swing without carefully investigating if you should even try.

Now, the unexpected happens a lot with a touring musician husband. Last minute shows. Cancelled shows. Traffic keeping them from getting home by a certain time. Weather, flights, gear malfunctions, any number of things can happen. I am generally, as a result, pretty good at taking things in stride. Generally. Not always, but generally.

I had a “not always” this week and it left me in a funk. Left me downright pessimistic. Hence my lack of post yesterday. I don’t write well when I am glowering at the world. Cursing its curve balls. But, a funny thing happened… I had even more unexpecteds occur, and they were really quite positive.

As usual, I tagged along to a jam night that my husband is in the house band for every Tuesday night. My heart wasn’t in it.  I walked in the bar, grabbed a beer and plunked my butt down at a table. I’m pretty sure I even gave a little “Hmph” as I did. I usually mix and mingle, but last night? Not even on my radar. I tried to bury myself in my Twitter feed on my phone. I hoped that I was giving off a huge, “Leave me alone” vibe.

However, mingling came to me. I saw several faces I’ve not seen a far too long. Faces that all lit up to see me and arms that wrapped me in big hugs. The bar was busier than its been on a jam night in awhile, with many road musicians in attendance (and a few artists as well!). As an extra treat, I got to see Eric (Nashville Musician’s Survival Guide) and Kelly (Do It The Hard Way), both of which unknowingly boosted my writing confidence. Something I needed, as I’ve felt like I’ve just been phoning it in lately.

Now, some of the mingling wasn’t exactly welcomed. At one point in the night, my table was pretty much just taken over by another group. I was at first determined to hold my ground. I was there first, and I was, by far, going to be there a lot later. I passive-aggressively complained on Twitter about my unwelcome guests. I was not happy. (Personal space, people! Personal space!)

However, I started to look around a noticed that the bartenders on duty were being swamped terribly. So I got up (in a huff) and decided maybe the best therapy for me was work. I started clearing tables and asking if anyone needed anything. I washed dishes, and I felt my mood lift a bit. I wasn’t doing it to make any money, I was doing it just to help out and get out of my own head.

Turned out it was just as well, as one of the bartenders needed to leave early any way! I ended up behind the bar for the rest of the night and not only lifted my spirit but did go home with a few dollars in my pocket.

The night ended with me, my husband, and two friends sitting at the end of the bar eating chips, drinking water and having a big therapy session until 5 AM. I had a doctors appointment the next day, and I had fully intended to be in bed early. But the unexpected early-morning hours talking was worth the lost sleep. I went home with a far better attitude than I’d had all night.

I had expected my doctor’s appointment to be fairly quick. My last one was, so why not this one? Of course, instead, I was called back an hour late. I was hungry. I was tired. I was grumpy…

My doctor made me laugh and had such an amazing attitude, I left smiling and not minding the late exit one bit. Oh my stomach was upset because it wanted food, but my attitude was much improved.

Expecting the unexpected doesn’t have to mean anything bad. It can also be for the good. And as I look over the last few days, I see a lot of little positive surprises, way more positive ones than negative ones. I’m sure going to try to focus on that, and, you know, I’m going to try to focus on that concept in the future. Its so easy to get wrapped up in the negative, but I sure would rather focus on the positive.