Hi Internet friends. For the past several years, I’ve gotten some version of Leonie Dawson’s My Shining Life workbook. It is big, beautiful, full, and you can get it in PDF if you don’t want to get a physical version. So this year, I got mine out from the end of last year, and started reviewing it.
I looked at all the hopes and dreams I poured in there last December.
And I was devastated that I had accomplished so few of them.
Am I still glad I did her workbook? 100%, and I recommend it wholeheartedly to just about anybody.
But I wanted to take some time to write about how my year has gone, since it didn’t go remotely like I had planned.
I don’t have the book next to me right now, but I know my goals were things like getting my house in order so I could sell it, and passing my comps and proposal defense and actually beginning data collection for my dissertation. None of these things happened, and looking at that book, I felt so bad about myself.
Then I started to think about how I’ve spent the year. Because it was easy to look at that and think, “What even have I DONE this year? I HAVE ACCOMPLISHED NOTHING AND I AM A MESS AND I AM THE WORST.”
And I needed to not think that.
So here’s how I spent the year.
In January, my toddler and I started coming to Nido, which is an amazing combo Montessori school/coworking space. At the time of our tour, there was a flexible napping space, and we thought M. would be able to nap when his body was ready. (Usually around 3 pm.) I had a ton of stuff to get prepared for the first day, and we’d been out of town, so I ran around that morning buying stuff at Target and getting ready, and M. fell asleep in the car on the way to Nido, and I was super stressed, and then we came inside and the teacher was all “So everybody naps at 1 pm,” because they’d had to change the space to accommodate increasing enrollment and now there was no nap room. And of course M. cried, which everyone told me would go on for a couple of weeks but stop eventually.
For the next 7 months, basically, I exhausted myself entertaining M. all morning long, then we came to Nido, where he wanted to stay awake and work when all the other kids were asleep, and half the time he fell asleep in the car on the way there and so we only came in after he woke up, and I was getting hardly any work done, and it took me from January to May to write 20 pages of lit review - which is how much I usually can write in about three days.
It was hard, especially because EVERYONE at Nido was lovely and really liked us and wanted it to work out. Eventually, the teachers suggested switching us to mornings. (Nido is a ½-day program.) The only reason we hadn’t come in mornings in the first place was that I didn’t want M. to lose his morning time for W., but as we considered it, we realized this was an excellent solution. And in August we made the switch, and I have been more productive since then, and I get to work during my best and most energetic hours instead of the hours when I drag. M. gets to work hard and play hard and is very happy in his classroom. What a happy ending, right?
But for the first half+ of the year, figuring that out ate up most of my energy.
But also? One of my dearest friends moved away at the end of January, and it hit me hard.
BUT ALSO! I visited Los Angeles just a couple of weeks later and reconnected with my Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan friends, and it was delightful.
M. and I traveled to Knoxville with W., which was lovely, and visited my grandfather’s grave in Sevierville.
We rearranged the rooms in our house so that M. has a playroom now, and while we still aren’t satisfied and want to sell ever, we’re using the space much better these days.
M. got his first, and second, and third haircuts.
My sibs, my bro-in-law, M. and I drove down to Florida for my paternal grandmother’s memorial service, but there was another devastating death in the family just a couple of days before the service, and everything was emotionally so hard. On the way home, we took a pretty wide detour to Atlanta to visit with my moved-friend for a couple of hours.
IMMEDIATELY after that, my dad had surgery.
I went to the American Library Association conference in New Orleans and gothed it up so hard - well, as hard as you can when you’re making it a point to be back in your hotel room and in bed before Bourbon Street gets really wild.
We had a LOT of problems with the house, and they still aren’t all fixed, but a lot of them are, so there’s been some progress there.
And OH YEAH, also, MY MOM had surgery. So yeah. BOTH my parents had surgery within four months of each other.
W. and I saw Murder by Death and Clue: The Movie for our anniversary and got each other the same card.
W., M., and I went to Cherry Grove Beach for 10 days and we saw a mermaid show and it was lovely.
I played some D&D. W. and I went to the Final Fantasy: Distant Worlds concert. We did multiple toddler Halloween events. W. gifted me the Moonchild Tarot, for which I had been waiting for about a year. I went to Everyday Magic during their Liminal Space event.
I got pneumonia.
M. and I accompanied W. to Charleston, which was beautiful, but made my pneumonia worse.
I wrote a dissertation prospectus and recruited a dissertation committee.
We hosted a Thanksgiving meal and attended a Thanksgiving meal with new family members. I saw Wreck It Ralph 2 and I cried.
And there’s more in the weeks ahead: movies, holiday parties, D&D, family Christmas celebrations, escape rooms, still working on comps.
Each year, I pick a one-word theme (one of the things I got from Leonie). And I picked LOVE for this year.
And looking back on the year, I see it.
It’s been a year of showing up in love for my kid. (I hope every year will be!)
It’s been a year of showing up in love for my family.
It’s been a year of being bludgeoned with health-related reminders that I need to show up in love for myself. (I didn’t mention all of them here.)
I’ll let you know when I pick the word for next year.