The old year is soon to be dying, and it feels like a good sort of a time to reflect on the year that was for me and my family. This year has been a crowded one in many ways for us, and hasn't always been easy, fun or pleasant. But we - in particular, me - have also been the beneficiaries of great joys and important realisations that I hope will enable us to build a rich and rewarding 2011.
At the start of 2010 I said that I had 5 main goals for the year:
1. Get the girls back into swimming and increase their competence in the water 2. Have a holiday! 3. Lose weight & get fitter 4. Move forward with growing our own food / living a little more sustainably / eating less meat 5. Start planning for our proposed house move
We certainly kicked the first two of these to the kerb, with the girls swimming weekly at lessons and often in-between times (all three are progressing rapidly) and our holidays to Echuca (in March) and Wangaratta (in July).
We also made some progress with the 4th goal, with me now planning weekly menus that involve only one red meat meal per week and no more than two white meat meals (including fish).
There's plenty more to do, though. The only growing food that we've had abundant success with this year, aside from our herbs and ever-fruitful citrus trees, is tomatoes. I have three enormously productive plants trouping along outside, producing without surcease - two Roma vines and a cherry tomato vine. I haven't paid for a tomato since May, which is ace. Next year I want to parlay our tomato success into many other veg and fruit.
With the third goal, I am indeed fitter, yes, but I weigh just what I did in January, and I'm really very OK with that. One of the unexpected growth areas for me this year has been my discovery of, and interest in, the Health at Every Size (HAES) and Fat Acceptance movements. Several notable FA blogs have helped me to understand that my weight is not, in and of itself, a problem, and need not be pathologised or demonised. I am changing this focus in 2011 to be about improving my fitness, stamina and spinal health, rather than looking at how much I weigh or how fat I am.
The fifth goal has been more or less jettisoned for now, as we decided in September to try to extend our longevity in our house with the acquisition of the big kids' loft beds, which enable them to share their bedroom yet still have a desk space and built in storage of their own. These are already proving a marvellous investment. We will now start looking to move house as my eldest child nears the end of primary school (5 years from now).
Aside from January's goals, so, so much else has happened this year.
The lowlights were terrible ones. The loss of a dear friend to a brain tumour in late June, followed by the death of my grandma (my last surviving grandparent) 3 weeks later, then the loss of our beloved elderly dog Basil in October, cast a pall of sadness and loss over the winter and spring for us all. I am still mourning all of these lost personalities, and coming to terms with the fact that they will pass this way no more. My 5 year old, in particular, has also been very obviously affected by the deaths of Dee and Basil, and we have had a lot of work to do there in helping her process her sadness and anger.
We also spent a large part of the cold, bitter winter, and chilly spring, sick, which made this already emotionally difficult time that much harder.
I also struggled with work-life balance in 2010, finding working at home harder than I had ever found it before, and wrestling weekly with chronic time shortfalls and rising exhaustion levels. This was exacerbated by the fact that my 22-month-old is not a very consistent sleeper. Until September or so, she was routinely up twice every night, sometimes more. I am thankful to be able to say that she now wakes only once a night, and sometimes surprises me with a sleep-through, so we are seeing some improvement there. Patience is a virtue sometimes!
The highlights of 2011 are hard to identify, in some ways; so much of the year has been sweet and bitter all mixed up together. I'd probably nominate my 5 and 7 year olds' birthday parties in May and August respectively (we covered both science and magic this year, with the 5 year old having a fairy party and the 7 year old a science-themed party, complete with her rather special cake). Our family holidays in March (Echuca) and July (Wangaratta), and two weekends away in October (Anglesea and the Yarra Valley respectively) were also wonderful.
Completing NaNoWriMo in November was a huge highlight and great satisfaction for me. Reading beloved childhood classics to my big girls has been wonderful and so soul-enriching, and watching them enjoy and thrive at their gymnastics has been lovely.
The toddler's explosion of language has been amazing, and the emergence of her personality has been fascinating to see. And, on a more generalised level, watching my three girls grow and develop has been a constant joy.
As for big changes and decisions, 2010 has seen a few of those, too. One of them was digital - I decided to take my aged blog, Zucchinis in Bikinis, out of the public domain in June, prompted by a few uncomfortable cross-overs between the online and offline worlds I inhabit, and thus this blog was born as my open-access, play and childhood-based space.
Making the decision to resign from my job in November, and finishing up at Christmastime, was probably the biggest change of all, but it's one I feel very much at peace with, even though I agonised for months about it before I did it. Having been with my employer for almost a decade, it does feel strange to be no longer working there, but it also feels very right. This was the change we needed to make for the new year.
I have loads of ideas and plans and hopes for how things might go in 2011. I have things I want to do more, things I want to do less, and new things I want to try. Part of leaving my job for me, leap of faith as it is, is about focusing on what's important to me and my family, and trying to get some clarity around how I can work in the future (not to mention what I might work at). I have some serious thinking to do on these subjects in the new year.
Right now, I'm not thinking to make long-range predictions, though - I just want to enjoy a pause, in January, from routine and busyness and juggling, and marinade in relaxed, unhurried time with my family. February will see a renewal of structured activity for both the kids and I, but this golden month of summer is about being, not doing. I wish you and yours a very happy 2011. May it be filled with all you wish for, and short on grief and sadness.