Last year, I coped out a bit on doing this, but I’m not going to this year.
This was an awful year. I say that, and then immediately my sensors start sparking because I am Irish-Catholic and Midwestern and if an hour goes by without feeling guilty about something, my kind is convinced we’re not trying hard enough. Surely others have had it worse than I. But ethnic, religious and geographical stereotypes aside, this is the first year I can remember where I actively waited for it to be the fuck over.
I hate vagueblogging, but the long and the short of it is that this was a tough year on many fronts. Personally and professionally I was legitimately knocked around more than a few times. And I am tired.
All that being said, I am the firmest of believers that the dark gives way to light. Winston Churchill was right: The only way out is through. I spent a whole ton of time stewing in a vat of sorrow and anger and jealousy because I no longer wanted to be the sort of person who was too afraid of those emotions to just sit with them. In truth, sometimes I sat with them while simultaneously scarfing down any number of carbohydrates, and sometimes I sat with them alongside so much red wine I probably ought to have saved my tooth enamel the trouble and inserted a picc line into my arm. But old habits die hard and in the moments I knew I was overcompensating a lot of hurt for a lot of calories I stopped, meditated, went for a run or did some yoga, and had a smoothie.
(It is true that a deep breath, some healthy food and a sprinkling of endorphins really do help.)
None of those things – neither the destructive nor the productive – made the hurt go away, but in the moments where I acknowledged that I was sad or angry, and put a name to that pain, I at least felt a modicum of growth.
“Growing,” such as it is, was a priority. I curse that it took becoming a parent to shake me from stagnation, but being a better example for my daughter is my north star. I purposely use the word “better” because it suggests constant motion. Being unmercifully human guarantees that there is no fixed point or end game for the sort of person I can be, or at least it shouldn’t. So my goal as a mom is to show Abigail that every day is a chance to get the proverbial “it” a little more right than we did the day before.
Sometimes it means being compassionate with ourselves. More often than not it means apologizing for being a total self-involved dick. Sometimes it means cookies for breakfast, and other times it means a day or two out at a quiet retreat center to pray, meditate and downward dog yourself into a calmer frame of mind. Sometimes being better will mean you get a great therapist, weekly library trips, a semi-regular phone date with your best friend and a really great pair of Bluetooth headphones. Being better will likely always mean a good night’s sleep rather than fighting with someone you love or your own monkey mind.
So despite feeling a bit worn out by this year, I don’t feel depleted and beaten. I still feel sad and angry, but there have been enough bright spots for me to realize that this state is simply the prevailing one for the moment. Eventually the good things will start to outnumber the bad. They usually do.
I mean, for instance, Abigail just last night spent her first night in her Big Girl Bed and is still sleeping. See? All good things come.
1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before? I ran Ragnar. It was awesome and game-changing and I had the most amazing time with some of my oldest girlfriends.
2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Oh I failed miserably at not caring what people think of me. In fact, I place this failure solely at the foot of why my year was so rough, at least professionally. I wasted a ridiculous amount of time being hyper-concerned about what a handful of people thought of me, never stopping for a moment that it really didn’t matter what they thought, or considering that they were thinking much of me in the first place. Once I hosed myself off and put on my big girl pants, I found myself incredibly grateful for the experience. Never again.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? This was the year where my friends who gave birth when I did gave birth to their second children. And with that milestone gone, I feel resolute again in our decision to have one child. Our friends Mark and Jen adopted a girl, after so many years of waiting, and it was a wonderful blessing.
4. Did anyone close to you die? No, but Roger Ebert’s death rocked me a bit. Mostly because he was a nice man who was exceptionally talented and a tower of Chicago journalism royalty, and it made me rethink my own future.
5. What places did you visit? San Francisco, New Orleans, New York City, Madison, Wisc., Knoxville, Tenn., Woodstock, Vermont. Most of these trips were work-related, but always a treat to travel.
6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? I don’t know. If I said “peace” it would negate what I said above. So there isn’t really much, because life is life is life, though I suppose I’m tired of hemorrhaging money. But even that said? I want a dining room set that isn’t a hand-me-down of a hand-me-down of a hand-me-down.
7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? July 1, the day I started my new job in a new department at my company. Hands down the best decision of the year.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Seriously starting a meditation practice. It’s made all the difference.
9. What was your biggest failure? Caring about the opinions of people who don’t really matter in my life. All of that sturm und drang I put myself through was silly and childish and ultimately destructive to no one but myself. I mean, what I am? Thirty-seven or 17?
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I didn’t, for once, which was amazing, though we learned I have PMDD. I found a new OB-GYN who took my concerns seriously and I was able to have it treated successfully and easily. AG was sick almost every month so it might as well have been me.
11. What was the best thing you bought? My Jaybird Bluebuds X. I love them. They are amazing.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My kid. She’s pretty amazing.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? If you complained that there is a War on Christmas, I probably think you’re a jerk.
14. Where did most of your money go? Nanny, mortgage, Glinny’s cancer treatments, credit cards.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? I loved running two half-marathons and Ragnar this year. I did a bunch of other races, too, but those three things feel awfully huge to me. This was a great year for my running.
16. What song will always remind you of 2013? The Wire by HAIM, On Top of The World by Imagine Dragons, Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke, anything by Dawes.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Sadder
b) thinner or fatter? Same, but more importantly FASTER
c) richer or poorer? Poorer
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Relaxing for real.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Worrying all the damn time.
20. How did you spend Christmas in 2013? With our families, as usual. Although this Christmas Eve, as is our new tradition, it was just me, Scott and AG. Abigail is at an age now where she’s a hoot and we three danced and laughed and played it was so awesome.
21. Did you fall in love in 2013? Scott and Abigail are the loves of my life.
22. What was your favorite TV program? Breaking Bad was amazing. None better.
23. What did you do for your birthday in 2013? Went to church with our friends and had them over for pizza. Very low-key.
24. What was the best book you read? I read so many amazing books, but I think my favorite was Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. It was amazing and it has stayed with me.
25. What did you want and get? A new job. A faster mile time.
26. What did you want and not get? I am still not the ruler of the world.
27. What was your favorite film of this year? I haven’t seen a movie that has stayed with me in forever.
28. Did you make some new friends this year? I did. So many great people.
29.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? A beloved dog who doesn’t have cancer would have been a nice start.
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013? “Why yes this is from LOFT.”
31. What kept you sane? Scott and my sister Kate Shea. Therapy. And yoga at my local studio. And Abigail’s nanny.
32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Lilly Allen, Wendy Davis, the Pope.
33. What political issue stirred you the most? NSA leaks and gay marriage equality. I also loved how insanely the more conservative of my fellow Catholics have responded to our new Pope. It’s like watching petulant children.
34. Who did you miss? No one.
35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013. Again for good measure: The only way out is through.