I used to write a retrospective of each passing year until I had twins and just about everything disappeared in a fiery crash. This year I decided to pick it up again. I’m sharing it with you because it’s fun and fluffy and not too scary.
- What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
I started working out with a personal trainer.
I took a kid to the hospital with a broken bone.
The police brought one of my kids home (not the same one).
- Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Last year on New Year’s Day I was on a liquid diet recovering from dental surgery and had to visit the ER with some weird fever and irregular heartbeats. I’m sure I didn’t make any other New Year Resolution than “survive 2016.” And I did!! Go me!
This year, my only resolution is to heed my own advice and live fearlessly. I have the “Fearless Family Life” thing down but I’m a fearful insecure person on just about everything else, especially my own creative endeavors. This year, I want to launch into crowd funding and try to get published. Both will require uncomfortable amounts of vulnerability and fearlessness, things I don’t have in spades.
- Did anyone close to you give birth?
My cousin gave birth to her first child and a lifelong family friend gave birth to twin girls. Many many friends and acquaintances gave birth. Congratulations mamas!!
- Did anyone close to you die?
My sister’s mother-in-law died of cancer in 2016. I had not known her very long but she was such a kind and caring person that one could not help but feel close to her. At her funeral Mass, the large church was full to the rafters. Her death made me reflect on how I wanted to touch those around me, how I wanted to be remembered.
- What countries did you visit?
None. Not even my own. I visited South Korea through the tv series Descendants of the Sun and the northern coast of Spain through Gran Hotel. That counts right?
- What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Health, fitness, a positive self-image and confidence? And the right meds to achieve it.
- What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I don’t remember dates. The winter of 2016 is one big blur, I don’t even recall it happening at all. I’m assuming nothing noteworthy happened although I’m sure my family will let me know by email if I’m off the mark. The Spring of 2016 was when homeschooling wrapped me up and we rolled into the Summer holidays a little early.
- What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Giving up gluten for good. Finding Ritter’s Rum Soaked Raisins chocolate again after a too long absence.
- What was your biggest failure?
I got pregnant with my 10th child in 2015 and was due to deliver on March 30th 2016. That didn’t happen. Homeschooling was a big fat fail. Not because I think that sending the children back to school is a failure: our other children have done very well in school and I’m one of a handful of homeschoolers who believes that kids do learn something in school. The failure was to live up to my own standards, of still not being the person I want to be. Homeschooling has taken a lot out of me, and I’m proud of myself for having tried. But doing so prevented me from developing skills in the things I am good at such as writing and music. When I look back at our homeschooling adventure, I don’t (yet) see much to show for it. I’m sure perspective will grow on me like moss, with time and a peaceful spot in the shade.
- Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing new this year. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is still kicking my ass daily.
- What was the best thing you bought?
Chocolate, Pu Er tea and the entire Nashville discography.
- Where did most of your money go?
Depends how you look at it. Most of our family’s income goes to taxes. If you consider after-tax money, the mortgage is probably the largest number on the family’s spreadsheet.
- What did you get really excited about?
Starting music again. I had my Taylor guitar repaired and started playing for the first time in 10 years. I also learned to play the piano enough to play at church. Playing at church just about kills me every week but it gives me the motivation to practice. I occasionally sing with my daughters – at home, not at church — when they indulge me. Singing with my daughters is the single best part of my days when it happens.
- What song will always remind you of 2016?
Probably Alexander Hamilton
- Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? Roughly the same but more frazzled so I’ll say “happier” just because I WANT TO BELIEVE!
– thinner or fatter? Thinner by a whopping 5 lbs on a good month. Same on a bad one. Thanks for nothing thyroid jerk.
– richer or poorer? Richer
- What do you wish you’d done more of?
Writing. Finishing stuff.
- What do you wish you’d done less of?
Anxiate. Is that a verb? Compare myself to better-looking and more talented people. Believe that there’s no point writing because the world doesn’t need another book/song/blog post, especially not one written by someone less talented than (fill blank with current literary obsession).
- How did you spend Christmas?
Éloïse summed it up nicely on Twitter:
chicken pox is in the house:
my dads side of the family is staying as far away of us as they can, my moms side is invading with 34 people
— eloise (@eloisedeg) December 26, 2016
- What was your favorite TV program?
Nashville and Gran Hotel
- What were your favorite books of the year?
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (Stephen King), Far from the Madding Crowd (Thomas Harding), Writing Better Lyrics (Pat Pattison) and Au Bonheur des Dames (Émile Zola)
- What was your favorite music from this year?
The Nashville Soundtrack, Half Moon Run, Miranda Lambert, The Lumineers, Hamilton.
- What were your favorite films of the year?
I saw three movies released in 2016: Fantastic Beasts, some kid movie I can’t recall and LaLaLand. Of the three, LaLaLand was my favorite.
- What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 43 and I was in Toronto with Éloïse, Marie and a friend for the Pentatonix / Us the Duo concert at the ACC.
- What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Losing the 20 lbs I should have lost a long time ago given the way I eat and exercise. Oh well, I didn’t gain 50 more pounds and that’s satisfying, I guess.
- How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Flowy tops from Winners, jeans from Mark’s.
- What kept you sane?
Music and exercise, thyroid meds and a generous side of chocolate.
- Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
“Think small to go big”. That’s from Seth Godin. I had been wracking my brain trying to figure out how to make my blog “go big”. I wanted to write the type of posts that make blogs popular – read: “earn income” — but I was in a conundrum because I don’t read any blogs that are popular. I was stuck trying to put out a message that I wouldn’t read if someone else posted it. That’s when I heard Seth Godin on the Tim Ferriss podcast say “Think small to go big.” Meaning that if you can’t touch one person’s life, what makes you think that you can touch a million? I realized that being able to interact with my readers one-on-one, knowing them by name, being friends on social media, was what made my content special to my readers. I’ll never have the mean or fluffy streak that makes blogs go viral because I’m always striving for a genuine contact. When I accepted that this was the smaller and slower approach I wanted to maintain, it freed me to look for alternative methods of generating income online such as crowd funding. I don’t know if I will ever earn anything that way — it’s hard to convince people to pay for something they have been getting for free for years — but at least it will be on my own terms. And as a creative type, that’s the best I can hope for.