Wow, that was a year, huh? In looking back over my posts in 2017, there were some ups and downs, but overall things remained pretty steady. I’m thankful for that, where the rest of the world seems to be in the midst of great upheaval.
I read 24 books in 2017, some new and some old. It had been a long time since I’d read more than magazine articles, self-help books, or fanfic; probably since having kids, actually. I’d forgotten how fast I read when I’m into a compelling work of fiction. There were so many good ones, too. Some new favorites:
- Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
- The Earthseed series by Octavia E. Butler
- The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
- The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman
If you notice a dark, post-apocalyptic trend in the list above, it’s probably the result of the sense of doom that seemed to underscore every bit of 2017. I expect that to continue in the New Year, unfortunately, and I’m getting better at compartmentalizing my horror so I don’t let myself get dragged under — at least, not too often. I recognize that as a facet of privilege. I’m getting used to calling my Congresspeople. I’ve set up recurring donations to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. I’m trying, but there’s a persistent feeling of not enough that I haven’t been able to shake.
I’m challenging myself to read 30 books in 2018, starting with The Power by Naomi Alderman; it’s been on my to-read list for months.
I took a professional sabbatical over the summer, which was an amazing creative recharge. I drew a lot, delved into print-on-demand territory, and have continued to draw after going back to work. I also picked up meditation for a while, and re-ignited my interest in studying French (I fell off that wagon after my Hawaii trip, though; need to restart!)
Speaking of work, when I left for my sabbatical, my team was perched on the edge of some major changes in how we operate and what we do. I stepped down from the lead position to focus on individual contributions again, and I didn’t realize how much I’d missed the nuts and bolts of the work until I was no longer managing people. I learned something about myself; I can “fake it ’til I make it” as a people person, but I’m more content as a problem solver.
The landscape of my job changed dramatically while I was away, and I’ve done my best to keep an open mind as we try new things and redefine what it means to be a “themer”. As always, the team itself is my anchor in the storm; the people and our team bond make the job so much more enjoyable.
In the “unexpected but awesome news” category, I had a photograph published on the cover of a Margaret Atwood novel, which was the artistic highlight of my year. I still have stars in my eyes when I think about it!
Thankfully I have my family and our old house to keep my head from growing too big. The house in particular has tested us with an old septic system, a leaking shower, an irreparable oil furnace, several unwelcome critters, and as of December, a broken heat pump. Current temperatures in the main part of the house are in the 50’s and low 60’s (~13-16 C) thanks only to two supplemental electric heaters, and we have to wait for a seasonably warm day to have the pump fixed. The forecast is calling for bitter-cold temperatures, so it may be a few weeks before this place is warm again. Until then, long underwear and blankets and layers. So many layers.
On a personal level, T and I celebrated 10 years of marriage and 17 years of love and nonsense; we’ve kept two children alive for a total of 15 years, too, so we’re basically superhuman.
We played lots of games as a family this year; I love that board games get us away from our screens for an hour or two. Our current favorites are Sorry, Pandemic, and Forbidden Island.
I’ve also watched more television, which isn’t usually considered an accomplishment, but one of the things I’m not very good at is just…relaxing. There was a time where I couldn’t sit down without a nagging sense of guilt about All The Things I Had To Do, and curling up with a good book or a TV show was out of the question. It helps that TV provides some escapism (see the part about 2017 being a turd), and that there are many quality shows to pick from. I’m loving The Crown, Travelers, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Exorcist, The OA, Black Mirror, Stranger Things, and the list goes on. I’ve also dug into some more established series to catch up, like Brooklyn Nine Nine, Call the Midwife, and Parks and Rec.
And the next season of an old favorite started on Wednesday. I’ll have thoughts on that episode soon, but if you’d told me in 1998 that The X-Files would still be on TV in 2018, or that I would still enjoy it so deeply, I’d have laughed. Sometimes the universe is a beautiful surprise.
Health-wise, I haven’t paid as much attention to my weight or my exercise habits as I have in years past. I still use my Apple Watch to track overall activity levels, but I’m not hawkish about it. I eat what I like, I walk when I feel like it, and it’s made for a peaceful co-existence with my body. Maybe it’s age, but I don’t have the same anxiety about my physical appearance I had when I was twenty or even thirty. I can look at pictures of myself and not feel that nagging dissonance between the vision of myself in my head and the one in the photograph; they’re mostly the same.
I’ve experimented with new styles (a post about that forthcoming) and I’ve grown out my hair (not sure how I feel about it yet) and I’m feeling pretty good about being me. Physically, emotionally, mentally…it’s a nice place.
And what about 2018? I won’t bother with resolutions, but I’m going to revisit my life list and see what I can check off this year. I’m feeling optimistic, but that might be the leftover eggnog talking. Happy New Year!