Sunday, January 1, 2012

Looking back, looking forward

A friend and colleague said to me this week, as we were chatting about life goals and new years and deep, meaningful stuff, that she felt like this was going to be the year that we both came into our own; that something would be different, something important.

Thinking about the year that's beginning, by the calendar, today, I can't help but feel just an inkling of her conviction. Change is in the air. Forward motion. Moving to where isn't clear yet, necessarily, but I feel the potential of the new so much more strongly on this New Year's Day than I did starting 2011.

2011: A Year in Review
Last year was a lovely and needed one for me. Largely free of major griefs and serious traumas (unlike the two years that preceded it), it was my first year in adulthood of not being employed. Not working for money freed me to do a number of things - chiefly, to enjoy and embrace being able to focus on my children and our family life, but also to do more writing and more volunteering than ever before.

Highlights of the year were manifold, but our three holidays (to Anglesea in March, the Yarra Valley in July, and a farmstay in Gippsland in October) would definitely qualify, as would the three kids' birthday parties (in February, May and August respectively). The Indigo Girls concert that I attended with my eldest girl in April was wonderful, as was the kd lang concert that G and I went to in November. The three girls and I had a whale of a time at the Disney 3D Cars 2 screening in November, and we all loved the Wiggles concert we went to in March and the Scooby Doo stage show in July. Halloween and Christmas were fun for all concerned, and much less stressy than in previous years.

We had little pleasures seeded through the year, too. Watching the life cycle of our door spider, Daisy (a golden orb spinner), was amazing for us all. Baking was again a fun shared activity, a grace note in every week, as was reading, and art.

Other things were also deeply satisfying in 2011, such as seeing my second girl thrive in her first year of school, watching all three daughters gain proficiency in swimming and gymnastics, and discovering, to her and our mutual delight, that my eldest girl is a naturally talented guitarist (she's eating up her lessons). Being part of my baby's transition from toddlerdom to preschoolerdom (if that is a word) has been a privilege and a joy, and she's made me laugh almost every day with the things she comes out with.

I also greatly enjoyed having the freedom to do more volunteer things that I wanted to do - being on school council, helping to co-ordinate the community playgroup, doing school reading, school breakfast club, and school cooking, and being involved in the wonderful Community Blogging initiative. I found all these things rewarding, as I also found a small but delightful paid project that I completed in September- a bijoux little thing, engaging, challenging and enormously entertaining.

For the second year in a row, I completed NaNoWriMo in November, producing a second Frankie Loveday, Girl Detective story (aimed at 9-11 year old readers). I also did NaBloPoMo in the same month and managed that too, which was very satisfying, but also exhausting and made November quite a weird, detatched month in many ways. I lived too much of it inside my head, I think, and I won't double up the challenges that way again.

The year also had its challenges, of course, with major dental catastrophes and a run of ill-health eating up much of August and September, and a late wave of gastric trauma that interfered seriously with December. We're still coming to terms with a couple of significant behavioural curveballs that this year has intensified in two of our girls, and working out how to deal with them. Money gave us pause once or twice, and concerns about our own parents' health dramas had us worried.

All in all, though, I cannot complain. 2012 was a busy but lovely year, and it wasn't broken with painfulness. I am so grateful for that.

Goals for 2012
So what do I want 2012 to bring? Well, I want it to bring -

1. Greater mindfulness and sensitivity to my childrens' changing needs and personalities. In 2011 my goal was to be a more present parent, and I think I largely achieved that (with lapses, naturally). This year I want to work on being a more responsive parent, especially as two of my children have some quite complex and multi-faceted needs emerging.

2. A return to paid work, in some capacity, for me, but in a way that is not too disruptive to our family unit. Very part time would be ideal!

3. At least one family holiday away. We're tossing around venue ideas - so far there is a strong lobby in favour of Sydney, and another pressing the case for Merimbula, while the wildcard of returning to Phillip Island (where we holidayed, pre-C, in 2008) has also been mooted.

4. A commitment to build my skill and portfolio as a writer, and make genuine efforts, no matter how scary I find it, to get work published. I've always wanted to do this - and I do write, lots, and it's flowing better and more readily than it ever has. I don't want self esteem issues to hold me back anymore from at least trying my luck.

5. An increase in my community and volunteering work, and much greater involvement in social justice activities. It's definitely time for me to give more in this area, and I don't mean just money. I do find it very rewarding - it's by no means a martyrdom or a virtue in me to do these things; it's a hobby that feels both more meaningful and more permanent than many.

So, 2012, you can feel free to bring it on now. I feel ready; I'm poised for action.

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