Monday, December 31, 2012

Reflecting on 2012

I subscribe to too many blogs, but they give me good ideas!  Take, for example, this post by Jen over at Laughing at Chaos that talks about reflecting on the things you did right during the last year before jumping into your resolutions and dreams for the upcoming year.  I love the idea, so now I'm going to do a little reflecting as well:

*clears throat*

Announcing:
The Things That Cara Thinks She Did Right in 2012

I moved the homeschool room upstairs, which resulted in a ton more work getting done because we're not avoiding the basement because it's freezing cold.  Moving everything upstairs required an entire weekend--we moved all the items from both rooms (school/living room) outside into our front yard in order to deep clean the rooms and prepare them for their new purposes.  It was such a job, and it was such a great idea.  I'm the kind of person who thinks I have to "make do" with everything as it is, and we'd already invested a lot of time in turning the downstairs room into the school room...but it was very, very good that I admitted it wasn't working for us and took the steps needed to improve the situation.

I decided that we were going to read through the entire, actual Book of Mormon this school year.  That was a really daunting decision for me to make given the age of my kids, my inexperience with the whole "family scripture study" idea, doing scripture study without Michael around, the consistency required...I really didn't think I would stick to the plan, but we have thus far and I don't see any looming reason why we won't be able to complete this book of scripture by the end of the school year.  I've been reading the children's versions of the scriptures out loud to the kids for a couple years now, but dreaded doing it anymore and decided to make the jump to "real" scriptures for them.  The kids like listening to all the stories, but the real reward has been how much more I'm getting out of the scriptures as I read them out loud.  It's way different than reading them silently by myself--you hear things differently.  So glad we're doing this.

I pushed my choir to perform a piece for Christmas that was at a higher difficulty level than everything they had done all year, and pushed them to put it together in a mere three weeks.  I didn't do it on purpose, mind you--scheduling just turned out terribly and that was what we were left with.  At the first rehearsal, they were pretty much looking at me like I was crazy.  At the second rehearsal they were still looking at me the same way--but then we did a straight-through try at the end of practice and they were able to sing the entire thing.  (Not perfectly, but the main components were all there.)  The looks on their faces--the astonishment, then the realization that they had pretty much conquered this seemingly impossible task, and then the excitement over it all--were so awesome.  I really thought they could pull it off, but they seriously doubted their abilities in the beginning and wanted to scrap the entire thing, but I held my ground and pleaded with them to give it a try and it ended up being such an exhilarating experience.  We can all do hard, seemingly impossible things--but only if we stick with them and put in the time.  (And your friend volunteers to hold Men's Sectionals at her home for two weeks...so thankful for her.)  Conducting that song was one of my favorite moments this year, and has me seriously analyzing my abilities as "that person" who helps people bring goals to fruition.  I've never thought of myself in that light, but maybe I possess some of those qualities?  (Now, to figure out how to use them on my children...mwa ha ha ha.)  (And that last little bit wasn't meant in a "I'm so amazing and can guide Israelites to the Promised Land" way at all.  I've just never thought of myself as the person who stands in front and gets people from Point A to Point B...it was weird.)

Bluebird was baptized.  And while that is technically something she did, it was a culmination of a lot of things we've done as a family, a lot of things Michael and I have done as parents, and a lot of things that I have done since deciding to join the Church myself.  It's best summed up with a few lines I wrote in the blog post about that day:
I kept thinking, "Everything I have ever done or sacrificed to make this day a reality has been completely and utterly worth it." It truly felt like Heaven on Earth. That's the only way I can explain it. I believe that Heaven will feel like her baptism. Everything that mattered was in that little room--family, friends and faith.
 
That day was a confirmation for me, a confirmation I sorely needed:  I am still doing the right thing.  I catch a lot of flack for the decisions I've made since joining the Church because I changed so much about myself and what I was doing with my life.  But Bluebird's baptism--while I knelt on the floor and looked down into the font as my firstborn came up out of the water--produced such an intense feeling of peace and a feeling of knowing that Heavenly Father was pleased with me and the choices I was making.  I'm not perfect, but I'm making good choices in regards to the truly important things.

I hopped back on the FlyLady wagon.  Everything goes so much better in my life when I'm diligently shining the sink.

I forced myself to talk to people when I felt sad.  This saved me weeks of depression, WEEKS.  When I start experiencing negative feelings, my instinctual response is to shut down and retreat into myself; but with years of blog posts witnessing that I wasn't getting a whole lot of anything consistently done around here, it was obvious that I needed to try a different coping tactic.  A therapist is essentially someone you talk to--why not give talking to friends a try?  So I have; and my friends are earning their celestial rewards with each phone call, email and text conversation we've had over this past year.  Those minutes and hours of helping me bear my burdens and talking me off my psychological ledges have paid off so richly for myself and my family. 

I started drinking caffeine again.  I know, not something you'd expect a Mormon to admit, much less be glad about!  I've been exhausted for years, which I blamed on being pregnant and nursing, but with Monkeyboy turning two and me not having been pregnant or nursing for over a year, there was no reason why I should still be so worn out all the time.  I went to the doctor, we did a big bunch of tests for some stuff and, long story short and overly simplified, discovered that my heart is a little confused and isn't getting the message to pump harder when I stand up or start moving.  With my heart essentially acting like I'm asleep all the time, it's no wonder I always felt sleepy.  My doctor suggested caffeine as an attempt to raise my heart rate and blood pressure, so I started adding a caffeine supplement to my breakfast beverage and permitting myself a can of caffeinated soda at lunch.  World of difference.  I no longer need a nap by 11am, which is a pretty big deal.

I've started to surround myself with people who do things that I wish I did.  You become the person that your friends already are, and all that.  I'm already seeing evidence of some really positive changes in my life, but I want to keep those things to myself for a while yet.  These new friendships are causing me a lot of excitement over the next few months.  It's nice to move forward in areas that you doubted you'd ever have success in.

I gave myself the month of December OFF from homeschooling.  When I decided to schedule a month-long break for December back in June, I didn't know why I felt it was such an important thing to do, but then December started and...wow.  The stress was mostly in "Christmas Music" form, but there were a million other little things that just suddenly sat up and started screaming for attention.  I'm glad I had already put the blog on hiatus, or the stress of trying to keep it updated would have undone me completely.  December is insane, and my first instinct is to always fight back, so I spent a lot of time in the past few weeks fighting everything--change, expectations, failures.  I have fought so hard that I'm worn out and in that "everything works out in the end" attitude now.  Which is a better mindset to start the New Year with than the "Fight or DIE!" mindset I've been carrying on my back all this holiday season.

I'm sure I could come up with some other ideas that I'm glad about, but I'm satisfied with my list as it is.  2012 has been a good year; not terribly exciting in any way, but grounded and positive.  I guess this is what "normal" feels like?  After many years of chaos and frustration, this was a nice little respite, and I feel like I've gathered strength in this "down year" to take on some new things in 2013.  *sigh*  I am content.