So I didn't succeed a lot this year, not in ways that I wanted to anyway. What I ended up with was a slightly more acute vision of myself and the world around me. Since a lot of my friends and family are making "Year in Review" blog posts and such, I decided to be a lemming. Here's my take on what happened to me in 2011.
- On June 3rd this year, I turned 40. Now I'm sure a lot of people are like me in that they could never imagine themselves at 40, and when it finally comes, we're left sitting staring off into space wondering "how the fuck did this happen?" Instead of letting it make me feel old, even though I joke about being old, I am very grateful to have made it this far. So many people will never see 40.
- On January 13th this year, I got off of a Greyhound bus in Buffalo, NY after a long trip during which I was sick as a dog and after which the bus line managed to lose one of my two suitcases. Naturally it was the one with my bipolar medicine and my jewelry in it. Not that I had the Crown Jewels or anything, but some of those things meant something to me. I've since replaced the clothing that was lost and some of the jewelry.
- On February 9th this year, I got my first "draw," as my daddy calls it, for Social Security Disability. After at least two years of not having a goddamned thing, at least I can pay bills now. No, I can't buy everything I want, and I don't expect the government to help me do so. I am considering myself lucky and grateful in this aspect, also. I didn't have to fight for my benefits, I got approved on the first try. Yes, bills do still stress me out, but you can't rob Peter to pay Paul if you have nothing to pay either with.
- On March 23rd of this year, Elizabeth Taylor died. This is going to sound strange to you since I am including this event on my list, but I was never a fan of hers. Shortly after she died, however, I saw a two hour tribute to her on the Biography Channel. I found myself amazed at the way she lived her life... by her own rules. I obviously never knew her, but she struck me as someone who didn't give a rat's ass what people thought of her and I feel that she lived a happy life because of it. Yes, she had a lot of heartache, but she was unapologetic-ally Elizabeth Taylor. Now, I'm not saying I want to be her, but I aspire to be like her. Maybe the Biography Channel won't have a tribute special for me when I finally get my dirt nap, but then again maybe they will. I don't want to be like Mike, I want to be like Elizabeth. True to myself above all else. I also will often ask myself WWED? Did you know she hated being called Liz?
- On September 9th of this year, my mother died. I haven't talked a lot about this online, because there really isn't much to say. What I will say is that I did not grieve specifically for her. I grieved for what should have been, and the children that my brothers and I were and still are. Although I know I did what I had to do for myself, I wonder if those decisions I made will haunt me for the rest of my life.
- I became more aware of the world around me this year. I investigated and educated myself on world issues and for the first time I dug deeper into things like politics than I ever really have before. I learned that I do not fit into any of the following boxes: Democrat, Republican, conservative or liberal. I will take the label "freethinker" however. This year I also stopped considering myself agnostic, and instead became a card carrying atheist. I am also alright with the fact that some of my personal views could be considered conservative.
- I lost weight this year. I do not know how much, but it's enough that my sweatpants nearly swallow me whole. I plan to work harder on this in 2012, but not as a New Year's Resolution. (I am no longer going to do those.)
- Being so far away from my family for so long now (though not as long as some people) has made me realize now more than ever how important those people really are. I've also learned that family does not necessarily mean flesh and blood. Though I know I do not call as often as I should, or write (ever), and I suck at returning messages and e-mails, those people who I consider family are very important to me. It is what it is. My daddy, my brothers and their families, my cousin and my aunt and their families are all the blood I have left. 2012 is going to be my year to reconnect with them. I don't think a person's worth can necessarily always be assessed by their financial success, their possessions or their achievements as much as it can be by the quality of the people who love them. I know full well that I am more fortunate than most.
- I think the most important thing I learned this year (and I learned a shit-ton, trust me) is that those little things that we're always told not to sweat are really not worth sweating. I'm working on not stressing over those things I have no control over. The ones I do have control over, if I do not change them, then it's my own damn fault. (I learned how to take the blame - when I deserve it - a couple of years ago.) But some of those little things can also be amazing. Sometimes a text, or a kiss from a baby, or a knock at your door bearing coffee are what make life a whole lot easier to live. Those things need to be appreciated with love and gratitude.
Happy New Year!
Be safe. Always be safe.