31 December 2011

That's A Wrap, 2011!

Over the past few days, I have been struggling to find an adequate explanation for this year. In many ways, it has been the absolutely most horrifying year of my life... yet, in others, I believe it has been a shining ray of accomplishment for me. So, I'm going to go ahead and give a recap of the year and how, at the end of it, I ultimately feel about the whole thing.

Well, I think the very first thing I should probably mention about this year was going back to school. For me, that was a really huge step. My previous experience with being in school did not end so well and, in a lot of ways, I was still very lost. Going back to school made me really figure out a few things and, well, even though the major I wanted to get into when I went back to school this last time ended up not being the right one, either, I now know what I want to do.

Sadly, I did not finish that Spring semester because of my car accident. I can honestly say that that was the worst experience of my life and probably pretty high up there for my loved ones, as well. The stay in the hospital and getting to know just how irresponsible some medical professionals can be was very irritating and scary, but I survived. I know that, with the horrifying nature of the car accident and how many ways I defied death, that I have a good reason to be here in this world. I may not be 100% sure on what that reason is, but I will figure it out somewhere along the line, I'm sure. Having such a close brush with death has probably been the biggest factor for growth for me, this year. I have realized that I simply do not have the time to waste on ridiculous things. I have developed an even more up front and honest attitude toward things and have been much more interested in trying the things I have always wanted to get to experience.

With my car accident came physical therapy. You don't break your femur, pelvis, and radius and jump back up good as new. It takes a lot of work to get back to "normal", though in a lot of ways normal has changed quite a bit. I will never forget the first time I went in to see the physical therapist. He asked me about my goals and I straight up told him that, in five weeks, I wanted to go from using a walker to barely needing assistance with a cane so that I could go to the Scarborough Renaissance Festival. He got the most evil look on his face and, well, I did exactly as I had hoped. It was probably the most difficult thing, that first visit... harder than the first few times I got up and into a chair or walked around after my actual accident. It was so worth it, though. I am truly amazed by the fact that I am up and running around as well as I am and all of the blood, sweat, and tears I put into it were definitely worth getting back to the way I was before, for the most part.

Then, there was the trip to Arkansas to see my great-grandmother. It was really great to be able to reconnect with my family. For the past few years, I have been so busy with work and school that I have not been able to really make those sorts of trips. Being able to see her on her birthday was absolutely wonderful and she's still the crazy cool lady she's always been... if not more. It was also a great trip because I learned to cope with highway anxiety. It was the first actual "trip" I had been on since my car accident, really, and I think the saving grace on that was knitting socks, honestly! It was good to see everyone and I am determined to make some time to repeat the trip next year.

I also had the great experience of joining Weight Watchers in July! Yay! I did really well on the plan and lost about twenty pounds before I fell off the bandwagon in October after my knee surgery, sadly, but I am going back to a meeting on Monday to get restarted with all of it and get back on track. I felt really good on Weight Watchers and want to feel that way, again. I'm hoping to do well on the plan next year and get closer to my goal. My biggest fear is that I've gained it all back in my time of absence. However, if I have then I will have to chalk it up to experience and move forward in the next year. No use crying over something that's already been done, right?

Then, we had the amazing learning experience of my brief time working in an office environment. There were a lot of lessons to learn, there, and I feel that I did very well in trying to be a valuable employee. I think I did a really great job, honestly. However... despite work ethic and other important, great things that make an employee valuable, personal drama can really get in the way of things. It was not my personal drama, but rather everyone else's that became the issue. Some people just need better things to do, I guess. At any rate, I'm glad that I didn't hunker down and just take the crap for the sake of a paycheck. Once I finished my physical therapy, I called my old boss and got my old job back and have not looked back. I am much happier this way, plus my work schedule is much more flexible to allow me to go back to school.

I also went out for Yarn Crawl for the first time in October. I had a lot of fun with my friends Liz and Christine driving around to all of the various yarn stores in the Hill Country. It was a really great experience and there were a few stores that are now on my favorites list that I never knew about before.  It has been a great year for my knitting endeavors, in general, though. I have tried so many new things and worked on so many new projects. I am very pleased with myself and my progress for this year when it comes to fiber craft. I know that next year will be an adventure, as well.

This year, I also went to Kid N Ewe fiber festival up in Helotes, TX in November. That was a great experience and I had a lot of fun with my friend, Christine. We took some spinning classes and I fell absolutely in love with it and bought a spinning wheel. So far, things are going well. I need to get some more practice in order to get the evenness I really want, but I'm making strides and that is good. I'm not really spinning with the intent to use the yarn I am currently making, but rather just enjoying the practice of it. I think that makes it a lot easier on me, honestly, since I don't have to stress too much about it. Mistakes are mistakes. I'm hoping to spin enough to make myself a shawl or something in the next year. We will see.

Another great endeavor of this year was the making of jam. Oh my goodness, that was very fun! I had never made jam before at all. Ever. I was sort of nervous about the whole thing and very afraid of mucking the whole thing up. So, the first step was to drink half a bottle of wine. That helped with the nerves quite a bit and I just went ahead and jumped on in. I ended up making several different flavors and really enjoyed myself. I still have a few more batches to make for Red Oak's Yule and I think I'm going to try the previous brand of pectin I was using. For some reason, the Sure-Jell pectin hates me and the Ball brand worked perfectly. Ah, well. It doesn't really bother me, so I'm not going to worry about it. I'll use what works. That whole experience was a really great one, though, because jamming is sort of a family tradition and it was a great thing to try. I definitely feel more useful, at least.

Another thing I tried this year was going to a very large Heathen gathering. I went up to Oethelland's Mother Night celebration and was completely blown away. The hospitality was absolutely amazing and there were so many people there. I was surprised, really. Everyone I spoke with was very nice and welcoming and I had a number of great conversations with lots of different people. I tend not to do well speaking to people I don't know, so I was a bit nervous about the whole thing, but I didn't have any trouble at all. It was kind of like my experiences when I first found Red Oak. It was like coming home. At any rate, the jam I made went over very well and I am very excited about the next event, whatever it should be. It should be interesting. Over the past year, especially after my car accident, I have felt a very great pull back to my faith. During the odious Year of Silence with Red Oak, which was caused by a lot of different factors on my end, I felt so completely cut off from that feeling of fellowship and common bond. I had a lot of difficulty coming back to it, after that, because I was sort of sad about the fact that I had let some of those unimportant factors get in the way of that relationship. However, I have realigned my priorities and am looking forward to a year of good experiences and growth and joy with some of my favorite people in the world. :)

To close, the very last portion of my year involved quite a bit of pain. Finally, the horrifying ache from my wisdom teeth coming it became just too much. I was having trouble sleeping and was in a generally grumpy mood all the time. Well, I set up a dental appointment and had them all removed. It was a very expensive undertaking, but ultimately worth it. I am still recovering, but all in all the pain has been very manageable and I already feel much better than I did before those teeth got yanked out. So, here's to looking forward to a pain-free 2012.

At any rate, I guess that wraps up the year, for the most part. I feel I have grown up quite a bit and have adjusted my views on several things. I have tried to go through and sort out what is important to me, with some success. So, I would now like to list all of the things I want to do or try next year. This year has been a great adventure and I hope to foster the same attitude of trying new things in the year to come.

#1 Going back to school next semester. I am already registered and am fully committed to doing very well. I have had so much time taken away from being in school, I can't really allow myself to lose focus now that I'm going back.

#2 Losing weight. I am hoping to do very well on Weight Watchers, just as I did this year, only more motivated to keep going. I think the fact that I'm taking an aerobics class next semester will be helpful in this endeavor. I'm hoping to lose about 50 - 60 lbs.

#3 Spend more time with my family. I have not really had much time to see a lot of my family in the past few years, so I'm hoping to cut out a little bit of time here and there to go see some of them. I have an entire year, so hopefully this won't be too much of a hassle.

#4 Learn to quilt. This kind of goes along with the previous goal, as my grandmother has offered to have me over for a little while to learn to quilt. I'm hoping to do well with this endeavor, as I have always thought quilts were absolutely beautiful.

#5 Start a vegetable garden. This is something I have been interested in for a very long time, but have not gotten around to doing yet. I'm hoping to do more planning for this sometime in February and get ready. It should be quite an adventure and I'm glad that a lot of my favorite vegetables can be grown in my area. Squash, for example. We will see. I'm excited about it.

#6 Go fishing. My grandmother and her boyfriend go fishing all the time and I want to go with them, one of these days. It's such a peaceful and relaxing activity and, bonus, you end up with something tasty to eat, at the end. Hopefully this will encourage me to brush up on my fish recipes, as well.

#7 Learn to safely operate a firearm. This is something I have wanted to do for a very long time, too. I figure it's a good skill to have and would probably be a good bonding experience for my father and I. We'll see how that goes.

#8 Declutter. My living space is an absolute mess. My goal for the year is to simplify, get rid of clothes that do not fit and things I do not use and rearrange my living space to get the best use out of everything I can. I need to keep my area cleaner and more organized because finding things is almost impossible, sometimes!

These are my goals, for the most part. We will see how the next year unfolds. Happy New Year, everyone!

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