Another year is upon us and I am genuinely excited for it. 2015 was a good enough year – actually it was the best out of the last three years. I grew. Roy (my husband) grew. Good things happened, we both reconnected with old friends, did some traveling, and nothing horrible happened. No death or crazy crisis that left us scrambling – I wouldn’t say no to another year like it.
In the past I have set several goals for myself that I track in Excel. I think one of the driving forces I am always feeling is “be better, do better” and I am always in competition with myself to do just that. Every year I would give myself more goals, and make them more challenging, because the previous year I either met my goals or felt I needed a bigger push. I would separate them into three categories and each category had ten goals. The categories were: Health, Personal, and Career. I did this because besides having these individual goals, I wanted to also promote balance in my life. I didn’t want to become a workaholic who worked 80+ hour weeks and couldn’t live without a laptop nearby (2011-2012) at the expense of my health or personal life. I didn’t want to focus so much on my health that I didn’t have a personal life or work slacked off (2010, but in all fairness I was still on chemo for most of it, but seriously, I drove myself crazy having it be all about the medical) and while one’s personal life is important (my goals including house and relationship goals on top of what I wanted to work on) it shouldn’t be the only thing, as it became in 2014 after a disastrous January kind of made our world implode (just a little).
2015 was going to be the year I got back to it. I would work on being healthier, happier and doing things for myself (you know, have fun) and really take off as a writer, including getting published. And again, 2015 was certainly a year of transformation on all fronts. From a health perspective I learned to listen to my body and put it first. It’s a lot of upkeep and while it’s merely a vehicle of sorts, it’s the only one you get this lifetime, so it has to be a priority. While I am a medical veteran (seriously, I have quite the extensive medical resume) 2008-2010 pretty much shattered everything I thought I knew. A freaky rare heart infection that was even freakier in my body (it wasn’t detected until 8+ months, when usually it is detected and treated after 4 weeks) that caused my death (yep, I died for awhile) and then an even rarer autoimmune disease that was only discovered after a rare stomach syndrome that I shouldn’t have (it’s usually exclusively a complication of severe diabetes, and I am not diabetic)… everything pretty much changed.
Chemo, dialysis, plasma exchanges, biopsies, transfusions and weekly surgeries became the norm. I was supposed to die, and then not only didn’t I die, but I became better overnight and the doctors danced around (like literally cut a jig) and called it a miracle and that was that. But before all that craziness I had had dozens of brain surgeries, a few heart surgeries, dozens of fractures (I have a brittle bone disease) and was already a medical vet. I think these new experiences shook my confidence. Because in 2011 through 2014 I always had an idea when something was wrong, and what it was, but I lived in doubt and that doubt silenced me. I think about what 2008-me would have to say to 2013-me and he wouldn’t be very happy. You are the only expert that matters when it comes to your body. You are your greatest advocate. And in 2015 I reclaimed that voice and confidence. When something was wrong, I told my doctors that something was, and what it was, regardless if my labs showed it wasn’t that bad. My body told another story and that was all that mattered. And when something serious wasn’t wrong, but I was forced to go to the ER to be sure, because it’s me, I held fast there too.
“Why are you here?” The ER doctor asked, impatiently after I dismissed all of his concerns away like shunt, heart, immune system, etc.
“Because my doctor and he [Roy] made me.”
And you know I was right, I was run down but otherwise fine.
It feels good to reclaim that confidence because Roy would walk through fire for me, but he can never be the expert on my body the way I am. And the same goes for my doctors. Tests and accumulated knowledge are second to experience. They’re taking their leads from me. And now I’m ready for that again.
Personally, I grew, but it was ongoing stuff I’ve been working on since 2012 (really since way before then, but after 2011-2012 I had a bit of a breakthrough from previous work). A lot of it was about taking a chill pill and just focusing on the journey rather than the destination. A lot of it had to do with my temper. All of my close friends and my husband call me hyper-rational. I’m annoyingly objective and facts-based when it comes to conflicts and resolutions. But every now and then when I feel pushed to my limit, my tongue – which has been made from 1,000 machetes – fires off before it’s all over. But from someone who might have used that sharp-as-hell tongue on a daily basis, I became someone who used it on a weekly basis (2011-2012), and then a monthly basis (2013), and now I’m at six to eight weeks (2014 to present). I’ll never stop working at it until it’s eliminated completely, but seeing the progress makes my heart happy.
I also started a new, slightly awkward, relationship with my father, and I thought that ship had sailed. But he reached out to me after my many reach outs and we’re in a better place. A place that actually is looking real, and healthy and towards the future, which is all I ever wanted. It was probably my greatest “personal triumph” of the year.
Other personal goals were a lot less serious and included things I wanted to do like: learn something new every day; do one good deed every day; have a fun and new experience once a week. And I think I did well – hopefully anyway.
My career category really consisted of two larger entities: Money/business and writing/working to become a fulltime working writer. I have my own editing business that does everything from resumes and cover letters to academic editing to book editing and coaching. It allows me to use my degrees (I have a Master’s as well) and do something that I love. It’s not always the most lucrative (sometimes I had great years and other times I make less than a first-year teacher) but I would rather do what I love and be slightly poor than do something that didn’t make me happy and have tons of money that I would simply use to try to be happier. Business isn’t just about income though; it’s marketing, networking, social media presence, website upkeep and so many other things besides just doing the work. And those things are more foreign and uncomfortable for me, so my goals aim to target those things as much as it does actual production.
The second entity is my writing and goals include daily writing, submitting things, developing and growing in terms of craft and as a writer in general. Last year was the most I have grown as a writer in a long, long time. I really dove deep, participated in several workshops focused on different aspects of craft, writing genres and navigating the publishing world, and attended a national writing conference. By the end of the year I realized I was writing things that I would never have been able to even a year before. And that’s an amazing feeling. While 2015, I grew on all fronts; I think the most tremendous growth happened in terms of my writing. And I am grateful and hope to keep on this path of writing evolution. It’s worth more than I could hope to articulate.
But while I know that I did really, really well last year, I don’t know just how well and if I was balanced or not. The reason why is for the first time in, like, ever I didn’t track any of my progress. Sometimes I just forgot, other times I was busy, and then we did travel A LOT, so there’s that. But still, noting each day’s goals and how I did takes less than ten minutes a day (and that’s now, and I have more goals this year than I did in 2015) so there really is no excuse for it. I wish I knew just how I did in 2015. Maybe I didn’t do nearly as well as I think I did, and maybe I did even better. But I’m not going to know so rather than think about it, I am looking towards 2016, and 2016 will be even better. (And I’ll actually keep track of it this year!)
This year I want to be the best I’ve ever been. I had more goals to add and very few I felt comfortable eliminating (in fact, I didn’t eliminate a single one, they just changed slightly) but that meant I had to figure out what to do, because I didn’t want to have fifteen personal goals and only ten career goals etc. I still want to strive for balance. So, this year I decided to split my goals into four categories of ten, which really made sense. Health and Career are still two categories and really have not changed much (the individual goals have, but not what fits under that umbrella) and I split personal into: Personal and Interpersonal. Personal goals are just for me, whether they focus on learning something new every day, reading goals or lightening up and having fun, these are goals that are things I want to do, rather than things I feel I should do, or are necessary. Interpersonal goals focus on relationships and the house. It can be anything from pet care, to making my husband feel special every single day, to relationships with family and friends and being social. (I am an introvert to the extreme, but my husband brought it up to me shortly before 2015 ended…)
Roy: You know, I just want you to know that I support you, and you don’t have to be such a shut-in.
ME: I like being a shut-in.
Roy: But people like you, and it would be good, I think, to go out and do things with people.
ME (making a face): People like me. (It was a challenge.)
Roy: You’re a nice person.
I raise an eyebrow and smirk.
Roy: When you want to be.
ME: In other words, I’m a bitch.
Roy: When you want to be.
But yes, I added a social goal that is probably going to be the end of me, but this is going to be a brave, bold and brand-spanking-new year and this really will be a challenge.
So here is to growth and transformation! Here is to balance and being your most authentic self! Here is to health and happiness, and dreams coming true. Here is to working on those dreams and making them come true! Do everything like a motherfucker – yes, I think I shall.
Here is to 2016 – it is going to be great! 🙂