So here goes: Tsh’s questions and my responses…
1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
I feel like I found my personal formula for emotional and physical well-being. Get a good night’s sleep; add a run or yoga, lots of water, deep breathing exercises, time for reading and writing, and an occasional massage; subtract caffeine et voila! Contented Kristen.
2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?/4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
An unexpected obstacle turned into an unexpected joy. A frustrating search for an explanation for the tingling sensations in my hands and feet eventually brought me to a doctor whose holistic approach started me on a journey toward understanding the ways I deal with stress. Along that journey – which I’m still very much in the middle of – I’ve learned a lot about the things that I need – and the things that I don’t – to make it through the day without trying to control the happenings of the world through the tensing of the muscles in my shoulders.
5. Pick three words to describe 2012.
surprising, challenging, edifying
6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2012 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you).
frustrating, motivated, worthwhile
7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2012 (again, without asking).
frustrating, tiring, hectic
8. What were the best books you read this year?
Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
Teach Your Children Well, by Madeline Levine
Sea of Poppies, by Amitav Ghosh
Quiet, by Susan Cain
Kristin Lavransdatter, by Sigrid Undset
9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
My massage therapist (not kidding) :)
10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
I broke my addiction to caffeine and stopped drinking coffee and diet soda.
11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
I think I’ve become more resilient. Figuring out what basic elements I need to be more even-keeled has helped me roll with the punches more easily than I did before.
12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?
In trying to find ways to tame my anxiety, I’ve become much more open to the healing traditions of cultures other than my own. I’m not sure that I’ll ever be a church-goer again, but I do feel as though I’m becoming more spiritual in my approach to the way I carry myself through my life, by integrating different approaches to wellness and experimenting with meditation.
13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?
I’ve gotten into a routine that I really enjoy: trying to exercise every day, alternating running and yoga. Instead of approaching exercise as a chore, I’ve been looking forward to it and genuinely miss it when I’m not able to do it. Go figure.
14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
This year, our ninth of marriage, my husband and I became closer than ever. As we lean forward out of the baby-baby days of our parenting years, we realized again and again how fortunate we are to have each other and a partnership that only seems to strengthen in the face of adversity.
15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
More and more in my writing, I’m finding a way to explore my interests in research and history. It feels exciting to combine the work I did for years with the work I’m doing now.
16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
Trying to make time for all of the different projects I want to pursue, realizing that there isn’t enough, and moving forward on some without constantly ruminating on the loss of the others.
17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
After the kids are in bed, I often default to vegging on my couch, my computer on my lap and the TV on. Sometimes it feels great, but more and more often it feels like I’m wasting time I could use to be reading or really engaging with my husband.
18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
My husband and I went away overnight without the kids twice this year – the first time we had spent a night alone since our oldest was born five years ago.
19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year?
For me, in many respects, ailments in the body begin with ailments in the mind.
20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2012 for you.
Breathe in. Breathe out.