Reviewing 2011: Yearly Questionnaire
Highlights of an AMAZING YEAR:
1. Received my independent social work license (LISW).2. Turned 30 and loved it.3. Ran a half marathon and lived.4. Said goodbye to a toxic parent.5. Attending 5 beautiful weddings, including a trip to Boston.6. Hit my goal weight, losing 82 lbs.7. Achieved my lifetime WeightWatchers membership.8. Spoke to a class of teenage girls twice (once as a poet, once as a social worker).9. Wrote my 7th Nanowrimo novel.10. Made awesome new holiday traditions and family connections.
Who do you know better than you did at the beginning of the year?
Anna and Carrie from Nanowrimo. My Grandma Benedetti, who I hadn’t seen in a long time prior to this holiday season.
Who have you listened to carefully?
Who have you cheered for?
A whole slew of newly married couples. A ton of our friends got hitched this year, and a lot of my cheering this year was done at weddings.
What do you understand better than you did in January?
I understand limitations, both my own and those of other people. I am limited in that I am able to maintain a healthy weight, but not always by way of a perfectly healthy lifestyle (I’m less active than I was during half marathon training). I am limited in other ways, but that’s a new one for me. In terms of other people’s limitations… in January, I was still worried about what unknown thing I’d done to make it hard (once again) for my mother to just love me, and now I understand that her limitations simply don’t allow her to love people without that love becoming inevitably twisted and cruel. I understand limitations and my new relationship to others’ limitations, not just my mother’s.
What are you explaining to other people that you weren’t able to explain then?
Largely, what I want from relationships and what I won’t accept. Ending an abusive relationship clarified a lot of my relationships and what I want/don’t want from them. I’m better able to explain myself without standing under an oppressive umbrella of emotional abuse and manipulation. I’m also able to explain how I became the healthy person I am now that I’ve crossed the finish line. Last year I wasn’t sure how I was going to get to my goal weight, but I knew I would get there. Now, I’m past the finish line and able to talk about the entire journey. “I lost 82 pounds and here’s how I did it,” is a cool thing to be able to explain.
Where have you been that you didn’t expect to be this year?
1. On the other side of a half marathon finish line. Hot damn but that was a big moment for me. :)2. In my paternal grandmother’s living room last week. In ending certain relationships this year, I’ve found room in my life and confidence within to allow new relationships to grow. That was an unexpected blessing this year, and a wonderful way to end the holiday season, with someone who has loved me continually during every absence.
Where have you stopped going because you needed to stop going there?
When were you most comforted during this last year?
The messages that people recorded for my half marathon playlist were absolutely amazing. A hug from Laura when I arrived in NYC to travel to her bachelorette party in June. The moment when I sat down in front of therapist and put it all on the table and heard the words “congratulations on an amazing first step.” Every moment this year when I’ve needed the peace and quiet of home and Jim has given it to me. Every moment when I’ve laughed, mostly with Jim when I least expected to be able to. The hug I shared with my grandmother when I left her apartment last week. The family and friend time I’ve shared this holiday season with a drama-free group of people.
When did you say, “I’m not sure I can do this” and then discovered that you could?
First, I ran a half marathon. Second, I ended an abusive relationship I’ve agonized over for three decades of my life. Third, I hit my goal weight, losing 82 pounds. Fourth, I kept that motherfucking weight OFF for the rest of the year. Oh, and I wore DRESSES this year. Oh, and I purchased a BATHING SUIT and wore it in front of other people. I also spoke to a room full of teenagers TWICE, first about my book of poetry and then on career day (scary). I did a whole lot of shit this year that makes me really fucking proud.
What is your favorite sentence, blog post, paragraph, or tweet that you wrote since January?
This blog entry is one of my favorite that I’ve ever written. I’ve gone back and read it more than once: http://brandicesays.tumblr.com/post/6287854605/wishing-for-time-travel
What was the most encouraging thing you did for someone this year, as measured by their smile?
This year I would say this would be one of my interactions with a patient, one that left me changed for the better and left the patient a little less lost. My job allows me to have a lot of these moments, but one in particular this year was pretty special.
What question have you actually spent time trying to answer this year?
“What is family?” The answer for me has involved allowing myself to be closer to a lot of really special people this year and accepting that genetics plays no part in the family that has emerged for me at the end of 2011.
Where, geographically, did you find the most delight this year?
Boston. Between Laura’s wedding and the days Jim and I spent there afterward, it was a really wonderful vacation.
What item did you cross of your list this year that had been on it the longest?
Achieving a healthy weight and learning to maintain it. I didn’t have a handle on food or my health long before I became overtly fat, so that’s a battle I’ve been struggling to win for a LONG time. I also finally turned in my supervision hours and got my independent social work license (LISW), which is pretty friggin’ cool!
What book did you intentionally quit reading because you knew, halfway through, that you didn’t need to finish to get the author’s content?
What book did you read that was written before 1846?
I finished a volume of really beautiful poetry by Rumi. He’s an artist in every sense of the word.
What picture you took did you look at more than once because you liked it?
It’s hard to pick just one from a year that including a half marathon, 5 weddings, two bachelorettes, and hitting my goal weight. There are a LOT of great pictures from 2011 that I’ve gone back and looked at more than once, but my sentimental pick would be this shot of Jim and I (we always look so relaxed and happy when we get away and just spend time along together!) and my photography pick is this one (for whatever reason I’ve gone back and looked at it several times… just love the image).
What was the best conversation you had this year?
The ongoing (now two-years going) memo-versation I have with Laura. I tell her everything, I talk to her almost daily and sometimes multiple times a day, and the advice and support she’s given me this year has been invaluable. I hope the replies I’ve recorded and emailed back to her have done the same. She’s family. :)
What was the most satisfying $5 you spent this year? (and you get to define satisfying).
The parking fees outside of House of Hunan in Akron, where I’ve had some of my favorite lunches with Tim and Rob, two psychiatrists that I work with. Two nerds, great green tea, sushi, and lots of talk about books and science fiction and generally nerdy subjects… totally worth the occasional $1 for parking and a great break during the work day.
What piece of mail that you received this year made you smile the most.
The package Laura sent me earlier this fall that had a plethora of fun items, the funniest of which was a random red and black granny square (and a Dave Barry book I plan to dive into one of these days).