2012 in the Rear View

What a freaking year.

I mean that in every applicable way.

It’s funny to me how the time goes by so quickly but when I think back it seems like more than a year since some of this year’s events happened. Does that make ANY sense?

I had terrible anxiety last New Year’s Eve. I had unreasonable fears that things had gotten as good as they were going to get and this year was going to be downhill. Obviously, I am a sane human and was aware of my irrationality, but I couldn’t shake it.

Familywise, we had a tough one, losing Daddy’s brother in February. There’s not really anything to say about it that I haven’t already said. It was awful for many people.

Workwise, it has been tough too. I had my most stressful year at work so far. I think I did okay but I could have handled many problems better, more quickly, etc. If anything, I burned myself out needlessly. Upside? I grew. I presented at three conferences, each presentation well-received. The school’s lit mag grew. I helped some students who needed it tremendously.

Mentally, it was a basket-dropper of a year. Events early in the year stirred up some old demons, and I had put off finding a therapist for far too long. Sadly, that fix was temporary and I found myself walking out of her office for good during one of the darkest points of the year for me. Shockingly, that was the turning point to pasting my brain, nerves, and emotions back together.

Physically, it’s been a mixed bag. I had some health issues this year — minor, I think, I hope — and have spent the majority of the year in physical therapy. Some of it may not be fixable. Some of it definitely is. I have many unanswered questions, but I think stress and anxiety are at the root of at least half of it.

On the upside, I’ve taken better physical and mental care of myself, especially in the latter half of the year. Sleep and exercise have been priorities. Time with friends has become essential to snatch where I can find it. Rest and unwinding are mandatory daily. “No” has entered my vocabulary.

While I’ve had to (temporarily, I hope) give up pole and weight training, I’ve managed to run a few times a week and get into what is probably the best shape of my life (floppy arms notwithstanding).

Travelwise, I have been to Savannah, Norfolk, Melbourne Beach (FL), Nashville, Maggie Valley, and Las Vegas this year. I hope to make next year more adventurous.

Drawl has suffered this year and we are working on rebooting the magazine. I am looking forward to spending more time on my own writing this year. That time has been hard to carve out.

From a hobby standpoint, I have gotten better at sewing and tried my hand (successfully!) with canning. I still suck at gardening and probably will forever. That’s a dream I can let go. For now.

The year’s lessons?

*Trust yourself.

*Focus on people.

*You can do anything for 15 minutes.

*You can accomplish a hell of a lot if you will do things for 15 minutes on a regular basis.

*Complicated problems often have simple solutions.

*You don’t have to keep being who you’ve always been. Change is okay.

*It’s also okay not to change.

*Things may not be better or worse in the future, just different. Embrace it. It’s okay. There is a good in most moments.

I am not a runner.

“If you boat a lot, you’re known as a boating enthusiast. I like to boat, but I just don’t want to ever be referred to as a ‘boating enthusiast.’ I hope they call me ‘a guy who likes to boat’.” — Mitch Hedberg

I am not a runner.

But I run.

For two years, I tried to run. People had great success with Couch to 5k. People assured me that ANYONE can run.

For the first week of  Couch to 5k, you run sixty seconds and then walk for two minutes. I couldn’t run 30 seconds without my heart rate blasting to 190, and I’d been going to the gym fairly steadily for a few years.

Trainers wouldn’t touch me. Doctors checked me out. No one could tell me what was wrong.

Last February, I got pissed off and tore out of my house, down the greenway, on a Tuesday afternoon, and completed the first run of Couch to 5k. I thought I might have a heart attack or pass out. I had a headache after and felt lightheaded.

Two days later, I did it again.

I managed to finish the first three weeks of the program before getting sick and having to stop for a few weeks. I started back with similar results in May, ending up on antibiotics and finally seeing a physical therapist to help me get some mobility back after the meds wrecked my joints.

In August, I started again. I had to repeat several weeks of the program.

In October, I ran my first continuous mile.

I finished Couch to 5k, a nine-week program, in 13 weeks.

I’ve mostly stuck with it. On a good week, I run three mornings. On a bad week, I run once or twice.

Since I started running regularly, I’ve lost seven pounds without really trying. My body shape has changed. My asthma has gotten much better. I’m getting regular sunshine and my energy and productivity have improved.

But it’s not always great. Sometimes a muscle around my pelvis hurts so bad I stop short. Some days I’m wheezy. Some days I run ten minutes tops and walk the rest of the way, angry I couldn’t do better.

But every day I’m out there, I’m passing the version of me who sat on the couch or cursed the elliptical machine for not helping her get into shape. I’m passing the girl who said she couldn’t run. I’m grabbing by the hand the kid who was always out of shape and couldn’t run “because she was fat,” who sat out recess and finished her laps walking, ashamed, not knowing she just had exercise-induced asthma. (Oh the things we discover in our late twenties.)

But I’m not a runner.

I have friends who are runners, who offer to run my first race with me. I have no desire to run a race. I’m not into competing. I fundamentally don’t understand the desire to race, and that’s okay. I know some people need them for training goals, and some thrive on the competition or the accomplishment. (Or maybe they are just insane, like one of my BFFs who is prepping for his second IronMan [I say that out of love, and we’re both insane.].)

I just want to improve. I got a Garmin Forerunner for Christmas from Mr. B to help me track my heart rate and mileage. The app on my phone, RunDouble, has worked for my purposes until this point, but the GPS is a little off and I’d like to know how fast and far I’m running. (I already the answer is slowly and not very, respectively.)

The Garmin might make me feel like a runner but for the fact that I am having a devil of a time setting up and using it.

I still have to drag my ass out of bed to run. I still have bad days of it. It’s been a week since my last run. I still get angry at my body from time to time, but mostly I am thankful that for now, my body is letting me run.

I’m definitely not a running enthusiast. I’m not a runner.

But I run.

Greenya Fauxlada

Weight Watchers and I broke up, and then we got back together. Now we’re not sure whether it was such a good idea. We get a long for a few days and that old feeling comes back. We take a little time apart, then we come running back.

Yeah, I give my “lifestyle change” human characteristics. Hell, I do it to punctuation when I teach adults.

Last year at the height of my first round on the double dubya I created a Spring Green smoothie. It’s good.

Now, Blue Diamond has brought something to take it to the next level.

No, they are not paying me to write this. Yes, I’ve been a steady customer for the last couple years. I’ve been drinking their unsweetened vanilla almond milk since I realized how much sugar lurked in Silk Vanilla soymilk.

The lovely makers of Almond Breeze have rolled out unsweetened coconut-almond milk. It’s 45 calories per cup, one WW PP, and it is creamy and freaking amazing, and it turns my Spring Green smoothie into a tropical glass of awesome.

The taste is not overwhelming coconut; the biggest difference you will notice is really with the creamy texture. It reminds me of whole milk, but it’s not offputting as a non-milk drinker. There’s less of a coconut taste and more of a coconut scent.

You have to try this, unless you hate coconut like Mr. B.

Greenya Fauxlada

Makes one monstrous smoothie

Ingredients

1 ripe banana, peeled
2 handfuls baby spinach
½ c canned pinapple tidbits or chunks, drained (can use fresh, of course)
1 c. Coconut Almond Milk Blend
1 handful ice
2 Tbsp raw cashews

Method

Blend on Whole Juice setting in Blendtec. If using standard blender, you may want to blend the cashews and milk first and then add the other ingredients and process until all is fully incorporated. Pour into vessel and drink immediately.

4 WW PP

What happened? What’s next?

Lessee. I was here in December. Then life exploded.

January: I was plunged ass over teacups into the busiest semester yet at work. I started getting my shit together… and then..

February: I presented at a conference in Savannah with two teaching comrades. It went GREAT. So great, in fact, that we’ll be repeating that presentation twice this year.

Then disaster struck. My uncle, my daddy’s brother, died unexpectedly, just before Valentine’s Day. It was shocking, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, and unbelievable — and that was just for me. As for what his wife, son, and grandchildren are going through, I can’t imagine. What my daddy has and is going through is just unimaginable. It blew a pretty big hole in things for awhile, and I know it still does for a lot of people and will for a long time.

The day after the funeral I was running a fundraiser at work, which was actually good because it wasn’t work I had to *think* about and it got my mind off things. One of the women there said, “Here’s the thing about what’s happened. The world keeps on going, but yours doesn’t.”

I loved my uncle. I didn’t see him often. I actually missed seeing him after his surgery because I was at that conference. I know my grief was not as staggering as that of others’.

But dammit, there is a hole there.

Needless to say, I don’t remember the rest of February.

March: I needed a vacation more than I could express. We took off to Florida to go back to Kennedy Space Center and loll on a beach. It was a weird trip. I was still emotionally raw and Mr. B and I had a lot to talk about and everything was just strange. We did a lot of beachfront relaxing and I stayed up all night and reread The Awakening on a hotel balcony, as I always do at the beach. I saw a lot of Mom’s family midmonth. At the end of the month we saw Ben Folds with the Symphony and then went to Norfolk to spend time with friends and see the Black Keys. I started Couch to 5K. I’m still terrible at running and had to repeat weeks several times. I never got past week three for a variety of reasons, despite the fact I was still at it in May.

April: Exhausting clusterfuck. Easter was nice.

May: Amanda graduated! We went to see Clutch! The light at the end of the tunnel was a friggin train! I went to Nashville to visit my beloved Black Witch, my surrogate nephew, the new kid, and the hublet. It was awesome. I started teaching a new class THE NEXT MORNING. I finished one giant work project. I have one to go before I’ll relax.

Also, Amendment One passed, and I’m so angry about it that I may not get married.

And now it’s June. I’m working on the magazine and the aforementioned project. I’m getting this class figured out and then I’m working on fall classes. I’m preparing for conference presentations here and in Vegas. Mr. B is renovating the kitchen (against all my judgment and advice, and then he’ll tear it all down and do it again in two years). Friends are coming to visit. At some point, I’ll go to the beach, float in a pool, and travel a little bit. I’m writing. I’m reading. I’m resting. I’m healing my body in a fashion.

I’ll be cooking again soon. I hope to be back on the trail again soon. I’m ready to be me again.