Don't worry...this isn't a New Year's Resolution post. I don't make resolutions. But I do reflect, and that's what I shall do for this New Year. Reflect and find what's most important to me to focus on.
2011 was an interesting year. I did accomplish a few things I set my mind to, I had a lot of fun times, met some new people, missed a few people, struggled with some stuff, watched others struggle, saw my kiddos grow, and probably got my feelings hurt a few too many times. Interesting indeed.
As I go into 2012, there are several things I want to focus on, maybe improve upon, maybe change a little. I figured a good start would be to come up with 12 of these things for the year 2012.
1. Better understand and embrace my strength. Whether this is mental or physical or a combination of both, I don't know. Physically I do feel like I'm at a peak. I've worked very hard this year to change things up in a way that helps me improve upon my fitness and I'm happy with the results. I had a rough start to 2011. I struggled through two less than stellar marathons and just didn't believe in myself enough to power through mediocre weather conditions. I vowed to never let myself feel like that again. This training season is very different. I have been able to complete some tough training runs strong and in control, never giving in to any yucky feelings, but rather allowing them to pass and becoming more confident in the process. I have my 5th marathon coming up in just 12 days and I really couldn't be more prepared for this one. I need to remember the mental and physical tricks to keep my body moving through the rough patches and to believe that my ultimate time goal is not out of the question.
2. Appreciate my kids' quirks. I don't have easy kids...I mean, really, who does? Every child has their own challenges that they bring to the table and mine are no different. But for every difficult characteristic, they have a multitude of wonderful characteristics. They are smart, funny, sweet, cuddly, beautiful, incredible, fearless, creative, thoughtful, and simply amazing. I am not the world's best mom. Parenting is something I struggle with daily, but I'm doing the very best that I can. When I witness and appreciate these special qualities in my kids, everyone is happier.
3. Take some "me" time. In order to be a better parent, I need my alone time. Or rather, I need time away from my responsibilities. There are a lot of moms and dads out there who will say that they never feel the need to "get away", that they never get so frustrated with parenting that they want a break from their children. That's not who I am and I really make no apologies for it. I have been made to feel that this is a flaw, but after a lot of careful thought and consideration, I know that I wholeheartedly disagree with that assessment. Needing some time to recharge and focus on just MY needs is not a flaw. It's human nature. If you're the type of parent that just can't get enough of your children, 100% of the time, well good for you.
This "me" time is something that both Greg and I get to experience in the coming months. He's been doing a lot of traveling lately for work, and it's not likely to ease up anytime soon. Rather than viewing this as bad I want to try to see the positives in it. By being away from home responsibilities, Greg gets time to recharge and reflect, to spend time with friends without worry, and to just be by himself if he chooses. I'm also getting a few opportunities to do the same with the races I will be traveling to this year. Right now I have three races that will take me away from home, with friends, without family, and although I know I'll miss my family I know it's good for me to worry about no one else but myself. I can come home relaxed, happy, and ready to love my family.
4. Don't sweat the small stuff. I was under so much stress at the end of 2011. I'm actually surprised it didn't make me physically sick. I couldn't keep myself from thinking about everything that had to be done and instead of just taking it one step at a time, I let it fester and explode into a big mass of stress and anxiety. I don't know if I can improve upon this, but I think I need to try. I might be a stay-at-home mom, but it doesn't mean my plate isn't full. I am incredibly busy. What constitutes busy to one person might be very different to another person, but to someone who hates having something on the calendar every single days, I am BUSY. I'm not nearly as happy when I have too many things going on. Restful days are a necessity for me. Again, if you're the kind of person who needs to be going, going, going all the time, well then good for you.
As a matter of fact, after the kids went to school today and I had the house completely to myself, I sat on the couch until 10am. It was amazing. Did I have laundry, vacuuming, dishes, and decoration removal to do? Yes. Did I care? Not really!
5. Appreciate my TRUE friends. Everyone talks about "true" friends and what that means. The last couple of years has taught me a lot about what qualities a true friend has. There are people in everyone's life who you should be able to talk to about anything and not worry about judgement, unwarranted advice and negativity. There are people who you can not talk to for awhile, but get right back into giggling chats the minute you see them again. If there's a conflict (and I can't even begin to tell you how much I hate conflict, and how I have no tolerance or patience for it in my life....I'm simply too old and too sensitive to create it or put up with it), well then that friend better speak up and get it out and get it fixed. I've "lost" a couple of friends in the last year or so and it does make me sad. Looking back I see that obviously they weren't true friends if I held no real value to them. There wasn't a real conflict. I guess they simply decided I was expendable, and that's quite hurtful. On the contrary, I've grown very close to others in the last year and I'm very comfortable opening up my heart and mind to them. I'm going to hold those friends even closer.
6. Let's talk about sensitivity for a minute. I'm a super sensitive person and I fully admit this. When someone doesn't like me for some reason, it hurts, no matter who that person is. I like to think of myself as a good person, a nice person, a fun person, and not one to "fight" with anyone. I might say what's on my mind occasionally but I never do it in a confrontational way or a hurtful way....at least I hope I do not the vast majority of the time. But there are folks out there who will demean, argue, judge, gossip, and just act downright nasty. Thankfully these types of people have been few and far between in my life, but some remain in my life's perimeter and it's a black spot in an otherwise pleasant environment. It saddens me, it makes me cautious, it makes me want to "fix" it, even though I simply can't and I just shouldn't even care enough about it to want it to be fixed. So should I vow to be less sensitive? No, I don't think that's really right. But I do wish I could downplay the hurt I feel sometimes.
7. And on that same note...let's talk about Depression. I have struggled with this a few times in my life. I had post-partum depression after both kids, and I was in a very dark place after my sister died. Upon reflection of this past year, I think I spent a lot of it in a depressed state. Admitting this feels pretty good, because I spent too much time unhappy in 2011. Knowing that it probably was some form of depression makes it a bit more bearable. Yesterday I read an incredible blog post about depression and it made me feel so much better about this disease. If you get the chance, please read it here: http://thebloggess.com/2012/01/the-fight-goes-on/. This comes from one of the funniest bloggers out there, but even she couldn't escape the grips of depression.
I get a lot of comments from people that my life seems pretty wonderful. Sure, it probably is! I have a great home, family, husband, "job", and I don't want for anything really. However, depression doesn't discriminate. If I'm stressing out or just downright lethargic about responsibilities, I feel so guilty about it. I have all these blessings, why aren't I happier? This guilt and the subsequent comments from people just makes it worse. Knowing there's sometimes a clinical reason for this is a big weight off my shoulders. I'm going to remember this better in 2012. And if it requires a bit more help than I can provide for myself, then I'm not so afraid to seek out that help.
8. So what am I going to do when I grow up? I haven't held a paying job in over 10 years now. I've focused my time on raising a family and keeping the homefront stable. Over the years I've spent time with different hobbies and I like to think I've made some efforts to improve myself as I age. There are still things I want to do. I'd like to expand upon some of these hobbies and make a bit more time for them. For example, I really want to become a certified running coach. Whole heck of a lot easier said than done! There are so few certification courses available and I'd prefer not traveling to one. I'm waiting to jump on the chance to attend a course in Austin. If that happens in 2012 I will be ecstatic! In the meantime I'm trying to absorb as much information as possible about fitness, running, and general health. As much as I enjoy improving my own running, I am even happier when I get to help others with theirs. Having that certification would be pretty great.
9. More races! When I first started running in 2007 I was a beast about racing. I was constantly signing up for new ones and enjoying myself. The last two years I have done very few, focusing mainly on marathons. I hadn't had a "good" race in a very long time. That's changed now. I've had such a great training year, and I finally got a new PR (10k distance), so my confidence is so much higher. I'd like to tap into that confidence once again and take advantage of all the great races around Austin. Right now I am registered for 4 in the coming months but I'm always looking for more.
10. Take my own advice. Remember this blog post? I'm going to continue to focus and reflect upon this in the new year.
11. Nutrition and what it can do for my body. I have made a lot of effort to be more mindful of my eating and to find healthy alternatives to the junk that is available out there. I am happy with some of the changes I made and can feel the difference in my body. I don't do anything extreme, but rather just cut out most processed and junk foods and adding in a lot more healthy grains and fresh fruits and veggies. I can still splurge if I want, but I'm finding that the desire lessens over time. I learned first hand in the past two weeks what junk and too much sugar can do for my body. I had two terrible workouts and just felt miserable afterwards. When I ate well I felt amazing. Pretty solid correlation that I'm going to continue to focus on this year.
12. Continuing to influence people to live a healthier life. When I wrote this blog post back in November, I really didn't expect the great outpouring I got. I hope the motivation that people told me I gave them has continued. I hope that seeing me accomplish fitness goals also serves as further motivation that anyone can get off their butt and get into shape, and more importantly, STAY IN SHAPE. I'm going to keep doing what I do and hope that it reaches others to make healthy, lasting changes. We can all reach our potential and don't ever have to settle for less.
So there are my reflections for the year. A few things to think about, a few things to get accomplished, and few things to improve upon. Not resolutions, but rather a continuing focus on the most important things year after year.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, Y'ALL!