Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How resolute were you this year?

Resolutions are no fun, unless you can make fun of them.

Sure, a lot of people make resolutions, but how many keep tabs on them?  How many actually go back at the end of the year to see how well you've kept them?

Well, in this case, I actually kept a record of my resolutions for 2011 - and because of it, I can look back on my year to see how well I've kept them (or not).  And for the longest while, Mady Virgona and I were checking up on one another's resolutions every Monday night, until we fell out of the habit.  I think if we had kept it up, or at least, if I had continued to look at my resolutions through the year, I would have accomplished more.

So without further ado, here are the silly, and not-so-silly, resolutions I'd made in 2011.

Take 4 singing lessons.  Failed!  It's okay, though.  I think "singing solo in church, at a baptism and at a funeral, and leading songs at Easter and Christmas" outweighs "didn't take singing lessons".  Grade: C-.

Take 8 dance lessons.  Success!  Unfortunately, it was at one of these dance lessons that my wallet was stolen, so that puts a big black mark on the whole experience.  Fortunately, my dance instructor was cute and very funny.  I don't think I would go back to that studio, though.  Too upper crust for me.  I think if I was to go back to dance, I'd return to Cat's Corner on St-Laurent. There, dance was more than an artform.  It was FUN, man!  And excellent exercise.  Grade:  B+.  (I'd give myself a higher grade if I had taken the last two of the lessons I paid for.  But like I said, when your wallet is stolen from a place like that, as rich and hoity-toity as it is, you really don't want to risk it twice.)

Sew one dress (with sleeves).  FAILED.  And "ha ha ha!" for thinking it up in the first place. Grade: F.

Pay off student debt.  Success!  Grade A+, for paying it off one month earlier than expected according to my budget, and for paying it off a full eight months before the regular payments finished.

Pay off the credit card.  Success, believe it or not!  And then I moved and went to IKEA to stock up on furniture. Grade: A, but a month's detention for racking it up again.  Darn you, IKEA!  Darn you all to heck!

Go to dentist.  No comment.  Grade: F.

Land a publishing contract (or, pay for self-pub by end of year 2011).  Nope, but close.  I still have high hopes for a certain short story, but as for a book...Well, if you were to read back through several blog posts of 2011, you'll see I went through a big BLAH that knocked me right off my feet.  Now, entering into 2012, I'm cautiously optimistic.  And I won't be self-publishing for a while yet.  Grade:  N/A.  The important thing is, I'm back in the game.

Be a better CWC RVP.  Unfortunately, the same BLAH that affected my writing hopes was the same BLAH that took over the rest of my life.  Fortunately, I've been doing a lot more volunteering.  Unfortunately, I didn't do half as much as I wanted to, and only a quarter of what this role deserves.  Grade:  D.

Complain less.  You know, I think I will actually give myself a passing grade on this one.  Any time I have complained, I'd like to think I did it sparingly, and with a lot of sarcasm.  But I have been exercising optimism.  Like a muscle, optimism needs to be exercised; without exercise, it atrophies and becomes a withered, dead thing in the bottom of your soul; but when exercised, it becomes more resilient against injury, and it becomes easier to hope for bigger and bigger things.  Grade: B.  (I'd give myself a higher mark if I hadn't substituted optimism with sulky silence so often.) 

Read twenty books (5 sf/f, 5 crime, 5 non-fiction, 5 whatever else I want to read).  Sadly, I lost track of the books I'd been reading through the year, but I do know I read about 22-25 books, so yay me!  Grade: A- (points lost for not keeping track and not ensuring I had a well-rounded reading list).

Lose ten pounds.  Well, if you get really technical, I lost about 40 pounds - 2 pounds here, 1 pound there, 3 pounds another week...But, if you balance that against the pounds I gained during other weeks, I lost a total of nothing.  I'm at the same weight I was at the beginning of 2011!  So, I'm going to have to give myself a "meh" Grade of C-.  Bonus points for actually going to the gym regularly during the months of July, August, and part of September.  A kick in the pants for not going more than five times total in the months of October, November and December combined.

Get a mentor from CWC.  Please refer to the "Great BLAH of 2011".  Failed! Grade: F.

Keep house clean.  Actually, in the end of the year, I've been doing pretty darned well, if I do say so myself.  Now that I have a much larger apartment, I have enough closets, shelves, cupboards and storage units to put stuff where it belongs.  Also, because I've become a neat freak when it comes to the floors, I'm sweeping and mopping like a maniac.  Still some work to be done, but A for effort.  Overall Grade:  B-.  Next step:  empty the storage room downstairs.  Heh heh heh.  (See, this is how I scare away writer's block.  I threaten it with chores.)

1 hour of TV daily, maximum.  Actually, yes!  If you average out the days I've watched 2 hours or more of TV against the weeks (yes, weeks) when the TV wasn't on at all, I come out at 1 hour of TV daily.  Grade:  A+.

Out of bed by 7:15 every day.  HAHAHAHAHA!  Okay, that was just a dumb thing to suggest in the first place.  7:15 a.m. on Sunday mornings, yes, giving myself exactly 45 minutes to shower, dress, take the dog outside, get coffee en route and be there by 8:00 a.m.  All other days...8:45 has been the norm.  Grade:  D-.

Sunday afternoons, zero internet / TV / computer games.  Reading only, four hours.  Well, I have to split this into two halves.  In the first half of the year, yes, actually, I was doing exactly that.  And then, for whatever reason, I fell apart.  Grade:  D-.

So overall, how was the year?  I give it a C-, maybe a D+.

When I stop and think back over it, it's actually been a pretty eventful, but up/down kind of year, where the downs zeroed out the ups, and vice versa.

In terms of work, I moved to a different role, and within three months of joining the new team, I had a commendation from not one but two TELUS Vice Presidents (and a lot of leftover pizza).  And things have been pretty good since then, though, I will admit, there have been days when I've cried real tears of boredom.  The good days more than make up for it, though.

In terms of life, I had my wallet stolen, I lost my apartment, I gouged both sides of the car, and I lost my grandmother, all within 8 weeks.  From the beginning of September to the end of October, it was like being slapped, punched, kicked in the groin and then eviscerated, in that order.  Then November came, and I was as low as I could get, exhausted, criticized and full of malaise.

But then again, I moved into a much bigger apartment, and I got my first dog!  And even when I was criticized and my work torn to shreds, I still managed to come out ahead.

In church, we've lost a lot of people, some of them who had been with us since the first founding days of our congregation; but then, we've gained some, too - people who are committed, engaged, and volunteering.

In terms of writing, I haven't been so close to publication before - short stories, and now two very solid mystery series, with Lady Butcher being a surprise new arrival in 2011.  And most importantly, I overcame two of the longest, bleakest struggles I've ever had, and came out stronger for it.  The revisions to Mummer's the Word I think are awesome - character development, plot twists, clarity of narration - all that came about because of the "crisis of the heart" I'd had at the beginning of the year, which led to me falling in love with the essentials of storytelling.

And on top of that, I was tickled pink (and humbled) to have received both the Most Prolific award and the award for Best Adult Fiction in the Muskoka Novel Marathon 2011.  Currently, the manuscript (Lady Butcher and the Accidental Saint) is sitting with Marc Cote of Cormorant Press, awaiting a full critique.  It may or may not lead to a publishing contract - but the important thing is, only good can come out of the critique.

And in terms of the world, look what's happened so far!  Occupy Wall Street, Arab Spring, and the deaths of Osama Bin Laden and Kim Jong Il.  But then again, Greece is still in turmoil, the Euro is in a death spiral, and we've also lost Elizabeth Taylor, Peter Falk (Colombo), Andy Rooney, Harry Morgan (Col. Potter), Randy "Macho Man" Savage, Steve Jobs, and Jack Layton.  And there was also Amy Winehouse, but was anybody really surprised?

And think of the inventions!  Quantum levitationFlying carpetsJetpacksGlasses-Free 3D Television.  The sky is no longer the limit.  Human imagination is the limit - and I don't think human imagination has a limit.  I can only imagine what "science fiction" will become reality next year.  Wireless energy ready lamps, cell phones and televisions?  I've already seen solar powered backpack laptop chargers, so why not?  (And yes, I've actually met someone who owns one.)  On the other hand, Canada has withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol, and that's just dumb, in my opinion, though I know the rationalizations behind it.
Overall, in 2011?  A few regrets, a few successes.  There's so much more I could have done.  I remember long, dull, ugly days when all I did was sit and play computer games, lacking the spiritual and mental energy to just get up and do something.  But I overcame it - I forcibly pulled myself out of it - and that, I think is going to be the big memory from 2011.

The year has balanced itself out.  It was like winning $10,000 in the lottery and using it to pay of $15,000 of debt.  I'd have been happier to win $100,000, but I think I would have wasted most of it.

If 2011 has taught me anything, it's this:  it's okay to be sad, but do not despair; the end of a chapter is not the end of the story.  And it's okay to be happy, but keep your feet on the ground, or something will sweep them out from under you.

All things zero out in the end, but at least you can keep the good memories and deliberately forget the rest.

It's been a good enough year.  A "meh" year.  But because I've learned how to avoid and overcome the "mehs", next year will be that much better.  I needed 2011 in order to prepare for 2012.

Now...please bring on 2012.  I want to see what I can make of it.


  1. I think "meh" sums up my year too. And yes, whatever happened to checking in on each other?? Now staying tuned for The Great Resolution Forging of 2012. :D

  2. I'm actually looking forward to that too. I might even post my resolutions, so the whole Interwebs can hold me accountable. And maybe we should forge our resolutions together, say...over a cup of coffee...or worse - a DREADMILL at the Y!

  3. A few comments regarding...

    Keep house clean: You cheated. You moved into a place that was empty :)

    Out of bed by 7:15 every day: I wish I could sleep in until 7:15 every day.

    2012 Resolutions: I've never really made any, but maybe I should. Doing so over coffee sounds like fun, if I may join you ladies?

  4. I'm totally up for that. Who's free on the morning of December 31?

  5. I have such mixed emotions about resolutions. On one hand, they're provisionally set to make you a better person by the end of the year. On the other hand, a year is a hell of a long time and a lot can happen that you never counted on.

    A good example of this was that at the beginning of this year, I was at the lowest point I'd ever been at in my life. Everything sucked and sucked bad.

    And it was mostly nobody's fault but mine. And I almost flushed everything I cherished away.

    By the end of the year, life is amazing, I've got a much better job, I'm published, and I'm excited about the future.

    Did I write as much as I wanted? No. Did my life turn around? Hell yes.

    So this year, I want it to be more about the writing. Will it? Talk to me this time next year.

    As for your progress, P, you had a hell of a year as well, and good on you for coming through it so well. I have the highest hopes for you this year.

  6. Thanks, Tobin. I can't wait to see what you can accomplish next year, in light of how well Vanishing Hope was received!

  7. You may not have got a novel bought, but you tried to. That counts!

    I haven't made resolutions since 1999, but I've been keeping up the one I made then. I resolved to track people I'd been to high school with, and I'm up to 16 of them now.

    2011 was my worst year for writing overall. I won't miss it.