Almost a new year.
I can’t believe that 2009 will be over in a matter of days. It really has been an incredible year, incredibly fast that is. It seems that each year gets a little more hurried as I pack more and more into my life. It can be crazy and insanely tough, but honestly I wouldn’t change a thing.
It is about this time each year that I start looking back and wondering just what I will get myself into next year. Many people write out resolutions but I want to do something different this year. I’ll probably still make out a list, but in addition to that I am going to write down a list of all that I have managed to accomplish over the past 12 months. Not only does it give me a great big boost of confidence, which at times I sorely need, but it also reminds me that I CAN achieve anything I want to, as long as I just keep moving towards my goals.
The idea came to me from a fairly ordinary source. I go through a review process at work every six months. After my first one, I realized that while it may seem simple to recall all of the reasons why you should be kept around or even better be given a raise, it can actually be pretty hard, especially if you are as crazy busy and pressed for time as I am. My mentor suggested I keep an “accomplishments” folder to help me remember. Basically it works like this: every time I get an email that in any way praises something I’ve done I print it out. When I meet a tough (read IMPOSSIBLE) deadline, I make a note of it and toss it in the folder. After six months I can easily pull out my folder and summarize everything I’ve done to improve the organization.
It worked so well for my job that I decided to do something similar for each year for all the other parts of my life. So now I keep a folder with pretty much everything that was flattering, an accomplishment, a triumph of spirit or just a great learning experience in it. I am now approaching 2010 with my first complete list in hand, ready to go over it in preparation for another incredibly wonderful, but insanely speedy year. And as cheesy and idealistic as that sounds, I find that as I look over it I really do feel much more optimistic about how I am spending my life.
The next step to the process is rather than go through a review as I would at work, I will share the list (in summary form) here on my blog with all of you. In doing so maybe it will help to inspire someone else to keep pushing against the odds, that there is in fact light at the end of the tunnel even if that tunnel seems interminably long sometimes.
To go one better in part two of this post I will also including my usual list of resolutions in addition to my accomplishments.So here you go. Read, comment and share your own accomplishments!
2009 in a nutshell:
Over the last year I crossed over that invisible line between what I used to think was “old” and the reality of being 30 years old and knowing that age is completely relative despite the scary realization that my first-born also became a preteen this year. I completed the second year of a job that I really want to become my career despite a couple of life-threatening incidents including an insane asthma attack during my first interior ignition on a 2000 acre prescribed burn (got it all on film though) and a midnight boat accident that trapped me underwater with alligators and a dislocated jaw and also gave me a concussion and an odd scar on my nose.
I came through some of the most challenging moments of my marriage, with a renewed passion and stronger bond with my husband than I ever thought possible.While not a prince on a white horse, he’s the sexiest, most compassionate and forgiving frog I could have ever hoped to kiss and spend the rest of my life with. D, I love you.
My kids achieved amazing milestones including a first band concert for my percussion-playing 12-year-old and a first bus ride to kindergarten for my five-year old (with only minimal tears from me). I nearly cried when my little boy wrote his own name, when my daughter said “mommy hold me,” and when my oldest son beat me at checkers for the first time without me going “easy” on him. There were soccer tournaments, surprise parties and a boy-scout camporee. I introduced them to snow, snakes, frogs, turtles, bats, birds, fire, lichens, bugs and the values of conservation including a river clean-up and the first ever right whale festival. It is amazing that their successes, their wonder make me feel successful as well, as a parent, as a woman, and as a person.Having happy, healthy, curious and vibrant children is a reflection of the tireless combined efforts of both me and my husband, a team we are both embarrassingly proud of.
I grew professionally, designing and implementing the first social media program for the state agency where I work. In addition to that program I created a handbook (that is regularly updated and re-released) for that program that was shared state-wide, then nation-wide, and used to create similar programs for other wildlife agencies. I spoke at both a local and a regional conference on social media and conservation, and was then asked to serve as a member of a state-wide task force to help promote wildlife conservation through social media. The first DVD I ever produced received a near perfect score by an independent panel made up of wildlife communication professionals from all over the country, giving me both the confidence and the credibility to go forward with additional videos and the resources to create an entire video production program within my division. I completed fire training, passed my pack test, held an alligator, shocked fish, identified lichens, helped build a cave gate for bats and may have discovered a new habitat for a crayfish. Pretty cool.
I achieved good grades in graduate school despite working 60+ hour weeks and traveling extensively, not to mention caring for three children. Amazingly I was also accepted into an MS program for conservation ecology after being told my whole life that science and math weren’t my “thing” – and I am excelling within the program! I was asked to guest lecture not once but twice for a college course and even discussed co-teaching a class on social media with an old professor.
I am finally approaching my pre-baby weight going from a 12 to an 8, but actually feeling healthier than I ever did before my three children and realizing that I haven’t actually stepped on a scale daily for months and knowing I’m okay with that, a true sign I am really recovering from years of disordered eating.
Neither of my two main blogs have brought me fame or fortune, but I know what it feels like to be at the top of a Google search (I outranked the Texas stripper with my name) and to be featured consistently on sites like Brazen Careerist and Damsels in Success. I received an excellent review by a top-ranked blogger and made the move to WordPress without losing any readers. I started a business of my own with my family, including a family story blog that my kids are having a ball with helping out on. It really feels good to be creating something lasting and possibly lucrative with my children that doesn’t involve exploiting them as a stage mom.
So as you can see, I’ve had an incredible year. Stay tuned for part II when I go over what I intend to do next year!