2011 – The Epic Post

Happy New Year everyone!

Last night the hubby and I stayed home and brought in the New Year in our traditional manner – Wine, movies, fattening food and each other. Unfortunately for him, the combo wasn’t a happy one and he was sick throughout the night. We had had plans to visit with a friend and her peeps, but the hubby got to the wine bottle a bit early, making it a nice evening at home.

Throughout the day, I worked on my Hogmanay celebrations. I cleaned the house thoroughly and then did a sage smudging. I used a cleanser I bought many years ago here when mopping the floors. I finished up by sweeping dust out  doors. We placed items on our kitchen table to symbolize what we would like more of in the new year

I played silver coins out on the deck for blessings of good luck (which may have caused me to accidentally first-foot myself by accident…does it count if the door was never shut? I was retrieving the coins and never even considered that due to Pat’s sickness, he never first footed us last night.)

It was a lovely day, one of reflection over the year (and the decade) passed. I thought about accomplishments and mistakes. I thought about who I’ve become and the changes I’d like to see in myself and our lives. I was pretty vague in my post yesterday, so I think I’ll elaborate a bit. I’m strengthened by the amazing NYE post by Dark Mother Goddess.

This past year has been full of ups and downs.

January involved starting to recognize the patterns of my anxiety and working through it. This was a big deal for me. My anxiety has pretty much run my life for as long as I can remember. In fact, I first started seeing a psychologist about it at the age of 10 because I was making myself physically ill with guilt and worry over things that I had no control over. It was also January that I started to take ownership of my body. I have eczema and IBS and I started looking into these things further. I worked on my diet, I decided to try organic products to see if it would help (it did in some cases. Others were just a waste of money). January also held one of the scariest moments of my life. I was having a hair trial for the wedding out in the boonies and on the way home a freak storm swooped in causing zero visibility. My car lost traction and I rolled twice into a snow filled ditch. This caused back and neck injuries that I’m still working through.

My poor poor Volvo.

January was also the month that we discovered that Mum’s cancer was no longer responding to treatment, and that there was only a couple of options left. We were told to move up the wedding. So we did. We changed the date from September 18th to June 26th. As a result, lots of wedding plans were under way and I attended my last wedding show with Mum and Sarah. Mum was adamant, that no matter what happened, she wanted us to marry that year. Hell or high water. She and I, a team of hard-headed wont-take-no-for-an-answer women got everything moved over and booked in two days.

Mum and I at the wedding show

February involved fostering two puppies from a local rescue shelter. This was a valuable lesson on my limits and that it’s ok to say no. We lasted all of a couple days with the two scoundrels. I miss them to this day, but it was just too much. Especially with my back injury.

I renamed them Han and Chewie

It was also right around then that I started looking for work again. I was offered a job at one of the local hospitals in the Heart Institute as an admin assistant in Finance. Despite my gut screaming at me to RUN AWAY I took it for my family, so that I could bring more money to the table. It was the most miserable three days of my life. I came home crying every day until I finally couldn’t take it anymore. Another valuable lesson learned. February also came the preparation for a move. Mum asked Pat and I to move in, so we started decluttering, cleaning, etc…We were in a rough spot financially, but we did whatever we could to get out and into Mum’s place by April 1st.

March was a month of family. We spent quality time with Mum and the in-laws. I also found myself very frustrated with people and their ways of dealing with our situation. Pat and I had dates and enjoyed each other’s company while also providing support in those tough and stressful moments. March was the month I started this blog, with no clear goal in mind other than having a place that I could share my experiences with a new group of people. It was also the month that a friend’s fiancé was killed in a work-site accident. It rocked me to the core, and Mum was a huge source of strength during that time.  We got the house painted, we were almost all set to go. We thought we had a buyer, but she backed down. We puts lots of time and energy into getting home. We celebrated Mum’s birthday at her favourite restaurant (a little hole-in-the-wall turkish place), got our room ready at her house and sent out our wedding invitations.

Our freshly painted room at Mum's house

April. April is still impossible to think about without tears. It started out with failure – We were behind in our renos and house prep and I wouldn’t be able to move until the 10th. We booked the truck and did our best to get it all done in time. Easter was great. The whole family came out and we spent lots of time together. Mum wasn’t feeling great, so she stuck to the couch and hung out with her grandkids the whole night. We stayed late. That week, I was back and forth to the house as much as possible. On the 7th, I dropped by with boxes for the move with a friend. We arrived to find a couple of Mum’s friends there really upset. They had dropped by to check on her and she was not responding well. We took her to the hospital and didn’t get many answers about what was going on. We suspected it was her hemoglobin again and were told that a transfusion and some rest should get her home.

I can’t tell you all the details, because it’s still so very raw and painful. On the ninth, about two hours before her brothers and my sister were to arrive to see her, my mother died of complications brought on from years of chemotherapy and radiation.  The day before I was booked to move in. A week after I should have.

Rest in peace, Mum.

My feelings surrounded what happened those days leading to her death and the weeks after aren’t fit for this public forum. They are too private and too loaded, for now. What I can say is that my whole world was swept out from under me, and I’m still working to get myself standing again. Friends and family were amazing to me during this time. Leigh came to stay with us for a few days to help, and my nanny, Mila, was the foundation on which we were able to start to rebuild. My in-laws were incredible and made it so easy for us to take our time with our grief.

May was so busy I can hardly remember. Lots of wedding plans. I got a new job, which seemed to be a gift from Mum, at the Canadian Cancer Society. My sister came home to help with the wedding stuff. I had my shower, and basically did everything I could to surround myself with good people, focus on my upcoming marriage and work through the hard stuff with lots of incredible support.


Me and my BeeMaids <3

June was a blur. I had my bachlorette, last minute wedding stuff, working through the biggest event held by the Canadian Cancer Society, The Relay For Life. It was this month that I realized that the job I had was saving me. It helped me heal. It forced me to face Cancer and my grief head on. Life changing, for sure. The end of the month was obviously marked by our wedding. It was, as clichéd as it sounds, one of the best days of my life. Recently, our videographer posted our video. Here it is:

{ Heather & Patrick } 16mm/Super 8mm handmade wedding film ~ Merrickville, Ontario from { First Kiss Films } on Vimeo.

July was about living our new life and healing. We were shocked and hurt by family, while simultaneously amazed by the love and support of friends, new and old. The major lesson I learned here is that love doesn’t have to come from blood. It is in actions, silence, hugs and Sunday dinners. My definitions of family have changed. Unfortunately, this was also the month where a complete stranger assaulted me because he felt that Pat had cut him off in a construction zone. I have never seen Pat so mad. Ever. We’ve known each other nearly 11 years, so that’s saying something. Also, we bought me a car!

Yummy Dinner Parties

August was a strange one. I had a hard time dealing with my grief for both of my parents. Also, work started to not be as fun or fulfilling anymore. I was super emotional and stressed all the time. On the plus side, Pat and I reconnected with one of my girlfriends from Uni. We celebrated my niece’s first birthday and continued to enjoy the company of friends and family (though many disappeared for 2 weeks that month for various vacays). Near the end of the month I discovered my job was the victim of a restructure and I would be out of work eventually (first guess was the beginning of Sept, ended up being November)

Celebrating our niece's b-day!

September was busy. I continued to work without any clear date of when I was going to be downsized. I learned I didn’t get the reception job that would have been my only way to stay. My best guy friend was in town for almost two weeks for a visit. We went on an incredible horseback riding trip in the country and had an amazing time. Family and I fought like crazy and then suddenly they started acting much better and we actually got along. On the downside, my car started acting up badly. Looks like we bought a lemon. Great.

October an up and downer for me. Things returned to normal with family. I had a massive garage sale for Mum’s stuff and it was so not worth it. It was cemented when I didn’t attend Thanksgiving, despite only receiving an invitation shortly before. We attended a good friend’s annual pasta night and had a blast. I started an online art course which I really enjoyed.

November was mostly lovely. We had our honeymoon which was incredible. I started knitting again. I found the amazing hoars in LSG on Rav, and finally had a place that made me laugh and made me feel at home. Some drama with the house. Found out one of my best friends is pregnant with her second baby <3

December was almost completely internet free. We spent a lot of time reading, seeing friends, baking, cleaning and setting up the guest room for my sister. My sister visited and we celebrated Yule together and with my in-laws. Made some new great internet friends.

And here we are. A full year, lots of ups, downs and zigzags (Leigh, that one’s for you ;)). Seeing that all there, in front of me, I can see some really valuable lessons in it all.

1. Family is what you make of it. The people who will stand up for you and support you through thick and thin may shock you, but they are the people who make life beautiful and fill it with love and support. Work on those relationships. They are so worth it.

2. Love is work and needs to be cultivated. Pat and I spent a lot of time this year working on us. We had to make some changes, had lots of big talks and lots of decisions. Today, sitting here, I know that I love him more now than ever before, and that he has my back no matter what.

3. Self-awareness makes such a difference. This year I opened my eyes to so much. I started respecting my body more and taking the time to research what I put in it. I acknowledged my weaknesses and my illnesses and am starting to work on them.

4. Good food is so worth the time and energy. Also, Nigella is my Queen.

5. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s how you make them right and what you learn from them that makes the greatest difference.

So, from all of that, I’ve been pondering Dark Mother Goddess‘ idea of the word for the year. I think the best one for me in 2011 is Acceptance.

I am not entirely proud of myself in 2010. I reacted a lot, without thinking. I hurt people and allowed myself to be hurt. I had no idea how closed off I’ve been. I want to accept the things I cannot change, including the actions and words of people outside of myself. I want to accept was has been and move forward. I want to be more accepting of those around me, and the differences we have. I want to be accepting of who I am.

Acceptance for me is to listen without judgement. It’s not taking things personally. It’s looking at a situation and accepting it for what it is and moving forward. This is my goal for the year. Act with an open heart, and be the kind of person that others feel that they can come to for support and friendship.

And now, before signing off, these were my goals from last year. Lets see how I did:

۞ Becoming more active, in this case, being active at all. I need to get back to the gym. I also really want to get back into yoga. I miss it muchly. Not so much.

۞ Eating better. I want to be a lot more careful about what I’m putting into my body. A bit yet, a bit no. I comforted myself with junk this year, but I also started to enjoy cooking for the first time. Balance maybe?

۞ Taking care of my outsides too. After a really good talk with the people of Earth to Body, I think I’m going to try, at least for a few months, to use only organic products when I can. The only exception to this will be makeup and some hair products. Hopefully, this will give me a break from my eczema. With my family history, I need to stay away from carcinogens as much as possible. I definitely gave organic a try. In some cases I stuck with it, but in others, I went back to my old products. I think its important to know what’s in your products but in some cases, you don’t have to give them all up.

۞ Build my family. This means something different than what one would think, though I do mean that too. Basically, I want to surround myself with my chosen family, that special collection of people that i love and who make me a better person. I want to nurture these relationships and make them stronger, and focus on them rather than the toxic relationships that I have with others. This was definitely accomplished.

۞ Keep working on my insides too. I want to keep healing, keep improving. I want to get back into therapy, work on the Artist’s Way and strengthen myself at the core. Yep. I continued with therapy, did a healing art course, and did what I could to be as self aware as possible.

۞ Value my time and my hobbies. It’s ok to play video games if it calms me and I needn’t feel guilty for that. Nor do I need to feel guilty for not going to parties if I don’t want to, or turning down other social events. It’s ok to knit, to sit on the computer, to make a webpage. It’s ok to do what makes me happy. Work on my expressions and creativity. I want to get back into The Artist’s Way, I want to nurture my creativity and begin expressing myself again. I want to feel like it’s ok to spend time in my little craft room, plugging away on a project. While I didn’t get into the Artist’s Way again, I did focus on my hobbies, my art and my free time. I’d say a success.

۞ Reboot maevan.com. I want to completely remake the website from scratch, using the skills I learned. I want to get Dirty Pretty Things up and running and I want to feel confident about what I put out there into the world. Nope. Definitely not a priority. Think I may just get rid of it all together. I did, however, start this lovely blog, which is more the direction I wanted my web presence to go.

۞ Figure out this whole blog thing. I need to find a balance between the personal and wanting to meet new people and share things with the world. I miss having comments, and having people see my creations. LJ may not be the best place for that. Not sure. I do want to give this journal a new look too. Hee, yep. Here I am!

۞ Find a job that meets my criteria. It must keep me interested, without making me anxious. It has to make me proud, without taking all of my time. Once I do this, I want to get our finances back in order. Pretty close to there, with this new job at the college. It does take a lot of my time, but I think once I adjust, it’ll  be great.

۞ Settle in. I want to make this house a home. I want to paint, unpack, put things away and get rid of the clutter. Thanks to Phil, I plan on recording some of this progress to share. Certainly started, but we have a long way to go. I will say that my guest room makes me tremendously happy.

Cheers, to 2011. Here’s hoping it’s great.

7 thoughts on “2011 – The Epic Post

  1. wow, what a year girl! glad to hear that everything is coming together for you though. I too have had a year of intense ups and downs, mostly in the way of finding out the hard way who in my life I can count on. Surrounding myself with my chosen family and working on strengthening my relationships with them is definitely something I want to make more time for this coming year. I also totally relate to your job search criteria, and I’m hoping I will also be able to find the right job for me this year.

    there’s a reason why you’re hear, and there’s a reason why it’s now.
    I truly believe this. it has just proven to be true time and time again in my life.

    Just wanted to say that I enjoy reading your blog, and I wish all the best to you and yours in 2011. Here’s to health, love, and happiness.

    • Strengthening relationships and finding a job that is fulfilling are great goals, and definitely worth the effort. I would have never been able to get through this past year without my friends and in-laws. Good luck to you and thank you so much for reading :)

  2. Wow, what a wonderful post!! Looks like you’ve been doing quite a bit of introspection. What a wild year you’ve had! Life is never boring, that’s for sure. I wish you all the best in the new year, much love, laughter & light~

    Brightest blessings!

  3. Epic for sure :) so glad you shared your year. I have another “resolution” to add to my list: become better friends with Heather, if she has the time/desire. Love that old photo of your mom!

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