I'm linking up with Leigh for the first time in a while. One of the Maisie Dobbs novels I read took place over the end of a year, and Maisie referred to the festivities on the 31st as Old Year's Night, which I thought was pretty cool--was that a British thing? A 1930's thing? Both? Do they still call it Old Year's Night in England? So many questions!
So let's break down the year that was 2015:
This was a biggie for me. After almost 4 years, I left my former employment and started working at my church. I am working about 10 hours more per week now, but I am still able to be home shortly after the kids get home, which is nice.
My mom and I saw Brooklyn on Christmas Eve. It was so, so lovely. So many beautiful handknit sweaters, so many beautiful ladies wearing almost no makeup (such flawless skin!).
Brooklyn was probably the only theatrical release that I saw that I really liked this year. For the sake of comparison, I also saw Spectre and Mission Impossible this year, and those are the only ones I can remember. And those were not my picks.
Inside Out was a Redbox pick for us in December, and it was very good. Leave it to the wizards at Pixar to have all the adults openly weeping by the movie's end.
There is not much to say. We watched Mad Men's final half season in the spring, and now we really don't have any "appointment TV." The shows that we watch together (Rob and I) are: 60 Minutes, The Amazing Race, and the NBC Nightly News. Bobby and I watch most of ABC's Wednesday night lineup (The Middle, Blackish, Fresh Off the Boat, Modern Family), but we usually record them and watch them over the next few days because I have to do a pick-up run over to the dance studio in the middle of the broadcasts.
I am very, very, very excited about the Sherlock episode that is airing on January first! And then the final season of Downton Abbey starts a few days later...Rob does not enjoy the costume drama that is Downton, so he will be on his own for a few weeks.
This was an unusual year for us--Rob and I went to Paris in April; Bobby and I flew to Georgia for the day in July; and in August, the whole family went to California. I don't think I've ever spent that much time on a plane in one year. For the most part, we all genuinely enjoy each other's company, and seeing things together for the first time is really cool. Next year, there will not be this much flying!
Two of my favorite things from this year's travels were the dinner cruise along the Seine and walking in Muir Woods. Two very different experiences, but both were unforgettable.
This year I made a conscious effort to read some classic literature. This was a direct result of my job change--I work right next door to our senior pastor, and he is always, always reading, and it's usually something good. I have loaned him my copy of All the Light We Cannot See, and I can't wait to see what he thinks. Just this week, we discussed Middlemarch, Silas Marner, and Far From the Madding Crowd. And now I have to re-read The Scarlet Letter (among other things). See, I can barely keep up!
Before I started reading Middlemarch, I was afraid that all my mystery series and contemporary fiction reading had whittled away at my attention span so that I wouldn't be able to concentrate on a long story told at a deliberate pace. I took my time with the reading--I knew that Middlemarch was not going to be blasted through over the course of a weekend. I also paused to take notes as I read. Those strategies were helpful, and they helped me build up my literature-reading-muscles!
The I-didn't-see-that-coming Department:
Five, six, seven, eight...
Both of my girls take dance classes, and this year our involvement with dance went to the next level. I was present for all three recitals in June--once as a spectator, and twice as a parent volunteer/ticket taker/director to the bathroom, etc. It's fun, and I enjoy watching all the dancers and seeing how they improve each year. It's a bit of a lost weekend, though, with no time for anything else.
This September, when the girls went back to dance class, so did I! I joined several other dance moms in the Thursday night adult jazz class. I have wanted to join a dance class since we lived in New Jersey (over 10 years ago), and the stars have finally aligned for me to be able to do this. We have so much fun!
The joy of being a grown-up
Back in the spring, I don't know whether I could have taken the dance class because I was having so much trouble with my shoulder. I pulled some muscles in my shoulder back in May of 2014, and by March of 2015, I was having trouble lifting my left arm without pain. One of the great things about being in my early-mid-forties is understanding the need for self-care, so rather than try to tough it out or hope for spontaneous improvement, I made an appointment with my doctor. An x-ray revealed some tendonitis, and the doctor prescribed physical therapy. I'd never gone to physical therapy before, and it's surprising how you can make room in an already busy calendar for something truly important. I completed six weeks of PT, and now I try to keep up with the exercises. I don't think it's ever going to be completely improved--too many years of being hard on my shoulders, but I feel like I've improved my mobility, and I'm not in pain now.
Unplanned home renovations
Back in September, I posted here with our pictures from our California trip. I had framed several of them and hung them in the basement. The very next day, my oldest daughter called me as I was driving home from work to tell me that there was water all over the dining room. By the time I arrived home, I had deduced that the water must be coming from our fire sprinkler system (required in our township). Sure enough, there was a hole in our bedroom wall, and water had been pouring out of that hole for hours, raining down from our bedroom, into the dining room below and then down into the basement. We are finishing up everything this week. I don't like to dwell on this episode--certainly it sucked, but it could always have been worse--but having so much of our home torn up for almost a quarter of the year is a noteworthy bump in the road. As I said, it is almost over, but I think I'm going to be paranoid about things going wrong for quite a while.
The unexpected gift of gratitude
While the house was completely topsy-turvy and my mind was a complete scramble, I started a nightly ritual of writing down lists of things I was grateful for each day. It was a nice way to slow the pace and reflect that not everything was crappy. Now, even when I may not take the time to put pen to paper, I try to make a mental list when I'm feeling overwhelmed. It's nice to focus on some positives.
So there you have it, a brief sampler of what I've been doing in 2015. I hope I'm finishing this year a little wiser and a little kinder than when the year began. I'll be back in a couple of days to share what I'm aiming for in the new year. Until then, I wish you a happy and healthy new year.