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Be free, 2015! Fly away and become a memory!

Time flies when you’re having fun, or so the old saying goes. And this year, it flew by in a snap it seemed — of course, once you get out of college, every year speeds by faster and faster. I imagine that when I’m 80, I’ll go down for a nap and wake up 2 years later, drool coming out of my mouth, hair sticking straight up in bedheaded righteousness and wondering when dinner is. Or if I missed the cocktails at happy hour.

But 2015, yea, it was a good one. Better than I’ve had in a long time, in fact. There were no featured vacations, but a few spontaneous trips with friends absolutely highlighted my year. No earth-shattering moments or big events, but life took on a sheen that made it glow (and no, nothing I own burned down or anything). It almost sounds boring — and it might be to some — but to me, it was most excellent. An enlightened attitude and the realization of how much I have to be grateful for really made these 12 months worth it.

Remember back about 363 days ago? I posted about my resolutions for the year? Want to take a look at how I fared? No? Well, this is my blog and you don’t get a vote, so yes, that’s what we’re going to do. Nyah nyah.

I had dubbed 2015 as The Year of Growth, though I didn’t realize that my body would take it quite so literally.  But am I happy with myself? And how my year turned out? Abundantly so. And in other areas, it really was a more metaphorically growth-y year.  Take a look:
  • Meditate every day  This went … surprisingly well. I didn’t meditate every day. In fact, there were a couple of stretches of time when I didn’t at all, but it seems like I keep coming back to it when I feel the need to quiet my mind and gain some space and breathing room in my life. I’ve tried a few different methods but keep going back to the Headspace app. Andy and his awesome accent make me smile.
  • Read 50 books Totally dominated this one. 66 books, 18,000+ pages and an average 3.7 rating on Goodreads. Yup. Rocked this one. And I might even get one more in before the end of the year. I’ve really enjoyed getting back to my first love; ever since I was little and trying to read after bedtime by using a flashlight under my covers I’ve coveted books and the immense joy they bring to my life. And, you should definitely be my friend on Goodreads. Just sayin’. All the cool people hang out there.
  • Go through all classes on codecademy.com  Never really got started on this full-force, but did bits and pieces. But, just a few weeks ago, I stumbled across a spectacular website — freecodecamp.com — which lays out 800 hours of training you need to become a web developer. They have not only tutorials to teach you, but homework and projects that need to be completed to put your new skills to use in a real-world way. I’m through the first module and on my first set of projects and I’m excited! They also have a pretty large following, so I’m going to be joining one of the study groups, too. I can be such a nerd sometimes.
  • Keep journaling daily — and read through the corresponding entry from a year ago  Still keeping the journal pretty religiously, though I don’t always take the time to look back on what I wrote before. I’ve tested out a few different types of journals and have one that I like and another that I can’t wait to get to — ones that incorporate things like goal-setting and calendars. Anyway, it’s fun buying myself gifts. I’m worth it, right?
  • Teach old dogs new tricks  *sigh*  I miss Clarke. He passed away in June and the house has been quiet ever since. Belle’s enjoying being an only dog, but now that I don’t have two to wrangle, I’m less inclined to make her work and instead am spoiling her rotten. Yes, I’m a bad doggie owner, but she’s mostly pretty well-behaved. When she’s sleeping, at least.
  • Digitize my life as much as possible  Done! Well, mostly. Bills and stuff like that are scanned and then tossed and/or shredded. Photos are digital and I’m partly through scanning old photographs. And I even got a backup scheme in place — something that I evangelically preached but never implemented on a personal basis.
  • Complete the 30 Days of Writing online  I didn’t quite make the full month, but I did get into a better habit of writing on most days. So, there’s that?
  • Focus on self-care — whole foods, good sleep, good sweat and practicing gratitude on a daily basis Self-care #FTW! All the elements don’t necessary come together at the same time and in the same way, but it’s all so much better than it used to be. Compassion for one’s self seems to be rare in today’s world, but its importance cannot be underestimated.

And that’s my 2015 in a nutshell. Or, rather, in a blog post. Whatev’s. How was your 2015? Any momentous occasions you want to brag about? Achievements that need a little shouting from the rooftops? Let me know!

There are things in this life that we all deserve, and should, without apology or guilt, allow ourselves:

  • I have the right to ask only myself for permission. Everyone else, I’ll just ask for forgiveness.
  • I have the right to say “no” for any reason, including, “I don’t wanna”. This does not include, however, the right to throw a tantrum.
  • I have the right to run on the treadmill because the weather is not quite perfect enough for my delicate sensitivities.
  • I have the right to engage in self-care even when it might seem selfish to other people. Going to bed early might seem silly, but trust me, you’ll like me better with 8+ hours of sleep under my belt.
  • I have the right to disagree with the ones I love, while still respecting their opinion (even though they’re most likely wrong).
  • I have the right to be “lazy” when my body tells me that it’s better to rest a bit. It’s called “recovery”, people.
  • I have the right to not always be happy because a full life involves grief as well as joy. And you have the right to avoid me when I’m like this.
  • I have the right to eat whatever the hell I want, because no food is “good” or “bad”. Unless it’s actually bad, in which case, throw that crap out, dude! You know that vegetables can’t live in the refrigerator for an unlimited amount of time.

And because all rights come with some responsibilities:

  • I have the responsibility, as often as possible, to make decisions that are in congruence with my goals. That’s fancy talk for don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk.
  • I have the responsibility to listen to my body, whether it needs more or less food, more or less exercise. Not every couch potato session is undeserved, ya know?
  • I have the responsibility to always move towards the me that I want to be while accepting and loving the me that’s doing the hard work right now. Even my holiday season bowl-full-of-jelly-belly is part of the team that’s getting me where I’m going.
  • I have the responsibility to be kind, tolerant and empathetic to those around me. I just need to get the rest of the world on board with this one, and I wish it weren’t so damn hard to do so.
  • I have the responsibility to fuel my body in a way that will allow me to get the most from it. And sometimes that means eating Pop-Tarts (or the generic equivalent, if I’m feeling especially thrifty).
  • I have a responsibility to feel all the feels, be vulnerable and open myself up to the world around me. Eliminating all risks to avoid getting hurt isn’t part of the deal.

What else would you add to this list?

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(This post was inspired by something I read in the wonderful Eating The Food Facebook group, where they espouse a healthy relationship with food and support every individual on their journey. They allow new members to join every few months, so check it out if that’s something you’re interested in.)

gratefulThe other day I penned a list of things that I was grateful to have in my life. And while completely sincere, my tongue was firmly lodged in cheek (if you didn’t notice)(and if you didn’t notice, well, then I’ve either got to write better or find a different audience)(I kid! I kid!)(just about finding a new audience)(okay, I’m done now).

And then today, I started seeing the news stories popping up about the shooting — yet another shooting — in California and I could have cried — what the hell is the world coming to? I stopped, took a few deep breaths and started to take stock of all that I have and how lucky I am to be granted another day to enjoy life. Not everyone gets that. And so, a more serious list of things that I’m blessed to have in my life:

My Family  They may not always understand me (I joke that I was picked up as a blue-light special at K-Mart for as different as I am from them about certain things), but I know that I can always count on them to be there for me, whatever it is I may need. I have wonderful parents who are not only a shining example of how marriage should be (51 years and counting!), but also brought us kids up to be polite, empathetic and have a sense of humor about ourselves and the world — a gift, especially in these times. My brother astounds me with his patience and knowledge of all things computer and my amazing sister has the ability to teach, be a grade school principal, run her own family and STILL beat me at Fitbit step challenges. They are truly the bedrock of my life.

My Friends  When I look back on all the friends I’ve had throughout the years, I know that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without having them in my life. From some of my college friends who have seen me through 25 years of life changes, to the more recent friends, most of whom I share a love of all things active — you guys are the best. On a daily basis, you teach me about friendship and support and a commitment to help whenever necessary. I can’t name names because there are too many; that’s how blessed I am. Just know that I love and appreciate every single one of you for everything you bring to the world and my life.

My Co-Workers  I’ve been with the same company for over 20 years now. Unusual for someone my age, I know — only my second job out of college and it stuck. And I’m not leaving until I retire or they make me go home. The “what” of my job is good, or at least, it’s something I have a talent for. It’s generally challenging, productive work that makes me feel good about myself and the contribution I make to the success of the company. But the thing that has made me stay all these years? The people. I’ve been oh so lucky to almost always have a boss that was a textbook example of “The Best Boss Ever”. And my co-workers — we’re a team, we have each other’s back and I’m never worried about someone undermining me or sabotaging my work. I’ve got it awfully good — even through the lean years, we were treated with respect and made to feel like we made a difference.

My dogs  I’ve had three dogs that I’ve called my own — Joe, who was the best first dog ever, Clarke, the big goofball who passed away far too soon, and Belle, the current love of my life. There’s something to be learned from how pets love — with fierce loyalty, unconditional trust and with an abandon that we should all be jealous of. There’s no better part of my day than walking back into the house after work and being greeted like I’m the best person ever.

Myself  Yes, I’m glad for me, which isn’t something I’ve always felt, but now I do. It’s been a terrifically good summer and fall in terms of my mental health and I’m so thankful for it. I feel ambition and motivation seeping back into my life as I once again strive for more and live life with a curiosity that I had forgotten I had.

You  And you. Yes, you out there reading. I may not have a huge audience here, but it makes my heart all warm and fuzzy to know that there’s someone out there reading these words. I write for myself, of course, but also to reach out and build communication and community, hoping that something I write sparks a note of recognition and “me, too!”. Shared experiences — no one is ever truly alone.

And with that, I’ll say to you: what are you grateful for? Who are the people in your life that you couldn’t life without? And do me a favor — go and thank them and let them know how much they mean to you. Life doesn’t give promises or guarantees, just the present moment, so make the best of each and every one of them.