I’ve spent the last week jotting down some notes that I had planned on turning into a blog post to share a recap of 2012, but try as I might I couldn’t mold all of my random thoughts into one cohesive piece. That’s when I came across a blog post titled 2012 Rewind by Kathy Benson over at Bereaved and Blessed. I was instantly intrigued and soon learned that Rewind is a year-end blog meme in which Kathy participates and has invited other bloggers to do the same. I thought that the 35 questions perfectly summed up what I wanted to do here on this blog so I decided to give it a go.
I will pass Kathy’s invitation on to you and ask that if you choose to participate in the year-end blog meme, please let me know so I may read and comment on yours too.
1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before? I participated in several writing projects which included guest blogging for The Good Men Project and the3six5. I also had the opportunity to act as editor for the3six5 during the month of July. It was quite an experience and one that I would love to repeat. Aside from this blog, my biggest endeavor came when I launched a collaborative blog, The Today Voice, in which five bloggers write new content based on weekly prompts over the course of one year. Last week marked the halfway point in the year, which is unbelievable.
As one of the five contributing writers (currently we are down one writer, so technically there are only four) it’s a huge writing commitment for anyone to undertake. I know that I have personally struggled to keep up with the weekly schedule. I am so proud of and thankful to the other bloggers who have kept up their commitment to The Today Voice, especially since they consistently publish so much great content on their personal blogs as well. Their dedication to the project has meant a lot to me.
If you haven’t already had the pleasure of doing so, I would like to invite you to check out their websites, which you can do by clicking on the following links:
Brian B. Baker “The Bleeding Inkwell“
Kathy Benson “Bereaved and Blessed“
Amanda Kasper “& this I Believe“
2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Somewhat. While I’m super proud at what I was able to accomplish both professionally and financially, everything else fell by the wayside. But being the optimist that I am I have set new goals for 2013, many of which are recycled from my 2012 list.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? No, although my sister is pregnant and due any day now.
4. Did anyone close to you die? Someone to whom I had once been close, and had for a brief period of time considered a parent figure, passed away only a few weeks ago. Her sudden death affected me in some very unexpected ways which forced me to confront some things I had internalized and ignored for a very long time.
The sadness I felt over her passing also helped me to view certain aspects of my life from a new perspective. In the end I discovered answers to questions for which there seemed to be no answer for, and peace of mind where I thought clarity could not be found. I plan to share my experience on this blog soon, as it feels like the beginning of a new chapter.
5. What places did you visit? Due to a very (very, very) busy work schedule Renee and I didn’t find much time to get away. There was, however, one extended weekend in May in which Renee surprised me with a trip to Folly Beach, South Carolina. Although the trip was short, I discovered the value (but most importantly the willpower) in powering down my laptop and leaving my iPhone behind in a desk drawer while we enjoyed our day on the beach. There was one day in which our only indication of time was the location of the sun in the sky. It was damn near perfect and something that I look forward to doing again in 2013.
6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012? An education. Due to the absence of a formal education during my childhood, my limited knowledge base for some of the most rudimentary of academic skills has plagued me throughout the course of my life in more ways than I care to rehash. I want to seek the help that I need through tutoring, to improve in the areas in which I am lacking. Hopefully, if all goes as planned, I can begin working toward a degree in the Fall. It’s an ambitious goal, I know, but I want it more than I can say. I’m tired of letting this aspect of my life get the best of me and can’t wait to begin putting it behind me.
7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? I will always remember December 21st as the day Renee made a very tough decision to step out in faith by following her heart and resigning from her job. The pursuit of happiness sometimes takes you down some unexpected and frightening paths, but I have never met someone as strong, brave, and capable as she is. I am so proud of her for knowing and acting on what she feels is best for the future of our marriage and family.
8. What was your biggest achievement(s) of the year? I can think of two. One being that for the first time in my life I am virtually debt-free. That took a lot of hard work from both Renee and myself and I am proud of what we were able to accomplish. The second big accomplishment (and probably much bigger than the first) has resulted from my attempts to let go and open up to other people. I tend to hold others at a distance, which usually means I know far more about them than they know about me. It’s a very lonely vantage point and one that I default to. I think this is a very common predicament that former foster youth tend to find themselves in, and it’s definitely been a hard habit to break. Looking back over the year I can see where my effort to trust others, as well as the effort to trust myself, have begun to payoff in small but profound ways in my interactions with friends and acquaintances.
9. What was your biggest failure? Failing to follow through with some of the commitments which I had so eagerly made. Like I stated above in regards to The Today Voice, I had a very difficult time keeping up with projects and responsibilities in 2012. What immediately comes to mind are the weeks when I missed my posting deadlines on The Today Voice, or the month when I was unable to fulfill my mentoring commitments with Big Brothers Big Sisters due to a busy season at work. The list is much longer, but it all adds up to being overly ambitious. Truth be told, my biggest failure this year has probably been that I have not really forgiven myself for these imperfections. I guess I should add “lighten up dude, take it easy on yourself” to my list of resolutions for 2013.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Outside of sporadic migraines, I am thankful that I have been mostly healthy and injury-free.
11. What was the best thing you bought? I bought an Xbox Kinect. While I do enjoy video games, spending so much money at one time on an entertainment product has always given me pause to think twice. Nevertheless, I finally broke down and bought one, and I couldn’t be happier. What makes this my best purchase is in the way I am able to utilize it for reasons outside of gaming.
One of my resolutions for 2012, and again for 2013, has been to lose weight. I managed to drop around forty pounds in 2012 through running and making better decisions when it came to food, but I still have about sixty pounds that I’d like to shed. Using a fitness program on my Xbox Kinect gives me the freedom to exercise from within the comfort of my home. An added benefit is that the motion sensor can assess how I am performing, which means I receive instant feedback as if working out with a personal trainer.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My wife, Renee. As I mentioned above, I am extremely proud of her for the steps she’s taking to improve her quality of life.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Gosh, this is going to sound like a broken record, but that one goes to my parents for a two-way tie. Each time I think I know the type of behavior I can expect from them I realize something else about my past and it becomes even clearer how neglectful and sometimes outright devious they’re actions toward me and my siblings were/are. So, yeah. Number 13 goes to them.
14. Where did most of your money go? To pay off debt. Oh so much debt.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? The 2012 Christmas season. I love our family traditions, and coming in at the end of a really long and taxing year it was such a great way to unwind and celebrate our accomplishments.
16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2012? I think I would be in denial if I didn’t list Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe” as one of the most definitive songs of 2012. It’s a simple yet catchy tune with the power to make you wish you could rip your ears off and join a flash mob all in one rendition.
Two others, which I believe in my memories will always belong to 2012, are Fun.’s “We Are Young“, and Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know“.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? All in all, I believe that I am happier.
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner.
c) richer or poorer? Richer (but because of the combination of number 12 and number 14 it doesn’t quite feel that way just yet)
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? I wish I had found more opportunities to write. There are so many things that I would like to share with you, both on this blog and through other outlets. More specifically, I wish I had finished the first draft of the story that I’m currently writing.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? I wish I’d spent less time sweating the small stuff.
20. How did you spend Christmas in 2012? It has become tradition for Renee’s immediate family to spend Christmas Eve at our house for dinner, movies and one very ruthless game of Monopoly. Christmas mornings are usually spent at he parents house for exchanging gifts and a large breakfast. It’s a very nice tradition and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
21. Did you fall in love in 2012? No, technically I did not fall in love, but I’d like to mention that Renee and I celebrated eight years of marriage in December.
22. What was your favorite TV program? The Walking Dead.
23. What did you do for your birthday in 2012? For this I will refer you to number 5.
24. What was the best book you read? I think it would have to be a tie between Joe Hill’s “Horns“, and Suzanne Collin’s “The Hunger Games“.
25. What did you want and get? Clarity (see number 4).
26. What did you want and not get? I really wanted to go to school in 2012. Unfortunately, several things got in the way of being able to accomplish this goal.
27. What was your favorite film of this year? The Hobbit.
28. Did you make some new friends this year? Yes. More importantly, I focused on becoming a better friend to those I already know.
29.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? I don’t really know how to answer this. I suppose I would have found much satisfaction in completing some of the writing projects that seem to never end. Maybe 2013 will be my year.
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012? Do t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops count?
31. What kept you sane? Writing and running.
32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I’m not sure about this one either. It’s hard to pick just one. It’s really a close tie between Stephen King and J.J. Abrams for their storytelling abilities, and Ryan Tedder and Taylor Swift for their songwriting skills.
33. What political issue stirred you the most? Earlier this year I had the opportunity to volunteer with an organization called Street Grace which serves within the Metro Atlanta community. The sole purpose of Street Grace is to work with victims of child trafficking. It was both eye opening and appalling to learn about the crimes committed against innocent children and right in my own backyard. Child trafficking seems like something out of a movie involving characters in a third world country, but the truth is that it is happening here in America in places you’d least suspect.
34. Who did you miss? My parents. Despite the dysfunction that comes in maintaining any semblance of a relationship with them, they’re absence has left a large void that can only be filled by their presence in my life. I do not enjoy the emotional repercussions that come from interacting with them, so currently I have little to no contact with either of them.
35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012. I learned something about personal limitations. I realized that those limitations, if challenged, can sometimes lead down a path which results in failure. I also learned an ugly truth about myself when it became apparent to me that when faced with a failure my gut instinct is to bury my head in the sand in defeat rather than acknowledge the shortcoming and then simply move on. On a lighter note, I discovered that once I pulled my head out of the sand and took note of my surroundings, the mob of angry people that I expected to stone me to death were no where to be found. It’s as if I overacted. As if….
The beautiful thing about most failure is that hidden beneath the wreckage of good intention and misguided effort lies an opportunity to learn and grow. In a way, failure can be quite liberating. Armed with the knowledge that the absolute worst has occurred, only then may you allow yourself to navigate the depths of rock bottom, and in doing so, you may discover something about yourself that you otherwise wouldn’t have.