Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in Review

Amazingly enough, this is a tradition that dates back 9 years! Welcome to the 2014 edition.

Sum Up Your Year In A Nutshell

2014: This was the best year of my life. It is hard to describe how much I have grown as a person, but I have never been this happy and this self-assured of who I am and why I am on this planet.  This was the year that I committed myself to falling in love with my life- this life, the life that I am living. And it was an overwhelming success. It was not always easy, but it was always for the best. 

The biggest highlights of the year are unquestionably watching my two grow into the most amazing people I have never known. I am so deeply blessed for the privilege of parenting them.

And I am so deeply grateful for Jason; I could image no greater partner on the journey. This year will mark our 10th anniversary as best friends, and I look forward to several decades more...

1) What did you do in 2014 that you have never done before?
Taken a good, hard look in the proverbial mirror and identified that I wanted more from myself than what I was giving myself; that I deserved more…

2) Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions and will you make more next year?

2013 answer: This year's answer: I think that, for the most part, I met the goals I outlined for myself last New Years. I have come a long way in terms of flexibility and rolling with life's punches.  My "word" for the 2014 is "ADAPTABILITY"- this has also become my life's mantra.  It's a life long journey, but I have the two best tour guides in the world ;)

2014: I believe that I did keep my resolutions, but I think that I sold short what I was capable of and I have achieved so much more than I set out for. While adaptability may have been my ‘word’, it was not the one that guided me. What guided me was the idea of ‘thriving’. I don’t want to survive anymore. I want to thrive, the same way that I want my family to thrive.  And I believe that I have achieved this goal.

Next year, I will continue this goal and will push myself even further. My word for 2015 is simple: “Excel”. I want to excel at what I choose to do, and let go of whatever I am not passionate enough to commit that kind of energy towards.

3) Did someone close to you give birth in 2014?

There were some new faces this year, but not many who were very close to me. There are some new faces coming in 2015 that I am super excited to meet though…

4) Did someone close to you die?

People who were close to people that I am close to died. And that breaks my heart.

5) What countries did you visit?

Another year of not leaving Canada. I’m ok with that. This was a year of sticking close to home and discovering the joys of our own backyard.

6) What did you lack in 2014 that you would like more of in 2015? 

2013 answer: Time. I never seem to have enough time.
2014: Balance. Sometimes I forget to manage my “spoons”… Also, sleep.

7) What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory? 
Several important dates: birthdays, anniversaries, and celebrations are special every year. But on February 6th, 2014, our friends and family gathered in our home to celebrate our very first “Neurodiversity Celebration”.  This was the day that Sammie was officially identified as Autistic, and joined a community of Autistic people who are among the most beautiful, dedicated, fervently devoted to social justice people I have met. I am proud that my son is Autistic, and so grateful to have been welcomed by this community as a parent who is committed to embracing his neurodiversity.

8) What was your biggest achievement of the year? 
There were many. This was the year that I returned to the stage for the first time in over a decade. It was the year that Jason and I transformed our parenting, and truly dedicated ourselves to meeting both of our children’s individual and unique needs. It was the year that I decided to focus some much needed attention on my health and transformed my body and my life forever.

The list really could go on. This was a year that I was really proud of what I did and who I did it with. It was a year of monumental growth.

9) What was your biggest failure?
I made a lot of mistakes this year, but none that I would consider failures. I do believe that I stretched myself very thin, and that some of my friendships have suffered because of that. This is something that I intend to focus on in 2015.

10) Did you suffer injury or illness?
No. This is one of the first years that I have been able to say that I have been, for the most part, very healthy. Probably healthier than I have ever been in my adult life.

11) What was the best purchase you made? 
Our City of Edmonton attractions pass gave us access to activities that ignited deep passions in both of our kids and gave our family hundreds of hours of bonding, fun, laughter and memories. This was unquestionably the best purchase we made.

12) Whose behaviour merited the most celebration?
It is incredibly difficult to pinpoint just one or two or even a dozen people. I want to celebrate all the people in my life who are amazing and inspire me every day. But if the question is asking which people impacted me for the better in the most meaningful way, the answer to this is simple: the amazing group of Autistic self-advocates who have worked tirelessly to make a better world for my family. I owe them so much more than I could ever properly express in words, and am every day grateful for the patient lessons they have taught me.

13) Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? 
While 2014 was one of the best years of my life, it was not a great year for the world. I am ashamed at some of the atrocities being carried out by my fellow human beings. Bigotry, racism, ableism, discrimination, violence, hatred…there was so much ugly in the world this year. I wish there was more I could do to stop it.

14) Where did most of your money go?

We spent a lot of money on our family this year, and I do not regret that at all. From buying equipment for Sammie and toys that excite Charlie, to adventures out and about, we lived life to the fullest. We may be poorer this year than last, but we are richer in spirit.

15) What did you get really really excited about?
So much…man, where do I begin. I think I am most excited to see my children’s personalities emerging. They are wonderful, amazing, intelligent, creative and unique individuals who make my heart grow ten sizes bigger each day.

16) What song will always remind you of 2014?
“Let It Go”…Charlie’s FAVOURITE song. She has almost all the lyrics down pat. My little girl is a Disney princess, and I embrace that part of her (even if it pains me).

17) Compared to this time last year, are you?
Happier or hardened? Happier. I don't know if I've ever been this happy. But I have a heavy heart tonight, as my thoughts are with my friends and loved ones who are facing incredible challenges in the weeks and months ahead.

Thinner or fatter? Thinner. About 50 lbs thinner. And healthier than ever.

Richer or poorer? Richer- in more ways than one.

18) What do you wish you'd done more of?
I wish I had carved out more time for my loved ones. This is something that I plan on rectifying this year, now that I have a better sense of self-care under my belt.

19) What do you wish you'd less of?
Probably social media in general. It is a blessing and a curse, and an all-too-time consuming habit.

20) How did you spend Christmas?
Surrounded by my family and friends. It was a lovely holiday, with two children who were enthralled with the joys of the season.

21) Did you fall in love in 2014?
I fell in love with my life in 2014. More deeply than ever before.

22) Any one night stands? 
I have two night stands. They come in handy for holding my many empty tea cups that always seem to collect there.

23) What was your favourite program?
Anything that I watched with Jason. We spend amazing time watching silly shows and gossiping about them for hours.

24) Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate last year?
No persons, exactly. But attitudes of discrimination, bigotry, fear and anger…these things, I hate.

25) What was the best book you read?
Re-reading The Stand. That book has brought me immeasurable joy over the past 15 years.

26) What was your greatest musical discovery?
 Rediscovering my own love of music was a great gift for me. And sharing this love with friends, and a particularly wonderful mentor from my past who has become an advisor, a sympathetic ear and an inspiration to all I do.

27) What did you want, and get?
A full and rich year, filled with memories of family, friendship and love.

28) What did you want, and not get?
More sleep. Seriously. I really don’t sleep enough.

29) Favourite film of this year?
I rarely get to watch films these days, but I do always enjoy rediscovering old loves. I am spending my New Year’s Eve introducing Jason to “Anne of Green Gables” and it has been one of the most enjoyable evenings of the year J (Also, Charlie may be a modern day reincarnation of Anne…and that thought excites and terrifies me…)

30) What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
We had an epic birthday party celebrating the four ‘decades’ that span my life. I dressed up as Courtney Love and Jason went as Kurt Cobain. It was awesome.

31) What is one thing that would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If the world was a kinder, more loving place. I had to spend a lot of energy fighting social battles that should never have to be fought. I don’t regret this time, and fully intend on continuing these efforts until the world has become the kind of place that I can be proud to raise my children in.

32) How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
Baggy. As I have continued on my fitness journey, it has been incredibly difficult to keep clothes in my closet that actually fits me.

33) What kept you sane? My husband. He is my grounding force. And my genuinely unbelievable friends and family members. I am beyond blessed for the love that surrounds me.

34) Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I’m not really big on celebrities in general. As far as public figures go, there are many Autistic self-advocates that have impacted me a great deal. I have been privileged to befriend many of them and build relationships beyond the scope of social advocacy. These (mostly) women have transformed my life.

35) What political issue stirred you the most? 
Autism Acceptance. Loving my child for who he is should not be considered a political issue, but unfortunately- in today’s social climate- it is.

36) Who do you miss?
My dad. I wish he could have met my children. We had a conflicted relationship when I was young, but wonder how that would have changed as we both aged. If he is there, out there somewhere, I hope he is proud of who I am and how I have chosen to live this life.

37) Who was the best new person you met? 
This one is tough. I met a lot of amazing people this year. But, I have been welcomed into the fold of a wonderful group of moms who are raising their own exceptional children. They have become very important to me, giving me comfort, friendship, support, laughter and love in the times I needed it most.

38) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014:
There are few things in life worth fighting for. It is important to learn the difference between the mountains worth dying on, and the molehills that are simply best avoided.

The outside world isn’t able to distinguish these for you. You need to search within yourself and discover who you are, as a person, and what values you are prepared to go into battle to protect.

I am learning to let go of battles that are not my own; to support the efforts of others who are fighting their own social justice wars, without appropriating them or feeling the need to sacrifice myself for every issue that stirs my heart.

But I have also learned to recognize that- yes- there are causes that I am prepared to live, breathe and die for. These issues are fundamental to who I am as a person and as a parent.

The safety, security, and human dignity of my children is not a battle I can walk away from. The deep seeded belief that all persons are worth of human rights and freedoms is a realization that I can no longer ignore.

I expect 2015 will be filled with more of this advocate/activist work. There is much work left to be done. But I heartened to know that I am making small differences in the lives of my children and my loved ones. That to me makes every battle worth while.

I will live, breathe, and die for the safety and happiness of my children and my family. I can think of no worthier cause.

39) Quote a song lyrics that sums up your year:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

Amazingly enough, this year’s song is the same as last year’s…In 2014, I had the wonderful gift of hearing Sam sing this song to us, his first song ever…and one year later, his sister sang it to us as well. Many beautiful nights were spent listening to her sing this song to her daddy as he rocked her to bed. These are some of the most precious memories I have of one year old Charlie, who is already outgrowing her ‘toddler language’ and now sings dozens of songs practically perfectly.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to hear this song without tearing up. I hope not…


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