Archive | December, 2010

2010 Wrap-up

Recap with 2009 and 2008.

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before? I started to say “Nothing”, and that’s stupid.  I got laid off.  I started my own company.  I cofounded a web show.  I volunteered with a roller derby team.  I lifted a weighted barbell over my head.  I ran an 11:00 mile.  I helped develop a grassroots community initiative.  I pre-ordered a book.  I did a boudoir photo shoot.  I worked on two high-dollar proposals, back-to-back.  I came off of Lexapro.  I learned about food and nutrition and started making conscious, well-thought-out choices about what I feed myself and my family.  It was a busy year.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Y’all are probably sick of hearing about last year’s resolutions and this year’s resolutions.  However, I’ll link to them!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? It was a busy year for babies!  Lots of my internet ladies gave birth this year.  Lots of chubby baby cheeks for me to drool over.

4. Did anyone close to you die? My MaMa, the matriarch of my extended family, passed away in early April of this year.  I want to say that I miss her, because obviously I do, but she drops so many not-so-subtle hints that she’s around that it’s impossible to feel left behind.

5. What countries did you visit? TUSCALOOSA.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010? I said “More courage” in 2009 and I’ll be damned if I didn’t personify that in 2010.  In 2011, I would like grace.  I feel like I scraped by this year, sometimes falling into caverns of sadness so deep that I feared I wouldn’t get back out.  This next year, I would like to keep my wits about me and be more graceful.

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? March was a big month for me, career-wise.  I made a jump that would change things.  June ended that jump, so that was earth-shattering.  The summer meant lots of hard, physical labor and mental anxiety.  By September, I had a light at the end of the tunnel.  By November, I had found my place and was glad to be there.  No particular one date, but lots of seasons.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? There’s a saying you hear around here a lot: “You can’t find the wheat for the chaff.”  It means you are kept from the good by all of the superfluous.  This year, although it’s not something I can put a pin in, I cleaned out a lot of chaff.  I whittled my productive measures down to the bare minimum, which is where I seem to be operating now.  Work – family.  That’s it.  Now I can start building on that with the knowledge that the choice is mine and I have control of it.

9. What was your biggest failure? You know what’s awesome?  What’s awesome is that I had a lot of little failures this year.  Too many to count, honestly.  But when I look back on it, I don’t see the failures.  I see the attempts and the courage behind them.  I would rather fail at something that scared me to death to try than never fail at anything because the fear won.  One of my favorite quotes ever is “People think I’m failing / they never understand / these temporary setbacks / are part of what I planned.” – Jason Robert Brown

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? The day after I wrote about how our new food resolutions kept us healthier this year (like, Tuesday? of this week?), Bryan came down with the flu and is still suffering.  Other than that, though, we all were mercifully healthy.

11. What was the best thing you bought? This is SO stupid and my mother is going to hate it, but .. my tattoo.

It’s on the back of my neck and this is probably a pretty crappy photo of it, but it hurt like a MOFO to get and I often forget it’s there until the random day that I wear my hair up at work and people look at me suddenly a little differently.  Occassionally, they’ll ask about why I got a fleur-de-lis and I get to talk about New Orleans and my love for all things Louisiana and the warmth of the bayou will take me over and regardless of where I am, it’s a nice reminder that a little piece of lagniappe is always with me.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Jesus God, my husband.  This year has been such a roller-coaster for our family, and he never once – even when I probably had it coming – was ever anything other than incredibly supportive of me.  When we finally hit rock-bottom financially, as unemployment tends to do, it was never a pointing match.  It was merely a “Well.. it is what it is and let’s fix it.”  His patience was overwhelming.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? There was an incident in October that so completely gobsmacked me that I spent a week nauseous over it.  And while I’ve kept it to myself and my husband (and, okay, Delle), it’s never far from my mind.  Also, an uncle that I loved very much as a child was a complete asshole to me and my family at my grandmother’s funeral.  Italians don’t forget, John.

14. Where did most of your money go? “Mortgage and daycare.  Daycare is such a rapist.” – 2009.  SURPRISE, 2010 WAS THE SAME!  Although, this year, a lot of our money also went to taxes.  Bitches.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? The boudoir shoot. And my Lord, what a fun night!  I can’t remember a night that was THAT much fun.  Lots of wine, lots of makeup and hairspray, a little nudity, and BFFs that I love dearly.  It was a perfect night.  Even if the pictures sucked.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009? “Defying Gravity” from Wicked.  It’s been my power ballad for awhile now .. years, in fact .. but this year, god almighty, every single word meant something.  From the separation of friends to the taking the leap to the realization that things aren’t what they seem.. it all was real.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
b) thinner or fatter? (I’m stronger.)
c) richer or poorer?

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? “Reading.” – 2009 Yes.  When we get some extra cash, maybe for Valentine’s Day or a belated Christmas gift or a Sarah-Just-Deserves-This present, I’m buying a Kindle or a Nook this year.  I don’t always have time to go buy/borrow a book.  I always have time to download.  And I miss reading.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Gah.  I stared at this one a long time.  About halfway through 2010 I stopped biting my tongue and doing things because they were expected of me and started doing things because I wanted to or because the opportunity arose.  But I can’t think of much I wish I’d done less of.  I wish I’d done less eating out.  There.  That’s true.

20. How did you spend Christmas? Um, honestly?  I spent Christmas resenting our custody situation.  Like, big time.  Like, it caused a horrible blow up on Christmas night.  I spent Christmas according to another household’s calendar, and it will be the last time that happens.

21. Did you fall in love in 2010? blah blah blah.

22. What was your favorite TV program? We live by the TiVo, but the two shows that we inevitably watched live were The Walking Dead and Hoarders.  I’m sure this makes us horrible people, but there you go.  Also, Modern Family, which is still the best comedy on tv right now.

23. This question has been deleted because it’s SOOO teenage emo Xanga shit. 

24. What was the best book you read? The Hunger Games series consumed my life from May until August, no lie.  I loved them.  Jack loves them. It’s been the first series we have all devoured and been able to discuss as a family.  I LOVE THAT.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? I’m only, say, a million years late on this, but this year’s soundtrack has been mainly composed of Kanye West, Florence + the Machine, and the Glee recordings.

26. What did you want and get? I upgraded my phone, I paid off two credit cards, we now have a sofa with a pullout bed so Bryan and I don’t have to sleep on the bunk beds anymore when his parents visit.

27. What did you want and not get? Read: ANYTHING ON MY CHRISTMAS LIST.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? OHMYGOD, Machete, hands down.  I have this really sick love of grindhouse films, and that one just rocked my socks off.  Also, it may have been the only movie we saw in the theatres.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? For my 30th birthday, my in-laws came into town to stay with us.  I know, right?  Isn’t that how YOU’D want to spend YOUR 30th birthday? (We did go see Machete, though.)

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? “A 25th hour in the day.” – 2008.  “Ditto.” – 2009.  “Hells yes, gimme some of that.” – 2010

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010? Um.  Well.  Trendy professional?  Love Them Layers?  Engineer a Go-Go?

32. What kept you sane? Me.  I did.  Dude, I want a fucking TROPHY for this year.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? This is such a weird question.  Um, I think Elizabeth Edwards, rest her soul, had a year that was graceful beyond comparison.  I wish to have a mere iota of her grace in the coming year.  Also, any of the Real Housewives. (I KNOW.  I AM SUCH AN ENIGMA.)

34. What political issue stirred you the most? The election this year was not so good for Alabamians.  From a gubernatorial candidate who ran on the platform of “We only speak english in Alabama” to a political figure who switched parties after elected, I pretty much hated all elected officials, all year long.  Except for our mayor, who is a pretty decent fellow with a wicked sense of humor.

35. Who did you miss? I miss my friends.  Y’all, in all honesty, I am having the WORST depression about not having time to see my friends right now.  It is KILLING me.  I have no one outside of my husband, and although he’s lovely, he DOES NOT DRINK or LIKE TO GOSSIP.  I need some girl time, FOR REALS.

36. Who was the best new person you met? For a short part of this year, I was part of a professional networking group that met once a week.  There was a lady in there that I arranged to have a one-to-one meeting with, which is supposed to be a sort of coaching/mentoring session.  But she and I got to talking about everything and we just really clicked.  We see each other occassionally in odd venues and it’s like we never separated.  It’s bizarre, since I wouldn’t really call us friends, but she’s just one of those effortlessly awesome people with whom I connected.  Also, she and I have an unnatural obsession with the salted caramel hot chocolates at Starbucks.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010. “I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned the hard way that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.” – Gilda Radner

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

“If I didn’t believe in you
Then here’s where the travelogue ends.
If I didn’t believe in you
I couldn’t have stood before all of our friends
And said, ‘This is the life I choose-
This is the thing I can’t bear to lose.
Trip us or trap us, but we refuse to fall.’
That’s what I thought we agreed on, Cathy.
If I hadn’t believed in you
I wouldn’t have loved you at all.”
“If I Didn’t Believe in You”, The Last 5 Years

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The Resolutions for 2011

These will remain on my “Archives” page for the duration of 2011.

To-Do List for 2011:

Kill the technology. Not all of it, and not all the time, but my home has become a place where we disappear into our technology. And while everyone needs a timeout to kill their brain cells, I am instituting a Tech-Free Zone between the hours of 5:00-7:00 p.m. on weeknights.  Aside from taking phone calls, there is to be only face time. AND NOT FACETIME ON THE IPHONE.

Bring back the primal urges. And by that, I mean food.  We’ve spent the last few years reforming our views and habits toward food; this year, we’re taking it a step further by creating a mostly primal lifestyle.  This means few, if any, grains and mostly food that our ancestors — hence, PRIMAL — could easily find or forage for.  If you’re interested in learning about the primal lifestyle, my girl AndreAnna has tons of info at her blog, Life as a Plate.

Find a way to worship. We are not big fans of organized religions. That’s not to say we think less of those who are, nor do I mean to say that we are anarchists.  We are just .. how do they say it? .. lazy.  But I decided when Tony was born that we should spend an hour or two each weekend “worshipping” in our own way.  An hour on a nature trail or with family over a great meal.  I would love for Bryan and the kids to actively come up with ways for us to “worship” with the same principles but without the sitting in pews part.

Be my own mentor. I spent a very odd year in 2010, employment-wise.  When I came back to my old/new company, I decided that I need to be more proactive in my career’s destiny.  This year, I plan to take some of the great workshops that come around and offer to be mentored by a woman of leadership in our company.  I’m no longer a “college hire”.  About time to start owning my shit.

Find something that’s my own. This one .. oh, this one.  I hate to even talk about this one.  I am currently at a point where I have nothing that is my own.  No hobbies, no extracurricular activities, no groups or interests.. and I am struggling to still have a sense of self with this.  With me quitting most of my hobbies to save money (theatre, CrossFit, wine), I have very little left that feels like a sense of pride.  I need – like, with capital letters NEED – to once again find something that is mine and makes me proud.  Bryan would prefer that this thing not corrupt our bank account.

Show my husband my city. Bryan and I will have been married FIVE YEARS in October 2011.  Assuming we last until October, I would love nothing more than to spend our five year anniversary in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  And?  I’d love for y’all to come too.  I’m putting aside any money I make on the side (blogging, voice-overs, pole work)(hahajustkidding) toward an anniversary account for Bryan and I to spend a week in New Orleans, October 12-16.  And if you’re up for the trip.. yes, you, my lovelies.. we’d love for you to join us.  More details to come.

Silence the noise. Similar to the tech-free initiative above, I began a measure in 2010 that I plan to consciously devote effort to in 2011: silence the noise.  Remove myself from email spam lists.  Hide Facebook “friends” who do nothing but complain.  Clean out the feed-reader of stuff that only irritates me.  Don’t TiVo shows that I don’t watch or enjoy watching.  My energy and my attention is so precious, it makes absolutely no sense to spend it on something unproductive.

Revel in the silence.  When the house is empty of everyone but me, I need to learn to sit still.  The cleaning can wait, the laundry isn’t going anywhere, I can catch up on emails later.  It’s time to learn to enjoy time.

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End of Year Review.

Let’s see how this went, shall we?  All old text in italics.

Resolutions for 2010, by Sarah Lena

1. Eat Less, Move More. Bryan and I did this in 2009, and saw HUGE impacts from it.  This year, we will eat meals on salad plates instead of dinner plates to keep portions under control; we will walk the dog at LEAST once a day; and we will make smarter choices when it comes to food that we bring into the house.  Well.  So.. we did good about the eating less part.  We really did.  The move more part.. well, I hate to be this way, but I did really well at it.  I did Huntsville Bootcamp for Women a few times, I started running again, I joined a CrossFit box.  I didn’t come out of 2010 a size 4 or anything, but I did more than just sit on my ass eating bonbons.

2. Stop Feeding the Diet Machine. In my house, we often dissuade guilt by buying “Low Fat”, “Reduced Sugar”, or “Natural” food products.  Truth is, it doesn’t make a difference.  I read an article where a dietitian recommended eating full fat.  Whole milk, full-fat cheese, nothing called “diet”.  Because?  You’ll feel full faster, and you’ll enjoy food more.  I think we’re going to try that for a year.  This, I’m happy to report, we did AMAZINGLY well on.  Because it was the best change our family  has ever made.  We started by cutting out “diet” and “lite” and “reduced”, and it naturally led to “organic” and “free-range” and “grass-fed”.  We ate whole-fat everything, and I’m happy to report that no one in the house gained ANY weight.  Seriously.  Real sugar – if any sugar – and real fat and .. REAL FOOD.  Also, it should be noted that NO ONE got sick in my house this year.  No flu, no pneumonia, just an errant ear infection here and there.

3. Money.  MONEY. Bryan and I are doing SO MUCH BETTER about money, but 2009 was INCREDIBLY hard.  The economy was in the toilet, and when one income depends solely on commissions from sales?  Well, the whole house feels that pinch.  My goal is to live frugally enough to pay off ALL of our debt (excluding our house) by the end of 2010.  In fact, I’m going to do whatever necessary to have all credit cards paid and closed, the car loan paid off, and anything else taken care of.  I refuse to be a slave to money any longer.   We are so much better than we were last year.  I was just pontificating on how lovely it is to be able to get gas or buy bread without writing the hot check or worrying about if the paycheck will come in before the charge hits the bank.  You know what helped?  Unemployment.  By figuring out what we HAD to have, it gets a lot easier to weed out the WANTS.  Also: I don’t recommend this method of budget revelation.

4. Be a better pet ownerWe have a fabulous new puppy who needs to training and discipline.  We fell short with Charlie (God rest his soul) and I refuse to let that happen again.  We will be working on socialization and training this year with Beau so that he can enjoy being a dog and we can enjoy owning him.   We kind of sucked at this one.  Beau took puppy classes for half of the scheduled session, and then I don’t remember what happened.  We had both Lola and Beau fixed this year, so I guess we get some points for that.  I think our pets have rather fortunate, cushy lives, but I still know that Beau in particular could benefit from some activity.

5. Make any endeavor worth doingI haven’t really talked about it on here because I wasn’t sure of a timeline, but Ronda and I are starting an online venture called Southern Fried Snark.  We are SO psyched about it and we hope it becomes a regular thing because, dude, WE GET A FORUM TO SNARK!, and I’m really wanting it to be something REAL.  It’s a love of labor right now, but I just want to pour myself into it to make it successful, whatever success might be.   Man, that was good times.  And I stayed true to the original resolution.  Points for me.

6. Go back to schoolI’ve been talking about doing this for years, but now?  Now I need to.  I’ve reached a place where I can’t move forward any more until I’ve got some schooling under my belt.  I haven’t figured out when or what school, but it’s gotta start this year.  Yeah, sucked at this because of the whole unemployment thing, BUT!  There are enrollment sessions on the horizon!  It will be fine!  In a year, I’ll have all my tuition and expenses paid for by my employer.  So I guess until then, I should just live it up like a high school senior, right?

7. Give $25 a month to a charity organizationBryan surprised me with my FAVORITE Christmas present: a donation to Operation Smile, which is a charity that I feel VERY strongly about.  I was surprised at the feelings that it brought out in me, and I think it made Bryan realize how important giving is to me.  We’re going to find $25 a month to give to various charities, and I also plan to have the boys make some blankets for Project LinusWe didn’t make the blankets, but we totally did the donation portion through June of this year.  We gave to varied local charities, and I currently have my paycheck set-up to make a twice-monthly donation to our local Arts Council, so that we can continue giving.

8. Cut myself some slackIf I want two cookies?  I’m gonna eat ‘em.  If I’m too tired to clean after work, dinner, and putting the kids down?  I’m gonna watch tv.  If I want to sleep in instead of doing a long run on a Saturday morning?  I’m going to sleep in.  I owe no one any answers, and I owe myself a LOT more slack.  I juggle a helluva lot, and I need to remember that I’m only human.  Man, what an emotional rollercoaster of a year.  I think that I did okay at this one. (Which, in retrospect, I probably need to CUT MYSELF SOME SLACK about.) It was a crazy year, full of ups and downs and good times and bad and all that good stuff.  But we all came out okay.  Stronger, actually.  We’ve got a good idea of where our core is and how we protect it.  And nourish it.  And heal it.  And I think that’s worth a couple pat on the backs.

Still working on next year’s plan forward: what are your resolutions for 2011?

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Merry Christmas: Jingle Bell Loop & Snow Dog

Merry Christmas from the snow-filled North Alabama area!  We’ve never had a white Christmas like this that I can remember, so the town is aghast at the crazy white background of our presents this year.

Tony was overcome with joy at his train table:

And Beau LOVED the snow!

Hope your Christmas was filled with as much joy!

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What You Make of It.

Just a thought:

Maybe Christmas, he thought, didn’t come from a store. 
Maybe Christmas .. perhaps .. means a little bit more.

SLOW DOWN.  Smile.  Take a deep breath.

Your kids?  Will love you even if they don’t get that one toy that’s been sold out since 11/25.

Your husband?  Is just happy you’re taking care of everything.

Your wife?  Thinks you’re an angel for hanging that thing for her.

It doesn’t have to be perfect.

It just has to be Christmas.

He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

Have a very merry, safe, and happy holiday.

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