Another year came and went. As I stare at a stack of handmade Christmas cards that I made last year and have yet to send to any intended recipients, I realize that much was left unaccomplished. But the days were full and changes plenty, so I know there was effort, and intention. And there will always be learning.
I’m a serial overthinker. The habit birthed this little blog. It tormented me as a young person, and sometimes still does. It keeps me up and alert when I should be at ease and keeps me dismayed and confused when I should be happy or at the very least blissfully neutral. I read a slew of self help books this past year. The books were insightful and gave me comfort at least for a little while. If you need recommendations, or copies, I have them. You’ll inherit my obsessive notes in the margins too. From them I learned that you can’t be certain why you are as you are. You can’t be defined so no amount of pondering or research will yield a neat answer, only explanations we are comfortable enough accepting. Ruminating keeps our perceived issues alive and well. And why are they issues at all? So you’re fucking sensitive. And you care a little extra. You are who you are. Full stop. And labels do more harm than good anyway. All your quirks are beautiful threads in a complex tapestry. A beloved psychologist told me that years ago and I cling to it. I ran into him in a cafe a few months back and spontaneously broke into tears. His acceptance was that impactful.
Acceptance aside, I also learned that if a habit is not serving you though, then there is no reason you cannot adapt and evolve. And per my dear husband who is magnificently profound when he wants to be, I learned that if you cannot live day to day, then you can live hour to hour.
I learned that no matter how bleak and beyond repair a relationship may seem, healing is possible. Through loss we experienced a new beginning for our family and it’s given me joy I hadn’t imagined. My husband’s late mother ensured that we all found our way back to one another and so begins the next chapter.
I learned about perseverance. I have run from more challenging circumstances than I care to admit. But I got pushed into a corner and finally learned to speak up for myself. It was uncomfortable; speaking up really didn’t resolve anything, but it meant something to me. It affirmed that I can do hard things. And I am not a spineless fart in the wind like that woman said I was. And I’ll be the first to say my adversity is child’s play in the grand scheme of the suffering in our world. But a challenge is a challenge, and overcoming it despite all the fear and discomfort feels really fucking good. (I also learned I like to say fuck a lot. I follow most rules and having a potty mouth is oddly gratifying.) And now I know a tough chick is there somewhere deep inside of me but it takes a lot to bring her to the surface. When she arrives though, watch out; she will bark back with a rhubarb pie in hand.
I learned you can give everything to a job, and it still won’t love you back. It’s not a person. It doesn’t have feelings and isn’t concerned with your welfare. If you leave it, the building doesn’t fall down. Even if it’s really hard to part with the good bits, the dust settles and things keep moving.
I made LOTS of really phenomenal Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread by Alison Roman. And continued to experiment with pie crust. It’s nothing new but feeding people is a way I show love so I continued to nurture that habit this past year. I learned about food styling from a wonderful intern turned great friend, landed in the acknowledgments of a cookbook, and picked up new freelance projects. I am earning income outside of an establishment and while it’s been stressful navigating this new frontier, it has also given me confidence.
I learned way too much about the inner workings of the male psyche from working late nights at a local bar, but the change of scenery has gifted me perspective, some horror and plenty of giggles. I learned about compromise. And that conflict doesn’t mean you don’t love someone. I learned you can disagree with someone on principle and still respect their dignity. I learned needlepoint! And that Pittsburgh is comprised of hills, bridges and really nice people.
I said goodbye to a beautiful city, and am still figuring out a new city. I took a leap and leaping isn’t easy for me; I much prefer my feet planted.
I’m driving a lot these days and I hate driving. That gives me an odd sense of accomplishment in itself. I am also taking in a serious amount of podcast material. You can call me a worshipper of the podcast gospel. Remarkable stuff really.
I learned that when things are good, I find something negative to focus on. I pop the balloon and I deflate it before someone else can. So I thought long and hard about it and this is the sense I have made of it (for now.) If you are constantly finding fault with something within yourself, then you’ll never know joy and acceptance. And then you won’t have to suffer when you lose said joy and acceptance. That possibility of loss must scare me so I remain on guard. But life is loss. We are losing seconds every moment, and get experiences in return. Wonderful ones. Awful ones. Ones we never want to live again. And ones we never want to live without. What kind of protagonist will you be? I ask myself every morning. Will I fade into the background, or show up and read my lines?