I start my first graduate school residency this afternoon, which means I won't be around this space next week (or much after that, either, though I do hope to check in at least once a week). I've been so busy frantically trying to complete all of the required readings, in between dismantling Christmas, dispensing Jr. Tylenol, lemon juice, honey and chicken soup to kids who sound like they've worked their whole short lives in the coal mines or Cornwall, and eating leftover Christmas sweets, that I haven't taken much time to reflect on the year past, or the one ahead.
When I do think back on 2011, my first reaction is that it was pretty much a crap year. But if I look back over what I've put here on these "pages" I see a lot of good: I knit a sweater (plus three hats, a shawl and a necklace, and 6/7 of another sweater)! I wrote 30 poems in April. We went on a lovely vacation to Philadelphia. I got accepted to graduate school. We raised and released a monarch butterfly, got a pet fish, went to the beach and went hiking (only once...shame!). We discovered the beauty of our river in summer. I finally got my dragonfly net and made some progress in slowly untangling the mysteries of odonata families, genus and species. As far as my kids go, 10 and 6 have been pretty awesome ages (mostly). E and Z just had a huge reading breakthrough over vacation. M has officially exceeded me in math ability. So really, in the scheme of things, other than that place where I spend half my waking hours (The Place that Must Not Be Named), it was a pretty great year. However, I was not sorry to see it go.
As far as 2012 goes, I don't expect any improvement on the Place that Must Not Be Named front (that won't happen until at least 2015, dear god). Instead, this year, I plan to focus my energies on the other 16 hours a day. Graduate school, writing, family, living. These are the things that matter and I'll refuse to have my energy sapped or my heart broken over that other thing. Usually I make a big long list of goals and resolutions, but not this year.
This year, I think it will be enough to just hang on by my fingertips and try to keep it all together. I keep finding myself tempted by the projects, plans, challenges and events I see those around me taking on for the year--letter-writing! photography! sewing guilds! exercise! eating well! My own personal challenge is to resist the temptation to add anything else to an already bursting-full schedule. This year I really must say "no" and say it with conviction. My one goal, I think, will be to try and maintain a balance--to accomplish all I need to and not neglect anything else--and give my full attention to whatever it is before me: to write when I am writing and mother when I am mothering, and not let half my attention wander or guilt sabotage me. In short, I plan to create a rhythm in my weekends (and evenings, too), that allows me to integrate family time and writing time in a way that is healthy and productive for me and for them. Wish me luck!
What are your plans and dreams for 2012?