December 29 – Defining Moment (#reverb10)

December 29 – Defining Moment. Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year. (Author: Kathryn Fitzmaurice)

In May of 2010, I resolved to pay more attention to my blog. I decided to leave Blogger and commit to writing more frequently and regularly. As I worked to make this happen, I started spending more time on twitter as well. Engaging with people and getting to know more people in Ottawa in particular. 

Through a few of my interactions with one person in particular I realized that Ottawa has this incredible community of bloggers and on twitter. Many are very talented writers and all of them are just great people to talk to - online and in real life. 

At first, I was timid. The Ottawa community has been around for a while and though I’ve been blogging for almost two years, I’m a newbie to the group. And I’m shy. So shy that I didn’t attend Blog Out Loud Ottawa. And I really should have. I regret not going, because I have since met most of the bloggers who read that night and I would LOVE to have been able to experience their words and their voice in a live setting. But I didn’t know anyone - not really.

As I watched the live tweets and began following those I wasn’t already following, I made a decision not to let myself chicken out again. And I haven’t. I keep saying yes to things that I am scared of doing, sometimes even things that I don’t particularly want to do.

What I’ve found is that opening up to meeting new people and trying new experiences is good. I’m not sure where on my life’s path I turned into such a scaredy cat. After all, I met my husband on the internet, left my entire life behind in Florida to move to a new country and I’ve had to go through pregnancy, childbirth and the rest of my son’s life without the benefit of my mother’s level-headed advice. Seriously, I shouldn’t be scared to do things.

I want to continue on this path in 2011 and pursue the things I’m interested in doing with enthusiasm, and stay determined not to let any obstacles get in my way - least of all myself.

December 28 – Achieve (#reverb10)

December 28 – Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today. Author: Tara Sophia Mohr

In 2010, I started a weight loss journey - one that was more about changing my ways than actually going on a diet.  In fact, I’ve lost over 18lbs. without adhering to a structured diet plan (Weight Watchers, Atkins, etc.). I didn’t want to be constrained by rules that I’ll inevitably “break” and feel bad about. So, I’ve committed to take steps to eat better and exercise. It was my goal to lose 1.5 pounds a week, which would have put me at roughly 30lbs. as of the end of the year. Alas, I didn’t even hit the 20lbs. mark and I’m okay with that. The last few months of this year were surprisingly stressful. 

Just before the end of the year, I was out at a holiday get-together with many of my twitter friends and this lovely lady pointed out that slow or fast, it’s not a race. It’s about changing my life and that takes time. There will be days when I don’t eat as healthy as others. But the goal is to reprogram my ingrained habits so that the healthy choices become the default rather than an afterthought.

So, that’s what I want to achieve this year - a new frame of mind. The process is already started and moving along smoothly, but I’d love that switch to be flipped so the changes feel like they are a part of who I am and what I do on a daily basis rather than something I have to constantly work at.

I know my weight will probably always be a struggle, but by exchanging my unhealthy habits for healthy ones, I can hopefully get to a point of maintaining a healthy weight. If I happened to get to said healthy weight in 2011, I could live with that achievement as well.

December 27 – Ordinary Joy (#reverb10)

December 27 – Ordinary Joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year? (Author: Brené Brown)

I recorded this video several months ago one day when I was home by myself with Brandon. I can’t even begin to describe how happy it made me to see my son “reading” a book to me.

Reading and music are two things that are extremely important to me. I’ve tried to pass on a love of music and reading to my son simply by exposing him to both as much as possible. I started reading to Brandon when he was a newborn and it seems to have worked. He loves books and though he goes through periods when he’s not interested in reading, he also goes through periods where he wants to read for an hour a day.

Now he’s getting to know the books well enough that he “reads” them back to me. And though this wasn’t his best reading of The Cat in the Hat, it was still a great moment of ordinary joy for me.

I might just burst the day he reads it to me word for word. :)

December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself (#reverb10)

December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you. (Author: Tracey Clark)

It’s not easy to find pictures of me. Especially ones that I think reflect who I am. Often our personal photos are mostly about centered around Brandon. Our family. Not necessarily showcasing one individual - unless it’s Brandon.

However, I’ve had the chance to do some things this year that were all about me and my personal interests/goals. As part of one particular project, I and several of my friends had the irresistable opportunity to be photographed by an amazingly talented photographer, Kym Shumsky, who is in the midst of her Le Mein project - photographing 100 strangers. What an undertaking, especially when you consider that in a 10 minute time span, she connects with you. For me, it happened in about 10 seconds.

I sat down and Kym said, “Who are five people you want to meet in heaven?”

I immediately began to tear up, because my first thought was my mother. It took me a few minutes to be able to verbalize that, and all the while she was snapping my picture. It was unnerving and I felt exposed. Raw. Uncomfortable. Vulnerable. All the while she was telling me how beautiful the pictures would be.

When I first saw my pictures, I felt very nervous and insecure about them going on the Le Mien site. They were hard for me to look at and love. Until I realized that I was looking at myself - my real self - for the first time. I wasn’t wearing a mask or pretending for a camera. I was me in the most complete sense.

Photo Credit: Kym Shumsky ( picture that was hardest for me to love is this one - the one in which I imagine myself explaining about the loss of my mother to this complete stranger - who somehow was no longer a stranger - within minutes of talking with her for the first time. I can see me straining to breath normally and stop the tears from falling.

This year I was challenged repeatedly to step out of my comfort zone, try new things or stretch myself beyond what I’ve tried to do before.

Throughout the process I’ve grown as a person; hopefully in mostly positive ways. The biggest challenge for me has been to open up to new possibilities and new relationships. To tear down walls I’ve had up for years.

Allowing myself to open up makes me as vulnerable as I felt in the moment this picture was taken, but I know it’s worth it because the reward of being a friend to someone is so fulfilling.

December 24 – Everything’s OK

December 24 – Everything’s OK. What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead? (Author: Kate Inglis)

I’ve had a number of moments in the last year that made me feel like everything was going to be okay. But they’ve come fast and furious in the last 3 months of the year. I’ve gone through major changes lately. From personal changes that Matt and I have undertaken to professional changes, i.e., my contract ended so I had to find a new job.

The process of looking for a new job was one I was not looking forward to. Okay, to be honest I put it off until it was very nearly too late - I just didn’t want to look again after my experience of being laid off in 2009. I spent 5 months looking for work and it was exhausting. I wasn’t at all enthusiastic about doing it all over again so soon. I fooled myself into thinking there would be a way for me to stay in my contract job.

Not a smart move. I worked hard and did a good job, but if there’s not a position, then there’s not a position. And that was the reality.

I was fortunate enough to know some people who know some people. Yep, good ol’ networking. And, though there were moments later on in which I doubted my initial assessment, I did remember thinking after my very first interview that I’d get the job. It was a nice bonus that I actually wanted the job.

I left with that feeling that it was okay. My procrastination hadn’t sunk me; it had landed me in the right place at the right time.

Four weeks into my new job, I know with even more confidence that everything’s okay. And that’s a feeling I won’t trade for anything in the world.