December 23 – New Name (#reverb10)

December 23 – New Name. Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

When I was born, my parents didn’t give me a middle name. Both of them had middle names - my dad actually goes by his middle name (which he tells me is not a great idea for those of you thinking of doing that with your child(ren)). 

Year in and year out, I got a whole host of reactions from people as the subject of middle names came up, as it often does during grade school years. There was inevitable disbelief that I didn’t have middle name. Surely I had one and was just too embarrassed to share it. As a teenager, I even dug out my ID to prove I wasn’t lying.

I think my lack of a middle name bothered me quite a bit more than I realized because my mom came to me when I was about to turn 16 and told me that for my birthday, she and my dad were going to allow me to legally change my name. I guess I must have lamented my lack of a middle name to the point that my parents felt it was a real problem for me. When we had this little talk, she gave me a key chain with the name “Marie” on it. That was my mom’s middle name and I’d tossed around the idea of being Karen Marie. It has a nice ring to it, though I got some pretty hardcore lobbying from a friend who thought I should be Karen Elizabeth. (Elizabeth was this particular friend’s middle name.)

The funny thing about situations like that is that often when you receive the permission to do the thing you want, you find it isn’t nearly as important as you thought it was.

One of the truths that my parents instilled in me - my father especially - was that I was unique. (Just like everybody else, I once told him - because I can be a smart ass like that.) At 16 years of age, I decided once and for all to embrace the uniqueness of not having a middle name and told my mom that I didn’t want to change my name after all. From that moment on, my perspective changed from one of being the odd one out to feeling pride at my uniqueness.

Ironically, my name is extremely common. (I’ve gone to the doctor, had them pull “my file”, look at me then look at the file, and say, “You weren’t born in 1952!” No. And I’m glad you noticed.) Probably the only unique thing about it (maiden or married) is the fact that I don’t have a middle name.

So, would I introduce myself as someone else for a day?

Nope. I am Karen C. Wilson and Karen C. Wilson I will always be. The C is my middle initial now because I kept my maiden name when I got married just to get to have a middle initial. So, it all worked out in the end after all. And the “Marie” key chain from my mom? I used it until it fell off my keys. It reminded me daily that I was special just as I am and that I didn’t need to be like everybody else to be accepted.

December 22 – Travel (#reverb10)

December 22 – Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year? (Author: Tara Hunt)

Travel this year was pretty sparse. I didn’t have a lot of vacation time and what I did have was used to stay home with a sick child or when daycare was closed, or I used it to stay home and do household projects. 

Staying home was kind of the theme of the year for me. 

BlogHer ‘10 came at the end of the summer and I was, of course, not attending. Then someone had this idea to do a different kind of conference that I COULD participate in. It was called HomeHer10 and I was all over staying at home, because it was the theme of my year. For a whole weekend, I chatted with people all over North America who attended HomeHer10 - right from the comfort of my office with my arse parked in my comfy desk chair. No lineups or layovers or long car rides.

Then I got invited to a real conference. One that was actually out of town. And it was going to require a long car ride. By long, I just mean over to Toronto, so really not all that long at all. But long enough.

Yep, that was the extent of my travel this year. One little trip to Toronto with an overnight stay in a hotel. 

I’d love to go to BlogHer ‘11 in San Diego, but it’s unlikely that I can make it this coming year. Maybe in 2012. 

What I want to do more than anything else in 2011 is see my family. I haven’t been down to Florida since I was pregnant with Brandon. That is now over three years ago. No one in my family has ever met my son and I want to correct that. I also have a beautiful little niece that is going to be two in June who I would love to finally meet as well. Now I just need to get that travel documentation renewed. ;)

December 21 – Future Self (#reverb10)

December 21 – Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?) (Author: Jenny Blake)

Advice to Current Self:

Stop doubting yourself.

You’re smart and capable - it’s been proven over and over. Now, believe.

Fear is a waste of time when something means a lot to you. Go for it!

Don’t let what others say or think make you doubt your own motivation. What’s right for them may not be right for you.

Distractions are fun, but they really get in the way of getting the real work done. Find fewer distractions.

Note to Self 10 Years Ago

You may not realize it yet, but what you do matters. It may not seem significant in the grand scheme of things, but what you do matters to you, even if no one else in the world cares. Embrace the things you enjoy and find a way to incorporate those things into your daily life. 

Make goals. Write them down. Then achieve them.

When life takes you in a different direction than you thought you wanted to go, don’t fret about wasted time. Your time wasn’t wasted. It was spent fulfilling what you thought was the right dream. So it turns out it wasn’t…it’s not the end of the world. It’s just a part of life.

You’re still getting to know yourself. And in ten years you still won’t fully know yourself. Your interests and aspirations will change and evolve as you learn and grow as a person. It may seem as if life is passing you by because you’re not set on any one thing. Don’t let anyone convince you that is true. Nay, life is not passing you by. You’re living it - even as you change your mind about the direction you want to follow. Enjoy the living. You only get this one shot at it.

Embrace the new world you’re living in. Immerse yourself in it. Learn to love it. It’s your home now.

Live your life to the fullest - whatever that happens to mean for you. (Even if it’s quiet evenings home with a good book.)

Try not to be shy. And if you are, don’t worry about it. You aren’t the only shy girl in the room.

Smile.

Laugh.

Love.

Love your husband, your family and your friends - and don’t forget to tell them you love them often. They are the people who matter. The people who will sustain you through the most difficult times. Life is short and in the blink of an eye, they could be taken from you.

December 20 – Beyond Avoidance

December 20 – Beyond Avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?) (Author: Jake Nickell)

I could rename this prompt “ridiculous avoidance”. Read on.

In all honesty, there are probably at least half a dozen things I should have done this year that I still haven’t done. Most notably, I still haven’t renewed my travel documentation. Why? Because I hate the process of doing it. I tire of filling out the same old information on the same old forms that are all a million times longer (and not at all user-friendly) than they should be.

What a whiney excuse, though. Especially when you consider that I live up to 1500 miles from my family (some are only about 900 miles away). No travel documentation means I don’t get to see them any time soon. That needs to be enough motivation to get my arse in gear and get it done.

Will I do it? I have to. And I’m off work next week, so it’s a good time to get the ball rolling. If something happened to my family and I had to go south for an emergency, I don’t want travel documents to be an issue preventing me from getting there.

December 19 – Healing (#reverb10)

December 19 – Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011? (Author: Leoni Allan)

I’ve reached a stage in my life where old hurts and slights are not worth my time anymore. I don’t think about them, dwell on them or let them get me down. I don’t know if it’s a function of age or just a maturing process that we all must go through in our own time. Perhaps it’s a little of both.

It took me years to get here, though.

In 2011, I’d like to see a new, more confident me emerge. I want to let go of my old insecurities and accept myself as I am - whether others accept me or not. I want to feel more comfortable in my skin. To know who I am and what I stand for without a need to justify or explain myself, or even worse, apologize for things I don’t need to be sorry for.