Saturday, December 17, 2016

Top 5 of 2016: Highlights

Continuing on with the Top5 lists, here are my top 5 (mostly) non-sewing highlights :)
Moving - It's hard to live in a place that reminds you everyday of what you don't have. After 3 years in my lovely house, I moved out so I could sell it and move on with my life. The decision was reached slowly over the course of a year, and then it became necessary for me to get out of there. The logical part is that the house was just too big for me (5 bed, 3 bath, 1/2 acre lot) and it was too much for me to maintain all by myself. It felt ridiculous to just have me along with my dog and cat (and their loads of hair) in such a big place. The emotional part is that I was living in a house for a life I didn't have. No one wants to come home to a big, empty, sad place everyday and be reminded of what they wanted in life that they did not get. So, when the opportunity presented itself to not be living there anymore, I jumped. I'm so happy I moved. I'm 45 minutes away from my house, but still within a reasonable distance if I want or need to swing by and work on things. Right now I live on the water and it's amazing how calming that constant view is. I can totally understand the appeal and I'm not even a water person. Anyway, I'm very grateful I had the chance to get out of a bad place (both physically and mentally) so that I could go forward and work toward making things better in my life :)
Finally changing my hair - This is a big and recent development. I chopped off my hair! It may seem like a stupid thing to have be a highlight to most people, but this was a very big deal for me. My hair has been some variation of the same thing for the past 10 years, and technically I never varied it much from that in my whole life. With all the things I've gone through in the past few years, I feel different about myself. I know I can handle much more than I thought and I am in control of my own life in a much healthier way. I wanted a physical manifestation of that inner change. Before the past year, I don't think I would've mentally been able to handle looking different. My hair was so much a part of my identity and if I changed it I would lose part of my sense of self. It sounds cheesy, but there it is. So, this hair cut has been a long time coming. I no longer place part of my value of myself in how I look. I embraced change in a big way, and in this case it really paid off because ... I love my hair! It's the shortest I've ever had it, and it's very dark (2 shades darker underneath than on top even). I let my hair stylist friend work her magic and she did a fantastic job :) I'm so happy I finally let go in what feels like a big way to me.
Having an epic estate sale - This went hand in hand with moving, but was a much bigger part than you'd think. See, I had filled my 5 bedroom house with stuff. Stuff from my childhood that just moved with me everywhere, stuff I acquired as an adult, stuff for various hobbies, stuff that might come in handy in the future, stuff to fill the many rooms of such a big place (furniture). Most of it was stuff I didn't need, and once I made the official move I immediately started sorting the superfluous stuff that was left behind. Friends, I had a major estate sale. And yes, it was an Estate Sale. We basically turned my house into a thrift store over the course of a few days (and the sale was in 6 rooms and my garage). I stayed up for 36 hours the final day to get it done, and I had amazing help from friends and family to make it happen. It took me months of preparation and even longer than that of mentally letting go of all the things I thought would somehow make me happy (because that's really why be buy or keep things, isn't it?). Every time anyone asks me how I could get rid of so much and be ok with it, my (probably awkward) response would be, "When you come home and never know what will be missing, you learn to detach from 'stuff'," and it's just as true now as it was then. That was my reality for months - playing memory with every room trying to notice what was no longer there, all the while knowing I could not get it back. It was heartbreaking at the time, but it really was a crash coarse in the fact that things are just things. They will come and go, but life functions just fine without them. I also read Marie Kondo's books and really tried to embrace the concept of only keeping things that spark joy when I moved. I kept things that I love, which means I am surrounded by things that I love all the time. It really makes my new space happier, and I couldn't recommend it more. So when it came time for the sale, I was able to just move things along (at ridiculously cheap prices might I add) to other people who could use and enjoy them better than I had. It actually made me happy when someone else was happy to find something in my sale. Another cheesy thing, but it was totally true - I hope it helped people and made them happier by me getting things that were just cluttering up my life. Even with everything I got rid of, I still feel like I have too much stuff, so I'm sure this new mindset about my belongings will be a life shift and I will continue to hone down what I really want and need to live with. My estate sale was the single most freeing thing of this past year, and I am so so glad I was able to get through it like I did.
Knit Alongs - With all the craziness in my "real" life, I did not have much dedicated time for making things like I usually had in the past few years. It's hard to justify sewing something when there is a house full of stuff to sort or walls to paint so you can sell your house, you know? It wasn't until I started committing to knit, sew, and crochet alongs that I really got anything made. Suddenly I had an arbitrary goal attached to my making, and it mentally justified the time I spent making the things that I did - this absolutely saved my sanity this year. I participated in the Fuzzy Mitten Mystery Knit Along (still have to finish that - whoops), Fresh Stitches Mystery Crochet Along, Outfit Along (123), Craftsy's Sock Knit Along, and the Blaster Knit Along. I even made a few sponsored items, which gave me the same type of time frames to get things done and posted. Without these community goals, I don't think I would have anything to show for this year craft-wise. These make-alongs really showed me how important it is for me personally to have a goal, even a small one, in order to get things done. I need something concrete - not just a "Oh, it would be nice to eventually make ___" type thought, but a real item planned and a real timeline in which to accomplish it. And let's be real... it was also really nice to win something :) I was one of the winners of the Outfit Along this year, and that really perked me up with my making things. It's just nice to have your work validated in some way, even if you already enjoy it yourself without the outside praise. So I know I will continue to be a "joiner" with online making challenges in the coming year, and I'm hoping time will allow me to join in much more that I was able to this past year.
Committing to singing again - I made a decision to join a singing group this year after not doing much singing for over a decade. It was a split second decision that I am so glad I made at the time because it has made such a difference in my life. It's wonderful to be able to sing with other people who not only enjoy it but also really know what they are doing. Not that there is anything wrong with the church choir, but it's certainly a different animal when you are singing with people who studied music in a real way and made it a part of their life. I haven't sung with more than a church choir since I was in high school, and just since this April I have been in 2 shows with multiple performances, performed in several local churches and community events, and just next week we will be singing in hotel lobbies at Disney :) It's been a really fun ride, and I am even more thrilled about the friends I have gained in the process. This was a choice I made to put myself and things I enjoy first in my life, and it has really been a blessing.

Stay tuned for more reflections!

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