This is the year that I grew up and became a fully mature adult. Sounds weird, right? I mean, I’m 36  years old. How could I possibly just have become and adult now? I’ve been self-supporting for 12 years; I’ve owned a house for 11 years; I’ve seen a 150% increase in my salary in 10 years. C’mon. How could I say I wasn’t an adult?

Maybe being an adult in my eyes is the way that I respond to things. I had a year that could have thrown me right over the edge. A guy I loved told me he was never going to love me. I had to lay off 1/3 of my employees in a process that took an entire year. I got another new boss (that would be my fifth boss since 2009). My best friend had her third baby (I know that’s a thing of joy, but you kind of lose your friend for the first almost full year, and this is her third baby in four years!).

Any of these things could have sucked donkey balls. They could have thrown me into major depression, binge eating, and poor personal habits. But they didn’t. They didn’t because I now have coping strategies that do not involve crawling into bed and hiding for a year or so. They don’t involve going to the grocery store at 9pm to buy a pie and eating the whole thing that night. They don’t involve hurting myself in any way, or avoiding people who love and/or care about me.

Nope. This year I employed active approaches to dealing with the shit that happens in life, the stuff that adults have to deal with. I’m not gonna lie, these strategies were HORRENDOUSLY expensive. But they worked. Here’s what I did:

  1. Booked travel. Give me a shitty situation and I’ll book a trip. It gives me something to research and look forward to for weeks or months. This year I went to California to a four day music festival (Coachella, ho!) and to New York City for a month.
  2. Got more involved in a crafting community. Did you know that there are literally thousands of craft blogs out there? I follow about 12, for different perspectives on sewing and some general crafts. These gave me some great ideas and encouraged me to fail in some pretty spectacular ways. My favourites are where the blog posts show how they screwed up. It makes me feel more effective as a crafter.
  3. Got more involved in a fitness community. Not only did I play in the Goodlife Squash League three seasons this year, I also moved up a level and didn’t suck too badly. I didn’t win a lot, but I didn’t suck too badly. I also hooked up with the Losing it in Ottawa group on Facebook, where other women like me moan, bitch, whine, complain and inspire each other to drink more water, move their bodies more, and reframe their thinking. Also, did I mention that I did a triathlon? Yeah. I know. I still can’t believe it.
  4. Paid attention to professionals. I went to the same workshop at BMI three times. Same topics, same slides, different participants. It’s about changing the mental roadblocks to weight loss, and reframing your self-talk. Honestly, I would take it every month if I remembered to sign up. I listened when the BMI professionals told me to “eat more protein” (like, a thousand times), and gently castigated me when I got into activity lulls or made choices that I bemoaned. It’s my choice, and I need to be accountable for the choices that I make, and I heard that loud and clear.
  5. Did I mention that I did a triathlon? Ha! I also canoed for 6 hours. In one day! With my dad, who was a hero for finding that activity and doing it with a crushed finger.
  6. Reached out to friends. I had a breakdown in 2009 that was pretty awful. Over the course of an entire year I started withdrawing from my friends, showing up at my parents’ house in tears, and basically turning into a total train wreck. It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve turned a corner. This year when I needed help, I asked for it. I met professionals. I hung out with friends. I don’t need to agonize over my problems with them, but I found relief in hanging out with people who didn’t need to grill me, but who provided comfort in the form of trash talk, board games, and great food.
  7. Learned when I need to engage and when I need to be alone. I’m an at home introvert. It takes a lot to get me out the door, especially in winter. But committing to participate in things and then not doing it hurts my relationship with my friends, so dammit, I went to activities this year. I even went to two parties. Parties!
  8. Fixed stuff myself. I have a handy dad and a very handy brother. But I can’t always rely on other people to fix my stuff. This year I started doing it myself. My brother showed me how to fix my toilet, and I did some basic home repairs. This, on top of my major decluttering and purge of “stuff”, has made me love my house. It isn’t perfect, but I can’t get better at the home repairs if I don’t try them, right?

There are things I’m not so proud of, but you know what? They’re totally outweighed by the stuff that I did right this year. I worked through some serious crap by getting everything else in my life in order and on track. That’s a depth of maturity I was pretty sure I’d never reach.

So, what’s up for next year? Oh, it’s a big year for me. Epic. First, I’m finishing my basement. My mum came over today to help me purge the basement, and man, did we kick some butt. I have an entire car of stuff to go to St Vincent de Paul, but I have five sets of shelves that are now empty, one full storage room, and empty bins leftover. That space is ready for a ceiling, lighting, a couple of doors, and some flooring. It’s going to be lovely.

For the month of May, you’ll get sporadic blog posts from me from the Camino de Santiago, an 800km trail in northern Spain. I’m walking about 700kms of it, spending some time in Barcelona before and after. I’m taking six epic weeks off work to do this trip. Since I’ve been talking about doing this trip since, oh, 2002, you might wonder why now? I’ll tell you why: it’s the one epic trip that I have left on my list. Once this trip is done, I have nothing left to regret not having done. I know, I’m 36 and my bucket list is almost done. Not the full bucket list, but the really expensive stuff.

Why is that important to me, you ask? Because it means that, should I decide that  I want to try to have a kid, I’m not going to resent the child because he or she prevented me from traveling, or from doing something important to me. I’ve done it. I’m in a good place. I’m responsible and mature. I have coping mechanisms and a support network that I know how to use.

So, 2012 is going to be a fun year. An interesting year. One full of no doubt much stress (hello? reno hell!) and meditation (nothing like walking 25km a day for 30 days to provoke meditative thoughts). And I’m going to know not just how to handle it, not just how to survive, but how to grow. It’s going to be awesome.

What was your favourite part of 2011? What are you looking forward to in 2012?