January 23 - December 31, 2016

January 23, 2016
» in with the new: separate fact from opinion

It seems I've reached "that age" where I question choices I've made and look critically at where I am in many areas of my life.

Wait, that sounds a lot like my previous ages, too. Anyway!

To fight against these negative tendencies, I read articles about cultivating a positive attitude, and one tip recently stood out to me as particularly helpful: separate fact from opinion. They gave an example of not separating the two: "Of course I didn't get the job. I acted so dumb in the interview!" That fact is that I didn't get the job. The other is opinion, nothing more than me making assumptions.

Hearing it explained that way, I realized that confusing fact with opinion is something that often stresses me out, particularly when I consider one of my minor health issues; I start to focus on a recurring ache, and in my mind the situation quickly escalates until I'm near tears having fast-forwarded to a bitter end. When this thought pattern tries to replay (yet again) in my head, I need to go back to the facts. "Fact: I had that checked out with the doctor two months ago. Fact: he saw nothing out of the ordinary. Fact: right now, it's not that bad. Fact: I can keep watch and seek assistance if it shows signs of worsening."

Lesson to be Learned: Separate fact from opinion. And from feelings. And from worst case scenarios.

"Aha," my negative side retorts, "but what about when the thought that brings me down *is* a fact?"

The application in such cases is to fight the urge to let the fact be more than it is, as if it's some kind of evidence -- or a life sentence. For example:

Negative Side (sad-faced): "I don't own a home."
Positive Side: Yeah. So? Does it mean that I'll never have one? No. Does that in any way make me better or worse as a person? No.

Lesson to be Learned: Don't mistake one fact for an entire story.

December 31, 2016
» a year in review - 2016

1. What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?
We opened our Christmas gifts on December 26. Also, I used "cloud" storage, although technically, I've done this for years with my email accounts.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For 2016, I said that I would try to "bloom where planted." My success rate was maybe seventy percent.
For 2017, I made an effort late in 2016 to focus on the positive; I achieved that largely through getting lost in a favorite song, movie or TV show, probably because, when I look at my real world, I don't see much worth focusing on. But, knowing that we see what we seek, I plan to look for something positive in my real life situations.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully, no... but we sure lost a lot of celebrities

5. Where did you travel?
one day trip, to tour the Rosenbaum House by Frank Lloyd Wright

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
My biggest dream is still to own a home. If I can get closer to that in 2017, that would be awesome. (This year, I did have the slightest inkling toward a plan/direction; hopefully this is the start of "getting closer"!)

7. What date or event from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
my boss's frequent tirades, including an episode that occurred one hour before our company Thanksgiving lunch

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
finishing a website project that I've been working on for over three years

9. What was your biggest failure?
being a basket case for months when yet another new ailment -- arguably the most disturbing one so far -- appeared

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Oh, yes! In addition to the aforementioned disturbing new ailment, the worst cold/sinus/crud (plague?) I've had in years that started last December lingered well into 2016.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
hired someone to clear our large, overgrown yard

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The yard workers'. They labored almost eleven hours in one day, even cleared up a big mess left by a previous worker. The yard looked amazing, and my faith in hiring people was restored.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
again this year, my boss's, whose antics -- I realized -- often border on "bullying"

14. Where did most of your money go?
household expenses

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
my mother's release from the hospital

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
probably "Smoke Break" by Carrie Underwood, because work was often *just* that bad

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? ... I honestly can't decide.
Older or wiser? both?
Thinner or fatter? about the same
Richer or poorer? about the same

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
found some perspective

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
been selfish

20. Did your heart break?
yes, when my latest ailment felt like the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back

21. How did you spend Christmas?
Two days before, my mother's routine doctor visit revealed that her heart was out of rhythm, and I took her to be admitted to the hospital. She was still there on Christmas, so the day was definitely not our traditional holiday. Fortunately, she was released the next day, and we had our celebration then.

22. How are you spending New Year's Eve?
Working on these questions. Later, the fam and I will probably watch DVDs, and then ring the new year in as we typically do: sleeping. (At least, we'll attempt to sleep, because the neighbors usually go overboard with fireworks.)

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I still don't watch any broadcast shows, opting instead for DVDs. This year, I expanded my collection to include two "newer" series: Chuck and Once Upon a Time.

24. What were your greatest food discoveries?
Bird's Eye's "Flavor Full - Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper Brussels Sprouts." No longer can I say that I hate Brussels sprouts!

25. What was the best book you read?
Again this year, IIRC, I only read Christian periodicals. However, listening through the Bible on mp3, I'm almost finished with the Old Testament... and hearing it read is highly recommended, unless you have a degree in pronouncing long, Hebrew names. ;)

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I rediscovered The Sound of Madness by Shinedown.

27. What did you want and get?
job opportunities worth applying for

28. What did you want and not get?
a new job

29. What was your favorite film?
Captain America: Civil War

30. What did you do on your birthday?
My mother and I took a trip that I've talked about for years: visiting the Rosenbaum House, by Frank Lloyd Wright. Following the tour, we beat the lunch crowd at Rosie's Mexican Cantina to enjoy the mahi mahi tacos (tacos). We stopped at the Florence Mall, where Bath and Body Works saved me some $$ by not having a single one of the fragranced lotions that I was looking for. Back home, I adjusted a few settings, and for the first time since a Windows 10 update that took two-and-a-half days(!!), I was able to use my computer again. In the evening, Mom and I watched the movie Home Fries.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
if, while I'm having to be strong for everyone, someone could be strong for me

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Lazy. With all the stress at work, most of the time my attitude was, "Eh, who is there to impress??"

33. What kept you sane?
To see, perhaps as never before, some pieces falling into place, and to understand that even the bad things are playing their part. (As Garth Brooks sings, "I guess the Lord knows what He's doin' after all...")

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Sebastian Stan as both the Winter Solder in the Captain America film series and as Jefferson on Once Upon a Time

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
The election. I cannot recall two candidates for whom I've been less inclined to vote. As small consolation, it was gratifying that the media was inescapably confronted by how out-of-touch and one-sided their reports have become.

36. Who did you miss?
Speedy, our cat, has been MIA for several weeks. :(

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Brittney, the hairdresser, who asks questions instead of accepting my brief, general requests

38. What changed the most in your life this year?
I've got the shortest hair since first grade.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
"Just because you feel it doesn't make it real. Feelings aren't a satellite dish receiving signals of eternal truth. Feelings come from beliefs. Change the beliefs and the feelings change." Eric Barker, observer dot com (This is a lesson I heard and believe... but I hope I've truly learned it.)

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
"If you opened my heart, you'd see I don't have it all together.
If you took me apart, you'd see the worst of me wants to get better.
But You're changing me, piece by piece
Into who You're really callin' me to be."
~ "A Little Closer" by Group 1 Crew


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