What Awaits in 2011?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Readers, I'm about to get personal. You've been warned. We're all friends here and have been for years, and we're all on the same journey to a happier, healthier self, so I feel comfortable opening up to thousands of my closest confidantes here.

2010 was a great year.

In March, I moved into a new house.

In May, I ran my first half marathon.

Later that month, I adopted a kitten to keep my 2-year-old cat company.

This summer, I went to Turkey with two of my best gal pals, Jennie and Bri.

Throughout much of the year, I co-wrote a cookbook with Chef Meg.

2010 was also an awful year.

In July, I was in a car accident with Jennie. Though we weren't injured, we're both still dealing with the shock of walking away unscathed.

I gained 10 pounds as I dealt with the stress of the accident.

In September, my grandfather had a massive heart attack, followed by open-heart surgery. He's healing, but his health was touch-and-go for awhile. I spent a week in Wyoming helping my family.

This fall, I moved out of that house and ended a long-term relationship. My two cats and I are settling into a smaller place just around the corner from the SparkPeople offices.

Just before Thanksgiving, my family lost a close friend--a teenager--to suicide.

In early December, I learned that my other grandfather was having trouble with his health.

And then six days before Christmas I cut off part of my left ring finger while chopping vegetables for dinner.

If you're a regular reader of the dailySpark, you know that I take inventory of my life each year. As I sat down to reflect on the events of 2010, the year cleaved itself cleanly into two parts: the first was full of highs, the latter dominated by lows. I felt slightly dejected. I took a break from the inventory.

I reread old blog posts, journal entries and emails to friends. I meditated. I pushed it out of my mind.

I fought negative thoughts: I'm 29. I'll be 30 in May. What am I doing with my life? What do I want to do with my life? Am I happy? What defines happy? Am I who I want to be?

I sat down in the middle of my new, cozy living room and stretched my legs out in front of me. My cats wandered over and snuggled up. I let my mind and eyes wander. I gazed at the objects that surrounded me--the books, the trinkets, the photos. They reflect places I've been, the person I was, and woman I've become: the hand-woven tapestry from my trip to Guatemala with a local nonprofit, the rice-paper coasters I bought just before moving home from South Korea, the tiny, jewel-colored ceramic bowls I bargained for in Turkey. The rows of French books, travel guides, and various editions of "The Spark." Framed photos of friends and family over the last two decades.

In that instant, I felt so grateful for life. My life. This life.

I have a roof over my head and a place to call my own; two kitties, plenty of friends, and a family who love me; a job I love, a body that lets me move freely in the world, and most of my fingers. Life isn't so bad. In fact, it's quite amazing.

I reflected on a quote that a dear friend had shared with me:
"We don’t have to make such a big deal about ourselves, our enemies, our lovers, and the whole show." --Pema Chödrön

"So what if my life wasn't going as planned, if things were a little rough," I thought. "That's life. No need to be overly dramatic."

I canceled the pity party and started to plan for 2011.

In 2010, I aimed to:

  • Buy a house.

  • Keep up my yoga practice and studies.

  • Planning and saving for my travels.

  • Make a new vision collage.

  • Write more.

  • Give back.

I did all of those--and more. I achieved a life's goal of becoming an author. I lost the weight I'd gained, plus my last few "vanity pounds." (More on how I did that in a future post.) I ran a half marathon. I grew stronger than I ever imagined--inside and out.

My grandparents' health has improved, the post-traumatic stress of the wreck has subsided, and my finger is healing. I'm leading with my heart, and there's a smile on my face.

I made what some might consider to be mistakes, but I lived and I learned.

This year, I have big plans. I'll be 30, and I feel better than I ever have. I look better than I ever have. More importantly, I'm healthier and happier.

So what's in store for me in 2011?

  • A trip to celebrate my 30th birthday, location TBD. Have passport, will travel. I am always saving for my next trip, so it's just a matter of choosing a place. (Any suggestions?)

  • A second half marathon and my first full marathon. I signed up to run the National Half Marathon in Washington, D.C., on March 26 and the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon on May 1. I'm nervous but excited.

  • Bike on the roads after the weather improves. I am very inexperienced on the roads, but a friend of mine has volunteered to ride with me and help me gain confidence in the saddle.

  • A big one: No new clothes for six months, unless an obvious need arises (ex: new running socks, a bikini for my vacation, a new pair of black dress shoes, etc.). I recently gave two bags of clothes to charity and swapped another two with my sister and friends. In return, I received a load of new clothes. There is no reason for me to buy new clothes when my closet is already filled with everything I might need or want to wear.

Aside from those goals, I want just to focus on living in the moment, leading with my heart, and nurturing my body with healthy food and plenty of movement.

What are you focusing on in 2011?

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Last year I quit smoking (woohoo!), got back into a local theater working behind the scenes, and helped my husband grow our business with the hope that someday, it can be our only job. This year I want to travel somewhere new this year as well, and I started my own blog to get involved in writing again. I have already joined a volunteer organization so I can donate my time to a good cause, and we have more plans for our business in the works. I am very optimistic about 2011 being a great year! Report
name for new cookbook:

Sparkpeoples Inspirational CookBook

Sparkpeoples Inspirational CookBook For A New Life

You know sometimes we are meandering through this life of ours and then something happens to CLICK for us; and by us, I mean me. I have had some life changing lows in the past several months and then happened upon this blog, and what a light bulb moment for me. Thank you so much for allowing me to read what should have been the obvious. This life, is MY life!!

I look forward to next year's "inventory." Report
I too had a very rough 2010. At one point in time my mother was having cancer surgery, my husband was battling a life threatening case of antibiotic resistant cellulitis (MRSA) in the hospital and my father was emaciated and dying in a nursing home with Lewy Body Dementia. I was trying to hold it together for my 7 year old son, my students who were depending on me to prepare them properly for their Biology midterms, and the loved ones who were so ill all around me. And I was trying not to gain weight (the goal to lose weight needed to become more realistic). It took me almost a year to recover from this difficult time. I find that when life becomes impossible to bear, just putting one foot in front of the other, and carrying on with life, can be comforting. Now it's time for me to get back on track. I am feeling energized by the focus on optimism in the Spark program. Thanks for helping me get started again and renewing my motivation and positive attitude.
Thank you for sharing! I will be celebrating my 60th birthday this year (location also TBA) and realize once again that we are all facing basically the same ?s and challenges in life. Report
So nice of you to share your ups and downs with all of us. Puts you on a real level with your readers. Here's to a great 2011. Report
And so it goes. This is the ebb and flow of our lives. It is what makes life worth the struggle. Hope that 2011 has more upswings than down. Report
good luck in 2011 Report
Thank you for sharing your adventure on the wheel of life. Report
Thank you for your inspiration and positive attitude - cats are such a joy and the way you have set goals so clearly for yourself make me want to get to work! Thank you again, Emma Report
You've had a roller coaster year, but are dealing with it. You sound very level headed even if you don't feel it as you cycle through the highs and lows. Glad you are on the Spark team! Report
Well said. Like the quote. Report
Love your determination. Gives me hope that with allbyou have endured I know I can stay on task no matter what! Report
2010 was the best and worst of years for me also. I am still in pain from my shoulder surgery i had in April which led to me spending months in physical therapy. So what does 2011 hold for me...changing my self talk to become more positive, being determined to reach my goal weight and working on myself.
Your blog was very helpful, thank you for sharing. Report
Wow this was very inspiring. Its good to reflect back on your life... through the bad and the good it makes us who we are. And you are right, we should be grateful for that. I think i will reflect over my 2010 journey as well and I will begin to keep a journal for 2011 also. I wish you and everyone else reading this a happy 2011 filled with lots of joy, good times,great accomplishments, many success, better and stronger relationship bonds..... and the whole works. Report
Hi Stepf,

My idea for your next trip: Come to Africa, I think you will love it and we have plenty of Yoga activities going on here, with those big Asian Communities here.

Steh Report
thank you we all have ups and downs. You will do gret I remember being 30 and thinking what is ahead now still single and 50 and always looking ahead- You will grow so much Report
GREAT GOOD LUCK FOR 2011 - YEAH!!!! Report
What a beautifully written, well thought out plan. Thank you for the motivation to focus more on what I have, what I want, and who I want to be. {{HUGS}} Report
What an awesome blog. Thanks for sharing. Report
What an awesome blog. Thanks for sharing. Report
I sometimes dread reflecting on the past year... The past few years of my life have been such rollercoasters. So, I have split it up into "semesters"; as a college student, that's the clock we're on. But even reflecting on just this past semester was a challenge. It was encouraging to read about your struggle with this past year and your victory, also, in this past year and for what's to come. I admire your attitude and perspective and hope to adopt the same! Report
Love the quote from Chödrön. Best wishes to you for a great 2011! Report
I'm focusing on balance, the kind where I don't do an all or nothing kind of thing. You might want to consider Colorado for your travel destination. I live there and it's a beautiful place with many amazing sights to see and many workout opportunities. Plus, it's maybe less expensive than travelling abroad. Happy New Year! Report
THANK YOU! Reading this puts so much into perspective. Hope you have a great 2011! Report
Your blog so vividly describes the ups and downs we all experience in life. As hard as that reality can be to take sometimes, it is what it is. Without the downs, the ups are not as easy to appreciate. I look at it this way: If there were only 2 rides at the amusement park - the carousel and the roller coaster - I would probably choose the roller coaster. The carousel is pretty safe, stable, and predictable and would be a pleasant enough ride. The roller coaster is a little more dangerous, a lot less predictable and a lot scarier, but it is also a lot more exciting to ride.

I don't intend for my comment to minimize the hard times you've been going through. You've had a lot of stressful, sad and painful things to deal with lately. I respect your ability to see the balance and to move forward into 2011 with positive expectations. That isn't always easy to do.

As I look back on 2010, the things that stand out in my mind are mostly positive. I was published under my own byline - fulfilling a dream I've had since high school. And since another high point of the year for me was working on my 40th class reunion with a group of great people (some of whom I never even knew in school), you can see that fulfillment was a long time coming!

There are things on the negative side of the scale as well, although not nearly what you have experienced, thank goodness. I can relate to your experience, though, having gone through a "downer" streak that lasted nearly a decade and ended just a few years ago. It's hard.

2011 will be a better one for all of us. Remember...every day above ground is a good one. Report
TY.....it's something to be grateful, especially for the most important thing of all, life itself! 2011..I want to focus on celebrating life, and not take it for granted. I want to celebrate love and my faith. There are so many people that can't see how special life is. I want to pursue my passion for natural & divine wellness! And celebrate the gifts God has given me! TY, for kindling that spark!! Report
Sounds like you are on target for a gratitude filled life.

For a different place to go on vacation I recommend Iceland. Fabulous geology (you can stand on 2 continents at the same time), interesting history, great food (fresh lamb and fish), and friendly people. Go in July and pack rain gear, warm clothes and that bikini for a soak in the Blue Lagoon.
We lived there for 2 years and while I don't recommend living there I think everyone should see it! Report
You already know that life is a journey, not a destination. You had a roller coaster year with more major life events in one year than many people have in five. For the major downers, you suffered through trauma and had some hard knocks when PTSD slammed into you.
Your car wreck with both you and Jennie injured, everyone can see how that would hurt. A lot of us can.
But your car wreck wasn't the only stressful, traumatic incident in your life this year. Moving into a house with a friend you have had a long term relationship with was exhilarating. Having that relationship end and leaving the house you had wanted must have been painful.
Of all the things you experienced this year and shared, that one actually hurt Me. I have had an extraordinary marriage to the same great lady for 40 years. Because I've been so overwhelmingly happy, that is something I wish for friends, acquaintances and team mates.
If that experience brings you down, run, laugh, play your music a bit louder and follow all of the advice that is given on Spark. Then, think of all your friends, both near and distant, here on Spark and KNOW that you are loved and appreciated for being an awesome woman.

As for a vacation, I'm going to suggest one of the oldies but goodies, Switzerland. It is such a beautiful country, and very unique. On the drive to Lucerne you see little Swiss houses perched on the side of a mountain with a 50-60 degree incline, and their barn under the house! I guess it helps because of the natural heating from the cows and sheep (lol).
The food is totally fantastic. It's not considered healthy by many people, but when you are burning copious amounts of energy just walking in the high mountains, you can actually lose weight on a 2500 calorie a day diet - I've seen it happen.
Wherever you decide to vacation, enjoy yourself and keep your eyes and heart open. Who knows, you might meet a young Baron who takes your breath and heart away.
OK, maybe I've gone overboard, but even throughout my military career I've maintained a hope for a spark of romance for friends. Just a strange old grandpa.

Congratulations on 2010. You did just fine. With the exception of losing your focus and taking out a chunk of your finger, it would have been classified as great because you faced the hard knocks and didn't let them stop you. Report
Here's to a happy and healthy 2011. Report
Wow! What a year. You've done a great job of keeping your focus on the positive and learning from the negative. Report
Life is so full of ups and downs and I find it very inspiring that you can concentrate on the good and set goals to keep the good things coming.

I am so sorry for all the pain that happened this year (reading about you cutting your finger actually made me shudder) and for everything worse. I'm hoping you'll have an ever better 2011. :) Report
wow, cut the end of ur finger off! Awful.
Why not get a job with a company that has you travel for them and pays your expenses? My son works for a movie company and he will be going to India and Malaysia shortly where they have offices. Last time he went he took a side trip to Thailand. Report
Thanks for sharing :-) Though my year wasn't as drastic and went fairly smoothly, I surely emphathize with you all. There were some really bad stress related months that me and my spouse emotionally and physically drained that took awhile to get over, my sister was clear of cancer--Whew! I can only say that I am looking forward to the adventures of 2011, staying healthy and doing well in college. Report
What a year you have had! Mine has been intense too--my father died & my husband left me. But I got a promotion at work, quite a few of my poems were accepted for publication, I was invited to lead several seminars, my daughter got her dream job in her country of origin (Colombia) & has been thriving there, & I'm truly loving living alone with my kitty.

As for travel destinations, I agree with the Costa Rica suggestion. You might also look into going to Cartagena, Colombia, a BEAUTIFUL colonial city full of balconies & bright colors & cascading flowers. Lots of options for beaches & sightseeing. You could take a side trip to Tayrona National Park, one of the most breathtakingly lovely places I have ever been.

Happy 2011 to you! Report
Life's a Journey, but it's so worth the ride!
I must suggest it, as my very good friends took me there for my 40th in 2010! ALASKA! Oh wow! Report
Focus is on becoming healthy and fit for the New Year!! 5K's a each month for the year. I am hoping to keep up with those dreams!! Report
I'm with you on the no new clothes. I lost 17 lbs in 2010 and keep buying clothes to celebrate my smaller body. But I've got 20 more lbs to go, so I need to hold off on investing in the new wardrobe that will soon be too big. So I've set myself a limit of $100 a month to spend in the first 3 months of 2011 on clothes for myself (that should cover any necessities and allow for a few whimsical purchases). Other than that - no clothes purchases until I hit a new goal - 150 lbs. Hopefully this will save me money, give more room in my closet (less stuff in my life = less stress) and motivate me to hit the 150 goal.

Thanks for the inspiration. Report
Thank you so very much for making me think about my past and the noe current year. NO more pitty party - GET on with life!!!!! Report
What a wonderful way to put it all--the positive and the difficult--into perspective. Congratulations on your successes! As far as travel goes, I would highly recommend Egypt (the pyramids are incredible), Peru (especially Macchu Piccu), or Ecuador (where Quito, the mountains, the cloud forest, and the Galapagos Islands are all awe-inspiring destinations). Report
Great post! I'm inspired to make a list of goals now for my year (been putting it off!).

Re: your missing finger--I once worked with a guy who was born with only part of one of his arms (he had his entire left arm/only part of his right arm, though). Yet it was something I hardly every noticed about him. He was an avid basketball player, too, of all things, and quite good at it from what I heard. So I think alot of those little things we feel sorry for ourselves about are all about perspective. Change the way we think about things and they don't seem so bad. Report
Heard all good things about the Flying Pig race. Have fun!

Have a great new year! With a lot more ups than downs! Report
Great blog. Love your positive attitude. You will have a great 2011. Report
Holy cow... that's one heck of a moving post. Report
Wow - you have done so much and your attitude is wonderful. I had that "take stock" moment around my 35th birthday. My life wasn't anything like I thought it would be and I got a small case of the "what ifs". But that only lasted a couple hours because I realized that even though my life wasn't anything like I thought it would be when I was younger, I was totally happy with every aspect of my life and that's what counts.

Stay positive and focused on the things that really matter - you're already doing that - and Great 2011 to all! Report
Your blog was so inspirational, Stephanie. Thank you. 2011 will be a great year. You helped me feel it. Report
What a wonderful idea to actually take the time to review the year's highs and lows. I need to take some time to do that and plan my 'life goals' for 2011! Thanks for sharing your year with us and goals! Congrats on your successes and taking the time to reflect on lessons learned! Report
Thank you for sharing. You are right on the money. It's so easy to get caught up in the drama of our lives and forget that 1) everyone has drama and 2) there is beauty in every life. Thanks for the reminder to stop, take stock and be grateful. Report
No New Year's resolutions for me, I've just decided to get healthier and take better care of myself as I get older. Report
I am also turning 30 this year, and just made a vision collage of healthy things I want to accomplish this year. I would love to see a section on SP where people can upload pictures of their collages. I love looking at others for ideas and motivation. Report