I’m curled up on the couch, with Iron and Wine on the stereo and a blanket over my legs. I have to say, it’s pretty nice to fly home on a Thursday, go to work on Friday, then have the weekend to work and putter at home. Today I shopped for groceries, baked banana bread, caught up on my blog reading, and spent some time working on a grant. And by “working,” I mean largely pondering some questions, but now I’ve downloaded some new papers, so I’m going to settle into my couch with a slice of banana bread and read after I finish this blog post.
It’s nice to be home. But I think it was even better not being home. Even if it means living out of a suitcase for a week, I feel better that I was able to see my family this month. I feel a lot calmer and less overwhelmed by my life, and that’s a feeling I’d like to carry with me into January. There’s something about spending time with kids that feels so grounding and so right, like I’m doing exactly what I should be doing.
Being with my family is always an opportunity to refill the well, so to speak, a chance to share new thing with each other. On my happy list tonight is:
* This Week in Paleo/Latest in Paleo podcasts. My sister-in-law Amanda mentioned to me that she listens to a Paleo podcast while working in the kitchen. She warned me that it’s not very vegetarian-friendly, but still, when I got back to Texas, I had to look it up. I like the Paleo podcasts hosted by Angelo Coppola because there’s lots of interesting discussion about the science of health, nutrition, and fitness. It’s my kind of science talk! Angelo is skeptical but open-minded, and when it comes to how science really works, he knows his stuff.
* New boots for Christmas. I’ve needed new boots for a long time now, so I was thrilled to find a beautiful pair from Santa! And by Santa, I mean my family. Same thing, right?
* My sister’s awesome gluten-free pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, which she makes with my niece (who loves to bake with us). Theresa made mini versions of these for our Christmas brunch, and they were outstanding.
* * *
I am really glad that 2011 is coming to a close. It’s tempting to say that it’s been a shitty year for me, but I recognize that 2011 had a lot of great adventures and successes too. Let’s say that 2011 has been a hard year. I like the metaphorical fresh start that 2012 is bringing, but I’ve been thinking about what 2011 taught me.
I learned that living a thousand miles from my family is not a viable long-term condition for me. I have to move closer to them, preferably within the next 2-3 years. I’m defining “closer” as a four-hour drive, but Amanda reminded me that Chicago is such a cool city that it would be acceptable too. So maybe I’ll move back to Chicago if I can find a job? Or I’ll look for jobs in the Midwest and see what gems I find.
I learned that despite the supposed biological clock ticking in my ovaries, I am in no rush to have children. I feel as picky as ever about the men I date, and for that, I am grateful.
I learned that I am stronger than I realized. I’m in it for the long haul, even if I flounder sometimes.
I learned that I care more about relationships than anything else. Not just romantic relationships, all kinds of relationships: familial, friendly, professional.
I learned that I’m not very competitive any more. I feel much more motivated by the idea of working as a team, to make us the best we can be. I’m not entirely sure what this means for me professionally, but I’m excited to explore it.
I learned that hope can make all things possible. So I’m taking hope with me into 2012.
Happy 2012, my dears. Thanks for sticking with me this year, for all your comments, your wisdom, your advice, and your companionship. Truly, this is the year that I learned the value of community in blogging, and I can’t wait to spend another year with you. Happy, happy new year.