Reverb14 is a prompt-a-day series for the month of December designed to reflect on 2014 and project hopes and dreams for 2015.  Throughout December,SarahKat and I will post each day with a new prompt.  Join us by writing, or join us by reading.   Follow us on Twitter @project_reverb and #reverb14.

Goals | What’s on tap for next year?  Share your big (or small) goals with us.  Why did you pick those goals?  Are these things you’ve always wanted to do?  How are you going to get them done?

Fifteen Goals for 2015

1) Write more letters. I write an a lot of letters as it is, but the quality of this exercise has tapered over the last year. I want to write letters that make people feel loved.

2) Spend more time with Roo. I could spend every waking hour with my beast and even then that would not be enough.

3) See more theatre.  I randomly began seeing more theatre in 2014 and found I enjoyed it, so I’d like to make it a habit.

4) Participate in more quality-of-life activity. By virtue of a lot of Things Beyond My Control, I wind up participating in a lot of Tick The Box activities — a lot of need to have, or nice to have done kind of stuff. I would like to focus on things that are at least marginally more meaningful than that in the days ahead.

5) Give more space for trauma.  My friend Jean posted this article from the Washington Post about how What Doesn’t Kill You Doesn’t Necessarily Make You StrongerWhile I’ve been through a lot of sometimes challenging experiences in my life, and many of the things I’ve experienced have given me the opportunity to cultivate resiliency, I have to admit that I have been beating myself up for a long time over why I have still struggled so mightily with some things and never Got Over Them. It never occurred to me that when you suffer a series of unexpected and serious traumas — it’s Okay not to bounce back quickly, or easily. I’m just going to give myself more space on this one.

6) Seek out more support.

7) Learn to properly use Excel. This sounds like an unbearably lame resolution, but as a lawyer whose career began just before the advent of technology in the profession — i.e., when I was in school, Westlaw and Lexis were not considered “valid” citators, and most states still published their cases in books — having more than a really baseline knowledge of most software was considered superfluous. I’m not that old, but in the time between when I went to school and now, the world changed A LOT and really fast.

8) Be more open to change. A lot will be changing over this year. I can either dig my heels in, or embrace it.

9) Listen more. I’m more of a do-er. I feel overwhelmed by choices, so I tend to limit myself to considering a handful of possibilities once I figure out what universe I’m dealing with, then I make decisions quickly and I don’t look back. I have no patience for indecisive people. In fact, I tend to make quick, decisive, personal judgments about indecisive people (!!!). Even though I’ve always made decisions this way, I’m not sure it’s the “right” way. Maybe I could benefit from taking in a little bit more information.

10) Get back out there. I had two major surgeries last year. I’ve begun running again, but I just need to get my butt back out there and run a damned race. I know I’ll feel a WHOLE lot better when I do — even if it’s a slow, slow time. I just need to plug my ears, and ignore all the medals, and PRs, and negative splits on Facebook and Instagram and Be Where I Am and embrace it.

11) Experience my first PR in years. I’ve been taken apart and put back together. The rehab has been time consuming. Is it so much to ask to be able to get back out there and be just marginally faster?! I’m not asking for a miracle here. I’m just asking to shave a second or two off (once I start racing again)!

12) Save more money. Ugh. Paul and I decided to do some of the most expensive stuff in the universe all at once. So much for paying off my law school loans this year.

13) Scotch-guard the rugs. This is actually more of a to-do list item, but I’m running out of steam.

14) Buy winter boots. I have lived in the NY-DC area for nearly 13 years, and have never bothered to buy snow boots. I’ve survived multiple major blizzards by simply being out of town for them. I don’t know if it’s laziness, or denial, or … what that has prevented me from buying a proper pair of Sorels.

15) Make more space for me. I am a small woman, and sometimes I feel like I make myself physically smaller than I am to accommodate others. I give in; I curl up; I fade. Sure, I have a loud voice, and I’m not a…wallflower. But I give into things that I never, ever intended to give into simply because I’m sick of fighting; I’m scared to be the tall poppy; I’m afraid to be the woman whose head gets chopped off.

Reverb14 is a prompt-a-day series for the month of December designed to reflect on 2014 and project hopes and dreams for 2015.  Throughout December,SarahKat and I will post each day with a new prompt.  Join us by writing, or join us by reading.   Follow us on Twitter @project_reverb and #reverb14.

In and Out List | Each year the Washington Post (and various other media) pens an “in and out” list comprised of pop culture people/items that are in and out.  What’s on your in and out list?

Out

– Plastics (the products; the people)
– Forced domesticity
– Nail art (Please stop trying to make nail art happen.)
– Drinking due to peer pressure
– Mindless acquisition of stuff and things
– Clutter
– Juice fasts, detoxes, and other restrictive regimes
– Selfies (I judge me. I judge you.)

In

– Reading longform everything (I like the stuff curated at Longform.org)
– Mixing patterns and prints (who says tartans and florals don’t match?)
– Outsourcing dinner (or any meal for that matter – I like Provenance Meals; Sakara Life; and the pre-prepared products available from Fresh Direct)
– Lower-impact exercise than running 6 marathons a year (I like Refine Method; SLT; TRX classes; and pretty much any indoor cycling that is not SoulCycle)
– Vests (or as they are known in the rest of the world, gilets, body warmers, etc.) (NB: these will never be out of style)
– Vocal gratitude.

Reverb14 is a prompt-a-day series for the month of December designed to reflect on 2014 and project hopes and dreams for 2015.  Throughout December,SarahKat and I will post each day with a new prompt.  Join us by writing, or join us by reading.   Follow us on Twitter @project_reverb and #reverb14.

Energy | What gave you energy this year?  What took away your energy?

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Six weeks on crutches.

Four months in rehab.

Stitches; scars; setbacks.

I tried to be a trooper, because the injury was so much more painful than the surgery was. But this whole experience rattled me a whole heck of a lot. I was a Highly Motivated Patient. I was Energised For Recovery, but I was quickly…spent. If you’ve ever been through recovery from a bad sports injury, you know exactly what I mean.

I go out and run now, and I work out, but I still worry if I will ever be A Runner again.

Reverb14 is a prompt-a-day series for the month of December designed to reflect on 2014 and project hopes and dreams for 2015.  Throughout December,SarahKat and I will post each day with a new prompt.  Join us by writing, or join us by reading.   Follow us on Twitter @project_reverb and #reverb14.

Home | Tell us about what home meant to you this year.  Are you a homebody?  Did you do a renovation?  Move?  Redecorate? 

Did I mention that I moved house this year?

Did I mention that I don’t recommend getting cancer, having your hip reconstructed, taking on a couple huge professional projects that require sitting for various (difficult) exams in order to obtain required licenses — in addition to travelling internationally 11/12 months of the year, getting engaged, buying an apartment, undertaking renovations on said apartment, and moving into said apartment all within the same 12 month period?

Okay then.

I feel really…disoriented.

I feel lucky. And grateful. But I feel so out of sorts that it’s not even funny. As I may have mentioned in a previous post, it’s like I sat on my hands for five years, and then said, Okay, THIS is the moment — ready, go!

This new apartment doesn’t really feel like a home yet. I don’t know the doormen, and I don’t know where anything is, and no one knows where I live anymore. The not knowing the doormen thing keeps haunting me, because they keep telling visitors that I don’t live in the building, and that they can’t get ahold of me because in their view, I don’t exist. I can’t put anything away because half of my furniture is still on order. Everything is a work in progress. I don’t even have any window treatments, or proper lightbulbs, and I’ve lived here for over a month.

Roo likes the place, but he’s been squirrelly. He hasn’t been sleeping in his crate; he won’t sleep in his bed; he’s rattled and unsettled by every unfamiliar sound.

In sum, we like it here. But it will take us some time to settle into the new house. In the meantime, I should probably buy some of those temporary blinds.

Reverb14 is a prompt-a-day series for the month of December designed to reflect on 2014 and project hopes and dreams for 2015.  Throughout December,SarahKat and I will post each day with a new prompt.  Join us by writing, or join us by reading.   Follow us on Twitter @project_reverb and #reverb14.

Never | I never thought I’d…What did you think you’d NEVER do, but you did this year.  Why?  What changed your mind?

True story: I hate Christmas.

When I got divorced, I gave myself the gift of quitting Christmas. It just felt like a lot of obligation, and seasonal décor, and food I didn’t like, so I opted out. And it was a relief.

American Commercial Christmas does not fit into my belief system. I feel overwhelmed by it. I like sending Christmas cards, and I like a couple of Christmas movies, but otherwise, I find the whole holiday season to be a sea of wasted resources and forced obligation.

My mother tells me that she doesn’t understand why I hate the holidays because I used to anticipate them so much as a kid. But I think she’s projecting that on to me. She and my father both love Christmas; they take great joy in buying gifts, and decorating the house, and they enjoy the build-up.

I hate anticipation. I won’t watch suspenseful movies. I even fast-forward through films I’ve already seen at the “exciting” parts. I find suspense so agitating that I avoid situations where I don’t know what comes next. I find those sorts of situations and movies to be something to be tolerated rather than something I enjoy.

And I think that my mother confuses the abject anxiety I had as a kid about the holiday anticipation with the (admitted) joy I had about receiving gifts. So what I have always seen as a really anxiety-provoking experience as a kid (albeit one that included the thrill of presents),  my mother viewed as something I really looked forward to at one stage.

I can see where she’d maybe be confused. But the truth is…I’ve just always hated the holidays. Once I quit Christmas, I felt like the pressure was finally off; like I didn’t have to put myself into any of those situations where I didn’t know what was happening next. I didn’t have to eat any foods I didn’t want to eat; I didn’t have to have all those tchotchkes in my house representing Santa and Elves and what have you — things I didn’t like and didn’t believe in and that looked and felt…creepy.

I was free. I went skiing in Europe. I went to the Caribbean. I went to South America. I went to Australia. I went to Thailand. I ate a ton of Asian food, and I slept in, and I ran, and did yoga, and helped the needy, and saw friends, and engaged in absolutely none of that Commercial Christmas Bullshit, and I felt wholly human and completely engaged with the holiday spirit.

Just…not in that terrible, red-and-green-paper-wrapped, commercial, anxiety-provoking way that I’d been told my whole life was CHRISTMAS.

And then I met Paul, who is a Christmas Enthusiast.

Paul loves Christmas. He loves Santa. He believes children should believe in Santa (whereas I feel one should not lie to them and lose credibility as a parent). Paul believes a home should be decorated for Christmas, whereas I, personally, cannot fathom ever putting up and decorating a Christmas tree ever again. My feelings about Christmas trees are roughly the same as my feelings about sailboats — I enjoy and admire them when they belong to someone else.

Paul and I are of the same mind about most things, except this.

And this is why, after I swore up and down that I’d never, ever celebrate Christmas again, I am sitting in the airport lounge, waiting for a much-delayed flight, so I can fly to family Christmas in Dublin.

I love Paul, and I love his family, and even though this whole season makes me want to tear my hair out, one reaches a point where it’s not about one’s own fears and anxieties and frustrations anymore.

In other words, you just shut up, and get on the plane.

Reverb14 is a prompt-a-day series for the month of December designed to reflect on 2014 and project hopes and dreams for 2015.  Throughout December,SarahKat and I will post each day with a new prompt.  Join us by writing, or join us by reading.   Follow us on Twitter @project_reverb and #reverb14.

Thank You | Write a thank-you note to someone who broke your heart, or made your life harder than it needed to be. Bonus points for sharing it here.

My ex used to say to our little dog, Moose, thanks for wreckin’ up the place! He meant it as a statement of endearment. She was a tiny, ferocious little dog who could make a mess exponentially larger than herself, and we loved her for it.

In truth, I’m the one who wrote this prompt, and now I’m feeling squirrelly about mustering up the vulnerability required to actually write on it.

And my go-to for this kind of topic is The Bad Events of 2011, but I’ve beaten the Long Dead Horse of 2011 so hard that it’s now unrecognisable as a horse. It’s just a lump of hair, and teeth, and hooves, and bones and blood where a quadruped had been. I have long screamed and cried: I didn’t do anything to you people — why did you hurt and humiliate me? And the only response I get is my own voice echoing off the walls of my home.

So to the folks who Made a Mess of Things for me a few years back, I think I am finally able to say…thanks for wreckin’ up the place.

Thanks for letting me learn resilience on my own. Thanks for backing me up against that wall, and making me feel small, and doing all those bad things that you thought you were doing, like we were sophomores in college, except we were in our thirties. Because with my back against the wall, I learned to push with my feet; I learned to duck and slide; I learned to move with a sureness I’d never have learned otherwise.

Because of you, I learned how to be deliberate in selecting a partner; in making my needs and wants known; to be wary when dating; to stick it out when things were rough but to fight when necessary.

And when necessary, to fight like hell.

I also learned that sometimes people don’t care about proof. And you have to live with that, because that’s what being a grown up is, and sometimes, people are uncomfortable with the truth because it’s easier to play nice in the sandbox than acknowledge our baser instincts, and that people do shitty things for no reason.

Thanks for teaching me to take it. That life is Supremely Not Fair, even if/when you are Right.

Life is not always about being Right or presenting Proof. Sometimes, it’s about who sells their version of the story most convincingly, even if the facts demonstrate otherwise. That was a lesson I needed to learn, because as a lawyer, one is raised to believe that facts will light the way and win the day.

How innocent I was.

And I always knew that slow and steady wins the race, but I didn’t know how slow and steady one had to be. Because I had to learn not to react to you — both in the moment, and over time — it made me a better person, and professional.  Thank you for teaching me to be slow to anger, even when I wanted (and still want) to shout and scream.

In sum, thanks for trying to make a mess bigger than yourselves. You might’ve wrecked the place and then some. But what came out of it for me is so much bigger and better than I could’ve imagined.

Reverb14 is a prompt-a-day series for the month of December designed to reflect on 2014 and project hopes and dreams for 2015.  Throughout December,SarahKat and I will post each day with a new prompt.  Join us by writing, or join us by reading.   Follow us on Twitter @project_reverb and #reverb14.

Purging | What did you get rid of this year?  Physical things you tossed out or donated?  Or did you purge a bad relationship, job, etc…?

For years, I wore the same ratty pair of white linen drawstring trousers. With these pants, I was like Linus with his blanket.

Lucy_Blanket

(Via Peanuts Wiki)

About five years ago, they finally bit the dust. But I could not bear to part with them. I had worn them to graduations and parties and Fourth of July. I had worn them all through my university days. I had worn them through law school, and being a young newlywed, and into being a wizened divorcee.

I had stitched them back together when the linen had eventually ripped from the seam. I had patched and patched until the linen eventually could no longer hold. It actually disintegrated. I had loved them to death.

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With regard to keeping these pants in a box under my bed, I have no real explanation. I’m not someone who hangs on to things, for the most part. But there’s a part of me that wants to hang on to my old life — hang on like hell — because change is scary. No matter how much I like what’s new and what’s happening now, I got here wearing these pants.

But now, I’ve got to throw them away. Because they’re not actual trousers anymore. They’re past their useful life. They served me well, and they were beautiful, and useful, and made me feel terrific and lovely and wonderful during Up and Down moments, but now they are nothing more than scraps.

They are garbage. And they have to go.

So I did what any person who has loved a thing that has to be thrown away does — I cut a corner off of them, and then I stuck them in the bin.

(NB: I don’t think that these are the Velveteen Rabbit or something. My pants are not going to Become Real. That would be terrifying.)