The Year of Tears and Heartbreak

I had big plans, I wanted to do things, to go places, learn things … I made a list or two.

Sometimes things don’t always work out the way you imagined them, sometimes life surprises you and the only thing you can do is deal with it. Roll with the punches. Make lemonade.

In 2012, I wore sorrow like a cloak.

The year started on a low note as sickness festered close to home. Next came the incident* and with that it seemed the tone was set for the year; 2012 will become the year of tears and heartbreak.

I shared in the sorrow of a broken heart, feeling useless and ill-equipped, with only phrases like “it will get better” to offer as comfort. If I could have taken my friend’s pain away with the right words, I would have. Sometimes words are inadequate, but sometimes they are all I have to offer.

Next, Death visited our family, leaving a feeling of vulnerability. We are getting older. We will not live forever. I thought of my parents, they will not live forever. And as though it wanted to make sure we knew it meant business, I will never forget the thirty minutes I spent, driving home, uncontrollable tears streaming down my cheeks. Thirty minutes where I begged God for healing, chanting “please, please, please…” until I couldn’t anyone.

That night was the darkest night of the year, surrounded by family but feeling alone. Alone. Another lemon, another punch in the gut.

Just when things were getting back to normal, just when I thought that life was settling into its usual schedule, Sandy came. Sandy was not like Irene. Irene rattled our windows a bit, but Sandy crippled us and many are still rebuilding. While my home might be OK, others are not. The house that we came to call “Grandma’s house” (though grandma isn’t the only one that lives there) was flooded and repairs are ongoing. Will this bad year ever end? I can’t possible drink all this lemonade**.

This year sucked. It was the suckiest year in the history of my 30 years on earth, and I’ve had some sucky years. 2012 made me feel sad, insignificant and alone. It made me feel helpless to the point where I just wanted to stay in my room and flick through Tumblr, or browse the interwebs – anything to distract myself, really. But through it all I also feel ridiculously blessed and that’s all because of my family and friends.

The faith that I saw in the actions and words of family members going through tough times, the concern and love shown by friends who took the time to find out if everything was OK, who reached out with words of encouragement and prayers, who brought cupcakes … these will stick with me. These pull me away from the distractions. These stand out like beacons of light. These pockets of happiness were my strength.

2012 is drawing to an end. This is the last day. It’s almost over. Soon I’ll be able to say, “I made it!! I survived 2012!”. I have a lot of lemons, they are in this bucket and I have a makeshift lemon-catapult. I’m ready, 2013; I’ve had enough of your lemons, life, I’m ready to chuck it back.

—*—

* The incident isn’t a secret, but for reasons I cannot say, I cannot discuss it online. oOOoOOh vague statement is vague.

** There were so many other bad things that happened, but I don’t want this post to be a downer. However, I just wanted to state that everything that I went through this year affected my life in some way and I’m still thinking and praying about them (and for the others also affected). 

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2012 Check-in and Adjustment

Can you believe it’s September already!? It felt like January was only yesterday! Well, it’s time to look into the  list of things to do in 2012, and adjust my expectations accordingly. 

Learning another language:
+ Enough to read a French storybook
+ Enough to learn a French song

Still not on track here, though, going to Paris in August did help me brush up on the language, it was enough to get by, however, we didn’t have to use it much since everyone spoke to us in English. I do have Le Petite Prince and managed to read the first few pages – with some assistance.

Lose some weight!
+ running, or some sort of exercise (2 to 3 times a week)
+ walk more
+ drink less espresso drinks
+ eat more veggies and fruits

So, I got a bike! I bike at least 4 miles a day when I bike to the train station, almost every day. I walk more and I eat more veggies and fruits. That’s about the most exercise I’d probably be doing. I do stand and walk a lot – I love walking – and last weekend I danced up a storm to Big Band music and 70s fun music! I am thinking of getting a rebounder, but not really sure how that will work out.

Memorize more (poems or psalm):
+ I have several poetry books that I’ve never finished, read at least one poem a week
+ learn 6 sonnets (or psalms)

Jabberwocky, Sonnet 103, the first part of Hallow Men (which is a super long poem) and most of Sonnet 18 down. I got very distracted with work, so I might just learn one more and the rest of Hallow Men for the rest of the year.

Read 70 books this year:
+ read more non-fantasy fiction
+ read 6 (or 12) non-fiction theology books
+ read 6 non-fiction marketing books

To date I’ve read 60 books! I’m on track, and they are a very eclectic bunch, though, nothing marketing related there and only two theology books. I’ll have to get on that, BEA reading has overtaken my life!

Blog more!
+ On my personal blog

+ On my book blog
+ On my writing blog … that is currently hidden.

I started the writing blog, I keep up my book blog and I recently completed BEDA for August … I think I got this squared away.

Journal more
+ In cursive

Still unmotivated, but I am  bursting. I sat and though, “who can I talk to?” there is just so much going through my head, my heart, and it’s difficult to find someone who is free to listen, so I think this will motivate me to write more. I really do need to, I’m just about to explode!

2012 Check-in and Adjustment

I figured, if I want to keep up with my list of things to do in 2012, I need to check in and adjust my expectations accordingly. 

Learning another language:
+ Enough to read a French storybook
+ Enough to learn a French song

I’m not really on track here, but I picked up a “learning French” magazine (it was free!) and I was happy that I could recognize a lot of the worlds/sentences. The only issue is, I don’t really know about the pronunciation, I need something good to work on that.

Lose some weight!
+ running, or some sort of exercise (2 to 3 times a week)
+ walk more
+ drink less espresso drinks
+ eat more veggies and fruits

I’m walking more, I’m drinking less espresso drinks and eating more fruits, but I really need to get more veggies into my system. If only veggies were disguised as cakes and cupcakes!

Also, no, I am not purposefully leaving out the exercise part. Nope, not at all.

Memorize more (poems or psalm):
+ I have several poetry books that I’ve never finished, read at least one poem a week
+ learn 6 sonnets (or psalms)

Ask me to recite The Jabberwocky! I did cut this down to 6, so this is the second one. I’m not sure what the next one will be … perhaps a few stanzas of Nevermore.

Read 70 books this year:
+ read more non-fantasy fiction
+ read 6 (or 12) non-fiction theology books
+ read 6 non-fiction marketing books

I’ve definitely read more non-fantasy fiction, WinterTown was a great read, as well as Suite Scarlett. I finished Let Justice Roll Down so that’s 2/6 non-fiction theology books (yes, I know it’s not theology, but I’m putting it in that category).

To date I’ve read 29 books, (three are kiddies and two are supplementary so let’s say 25) I’m right on track, actually I’m 9 books ahead.

Blog more!
+ On my personal blog

+ On my book blog
+ On my writing blog … that is currently hidden.

Yep, haven’t done this as much as I should … I doubt I’ll do anything on my writing blog so I’m cutting that “resolution”.

Journal more
+ In cursive

Still only did this once … I’m unmotivated.

2012 Check-In and Adjustment

I figured, if I want to keep up with my list of things to do in 2012, I need to check in and adjust my expectations accordingly. So, one month from my list, I’m checking in and adjusting.

Learning another language:
+ Enough to read a French storybook
+ Enough to learn a French song

I’ve bought Le Petite Prince, it’s all French and it’s a children’s book so it will hopefully have simpler grammar and words than if I bought, The Elegance of the Hedgehog for example. I also have three French songs that I love to listen to from time to time. I’ve also been using the Living Language French App, which has been super useful!

Lose some weight!
+ running, or some sort of exercise (2 to 3 times a week)
+ walk more
+ drink less espresso drinks
+ eat more veggies and fruits

Surprisingly, I’m keeping up with all of this! I definitely walk more, I have been drinking less Starbucks drinks and more teas and have been eating more fruits than I usually do. I hope this keeps up. *cross fingers*

Memorize more (poems or psalm):
+ I have several poetry books that I’ve never finished, read at least one poem a week
+ learn one sonnet a month (or a psalm)

Ok, I haven’t had time for this, so I am changing it to learning 6 poems/psalms by heart by the end of the year. It’s hard memorizing things, especially when you have a bad memory like I do!

Read 70 books this year:
+ read more non-fantasy fiction
+ read 6 (or 12) non-fiction theology books
+ read 6 non-fiction marketing books

I read Generous Justice in January, I’m reading Let Justice Roll Down right now. I think I’m going to cut my non-fiction marketing books down to 3. To date I’ve read 15 books, 3 are kiddies books, so I’ll just say I’ve read 12 books.

Blog more!
+ On my personal blog

+ On my book blog
+ On my writing blog … that is currently hidden.

I have been blogging more! I’m not blogging on my writing blog though … Need to get that done.

Journal more
+ In cursive

I did this once. Definitely need to catch up 🙂

Things to do in 2012 …

I haven’t made a list of resolutions, I never really keep them. However, in talking to several friends who have all made resolutions and one who inspired me by writing down an actual list of them, I’ve decided to think about the things I would like to accomplish in 2012, and making my own list.

So, a few days too late, here is a comprehensive list of things I hope to accomplish.

Learning another language:
+ Enough to read a French storybook
+ Enough to learn a French song

Lose some weight!
+ running, or some sort of exercise (2 to 3 times a week)
+ walk more
+ drink less espresso drinks
+ eat more veggies and fruits

Memorize more (poems or psalm):
+ I have several poetry books that I’ve never finished, read at least one poem a week
+ learn one sonnet a month (or a psalm)

Read 70 books this year:
+ read more non-fantasy fiction
+ read 6 (or 12) non-fiction theology books
+ read 6 non-fiction marketing books

Blog more!
+ On my personal blog
+ On my book blog
+ On my writing blog … that is currently hidden.

Journal more
+ In cursive

2011 Highlights and Low-lights

At the beginning of 2011, I came to a decision. Whenever I got an idea (as long as it was feasible), I was going to execute that idea. No over-thinking, no putting it on the back-burner for another day, I’d make the time to do it. Because of that decision I started blogging about books, I revamped this website and bought my domain (shanella.com), I started another tumblr, I blogged every day in April. I went pro on Flickr, I stopped saying that I’d go to Arizona and actually went, I visited DC, I attended the BEA as a Blogger (cheers!!), I attended multiple book signings, and viewed multiple plays.

I did a lot of things that I found satisfying, and a few things that were not so successful (like that expensive gym membership to go swimming and only swimming once!). But, I learned an important lesson … I’ll never get anywhere if I just sit and talk. I have to get up and do. So, I did. I also learned that failure isn’t the end of the worldI feel like I accomplished something, whereas, in 2010, I wasn’t sure what I was doing, why I was doing it and who I was doing it with!

I’ve come up with a couple of highlights and not-so-great-lights for 2011. Let’s start with the meh.

A Short List of Not-So-Great Endeavors and Experiences

Dating: I don’t talk a lot about dating on here, because I don’t date! I don’t like the act of meeting new people, it’s scary and I feel awkward. I’m not a fan of small talk; I don’t really know what to say when it comes to small talk because people have varying levels of privacy and I never know if I am asking the right questions. It’s a muddle, it’s stressful, I dislike it. Of course, I have some social skills, so it works out somehow, but when I get home, I’m so exhausted that I hole myself up in my room and watch Hulu until I fall asleep.

So, when 2011 was dubbed “dating heaven” (don’t ask, I won’t tell) I decided to go out on a limb and try online dating. I mean, meeting new people on a computer, that wouldn’t be awkward at all now, would it? *nods* Let’s just say, that will never happen again. I’d rather go through the awkwardness of meeting a person in real life than meeting them over the tubes. Though, I have to wonder if I have a tendency for self-ambush, especially since I noticed that I only hang out with guys who I know would never ask me out. Maybe that will change in 2012. Or maybe I’ll just go home and watch Hulu/Netflix until I fall asleep. 😉

Working: Whenever someone asks me “What’s new?” I never know what to say, my life seems to consist of working and being at home and the occasional hanging out. So, in the middle of the year, when asked this question, I didn’t know what to say that wouldn’t sound like complaining or ranting. I wouldn’t get into it, but in June/July, the situation moved from meh to stifling.

Steve: Not only do I have a tendency to ambush myself. I do not have a tendency for self-preservation, something that came to the surface again after my encounter with Steve. I wouldn’t go into details here (the link says it all) but that was not something I want to experience ever again. Even now, months later, when I think of it, I just feel numb. I’m not sure what this means other than, men can sometimes be creepy. This was probably the worse experience of 2011.

hey, look! A cute dog with a monocle

Moving on to the great things in 2011! *confetti*

A Not-So-Short List of Exceptional Experiences

A New Job!: By the end of summer, I had enough. So, I decided to do what I promised myself I’d do at the beginning of the year. Take action. I made a career change. Going on my love for books and bookish things, I decided to try the publishing industry. I did something else that I hadn’t done before, I networked.

It’s been three months since I started working at my new job, I’m so happy to be where I am right now. It’s not what I would have imagined doing while completing a Computer Science degree at university, but it is something that I enjoy, in a place I enjoy, with the company of people I enjoy and I couldn’t have asked for more.

Les Misérables: I saw a few good plays this year, but the best experience had to be Les Mis. At the beginning of the year, I bought the soundtrack and listened to it on repeat for a while. Then, wanting to see the play I did a bit of research. I had two options, go to London and see the play, or find a touring group. Luckily for me, there was a group touring the US and in October they were going to be at the Kennedy Center in DC. After asking a bunch of people, I found three others who were interested in seeing the play and we took a trip to DC. It was a wonderful experience. I don’t know how to explain it, but I was so invested in seeing this play that I was tearing up through the entire thing. I had done it, I had realized a dream and it was beautiful.

Harry Potter: Call me a fanatic, call me whatever. I will not deny that the elements in the books were not original, but you cannot say that the imagination and execution were nothing short of brilliant. That is why Harry Potter is so successful. I got the chance to attend the midnight release of the last film, but the best Harry Potter experience this year was visiting the recently opened Harry Potter section at Universal Studios, Florida. It amazes me, that someone’s imagination can be realized, not just through movie magic, but in form of a theme park. I really enjoy living in this century 🙂

Jimmy Fallon: I got the chance to attend a live taping of Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night with Jimmy, show. I’ve always admired Jimmy’s ability to be comfortable in his dorkiness, it actually works in his favor, so, I was very happy for the opportunity to attend and be in the front row at one of his tapings this year.

Bookish Year: I think 2011 was the year I came out of the library as a bookworm. A few days ago, while cooking for Christmas breakfast, my mom was commenting on the fact that I had dubbed my sister my sous-chef and had her washing the dishes and whisking eggs while I prepped. She made a comment that her older sisters use to have her do the same things but that she preferred to be in a corner reading. She also said that, when my grandma stayed by us during the births of my siblings, she’d do my chores so I could go and read if I wanted to. Yes, this is a tangent, but it’s my blog and I can go off on tangents if I want to.

In 2011, I started my book blog ireviewbooks, its companion, a twitter account, and joined a few bookish sites. I attended a lot of book signings, went to Book Expo America and read and reviewed a TON of books. I had a vision for my blog that has been tweaked and has grown and I’m very pleased at the direction it’s headed in. In 2012, I’m hoping to write a bit more and have some original pieces online, to read 10% more books (current count is 68). I also have a Jane Austen project in mind, in time I’ll see how that unfolds.

Friendships: In 2010, I decided to try to expand my “friend circle”, to be more than just friendly but to be friends with more people and make an effort to include others in my “circle”. Those who know me well, know how big a task this was. If I was honest, it  was mostly a failure. It put a strain on the friendships that I already had, to the point where I wasn’t able to handle it anymore, so I threw my hands up in the air and said, “whatever”.

In 2011, I became more selective, and I feel better. I was able to mend the strained relationships from before, to spend quality time with people who were actually interested in spending quality time with me and well, it was just a better year, friendship-wise. I formed better, more meaningful friendships and I didn’t feel thinly spread. The thing is, I had to realize that what I did before – being selective – isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are people who I will click with regardless of similarities or differences and then there are people who could be just like me but we don’t click at all, and it’s OK, not clicking, it’s OK to just be friendly. At the end of the year, as I think back on the relationships I’ve had this year and the fun times we’ve shared I have to admit, I know a lot of lovely people, and I have some of the greatest friends.

What I get when I Google Image Search "boo"

So what am I looking forward to in 2012?

Well, maybe trips to Prague and New Orleans. Maybe another round at BEA. Definitely more bookish things, but what I’m really looking forward to is keeping the momentum that has been built up in 2011. To dream dreams, to have desires, to live in a way that my life can be meaningful.

I give thanks for 2011, for the good and the bad, because they have shaped my year and made me who I am today. I don’t know what will happen in 2012, but whatever happens, may God’s will be done.