That's the End of 2009

I got a great email newsletter from David Allen (of Getting Things Done fame) about taking stock of the year's accomplishments and completions. He included a list of categories to focus on, which I am going to use to consider how 2009 was for me and what I'm going to change in 2010.


After a c-section in 2003, another in 2005 and gallbladder removal in 2007, 2009 was refreshingly free of major or minor surgery. I don't think I had a single episode of major back pain, either, so maybe I have finally figured out how to deal with that (mainly stretching, and strategic use of ab muscles). I did some running after school started in September, but a bout of H1N1 in November sapped my motivation and I haven't run since.

I recently went to the doctor for my irregularly scheduled annual checkup and everything checked up fine, but I have gained twenty pounds I wasn't entirely expecting. (I don't weigh myself at home so the pounds have lots of time to creep on between doctor visits.) I will be addressing that situation in the new year, along with everyone else in North America. I've been very self-indulgent with my eating habits lately—I need to be more sensible about that, and I'm going to switch from running to walking in the hopes that I can slip it into my daily routine easier. I also think that doing yoga regularly would cure most of my mechanical problems.


I have to admit this has been a difficult year for me, emotionally. I have been pretty unhappy about a couple of things—doing all the housework myself, for example—and have felt almost entirely alone with that unhappiness. Blake and I are rubbish at confrontation so I tend to never try and resolve problems with him. And they fester. As if that's not bad enough, I don't have an extra-marital emotional support system to listen and offer support and suggestions. I used to have my brother, then I had Sascha and my BF-as-it-turns-out-not-F Janet. My brother and Sascha got lives and Janet dumped me, and then Delphine was born, and I guess I haven't had any real emo needs since then, until this year. This year has been very emo but I've mainly dealt with it on my own, mostly in the basement while folding laundry. That sucks. Kat is a good ear, but I can't drop everything and cry on the phone to her whenever I'm unhappy. The laundry needs folding and she has a job.

Obviously in 2010 I have to do that a little better. What do I do? Make a new friend? One without a job or any children? Get a therapist? Start a private journal? Go to a marriage counsellor? I will have to figure something out.


Mentally I think I have held my ground this year. As I mentioned in my book blog, this year hasn't been terrifically intellectually rigorous, but I read a few thinky books and I've been keeping up with my Walruses and New Scientists. I'm happy and excited with my decision to pursue writing as a career. I love to read and think and write, and if I can possibly make some kind of money at it that would be awesome.

Next year, obviously, I have to kick the writing into a higher gear. It's very hard to get anything done in the two hours that Cordelia is at school, so I have to figure out how to focus my efforts in that time (less twitting and housework, more actual writing). I have both girls on a list for daycare starting in September, but of course paying for daycare demands that I earn an income. This is more terrifying to me than perhaps it should be.


I think I'm in the same place spiritually that I was a year ago. I don't think about it much. I don't believe in the supernatural but I derive a feeling of wonder from the immensity of the universe, from the magical unlikeliness of our existence, from my children. I try to be good. In 2010, more of the same.


We paid off our line of credit! Of course, Blake was on contract and he didn't pay taxes all year, so come April we may be in debt again, but for now we are debt-free. Hopefully a year from now we will be debt-free for sure.


My family is awesome. The girls are going through an utterly charming patch, and I'm happy with our parenting. I haven't yelled in ages! Next year, I hope that will continue. Five and seven are both supposed to be pretty charming ages, so that looks good.

Further afield, I would like to be closer to my brother. He just moved in with a girl who I know next to nothing about, and I have no idea what's going on with him generally. I should also call my mother more often. So should you, probably.

Community Service

Before this year I wouldn't have had a lot to say in this category, but this year I did a ton of work for my kids' school, and did it ever open my eyes to the amount of free labour the school boards of Canada get from parents. I worked in the library, volunteered in the classroom, helped run a craft room for a fundraiser, went on a field trip, was class parent for Delphine's class, and signed up to head the Eco-committee.

This year I hope to actually do something as head of the Eco-committee, and I'm going to try and pursuade our School Council to donate some money to a school without so many deep-pocketed parents. I suppose I'll be roped into running the craft room again next Christmas, too.

Fun / creativity / recreation

You know, I've been thinking about fun lately, specifically in the context of play. The children play most of the time and work hardly at all—Delphine works a little bit at school, and she has a couple of jobs at home, but most of her time is free time. Cordelia is four—she plays at school and she plays at home, and her only job is feeding the cat.

But when do I play? On the one hand I'm in the very lucky position of rarely having to do something which I'm not intrinsically motivated to do. I look after the children because I love them, I take care of the house because I want my house to be taken care of. I read and write because I love to do so, I have fun volunteering for the school. There is almost nothing I do that's pure drudgery. And a lot of what I do is pure fun: most of my reading, choir, my friendships, and watching TV are all things I do for myself.

In 2010 I would like to read more, and keep singing and seeing my friends. I'm even happy with the amount of TV I watch, or rather with the quality of TV I watch. I should try and use my time more mindfully, so I don't fritter it away. I have too much fun stuff to do to spend time doing things which are merely diverting.

That's that. It's 12:21 am on January 1. I hope everyone has a wonderful year in 2010!

(By the way, you can subscribe to David Allen's Productive Living newsletter here. I've only received one, so I don't know how good they generally are, but since I used the latest one to inspire this post I figure I should at least point you to the source. I do use the Getting Things Done system and find it very effective and comprehensive.)