a year in review – 2016

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
We opened our Christmas gifts on December 26. Also, I used “cloud” storage, although technically, I’ve done this for years with my email accounts.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For 2016, I said that I would try to “bloom where planted.” My success rate was maybe seventy percent.
For 2017, I made an effort late in 2016 to focus on the positive; I achieved that largely through getting lost in a favorite song, movie or TV show, probably because, when I look at my real world, I don’t see much worth focusing on. But, knowing that we see what we seek, I plan to look for something positive in my real life situations.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully, no… but we sure lost a lot of celebrities

5. Where did you travel?
one day trip, to tour the Rosenbaum House by Frank Lloyd Wright

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
My biggest dream is still to own a home. If I can get closer to that in 2017, that would be awesome. (This year, I did have the slightest inkling toward a plan/direction; hopefully this is the start of “getting closer”!)

7. What date or event from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
my boss’s frequent tirades, including an episode that occurred one hour before our company Thanksgiving lunch

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
finishing a website project that I’ve been working on for over three years

9. What was your biggest failure?
being a basket case for months when yet another new ailment — arguably the most disturbing one so far — appeared

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Oh, yes! In addition to the aforementioned disturbing new ailment, the worst cold/sinus/crud (plague?) I’ve had in years that started last December lingered well into 2016.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
hired someone to clear our large, overgrown yard

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The yard workers’. They labored almost eleven hours in one day, even cleared up a big mess left by a previous worker. The yard looked amazing, and my faith in hiring people was restored.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
again this year, my boss’s, whose antics — I realized — often border on “bullying”

14. Where did most of your money go?
household expenses

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
my mother’s release from the hospital

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
probably “Smoke Break” by Carrie Underwood, because work was often *just* that bad

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? … I honestly can’t decide.
Older or wiser? both?
Thinner or fatter? about the same
Richer or poorer? about the same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
found some perspective

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
been selfish

20. Did your heart break?
yes, when my latest ailment felt like the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back

21. How did you spend Christmas?
Two days before, my mother’s routine doctor visit revealed that her heart was out of rhythm, and I took her to be admitted to the hospital. She was still there on Christmas, so the day was definitely not our traditional holiday. Fortunately, she was released the next day, and we had our celebration then.

22. How are you spending New Year’s Eve?
Working on these questions. Later, the fam and I will probably watch DVDs, and then ring the new year in as we typically do: sleeping. (At least, we’ll attempt to sleep, because the neighbors usually go overboard with fireworks.)

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I still don’t watch any broadcast shows, opting instead for DVDs. This year, I expanded my collection to include two “newer” series: Chuck and Once Upon a Time.

24. What were your greatest food discoveries?
Bird’s Eye’s “Flavor Full – Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper Brussels Sprouts.” No longer can I say that I hate Brussels sprouts!

25. What was the best book you read?
Again this year, IIRC, I only read Christian periodicals. However, listening through the Bible on mp3, I’m almost finished with the Old Testament… and hearing it read is highly recommended, unless you have a degree in pronouncing long, Hebrew names. 😉

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I rediscovered The Sound of Madness by Shinedown.

27. What did you want and get?
job opportunities worth applying for

28. What did you want and not get?
a new job

29. What was your favorite film?
Captain America: Civil War

30. What did you do on your birthday?
My mother and I took a trip that I’ve talked about for years: visiting the Rosenbaum House, by Frank Lloyd Wright. Following the tour, we beat the lunch crowd at Rosie’s Mexican Cantina to enjoy the mahi mahi tacos (tacos). We stopped at the Florence Mall, where Bath and Body Works saved me some $$ by not having a single one of the fragranced lotions that I was looking for. Back home, I adjusted a few settings, and for the first time since a Windows 10 update that took two-and-a-half days(!!), I was able to use my computer again. In the evening, Mom and I watched the movie Home Fries.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
if, while I’m having to be strong for everyone, someone could be strong for me

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Lazy. With all the stress at work, most of the time my attitude was, “Eh, who is there to impress??”

33. What kept you sane?
To see, perhaps as never before, some pieces falling into place, and to understand that even the bad things are playing their part. (As Garth Brooks sings, “I guess the Lord knows what He’s doin’ after all…”)

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Sebastian Stan as both the Winter Solder in the Captain America film series and as Jefferson on Once Upon a Time

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
The election. I cannot recall two candidates for whom I’ve been less inclined to vote. As small consolation, it was gratifying that the media was inescapably confronted by how out-of-touch and one-sided their reports have become.

36. Who did you miss?
Speedy, our cat, has been MIA for several weeks. 😦

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Brittney, the hairdresser, who asks questions instead of accepting my brief, general requests

38. What changed the most in your life this year?
I’ve got the shortest hair since first grade.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
“Just because you feel it doesn’t make it real. Feelings aren’t a satellite dish receiving signals of eternal truth. Feelings come from beliefs. Change the beliefs and the feelings change.” Eric Barker, observer dot com (This is a lesson I heard and believe… but I hope I’ve truly learned it.)

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“If you opened my heart, you’d see I don’t have it all together.
If you took me apart, you’d see the worst of me wants to get better.
But You’re changing me, piece by piece
Into who You’re really callin’ me to be.”
~ “A Little Closer” by Group 1 Crew

new tag: b47eclectics

Some day soon I will cease fine-tuning the overhaul of eclectic, my so-called personal website; however, I will have material left over. My current plan is to follow up and add said material – from time to time – to this blog.

Enter the new tag, b47eclectics, as a catch-all to flag posts containing that supplemental information.

Perhaps having this material will move me to blog more often… but if not, pages and pages already await your perusal at eclectic:

http://www.rusted-crush.com/eclectic/index.html

in with the new: separate fact from opinion

Wrote this for my inspirational site.

some rain, some shine

It seems I’ve reached “that age” where I question choices I’ve made and look critically at where I am in many areas of my life.

Wait, that sounds a lot like my previous ages, too. Anyway!

To fight against these negative tendencies, I read articles about cultivating a positive attitude, and one tip recently stood out to me as particularly helpful: separate fact from opinion. They gave an example of not separating the two: “Of course I didn’t get the job. I acted so dumb in the interview!” That fact is that I didn’t get the job. The other is opinion, nothing more than me making assumptions.

Hearing it explained that way, I realized that confusing fact with opinion is something that often stresses me out, particularly when I consider one of my minor health issues; I start to focus on a recurring ache, and in my mind the situation…

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a year in review – 2015

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
tried hot tea with cream, got caught in a termite cloud, had a tooth “crowned,” developed stopped-up ears during a cold

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For 2015, I said that I didn’t “want my focus – my world – to be my problems.” Sadly, I let them be my world way too often. Also, I wanted to dwell on the truth that “God’s plans for your life far exceed the circumstances of your day;” I made it ’til maybe March then moved on to other truths as the year progressed.
For 2016, in light of my lesson learned (see #39) I will try to bloom where planted. Hopefully in ways that don’t feel like settling and giving up my dreams.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No – thankfully!

5. Where did you travel?
only to local cities that I’ve visited before

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
My biggest dream is still to own a home. If I can get closer to that in 2016, that would be awesome.

7. What date or event from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
learning that my personal data was stolen in one of the umpteen recent computer/network security breaches

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
getting some medical checks that I’ve been putting off

9. What was your biggest failure?
continuing to take setbacks too hard

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I did indeed, and at the same time! In mid-November, I told my dentist about my slight pain in chewing, and he found a crack in a molar. Two weeks later I went to get a temporary crown, and the following week I developed the worst cold/sinus/crud (plague?) that I’ve had in years. Four weeks since it started as I write this, and it’s much improved but it still lingers.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A shopping basket. I frequent Aldi grocery store, where they don’t give bags, plus the Walmarts in this area never have baskets available.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My mother’s and my sister’s. We have our rough moments, but we always hang in there. I’m ashamed to say it took someone else giving me a glimpse of the way it could be to make me appreciate what I’ve got.
Runner-up: The electrical contractor at work who told me, “You look nice today.” No one ever tells me that, certainly not attractive, buff guys: Mister, you made my year!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
My boss’s. To say the least, he often shows a lack of respect.

14. Where did most of your money go?
household expenses

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
my time away from work (see #13)

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?
“Colder Weather” by the Zac Brown Band. When it looked as if getting a house was going to happen, the “can’t wait” lines in the song made me positively giddy. When that dream crashed, I was back in the “winter season” where I’ve been for quite a while… “stuck in colder weather” as the song says.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? sadder
Older or wiser? older
Thinner or fatter? about the same
Richer or poorer? about the same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
laughed

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
had to fight the same battles, namely having to repeatedly call contractors, repairmen, and others – for both work and home – to ask when they will do what they’ve repeatedly said they will

20. Did your heart break?
Yes, when I tried to achieve my dream of owning a home only to find it painfully out of reach.

21. How did you spend Christmas?
My mom, sister and I opened our gifts around nine-thirty, after I set up our low-frills video camera. I took pictures of our unwrapped gifts, and we cleaned up. We had a light, early lunch and headed over to spend the afternoon with my cousin and his family. I drove back – and there, for that matter – in the pouring rain. (Hello, tropically wet and warm Christmas!) Mom and I finished the day watching Sleepless in Seattle.

22. How will you spend New Year’s Eve?
I’ll be holding down the fort at work along with the 2 or 3 other people who are not on vacation. Later at home, the fam and I will probably watch DVDs, and then ring the new year in as we typically do: sleeping. (At least, we’ll attempt to sleep, because the neighbors usually go overboard with fireworks.)

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I still don’t watch any current programs, opting instead for DVDs. This year, I expanded my collection to include three “classics” that I’d never seen:
The Rockford Files, Hart to Hart, and Felicity.

24. What were your greatest food discoveries?
cornbread salad

25. What was the best book you read?
IIRC, this year I only read Christian periodicals; most of my reading time was spent on the computer, usually working out an inspiration I’m having for a certain website project.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The local jazz radio station, Clint Black’s greatest hits CD (5 bucks at Big Lots!), and several great songs from the free offerings at Amazon.com, including “Not Coming By” by Emma Lee

27. What did you want and get?
I’m closing in on a decent way to wear my hair. The mileage varies at this point, but there is a thread of consistency, so I’m encouraged.

28. What did you want and not get?
My own home. I attempted to go forward with this long-time dream by consulting with a builder and a bank; it seemed as if it was going to happen, but it didn’t. I was heartbroken for quite a while, but I’ve come to accept that this simply wasn’t the right time.

29. What was your favorite film?
Films Seen This Year and Really Liked: Avengers: Age of Ultron and Mission Impossible 5

30. What did you do on your birthday?
Took the day off of work – my gift to myself. (Seriously.) Checked Facebook and thanked the well-wishers. Watched a few videos on-line. Made lunch. Enjoyed the delicious chocolate cobbler that my mother made. Shopped a little and took some pictures for a project I was working on. Moved my comfy desk chair so that I can watch TV in it.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If certain people hadn’t seemed so determined to hone in on the worst in me. (News flash, “certain people,” if you look for the worst – in anything – you *will* find it… as will I. The challenge for us is to work past that and find common ground.)

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
Inspired by my recent advances in styling my hair, I’ve been pairing my jeans with nicer tops for work. Maybe a slightly better outfit will boost my okay hair to slightly-better-than-okay…?

33. What kept you sane?
Faith. I admit, I continue to struggle to live it out. But as Peter said to Jesus, “Where else can we go?” So, I press on. And I continue to find that the struggle is worth it!

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
The closest would be, while watching The Rockford Files, I study Jim Rockford and drool, “Sakes alive, a MAN!”

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
As I heard it said a few weeks ago, “Football playoffs *and* an election year? It’s almost enough to make you quit Facebook.”

36. Who did you miss?
my former boss

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Sateria, the cleaning lady at work, who is so personable and a hard worker
My cousin’s neighbor also stands out because of her exceptional conversational skills. She contributed to the discussions without monopolizing them and – what really impressed me – recognized when others were being left out and tried to include them.

38. What changed the most in your life this year?
My previous boss retired in January, and we moved to a new office in February.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
“The comparison game is a losing proposition. God has something for you, but you’re never going to find it in someone else’s backyard.” (heard on the Carlos and Joy radio program, WAY-FM) It’s becoming clear to me that I also won’t find it in my fantasies, or in the way I think things should be.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“Your world’s not fallin’ apart: it’s fallin’ into place.” “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns

those things I do, 2015 edition

Has it really been four years since I’ve written one of these? Hmm, I seem to recall passing thoughts of such a post each of the past three years, but more pressing to do’s got in the way. Truth be known, I probably wouldn’t have done this one had I not been on vacation from work this past week. Anyway! Here are some of the things occupying my time.

* enduring changing conditions at work. In January, the boss I’ve had for the 2.5 years at my current company retired. His former second-in-command took the reigns, and for several months, it was the nightmare I had feared. To say the least, the new boss is a micromanager, and his default state of impatiently oozing with sarcasm was only made worse by his promotion. I was to the point where I was regularly checking the job listings, because to think of staying indefinitely with that man in that highly negative environment was too much to bear. But I found out in September that our contract was only renewed until March of next year. Although the higher-ups express confidence that we’ll get another renewal, I’m not counting on that. In any case, I decided that – as things have calmed down a bit – I’ll at least try to make it through the end of this year. Can’t quit before I get all of my vacation and holidays, right? 😉

* mentally projecting myself elsewhere. From a recent letter to my friend Michele: “Thank you, thank you, thank! you! for the b-day graphic with Tom Hiddleston. If seeing the trailer for the movie you mentioned reminded me of him, the suggestion of running away to Bali with him has (happily!) planted him front and center in my thoughts. Plus it has been giving me much-needed mental escapes since I first saw the b-day graphic. Back at work on the second, I was so inspired that I did a Bali image search and changed my work computer background to support my daydreams. I imagine myself standing on that balcony, in that beautiful, exotic, romantic place. I’m looking out at the scenery; he’s standing behind me with his arms wrapped around me, and I feel so protected, and relieved that he’s taken me away from all the stress and bad mojo at work. :sighs dreamily:”

* chewing carefully. I’ve been having sporadic pain in one of my molars when I chew a certain way. During my dental cleaning earlier this month, I mentioned this pain, and in his inspection, the dentist spied a crack under the filling. Last week I went for a temporary crown, with plans to go back for the permanent in a couple of weeks.

* reading carefully and carefully considering my diet. I’m still dealing with the eye symptoms that started back in November of 2013. It (eye strain?) tends to flare up after long sessions of reading/computer time, and so I’ve continued pacing myself, taking breaks and cutting out “extra” reading. My side (gall bladder?) issues have also continued, but have also been pretty mild, and I like to think it’s because I’ve made a concerted effort to eat as nutritiously as possible… well, as is possible without spending a fortune of $$ or an excessive amount of time researching and planning exactly what “nutritious” means.

* making sure Aldi gives me the sale price. I’ve been going to the Aldi grocery store near work almost every week for well over a year. I’ve been loving their low prices, but recently I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in which the additional markdowns noted on the shelf don’t make it into the cash register. My response is to hold such items to the end of my order, and as the cashier reaches for it, I quiz, “Are these the ones that are (insert sale price here)??”

* desperately seeking new music. This time last year, the 80’s and 90’s music radio station that I’ve enjoyed for several years started to play Christmas music full time. Alas, when that ended, they changed their format to country music. My sister defaulted the living room radio back to the repeat-o-songs station we had previously, but their non-variety has irked me more than it did before. I guess, having heard some actual variety, I’m not ready to give it up. So I’ve been exploring other options. I’ve downloaded quite a bit of the free music Amazon has to offer, plus I discovered that we have a local jazz station. (Jazz is SO calming on my way into work. :big smile: )

* possibly closing in on a decent way to wear my hair. Years ago, I worked with a lady who shared that she would be going the next day to a hair appointment. With delight, she declared that she would then be “lookin’ decent.” That phrasing struck a chord with me: it sounded humble and yet attainable, although for me, the quest remains. But I refused to accept that the only styling option for my latest lackluster ‘do was a helmet-y mom bob, and I ventured to try some techniques that were brand new to me. And at least twice I have *loved* the results. Unfortunately, the aforementioned techniques involve a lot of dumb luck, and now the challenge has become replicating a love-able (read “decent”) look. Fortunately, I have a picture! I will call in professional help if I need to. And if my attempts in the mean time look a bit weird, I shrug happily that I like it better than my previous Bowl Head, and I put my hand on my hip, hold my head up, and carry on as if I meant for it to look this way. (For you Buffy fans, as a confidence-booster, I tell myself, “I wear the hair: it does not wear me.” 😄 )

* tried in vain to build a dream. As I’ve mentioned repeatedly on this blog, my long-time dream is to build my own home. Earlier this year, I took the first steps by talking to a builder and a bank, but I ran into a brick wall, and I’m sad to report that it wasn’t the one that I envision as a focal wall in the sitting area by the new kitchen. I was bummed out… devastated, actually … about it for quite a while, until I accepted that this simply wasn’t the right time. In retrospect, I realized that to continue the way it had been going would have meant settling. I definitely need to think more about what I want, and now I can do so more intelligently, with what I learned in this initial effort.

* waiting on people to do what they say they will. (Grr!) Before Memorial Day, we noticed that our roof was leaking by the chimney. A lot. (No doubt due to the fact that, while in the attic, you could look up next to the chimney and see daylight.) I contacted the roofer. Six to eight weeks later, a guy shows up and works on it. Still leaking! I texted the roofer again – as this seems to be the only way to get through to him – and he immediately responded with apologies… and then weeks went by with no word. I finally texted again. In early November, the guy finally came out again, and his patch job seemed to have worked… until my Mom just reported that she sees another leak. :pulls hair out:

* finally(!) getting back to website work. Much of my free time has been spent working on the new layout for my so-called personal site. I didn’t realize how much I had missed my website hobby, but I’m so glad to be back at it, even if I must do so gradually to avoid aggravating the eye issues mentioned earlier in this post. Actually, having to take my time on it has turned out to be a blessing, too, because it’s giving me a chance to consider my options for each step. Hopefully, if this continues, whenever I do finish it, I know it won’t be perfect, but I can feel as if the final project is complete, the result of a good effort.

unfortunately, that *is* my hair

I wrote this a few haircuts ago.

I went for a haircut earlier this week. The stylist asks if I want the usual, and I said yes. However, as I left, I checked out my reflection and was chagrined to discover that my so-called usual is a bowl-ish Gidget ‘do. 😦

As I turned on the car, I’d left the radio on a country station, and “That Ain’t My Truck” by Rhett Akins was playing… at the part where he sings, “This don’t look good at all.” Good thing I don’t believe in omens!