Saturday, December 31, 2011

Adios, 2011

First of all, I think 2011 was the fastest year ever. Seems like it was only yesterday when I was writing my retrospectives of last year in The Last Word on 2010. And now here I am writing about yet another year that's passed.

So here's what I can tell you about 2011. The first of the year found me involved in a major project at work. The month of January is a blur now, because I was working so hard -- even working sixteen-hour weekends. One of the reasons I was pushing my limits was because we had a trip planned in February and I knew that couldn't be changed. We went to El Salvador with a group from Habitat Charlotte, staying in Santa Ana and commuting everyday to the worksite in Candelaria de la Frontera, near the Guatemalan border. It was a most amazing experience. If you haven't already, you can read my blog entries by clicking 2011 and February over on the right side of this page and locating the El Salvador links there. (Or you can click here and begin with the first El Salvador entry.)

Although I didn't realize it at the time, this would be our only trip outside the USA in 2011. Part of the reason for this is that my company only provides 10 days of vacation per year (you get more the longer you stay, of course). So going to El Salvador took up more than half of my vacation for the year. But it was worth it.

Not long after I returned to work from vacation, we had a slight reorganization in our department. I was assigned to a new team, with a new boss, new co-workers, and a new client. Although I missed working with my old team, my new team pulled me right in, and in no time we were rockin' it. As the year went by, I began to get more comfortable in my new role and I have to say that I really like the type of work I'm doing now . . . developing leadership training and talent management programs.

The other big thing happening during the first part of the year was that we were spending a LOT of time at the farm. In late February we planted our spring garden, from which we were harvesting by April. We planted a summer garden in the spring, and continued to harvest all the way until July or August. I learned that farming is HARD WORK, and you really need to be there more often than just every other weekend if you want to keep the garden free of weeds, bugs, and other pests. Let's just say the weeds in North Carolina grow almost as fast as Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors.

We've done quite a bit of work on the farmhouse. The first project was to build a deck in the back. It looks great! We installed some fencing for the dogs, so they have a place to hang out and watch us when we're working outdoors. Most recently, we started renovating the hallway. We removed paneling and put up drywall. This is a work in progress - when it's finished, I'll post some before & after pictures.

In May, we learned that our rent in the nice city apartment was going up by something like $300 a month. Although I liked the apartment a lot (and loved the location), I wasn't willing to pay an extra $300 per month. So the search for a new home in the suburbs (closer to the office) was on. In June, we moved just across the county line to Union County. Here, we're just four miles from work and a half-hour's drive closer to the farm. We're renting, so we don't know yet if we'll get to stay here beyond next June, but we do like the house and the area.

Two major things happened in July. First of all, S started working at my company, which was great because we could carpool. At about the same time as she started working, we moved her Mom up here to an assisted living facility. There was a lot of drama around that, and it was a very stressful time. About a month or so after we'd moved her, a series of events necessitated another move - this time to a memory care facility. I've been learning a lot about things like dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and memory care this year.

Sometime in August, I decided to make some major changes in my life. I changed my diet and started exercising regularly. I began entering some local walking/running events, and completed five 5Ks and a 7.5 mile walk over a three-month period. In October, I decided to start running, and have been slowly but surely working my way to being able to run a 5K. Unfortunately, this has resulted in zero weight loss. However, I feel better. And my massage therapist says I've gained a lot of muscle, which is probably the reason the needle on the scales isn't moving. I just need to keep it up. Maybe 2012 will (finally) be the year I shrink.

The holiday season has been amazing. Last weekend, we celebrated Christmas on the farm. It was probably the best Christmas ever.

2011 has been a pretty good year for us. We've enjoyed our time on the farm, hanging with my parents, growing veggies, and working on home improvement projects. We managed to get a couple more passport stamps. We're taking better care of ourselves.  There's a lot to be said for simple living!

Welcome, 2012. Hopefully, you'll be kind to all of us. And if you're reading this, I hope that 2012 will bring you lots of joy and happiness. Happy New Year!!!