So now that the obligatory best-ofs are out of the way, what did 2012 mean to me?
Overall, I'd say it was a great year. Probably the best I can remember.
A large part of that was due to having the chance to travel and see some of the world. People who've known me for years may laugh at that, because I have always been somewhat cynical about travel. But I can honestly say that it was the best experience of my life. Just being some place totally unfamiliar and having the chance to absorb and learn and experience it. And to do it alongside Jen and others we love. It was awesome.
I haven't written much here about our trip, largely because I'm not sure how to put it into words. It was challenging at times. I read somewhere before I left about being an introvert and travel, and how it brings with it its own set of challenges. But I think I prepared myself well and was careful to take time out at times, I meditated every morning and I think that those things really helped to centre me. And as it turned out, I think I was probably happier and more "present" during our trip than I have felt for years. It really helped me to avoid over-thinking (one of my greatest flaws) and just go with the flow of the day, to be open to what was happening and just enjoy it. And I think for somebody like me that was an achievement. I set the goal for myself before I left to be a positive, calm and kind person on the trip, and I did my best to achieve that.
The next challenge has been to try to continue that after coming home. I have had some success and some setbacks, which is to be expected, I guess. But overall, I think that the trip helped to make me a happier, more confident person.
I've also been a lot happier at work this year. I have been acting in a different section at work, and have discovered that it *is* possible to have a workplace where people support each other, and are positive and kind, rather than stabbing one another in the back. Who knew?!!! Anyway for the first few months I was still tense and worried but gradually I have adjusted and I have discovered that it is possible to have a job without it making you feel miserable and constantly watching your back. So that's a plus!
As mentioned, I have started meditating this year, properly, after flirting with it for years but never doing it properly. I wouldn't say I'm in any way an expert at it, but I've at least made it into a habit, and I can honestly say it has made a huge difference in my life. I have really noticed a difference in how I approach my day and the way I deal with stresses. And the times when I don't do it, I always regret it, because I can feel that equilibrium is lacking. Of course, you still have good days and bad days, whether you meditate or don't. But it just sets me on a better platform to deal with the things that come along.
Some of my major goals this year were working on being more "present" and less in my own thoughts. I think I've definitely succeeded to some small extent, but I still have a long way to go. That's just who I am; I've always been an over-thinker. There are benefits to that, and drawbacks. But I'm working on finding a greater balance and living more in the "now". Part of that is having fewer expectations; about accepting the world as it is without wanting to bend it to the way I think it should be. Well, sometimes I still try to bend it (because I'm right, dammit!). But I'm working on it.
I have deliberately stripped away a lot of the goal-setting in my life over the last few years. Part of that was trying to be more available to the present moment, rather than always working toward some imaginary future. And part of it was trying to find more stillness and silence, to enable deeper thought and creativity. That's something I'm still working on; it's hard not to fill your time with busy-ness. And it's natural, isn't it, to want to read more, watch more, learn more! But I've learned that constant consumption tends toward shallowness of response, and I'm working hard toward allowing myself room for deeper reflection.
That can be challenging at times; like a lot of people, I have used busy-ness, in the past, to avoid being alone too long with my own thoughts. But as I've become happier and more centred, that's something I have gradually become better at. Again, it's a work in progress.
I've learned a lot about myself, too, and have read a lot of books this year about self-growth, or whatever you want to call it. Which sounds naff, but some of them have been really helpful. I have faced the fact that I am probably always going to be somewhat introverted and over-sensitive, and I need to find the best ways I can to manage living in that way, rather than comparing myself to other people who are more outgoing and confident. Again, easier said than done, and some days I still beat myself up about my lack of social skills, my inability to develop friendships and my apparently inexhaustible supply of ways to sabotage myself in social groups. But I try not to be too hard on myself; that's just who I am, and nobody has all the answers. We all just manage as best we can.
One thing that I have learned is that if your intent is good, a lot of the other complexities in life just melt away. If you turn up, and do your best, then that's all you can do. Yes, self-reflection is part of that. But you will never have all the answers. You can try to learn from any experience, but in the end all you can do tomorrow is turn up again, do your best again, and hope for the best.
Anyway, that's probably enough self-analysis for me this year. Did I mention over-analysing?
I hope whatever physical and emotional events have shaped your year, that you have come through them stronger, wiser and kinder. May your 2013 be full of laughter, learning and love.