2016 in Review

Year end is always a time for reflection. A time to take stock of who we are, where we are, and how far we’ve come. For me 2016 has been mostly glorious. As some of you may know, Adam and I had been trying to get pregnant for about a year when our wish came true and we learned we were expecting. On September 5, 2016 we welcomed the arrival of our precious daughter Ezra Elizabeth Sylvia Thurlow. We have spent the last four months in awe and amazement watching Ezra grow and develop. We are constantly astounded by how quickly she learns new skills. Her smiles make my heart happy and I can’t stop kissing her little face. I can’t wait to watch her grow throughout 2017 as she says her first words, learns to sit by herself, crawl, and walk. We’re eagerly looking forward to her first time fishing and camping this summer and cross country skiing and snowshoeing this winter. So many wonderful memories to be made.

However, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge that this year has been a rough one globally. The world has lost a long list of notable people. Among them, a few hit me harder than others: Alan Rickman, Anton Yelchin, and Carrie Fisher. Star Wars, Star Trek, and Harry Potter played a huge part in my childhood and I will be forever grateful for the contributions each actor has made.

And then there’s the political mess. Nova Scotia is at odds with its educators and health care system, the United States is at odds with itself, and England is at odds with the rest of Europe. How we’re going to dig ourselves out of this I don’t know. But to say I’m worried is an understatement. My fingers and toes are crossed for smooth sailing.

As far as my resolutions from last year go, I feel good about what I was able to accomplish. My biggest goal was Ezra and she’s perfect, check! Adam and I also made a concerted effort (mostly because our budget was drastically altered once I was on maternity leave) to reduce our spending, to eat at home more often, and to spend more time with family and friends.  I even found time to learn how to sew. Not well, but I can operate my machine at least.

And so, as we embark onto 2017, I am grateful for the lessons of 2016 and looking forward to the lessons of 2017. I have been fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful family and friends and, with the addition of Ezra, 2017 promises to be even better.

Happy New Year and love to you all!

Aptitude

Aptitude by Natalie Corbett Sampson is an intricate machine made up of many complicated moving parts and powered by human emotion. Sampson’s ability to convey complex human emotions, without explicitly describing what is happening, leaves me in awe. In such a black and white world, the characters seem to exist in a place of grey. It’s impossible to determine who was right and who was wrong or who deserves our empathy. I would love to hear Toan’s perspective of this story. If there’s one thing I wish this book had, it’s a sequel.

When the Day of Evil Comes by Melanie Wells

I was riveted to this book page after page. It certainly has the creep factor — I slept with my light on a couple nights after reading this book before bed.

The voice of the piece is anchored in faith and belief in oneself. The message that the voice of this piece left me with is that you can persevere regardless of what you’re faced with. Though the novel has strong overtones of Christian faith, it isn’t an in-your-face-believe-in-God book.

The main character is likeable and relate-able. She was real. Her reactions felt instinctual and raw, never predictable. I could have used more information about a couple of the characters who were mentioned a few times, and are important to the story-line (Joe Zocci for example), just to help ground myself in who I was dealing with, but for the most part, the characters have depth and tangibility.

That being said, the author introduces several elements in the first half of the book which aren’t satisfactorily explained when the book is completed. My problem isn’t that the book doesn’t have a tidy ending — because it does have that — my problem is the tidy ending doesn’t fit. Why did she receive her mother’s ring and how did it come to her — how is her mother related to the events? Why was Gavin in the story — how is his story related? I need more information about the flies — what are their importance? I understand that they have biblical reference, but I need more information about that passage in the bible — where does it come from and what is its significance?

I would definitely recommend this book to fans of paranormal and psychological thrillers, murder mystery, as well as anyone who might need a boost in self-confidence.

Apartment Gardening: Plants, Projects, and Recipes for Growing Food in Your Urban Home by Amy Pennington

Amy Pennington’s “Apartment Gardening: Plants, Projects, and Recipes for Growing Food in Your Urban Home” has some good information for first time gardeners (i.e. me), but not all the information I was looking for. I was interested in learning about how to care for common vegetables/herbs/fruits that I could successfully grow in containers on my balcony. What I found in this book was care information for uncommon vegetables/herbs/flowers/fruits such as chervil and lovage. While I appreciate learning about new foods to try, this information doesn’t help me learn how to care for my celery, onions, or broccoli.

Pennington also includes some recipes and designs for DIY projects and ways to use the things you harvest from your garden wholly and in unique ways. I also appreciate this as I’m an avid DIYer. Foraging is mentioned briefly at the end of the book but not in great detail.

In summary, I appreciate the expanse of topics Pennington has included in her book. Definitely gives the beginner a small taste of a variety of ways to garden in an apartment setting. I would have appreciated a bit more in the “What to Grow For Real” section that touched on more common vegetables that I’d be more likely to grow at home.

Inertia

Do you ever get in a funk? Do you ever feel like, really, your life isn’t this messy jumble of half-finished, and well-intentioned, projects — that it’s just been momentarily stalled? That’s how I’ve felt since this past January. This happens periodically. Especially after a particularly productive period — which is what happened between September and December of last year.

Last fall and early winter, my husband and I, started making our own household cleaners and hygiene products. We made most of the Christmas gifts we gave out by hand. And I landed a full time position as an administrative assistant. I felt elated and on top of things; organized and clear. Something happened between December and January that brought that feeling of clarity and purpose to a gradual halt.

Now, I feel at a stand still — inert.  I don’t know how to regain that forward momentum. I suppose this process is part of the natural ebb and flow of life. But, somehow I don’t think everyone feels as guilty as I do. There’s no reason to feel guilty at all. I’m not shirking any responsibilities but, I feel like I’m not doing all I could be doing and that this makes me a failure.

I often wish I had a different brain — one that doesn’t try and convince me that I should be doing more and be better. And, that if I don’t achieve more and do better, I’m not enough. I get aggravated with my brain for its failings. I feel it should be better than it is. And then it hits me: that is just another way to convince myself I’m not quite enough.

And so it occurs to me that maybe I should spend more time not striving to achieve and more time appreciating what I do accomplish on a day-to-day basis. I know I’m a hard worker, and I know our household is run well. I also know that having half-finished projects is an indication of my productivity, not an example of my laziness. But, sometimes, it can be difficult to remember these things. For now, I’ll remind myself that who I am right now, and what I’ve accomplished so far, is pretty great. I’ll take some time to appreciate what I have rather than wishing for things I have not yet done.