Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Holiday Between 11 & 12

Snowboarding at Mt. Baker, January 2011

Today, on my last run of 2011 - rounding out 1,290 miles for the year! - I got to thinking about holidays. After the dutch holiday Sinterklaas on December 5, New Year's is probably my favorite holiday. (Thanksgiving comes in a close third!) New Year's has all the trappings of a good holiday - generally some time off from work or school obligations, the opportunity to spend that time with loved ones, an excuse to make delicious food and enjoy it.

Sunrise Summit of Mt. Si, February

No matter how well-intentioned the original vision, so many holidays have come to revolve around spending copious amounts of money, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, eating copious amounts of candy, etc. I suppose it could be argued that New Year's can, and often does, include any or all three of these aspects, too - but for me, my hallmark end-of-year tradition has always been my annual New Year's Eve journal entry.

Ski Trip with Dad to Salt Lake City, March

In it, I recount my year's most memorable moments, new friends I made, books I read, movies I saw, songs I listened to on repeat far too many well as the standard resolutions list for the coming year.

Whidbey Island Half Marathon with Lauren, April

The last part is always the most exciting to me. This year, I've decided to call them "projects" instead of "resolutions". The word "project" connotes an ongoing process, a journey, as opposed to a simple destination. In a conversation with Elodie several days ago, we were discussing New Year's resolutions, and how common it is to have the same things appear on your list every year - and then to feel discouraged that things reappear year after year. I feel like "project" takes off the pressure for perfectionism. Arrival can be an illusion.

Unleash the Beast Adventure Triathlon with Team ONW, May

While I'll always vouch for the power of "SMART goals" (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely), I think most of what falls into the typical resolutions bin are not of that nature - but that doesn't mean they're not valuable. Last year, among other things, I resolved to "run more regularly", "read more books", "be more financially stable", and "care less what others think, and remember that my life is truly my own" - which are ART goals, at best, but missing the Specific and Measurable parts of the equation.

Ladies' Hike in Olympic National Forest, June

But does that mean that putting energy toward those things didn't yield great results? Heck no! 2011 was a really wonderful year for me, filled with a lot of love, laughter, great meals with great people, memorable travels, amazing runs and races, good reads.

Camping and Fireworks, July

I spent nearly half the year writing full time for a company I love. I also got to pursue my passion for web design in evening classes. I was able to visit both my parents, interview some inspiring people, and cook/host a lot of delicious meals with friends. My writing was published in Outdoors NW magazine, on the REI Blog, and on [what used to be called] Green Smoothie Queen. I read a ton of great books.

Angels Staircase Trail Run in the Methow Valley, August

Alan was home for a good deal of the year, and we got to spend more time together than ever before, cooking together, hiking, road tripping, moving into a much better apartment, exploring Seattle, and plowing through several seasons of Seinfeld, Mad Men and The Wire. I got to play a lot in the mountains, kayak, ride my bike, snowboard, snowshoe, hike, camp in the woods, swim in the river, and run a ton - as near by as around my own neighborhood, and as far away as heather fields in the Netherlands.

Dash Point Half Marathon, September

I was reminded that when I really focus on something (in the case of 2011, running), I can excel. I went from a year of injuries and subsequent low mileage to a year of doing a dozen races, five of which were marathon distance or longer. I shaved a full minute off my mile time, and nearly 20 minutes off my marathon time.

I even ran a 5K in a full-body giraffe costume!

Visiting Mom in Holland, October

One of my close friends got a new heart valve this year. Another moved to Hood River to start building a new life for herself. Another one got engaged to a wonderful guy. Another got his book proposal accepted for publication. Another found the courage to quit a dull desk job and start getting paid to be himself. Another saved enough money to take herself to France for most of 2012. Yes, it was a good year indeed.

Hosting Thanksgiving, November

Arbitrary as the first day of the new calendar year is, I like that rather than centering around consumption, it signifies to me a holiday of calm reflection. It embodies hope, empowerment, and the potential for positive change. It is the chance to imagine your best self, and then go boldly after it.

Snowshoeing on Christmas, December

Here's to 2012!

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