2016 was a bit off for everybody, to put it mildly.

For me, personally, I started off the year in the hospital with blood poisoning and infected kidneys. I was  six months pregnant. I was on so many drugs I vaguely remember a nurse saying “happy new years” in a darkened room. I had a skin cancer scare the resulted in minor surgery and, in its defense, the friendliest form of skin cancer you can get. That was 7 or 8 months pregnant. I had another hospital visit when my blood pressure went so high they thought about inducing me early, but luckily didn’t. I had a baby in March (not at Norwescon, as many had hoped would happen) with a man I couldn’t stand to be in the same room with. I went back to work after three weeks and just in time for peak season and a building a move. In the middle of peak season I was moved into a position I barely knew after someone rage quit and I was the next closest to knowing it while I didn’t know half. That whole season was a blur between the stress and a new baby and life stuff in general.

I fell in love. And had my heart broken. No fault here – we were simply in very different places in life. But there was a noted rise and fall on the chart here for 2016. I learned a lot, and still consider them a friend, and one of my favorite people.  Just…life. You know?

A major player that cannot be ignored here is self-responsibility. While some of my poorer decisions happened in 2015, it was a great example for future endeavors. And you know what? I still believe everything happens for a reason. The work stress prompted me to take another look at education and classes that would lead to something better for me. The relationship, compared to previous, was definitely a step in the right direction but prompted personal growth. The constant, constant stress I was exposed to, from high-risk pregnancy to work, taught me that I really don’t handle stress well, and that taking action in the future and making better decisions can prevent a lot of that. In the end, I write my own story. And in 2016 I earned a ton of experience points. Some of the lessons were a bit obvious, and I don’t see getting much XP for those, like don’t have a baby with an asshole. In my defense, he put on a good act when we were dating.

But I’ve already gone more negative than I’d like. Don’t even get me started on politics. I think we all can guess what we have to look forward to. But you know what??? Nothing like the idea of nuclear war to promote the “live each day like it’s your last” mentality.

Love your people. Be generous. Be kind. Don’t make time for assholes. Don’t let anyone drag you down. If there was one major thing I learned this year, it is that I alone am responsible for what happens in my life and my happiness. Others can be jerks, no doubt, but I have to CHOOSE to let them affect me.

In 2017 I have so much to look forward to. And I have so much work to do. I have a number of conventions I’m excited about, and a work-in-progress I am SUPPOSED to be working on. There are a ton of good books I have yet to read, and author friends coming out with books this year I haven’t seen yet.

2016 had its moments – In the middle of all the stress I made amazing new friends and a new minion. My kids remain fantastic and teach me something new daily. I started to cut back on animal products. Started eating better. Funny enough, also baked a ton of pies and brownies and cookies and other delicious goods. I attended Rustycon, Norwescon (I remember half of it, maybe, I was on a lot of medication for the blood pressure) Westercon, Randycon, and my favorite Cascade. Let of a con and more of a workshop, but a lot of familiar faces. Not bad for being as busy as I was.  I submitted a handful of short stories, which were all rejected, but it is something J I went “camping” in La Push with friends, and stayed in a cabin near Rainier.

This next year will have more friends, familiar and new. More adventures. I want to go to Canada. And out camping, for real, in a tent by the ocean. I want to visit peeps in Portland and eat ice cream and hit a brewery. I’m going to finish a damn first draft. I’ll go to Cascade again. I’ll add more cons. I’ll attend favorite cons. I’ll drink wine with my favorite people. I’ll find even more fantastic places to eat, though I have a favorite sushi place and waffle place now, and that’s something. I’ll do even more things with my family. It’s going to be a good year.

2016 had a lot of firsts. I got into tabletop games. Given my kid schedule though, I don’t get to play as often as I may like. But I am definitely making time for it when I can.  I went on a first date with someone I met from the internet. It went better than I’d anticipated. Though I still retain some skepticism. I started Doctor Who. Still need to catch up. I was on some panels at a con and tried to act like I knew what I was doing. I commissioned art from a kickass artist friend. I had an editor interested in my work. I submitted my first short story and earned my first rejection.

It’s hard to throw 2016 in the garbage all together. I love a lot of people. I had some great experiences. There are a lot of parts I wouldn’t change, even knowing how they’d end. I may be consciously naïve, but dammit – Everything happens for a reason.

I choose the good. I choose to do better. I choose to develop my relationships with my kickass tribe even further, and to add to it with the caution I’ve earned from past mistakes. I choose to bake goods when it makes me happy. To write. To be vulnerable. To put myself out there. From everything I’ve learned this last year, bad things will happen. But it’s what we choose that determines the outcome.

And now… Pictures from this year that make me smile. Not in chronological order, at all.

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Second hospital visit – High blood pressure. Gibbitt comes and visits, sneaks me out to cafe. Brings me pudding. We love Gibbitt. Thanks for busting me out.

 

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Rustycon, in my top 2 favorite cons, at a place that servers breakfast (favorite), with some of my favorite people. Rustycon is in 2 weeks!

15871317_1815480895359412_1154033152_nFinn babe. You were a lot of work. I love you ❤ Even while you’re currently crawling on me like a cat and making typing difficult.

 

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In August 75% of my minions age up. This year we celebrated at Alki Beach.  Their second time there. It’s a lovely place.

15871195_1815480935359408_152306842_nThe girls went on their first airplane ride with their dad to visit family. Siri looks so grown here 😦 I missed them, and the couple weeks was the longest I’ve been without them, but I had a new baby, and if there was going to be a more decent time to go, I had my hands full.

15841514_1815481305359371_1979742548_nI went out to dozens of beautiful places when my kids were at their dads – Things to pass the time. Times to socialize. There was sushi, waffles, pizza, drinks and one of my favs – the Pie Bar in Ballard. This was a berry pie and a strawberry margarita. I highly recommend. I look forward to new places in 2017 with new people, and familiar faces. Dating is awkward. Dating is even more awkward as a single mom and a super dork. Food helps!!

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Noah man and lead minion explores journalism in his school at the end of last year (2016, 4th grade). Think he wrote more than I did!

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Pumpkin patch with family friends. There were goats, and swings, and slides, and pumpkins, and tons and tons of mud.

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Pax starts kindergarten.

 

15822273_1815481335359368_1928856551_n“Hole in the wall” at Rialto beach.

 

15822480_1815481075359394_2075958223_nGirls playing on Alki beach on a super hot day in August.

15841042_1815480948692740_645404755_nWilliam feeds baby Finn, dubbed by friends as “Finn Loki Skywalker”.

15822450_1815481062026062_676204336_nLovely faces in my critique group at Cascade Writers workshop in July (Tacoma).

15822115_1815481055359396_1622227716_nOne of many bbqs at a friends place. Summer is the best.

 

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Halloween with my loves. It was a long and stressful year, and these babes put up with me. And I love them even more for it ❤

And I’ll leave on the minion army – I’m lucky to have them. This next year will bring even more wonder ❤ 15870583_1815481328692702_23882478_n

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