2016 Survey

This survey is something that I found on the delightful Jolie‘s blog (someone I feel lucky to know!) but it was originally something she found on Sundry’s blog.  I thought it’d be a good one to sum up the year and a nice way to finish the year before we leap into fertility treatments.

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1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?

I sold a house and negotiated a redundancy. But the biggest leap for me this past year was going public with our infertility. Putting my name and face to my writing for The Spinoff Parents was both challenging and empowering. And the amount of positive, grateful feedback I have had has made it all worthwhile.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

My resolutions were threefold – my health, music, and travel. I was very passionate about yoga and eating better for a while but it kinda fell apart with all the stress. Music just didn’t happen, other than the occasional writing session. However, we did get our travel in! We ticked places off of our list and covered all of our “must do”s, leaving “nice to do” places until we go back for visits.

This year I want to have less expectations and just try and do my best to look after my body while we go through treatment/set our life up here. I want to find a job that I enjoy, with people I like, even if that means waiting for the right thing rather than rushing into something for the money. I want to set up my new house with love and care and intention, and live a more organised life. Small changes are what we’re aiming for.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

The better question would be did anyone close to me not give birth.  Well I guess my sister didn’t!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

We lost my Uncle Peter, and sadly I couldn’t be home to farewell him. Otherwise, the world lost a lot of great names. Leonard Cohen I felt deeply, and losing Carrie Fisher/Debbie Reynolds was tough at the end – Singin’ in the Rain is a lifelong favourite and Carrie’s writing inspired me. The world is better for having them all in it for their time on earth.

5. What countries did you visit?

Germany, France, and Greece! And then of course the USA on our way home to New Zealand.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

Well I’ll ignore the obvious answer, but the best thing about this year will be the time we get to spend with my family. After so many years of missing the big stuff (and the small), we will try and make the most of it. And as I said above, I’d really like a job where I don’t hate almost every minute.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Our 1st anniversary – April 11th, my birthday in Paris on April 26th, looking out from Oia in Santorini on May 19th, December 7th when we left our wee house, and December 14th when we left Scotland.

It’s going to sound really trivial and privileged (and I am always reminded of how lucky we are), but we were blessed to receive our house payment from the sale while we were still in New York on December 16th and it’s something I’ll remember for a long time. It was a really mind-blowing feeling to have money in our pockets. After so many years of taking trips and watching every penny (to the point of having a very tight budget set against every part of each day), it was strange and overwhelming to be in that city and just breathe. Capitalism is bad and all that, but it was a very strange, very liberating feeling. We lost a lot to the collapse of the pound, but have money for a rainy day so after a few treats for ourselves and family, the rest was put away of course! We’ve got to live on it and hopefully update the new house this year.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Writing more and being read by a wider audience felt like a wonderful achievement. Overcoming the stress that came from work/the move feels like an achievement – I think the key word for 2016 was definitely stress. I was in mental agony 35 hours a week for a long time and it felt like a huge weight was lifted when I finally left that job. I loved some of the people but it was taking such a toll on me to be there.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Getting further into debt instead of climbing out of it. Gaining even more weight/being more unhealthy than ever before. But as I’ve said, stress had a huge part of that, and now I’m debt free and working to live a healthier life again.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 2016 after other investigations into Crohn’s and chronic fatigue. After living with intense fatigue and a long list of other problems (seriously, google hypothyroid symptoms, your thyroid affects a lot), it was a relief to move forward. Since being medicated things have improved somewhat, but as we move into fertility treatment I imagine some treatments may change. The only injury was dropping a champagne bottle on my foot a week before we moved house! I don’t recommend it.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Probably the MacBook I’m typing on right now. I haven’t had my own computer in several years so it’s pretty exciting. And I’ve never bought myself something this new/fancy before. Otherwise my monogrammed Fossil handbag I bought on Fifth avenue is pretty special to me.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Not that I’m terribly political but Hillary Clinton was all class. She handled the waste of space that is DT with grace and I was proud to support her. Otherwise the support I received from close and distant friends regarding our diagnosis was a wonderful and humbling thing at the end of this year.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Well. Farage and his cronies, the UK Tories around the Brexit campaign, and then the orange moron himself, Mr President Elect. No more really needs to be said.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Getting ready to move/paying for services to move/binged on food and clothes to make us cheery in a difficult time.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

It’s awful, but leaving work/selling our house and losing that stress. I got really excited to be unemployed. Now I am, it’s so good but weird. I can’t think of much else I got very excited about. Tough year!

16. What songs will always remind you of 2016?

24K Magic, Can’t Stop the Feeling!, Xanadu, Vanessa Carlton’s OperatorSaint Claude by Christine and the Queens.

17. Did you make any new friendships?

I definitely got a lot closer to my online infertility group, and made a few new buds on Twitter.

18. Did you go on vacation?

Yes! Berlin in January, Paris in April, and Crete in May. All of this was squeezed in early in the year before we surrendered our passports so my husband could get his visa to live here in New Zealand.

19. What do you wish you had done (more and less) of?

More yoga/meditation to try and relieve the stress. More prayer even (I’m a terrible believer). Less eating McDonald’s, but hey. It helped at the time.

20. How did you spend the holidays?

With my family! All in one place. It was amazing.

21. What new food did you discover?

Not much, but this was definitely a year we had a lot of risotto. I always approve of risotto.

22. What was your favourite TV program?

Old favourites mainly – The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, It’s Always Sunny. We also rewatched the first 4 seasons of The Wire.

23. What was one of your favourite experiences of the year?

Driving around Scotland, especially my visits to Glencoe. And of course, Paris and New York. I love those cities. It was a dream to be in New York again after such a long time, especially with my love.

24. What was the best book you read?

Oh man you know what? I doubt I read a single new book. Shame. I read parts of books, and re-read a few old favourites. Couldn’t name any of them, I just picked things up occasionally.

25. What was your greatest musical or artist discovery?

Christine and the Queens, Broods, Chvrches, Joy Williams (though I’d loved The Civil Wars).

26. What did you want and get?

My house sold/out of my job/across to NZ in one piece.

27. What did you want and not get?

Pregnant.

28. What was your favourite film of this year?

My favourites have to be Spotlight, Deadpool, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Ghostbusters, Hunt For the Wilderpeople, and Arrival. Also really enjoyed The Girl on the Train, Captain America, Hardcore Henry, and Eddie the Eagle.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

We were in Paris! We spent the morning travelling to the airport early because of worker strikes. We’d already celebrated the night before with a strange Japanese dinner (where the staff only spoke French or Chinese) so the day itself wasn’t so important. I turned 32.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I hate to harp on, but infertility was the worst part of 2016 for us, so any success there would have been incredible/a better diagnosis. It’s crazy that we have to pay so much money to do something that everyone else does naturally, so we always hold out a tiny bit of hope that we get there without help, despite the crappy odds.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

Basics/simple. Bright prints, classic cuts. Very safe!

32. What kept you sane?

Dave. TV. My internet buddies. Writing. Shutting off my brain with video games.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

For me it’s always double-D, David Duchovny. That’s not changed in 20 years. Seeing him live in 2016 did nothing to dissuade that. I’m a dork, I know.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

The US election, maybe. But yeah. Now I’m in NZ I’m worrying less about that day to day.

35. Who did you miss?

My large crazy family and my close friends at home – it has been amazing seeing them all.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

All the new babies this year.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.

To slow down and don’t act so much on impulse. To put my health first. To not take any friends for granted.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Wind blows, covers every single track
If I wanted to, I couldn’t go back
Oh, I just keep stumbling
Oh, and it’s a sinned kiss facing unforgiving winds
Feel the cold, it’s creeping in, oh
And I just keep stumbling on

Oh, carry my body ‘cross the frozen ground
While the moon burns

I got miles and miles to go before I sleep
Before I can feel anything, before I’m free
I got miles and miles and miles…

– Joy Williams, Before I Sleep