I’ve made a choice to generally avoid getting too personal on this blog. Its purpose is more about creating a community of folks than it is about me airing my personal feelings. I’d like to make a little exception to that today, as I’ve worked pretty hard to prepare an end-of-year post that takes a thoughtful look back at what I’ve learned in 2006. Thank you to Benjamin over at Instigator Blog for encouraging all of us to take a few minutes to really consider what the year taught us. (He's even doing Something Good by donating money to chairty for each participant up to $300.) I would typically post this in my personal blog, but it turns out that the final lesson I learned was the biggest Something Good of them all. The post truly belongs here.
At the last minute, my husband Rob and I decided to spend New Year’s Eve of 2005 with some friends in Lewiston, Idaho. We packed up our little car and hit the highway. The grand plan was to visit our friends Tim and Annie. Tim’s co-workers were having their twice-annual LAN party, and Rob was excited to join in with our new laptop. Annie and I intended to stay at the house listening to music and scrap booking over a few beers. What a nice, calm way to usher in the New Year.
When Rob and I travel in the car, we generally turn up the stereo and sing along until we reach our destination. There’s not a lot of talking other than, “Let’s stop for gas,” and “Do you want a pop?” But this trip was different. It had been obvious for a couple of weeks that Rob had something on his mind. I took the opportunity to bring it up, and we spent the next two hours talking about our expectations and goals. It was absolutely awesome.
One of the biggest things I learned from that conversation was that Rob really felt it was time to buy a house. I was excited about the idea, as well, but I wasn’t too sure that we had cleaned up our credit enough from the financial disasters that were our respective college experiences. We talked about how when the weekend was over we would return to Spokane and visit our credit union to see what we needed to do to get in shape to buy a house by the end of the year.
While the house buying decision was one of the biggest things I learned, another even more important decision came out of our conversation. We decided that 2006 was going to be our year. Quite honestly, we’d run across some fairly hard times in the few years preceding 2006. Money was tight, relationships were severed, and we dealt with our own personal struggles. It was exhausting. It really seemed like it was time for us to have a really good year.
New Year’s was wonderful, and we returned home rested up from our lovely visit in Lewiston. We made an appointment at the credit union expecting to ask for advice on how to continue to clean up our credit so that we could get in position to purchase a house in 2006. Instead, we were told that our hard work had paid off and we'd done a great job of fixing our credit. We were already in that position. How exciting! Our first major attempt at making 2006 a great year was full of hearts and puppy dogs.
It took another two months to find the right house for us. We must have driven by 400 houses and gone inside at least 50. It was totally worth it, as we ended up finding something better than what we had come to think we could afford; and it was at an even lower price than our maximum limit. The house finally closed, and we moved in on April first. It was so exciting and crazy. It was also a good sign that 2006 really was already turning out to be what we’d hoped.
I won’t get into every detail of our year, but it definitely had its high and low points. I got offered a great-paying job and lost it two months later (definitely a learning experience). I got to spend some good quality time with my aunt, but my mother moved to Arizona (learning to rely on the phone). Rob went on several search and rescue missions, although they weren’t always fortunate enough to find the subject alive (each search is a learning experience for the next one). It was definitely a year of balance. For any negative thing that happened, it seemed like something wonderful happened to offset it. Could it be that this was something new, or has it always been like this and I didn’t notice because it wasn’t our year?
Personally, creating the Something Good blog (and now the web site
) has been an amazing component of this year. After keeping a personal blog for three and a half years, I realized that this was a wonderful medium in which to share ideas. It’s amazing that it took me that long, wouldn’t you say? I wanted to be able to help make the world a little brighter, more positive place. I wanted other people to be excited about making it a brighter, more positive place. With a little trepidation and self-doubt, I went ahead and tried it anyway. And it worked!
I have spent the last couple of months learning everything I can about blogging. I’ve been able to really use some of that knowledge, and some of it has sort of gone over my head. I’ve figured out that LiveJournal might not be the best place to have a public blog, but I’m still here for now. I’ve also learned that being able to research and write about things that make me feel good about myself really kicks butt. The fact that other people have gotten something out of it makes it all the sweeter.
On a simple level, I have learned so much this year.
- I’ve learned a lot about the home-buying process, for example. I know what questions to ask the home inspector and how to shop around for a lower interest rate. I know which neighborhoods in town I do and do not want to live in. I also know that Rob and I have very compatible taste in houses, which is really quite good news.
- I’ve learned that you need to watch your step when you work for other people and that just really wanting to fit into a culture doesn’t mean that you will.
- Because of this blog I’ve learned that vinegar will get my windows clean, that World AIDS Day has a different theme each year, and that sometimes you just have to suck it up and get stuff done. I’ve also learned that creating this blog is so important to me that I will spend an entire vacation reading up on possible topics.
When I look back on 2006, however, I think that the number one thing I will have learned is that sometimes you can decide that everything’s going to be OK. It doesn’t always work out, of course, but sometimes it does. Rob and I decided 361 days ago that 2006 was going to be our year, and it turns out that we were right. We really did Something Good by setting that expectation for ourselves. I am skeptical that it would have seemed like such a great one if we hadn’t been ready to accept the good things it had to offer. You can bet that we’ll be expecting the best from 2007.