December 31, 2017 we had a feast. A First Footing Feast. We love hosting dinner parties and our parties often have a theme. What theme could possibly be fitting enough for an at-home New Years Eve? “First footing” (or the “first foot” in the house after midnight) is still common across Scotland. To ensure good luck for the house the first foot should be a dark-haired male, and he should bring with him symbolic pieces of silver coins, coal, bread, salt, and a wee dram of whisky. We asked guests to bring these things and Noel made a feast. He even needed to craft a wood serving board to serve it. The food was excellent, company even better, we drank a lot, laughed til our stomachs hurt, danced on chairs, invited the strangers staying in our Airbnb upstairs to join us when they arrived back at 2-whatever AM. I also got my period during this party. Looking back, the party nicely foreshadowed the year to come.
Since high school, each year on New Years Day I write down a list of goals for the next year. I have a ten year journal. That’s right, a journal that encourages an entry every day for ten years. You don’t know where you’re going unless you reflect on where you’ve been. I look forward to setting those goals tomorrow. Thinking about the big picture, where I’m going, who I want to be. But for today, it’s time to reflect. Between the journal, my blog, and my Facebook page, reconstructing my year has reminded me of the ups and downs. The hopeful times and hopeless times.
“That goddamn period. This reminder of failure and being completely out of control. This physical fuck you.” ~January 1, 2018
What got me going was a new physical challenge: the Birkebeiner. I won an entry to this 55K race in October and quickly remembered I’d never cross country skiied. No matter, “I’ll do it with you,” Noel said. January was about a lesson and some practices at Lapham Peak on the weekends or after work. Gratitude for being outside, being active and healthy, even in Wisconsin’s cold.
Also, new adventure on my spiritual journey. Took my first class at the Milwaukee Shambhala Center, aptly on the topic of “strong emotions.” A few weeks later it was on to the weekend long, Level 1: The Art of Being Human.
“Feeling calm and in control of my ability to let go and accept more.” ~ January 6
Continuing some self care steps:
“Acupuncture is saving me…Trying to sleep 8 hours a night, not so awesome. I just lay there until regular bedtime.” ~ January 9
And also a month of reconnecting. There were several people this month who shared our dinner table. People who have been very important to me in the past and we’ve drifted either intentionally or unintentionally. In all instances, it felt great to be back. Noel and I reconnected with each other in the perfect staycation at the Iron Horse for our first anniversary. Wandering around Third Ward, enjoying my wedding cake redux, and brunching at Harbor House was the perfect setting to relax, feel special, and be with each other. It simultaneously felt like no time and so much time had passed since our wedding the year before.
The reconnecting continues for an quick overnight stay in the Big Apple to celebrate my beloved co-captain, Stormin’ DaCastle. Sharing the joy of her birthday and baby to come and spending time with roller derby friends in a non-roller derby way filled my heart.
With Noel traveling an increasing amount for work, there were many sister nights followed by family dinner nights to welcome Noel home. So grateful for this downtime with family. Happy to have my sister in the same house (albeit in separate space) and appreciative she and her boyfriend allowed me to third wheel. I took advantage of it fully.
Then comes the beast, the American Birkebeiner. A weekend away at the tippy top of Wisconsin a cabin made coziest by the hospitality and warmth of the people in it.
“We. did. it. Almost got pulled off the course at the halfway point but we made it. 3rd and 4th to last. Dark, snowing, pissed some people off but finished. Together. So, so proud.” ~ February 24
But, February marked an early emotional low point in the baby journey. Feeling weighed down by “doing everything right” but not getting the magic. The first time in a long time that I feel like I’m failing at something so important to me. I often got stuck in it.
March can be a messy month in Wisconsin. So it went for me too. The month begins with some strong spiritual messages. The first time I’ve had a mid-year tarot reading (rather than just my annual birthday reading). “Calm the fuck down” says The Tarot Lady. Shambhala Class on Self Doubt a couple days later echoes this.
“Black cloud of my own making, paranoia, radiating anxiety rather than goodness.” ~ March 3
Yoga begins, Shambhala continues, including another weekend class (Level II: Birth of the Warrior), and then one miracle day:
“The Baby Buddhist was born today. Feeling focused and a renewed enthusiasm.” ~ March 10
And while writing became an important outlet, testing the boundaries of what was inside I felt I could or wanted to share, I struggled with what would be my biggest personal challenge of the year:
“Workout woes…This will be the hardest part – moderation or lazy?” ~ March 5
Active all my life. Always focusing on the next big challenge. The exciting new race. I was encouraged by the literature I read and Jodie my wonderful acupuncturist to slow down, relax. Walk, don’t run. Nothing too hot, nothing too cold, nothing too sweaty. I truly didn’t know what to do with myself. That stir-crazy feeling set in and stayed with me. But we managed to have a little fun too. St. Patrick’s meant a bike ride to the pub for a car bomb on…
The new and oh-so-beautiful bike to replace my stolen Super Hera bike last year. Fuck burglars but the biggest of thank you’s to my husband who knows that a new bike can change your life. A fantastically festive group joined us for corned beef taste-test dinner party.
And bikes were out for a second time to see a production of Noel (and his entire family’s) most favorite show:
Early Spring means big events.
The Wheel & Sprocket Expo is truly a family affair. And as exhausting as the long days are, it is special to be a part of. This year’s e-bike test ride area was a huge hit. And, I sold bikes!!
The Street Law Mock Trial competition is another huge, anticipated event. The planning, the nerves, the outfits high schoolers think are courtroom appropriate, all the reasons it’s worth it to hand over those medals and trophies.
Also, all the more reason some R&R is much needed. Shocked, but so glad, I could convince my mom and sister to join me for a Shambhala meditation retreat. The time away together (with some weirdness) bonded us all.
We also had one epic weekend of dinner parties. “Fat Friday” unofficially became Falafel Friday after Noel found he could make better falafel than almost anyone else in the world. Murder Mystery Dinner the next night. Time with co-workers not at work, especially since we’ve had some personnel changes, was such a fantastic way to get to know each other as humans rather than stressed out public defenders.
A difficult month in many regards. Krissy (and Joe) leave us. Joe’s house buying hopes come true which means it now takes 8 minutes for me to drive to see Krissy rather than the trip upstairs. Work stress to the max. Just cannot seem to catch up and keep it together.
This makes weekends off so important. A weekend in Chicago with the motliest of motley crews from law school that fills my heart with so much joy when we can get together.
For Mother’s Day, it is bikes again to treat our mom to the best brunch in town.
There was also a royal wedding, sure to bring out the deepest of my crazy.
“Up at 5 to watch with Anna. Glad for a friend who says yes when the right answer is probably no.” ~ May 19
And the entire Memorial Day weekend was spent getting an early start painting in hopes we could escape early to use the unseasonably hot temperatures as an excuse for our first beach days of the summer. Imagine our disappointment when the sun disappears and temps drop as soon as we finally make it there.
Like the rest of the year, this month was replete with happy and sad reminders of the hopefulness and disappointment of continuing our quest for baby and coming up short. Watching my friend and co-worker grow and change over nine months and then:
“She’s here! Baby! After VERY taxing day amazed by the serenity of being in the lake again, knowing news of a new life was upon us. Inspirational, pure moments of hope and goodness. Surprised by the joyfulness. Grateful for it.” ~ June 28
Even the new excitement being a puppy-aunt combined with more time in the sun and in the water meant joy. Summer in Milwaukee is the absolute best and the place to be is outside.
Polish Moon ride
and lots of beach time for swims are the highlight of my year. Fun in the sun paused just in time to get the layers out for a trip to the Canadian Rockies as crew for the Chris Kegel Foundation fundraiser.
Summer heat can’t slow you down. Arguably the best month in Milwaukee. Best swimming of the year.
“Beach and bike = great. Give me all the summer.” ~ July 7
So much to do in the city, but first to another city. To Boston for the 4th of July to fulfill the thing at the top of our mom’s bucket list.
And in the journey of TTC, a jarring reminder that maybe it is time to refocus. The months of trying have caused some strain on us. Time to make sure we remember that we won’t be the best parents we can unless we are in the best place we can be as a team. Work stresses continue to pile up.
“Starting to feel the most tired of tireds. Every moment is filled with responsibility, to others or to me. But also every responsibility feels like a stepping stone. Can’t stop.” ~ July 12
The rushing, the responsibility, the work, the errands. My favorite time of year and so little time for myself. A highlight was getting drinks with a new friend one Saturday night. For once not worrying about how much is too much, just say yes.
And all worries aside as we host the best Riverwest 24 party of all time. Truly our favorite day of the year.
Still overwhelmed, the reprieve of swimming and being outside competes with all of the things I feel I should be doing. In the end, the lake, the family, and time away saved me.
“I’ve been neglecting all my writing duties and many others as well. Truthfully, I just don’t feel like doing much of anything at all. It’s not fatigue. It’s total lack of purpose.” ~ August 12
“Best swim of the summer and happens to be for 5K. Anticipated showing up and doing 2.5K but couldn’t pass up perfect conditions. It was a true joy. Folks surprised me with Hera banner. One of the best gifts ever.” ~ August 19
California for my birthday, including several days of just staying at the house was exactly right.
Coming back and diving into the first EVER Cream City Classic, swim in the Milwaukee River was perfect.
For the third year, another motely crew gathered in Green Lake for one more weekend in the sun.
A cool weekend getaway to Door County marks the last swim of the season and the official start of Fall. With swimming over and a marathon looming, time for long runs. The runs, never fun, but the excuse to spend some hours with Sissy weekly, priceless.
As are some of our best memories on bikes of the year. The Guerilla Grand Prix finale:
the Chris Kegel Slow Roll:
and Bikes and Brews, a self-led craft brewery tour on bikes:
From a self-care perspective, the cooler weather means looking to Shambhala a little more, just in time for the first women’s group. We do an art project every month. I can safely say it is still not a strength for me.
“Infertile. Guess it’s real now. Referral to fertility doctor. Sad pity eyes. Nothing else I can do for you. Oh, and 1.5 lbs over last week. Wine, Nutella.” ~ October 1
More tests, mean more anxiety, frustration and uncertainty. But returning to my foundation seems to put me back on track every time. A trip back to my hometown,
some more time with my man in a new place (Canada again)
exploring D.C. just in time for a physical challenge
before hosting a Halloween bash…just the ticket.
resuming house projects and dealing with the unfortunate realities of unexpected inconveniences:
Noel’s birthday Entertainment Extravaganza, and Mom’s private small town creole feast:
November seemed to be all about family. Perfect timing going into the holidays.
Oregon scouting trip
and aaaaaaaall the parties.
When I look back on this year, I see how full my heart was. And sometimes how heavy. Through it all were the people I love, especially the one by my side every day. I am so glad that the trials and adventures of this year have brought us closer than ever. That is the difference-maker as I think about 2019. We may not have received the blessing upon this house I hoped for one year ago tonight, but I’d say I’ve been blessed in ways I couldn’t imagine. And though I didn’t ask for them, I know they will make me and make us better. Last year, the dark-haired man who entered our door became a dad. Maybe that will be us this year. Maybe not. Baby or no baby, we have a family.
“So damn appreciative for what I have in this house and in this heart.” ~ January 15
Happy New Year to all!