2011: The Year in Review

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2011: The Year in Review

If I were to title 2011, I would have to go with either:

The Year I Got My Ass Kicked: How I Learned to Love the Smack Down


Troll Attacks: How to Survive and Prosper.

To say it was a year of peaks and valleys would be an understatement. I’m not going to bore you with the gory details. Let’s suffice it to say that at the beginning of the year I decided to crawl into the swamp and deal with whatever I happened to find. The trolls showed up in spades.

At times, it was scary, it was intense, and it certainly wasn’t fun.

Here’s what I learned:

When Things Don’t Work Out, There’s Usually a Really Good Reason

I’m the first one to say in times of trouble, when one door shuts; a window opens.

This year doors weren’t just shut, they were slammed. I watched the death of several projects, I watched people I admired do really selfish, rotten things, and I had people I thought were friends let me know they weren’t.

No, it’s not fun living through heartbreak and disappointment. What I came to realize is that I made bad choices. For the first time in my life instead of fighting through it, instead of rationalizing, instead of holding on, instead of compromising my principles, I let go. When I let go of the bad, the good showed up, because we all have to…

Feel It, Deal With It, Release It, and Move On

As girl whose old motto was Never Let Them See You Sweat, this was not easy for me. But I decided to stop building walls and stuffing everything down and pretending things were ok when they weren’t. I gave myself permission to wipe the smile off my face and just take whatever I had to take and feel whatever I needed to feel.

I yelled when I needed to yell. I cried when I needed to cry. I talked when I needed to talk. I crawled under the covers and hid when I just couldn’t take one more thing. Because…

Walls Don’t Work

At some point during my early teen years,  I decided that the best way to protect myself was to build walls, so I built walls: tall, thick, serious walls. They kept me safe and hidden and that was good. I needed a haven. On the down side, it is impossible to operate in an authentic way when you’ve place four feet of solid stone that is thirty feet high between you and the rest of the world.

While I operated as if there were no walls, everyone can see the walls. I mean a wall is a wall. It’s right there, right?  You can’t just not see it. While many people were willing to indulge my eccentricities and a handful were even willing to wait me out until I felt safe enough with them to creep out, not everyone took the time to peek over or walk around or scale it.

While those walls kept out the bad and allowed me to hide those parts of myself I don’t like, they also kept out a lot of love and they hid my sweet, tender bits.

I assumed that when I started to tear down the walls people would run from me like I was nuclear waste. Surprisingly, for most part, the opposite has been true. It turns out those icky, smelly parts can’t survive in the light of day and some of those things that I so detested really weren’t that grotesque. Because…

I Don’t Have to Go It Alone

During the entire course of the year, the right people had this amazing way of showing up at exactly the right time. This just didn’t happen once. It happened over and over and over again. Sometimes multiple times in one day.

There I’d be, trying to tie a knot in the end of the proverbial rope and someone would show up and say exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. They confirmed hunches, gave me a new perspective, offered a voice of reason, and sometimes were just a shoulder to cry on. I’ve been inspired, motivated, and brought to happy tears on more than one occasion. I’m forever grateful to everyone who was willing to put themselves out there for me via phone, text, the internet, or face to face and I began to realize that…

Life Is Not A Stage, So Stop the Act

I’m good at slipping in and out of roles: wife, mother, business person, teacher, volunteer. I have spent a lot of my time assessing and emulating others. We all crave connection and belonging and it’s natural and frequently beneficial to dress and behave like those with whom you are trying to connect.

But somewhere along the path, I lost sight of who I was. I had a closet full of clothes I didn’t like and was surrounded by things that didn’t uplift me. I spent my time doing things I didn’t enjoy. I felt like a caged bird and I wasn’t singing.

I thought I HAD to be a certain way. What I realize now is that I just have to be.

I was afraid that if I dressed and acted and did what I wanted that people would think I was crazy or selfish or stupid. I was terrified that I’d be branded as a bad mother or wife and that I’d be rejected, put down, or shunned. I came to realize…

My Notions of Who I Thought I Was Suppose to Be Were Killing Me

I decided to challenge the notions. No more play acting, no more dressing up, no more rehearsals. It’s just time to get off the stage and go.

As awful and heartbreaking as many of the experiences I went through this year were, I wouldn’t undo one single solitary thing. Not one tear, not one disappointment, and not one heartache. As I look towards 2012, I know I’m far from being done.

In 2012, I get to unravel this life I’ve created. I get to take the whole thing apart and try to make sense of it. And maybe if I’m lucky it’ll come back together better than before.

Feel free to join me on the journey. It’s always more fun with friends.


  1. Wow. Love the new blog. Your own place. Love the moving header, but most of all, I love what you wrote. Well thought out, well said and so flipping true.
    Fear is an awful motivator.
    I’m in for the ride… can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store for us!
    Press on, dear friend!

    • Thanks for checking it out. You know I read every post you write and am so inspired by you. It’s so nice to have a kindred spirit to travel along with.

  2. Wow! Have you been reading my diary or something? My story’s the same and I’m sure we’re not alone.

    Sometimes I feel as though Life is controlling me instead of the other way around, but it feels like too much trouble to stand up to it. The passive-aggressive existence is really tiresome though, and I find that the more I try to force-fit myself in, the more I can’t stand myself. The little voices that tell me i can’t do anything right just get louder and louder…

    Y’know, I think I’ll clean out my closets and try to give myself a little credit this year!

    Cheers–and here’s to the new year! (we really need to get together sometime!)

    • Carol, I remember when you and I were bright and shiny and new and painfully hip and cool. Those girls are still in there we just have to let them out. After you clean out the closet, we’ll go shop. I have my eye on a sparkly top. My daughter promises that I can pull it off. I’m sure you can make it work too.

  3. Beautiful. Words and images.

    • Thanks. WordPress hasn’t done me in yet and I lucked out with the images. A girl can do a lot with iPhoto.

  4. Denise – I have to say that I feel where you are coming from and have experienced many of the same emotions this year. You have a friend in the journey!

  5. Thanks, Tracy. You made a positive difference in my life this year and I appreciate it.

  6. Beautiful, beautiful. “Walls Don’t Work” particularly resonated with me; I know I lived behind high, thick walls during my marriage, and often felt like a caged bird who had lost her voice. I have come a long way in the ten years post-divorce, although the failure of my engagement knocked me flat for a while and I feel like I am just now finding myself again. Here’s to lessons learned and a shiny New Year! And, oh, can I go shopping with you and Carol? 😉

  7. Beautiful blog and awesome post =) Great job for acknowledging walls, the acts and getting that you dont’ have to walk this path all alone. And Letting go of the walls we built over the years can open up a whole new, exciting world for us.
    I am looking forward to explore this whole new world with you and hear more about what you are creating in the year 2012.

  8. Denise, what a wonderful way to begin your blog. And right there, you opened your heart to everyone. Thanks for reminding me that greater things ARE possible at a time when it doesn’t feel like it. I look forward to your future adventure.


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