My last post on gresik.ca was almost a year ago, so I have a lot to catch you up on. And yes, in keeping with the global trend, 2016 was a pretty tough year in my life and household — in fact, my Word of the Year was not a word at all, but just an inarticulate groan of misery. But good things happened too … so here’s a quick skip through the last twelve months.
January and February
My depression, which returned in 2015, took a big downward spike over Christmas, thanks to homesickness and burnout. With the expert and compassionate support of my psychiatrist, I upped my meds, but it took about two months for me to level out again.
Thankfully I’ve been mentally stable since then, and I’ve continued sessions with my therapist, Annie. I’m amazed at the power of long-term weekly therapy, which I’ve never done before. After a year of work with her, I feel like we are still just getting to the good stuff.
March to June
My mental health recovered just in time for our family to enter crisis mode. My kids are at an age where I don’t want to write too specifically about what they’re going through, but I can say that for most of the spring, it was just one traumatic thing after another. I was spending significant time every day doing emotional interventions with the kids, arranging and attending professional appointments, communicating with the school and other parents … it was exhausting and scary.
Crisis mode meant that I had to drop everything anytime the kids needed me. I often missed my weekly writing Meetup, or church, or optional work events, or social outings. I couldn’t go away on my own for a day or two. Life got really small and intense.
July and August
The school year couldn’t end too soon. In fact, we cut it short with a three-week trip to Ontario to decompress and visit family. We all needed the break, and it was wonderful to have downtime. We spent a week with my in-laws, a week at my family’s cottage, and a week in Ottawa. We celebrated at our nephew’s wedding. Shawn and I left the kids with my parents for a few days and we had a twentieth-anniversary getaway in Bobcaygeon. The kids and I rode crazy rollercoasters at Canada’s Wonderland. It was just what the doctor ordered.
Things stayed low-key when we returned to Vancouver. Swimming lessons, day camp, Pacific National Exhibition, bike rides in Stanley Park. My grandfather passed away while we were camping on the Sunshine Coast, and I was able to fly home for a week to attend his funeral and grieve with my family, which is a testament to the fact that the kids were out of crisis and I could leave them for a bit.
Back-to-school had even more meaning this year, because the kids were returning to a brand new school building after two years of being bussed to portables at another location. The new space helped shake up some of the troublesome dynamics, as did their new classroom placements. They’re still having challenges, which we’re working away at, but everything is at a lower, more manageable level.
October and November
With more breathing space in my work schedule, and with new insights from my therapy work, I made a commitment in October to return to fiction writing. I decided to revisit a short story collection that I started years ago, and I began working on it regularly. This book will be my major creative project of 2017 so I hope to share more about it as I go along.
I also started recording a Pilgrimage of Desire audiobook, using the free recording space at the Vancouver Public Library, and I am very close to releasing a paperback version of Pilgrimage as well. The ebook has been out for almost two years and is still selling steadily, so I’m excited to make more versions available.
December is all about Christmas. After last year’s disaster, I decided that priority number one was to make sure me and my family came through the holiday happy and healthy. Everything else was optional. So I did better planning and got things done early. We also skipped stuff that was just too much. And I’m happy to say that priority number one was accomplished.
December is also when Cairene MacDonald’s new virtual coworking space opened! Homeroom is a great place to get regular support and encouragement, especially for us work-from-home creative types. I’ve been posting there almost every day and I’m looking forward to continuing my apprenticeship in systems crafting and energy management with the Homeroom community.
So there it is, a quick recap of 2016 to get you caught up on where I’m at and explain why I haven’t been around so much. I’m hoping to change that in 2017. And as Mary Poppins says, “Well begun is half done.”