Monday, January 5, 2015

2014 Year in review

It's that time of year again -- time for looking back on the year that's just ended, and looking ahead to the year that's now beginning to unfold. (I meant to have this posted on New Year's Eve or Day, but the best-laid plans, etc.... I'm 1/2 Ukrainian so let's just say I have until Jan. 14th, which is New Year's on the Uk. calendar, lol.) 

I started doing this year-end meme four years ago -- and, although I feel like many of the answers don't change much from year to year, it's still a great way to look back and keep track. Feel free to use the questions on your own blog (& let me know if you do!).

(I actually found another "year in review" template and was debating whether to use it instead this year. Maybe I will do it as well, if there's not too much overlap... we'll see!) 

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

As I have said in the past, I don't really make new year's resolutions anymore -- they tend to be pretty much the same ones, year after year. So here are the perennials, and the progress I made (or didn't) in 2014:
  • Lose weight.  I actually did lose about 10 pounds in the first few months after I lost my job, which made me very, very happy!  :)  I've kind of plateaued (sp?), but hopefully once the weather gets nicer & we can start walking again, more pounds will come off.  
  • Exercise more. (And hopefully lose more weight...!)  In the first few months after I lost my job -- since we now had more time for stuff like exercise (always a great excuse in the past) -- dh & I started taking walks together. We'd head out after breakfast and before taking our showers, for about 45 minutes, three to five times a week.  A nearby high school has a beautiful paved track, and we'd walk up there, do a couple of laps and then walk home again by a slightly different route.  It got to be something we both looked forward to doing (and of course, seeing the number on the scale get lower was a big incentive to keep doing it...!).  My scale is old and not entirely accurate, but between July and December, I lost somewhere between 10 and (not quite) 15 pounds.  I could obviously stand to lose more (much more...!) -- but, it's a good start!  ;)  However, since the advent of colder & wetter weather, we haven't been out at all (and I haven't checked the scale lately). I am hoping to look into yoga classes at the local rec centre in the new year to help bridge the activity gap until the nicer weather returns in the spring.    
  • Write more in my journal (blog??). Haven't written in my paper journal in years. Blogging: Being unemployed has been good for my blogging output as well as weight loss.  I wrote 96 posts in 2014, which was more than I wrote in 2012 or 2013 -- but not quite as many as the 99 I wrote in 2011.     
  • Read more of the books that have piled up around the house. (Need to do better at this... the faster I read, the more I buy, it seems... yikes!) I didn't do quite as well as 2013, when I read 26 books, or one every two weeks. I read 20 books in 2014 (21 if you count the one I started on New Years Eve & finished Jan. 2nd while still on vacation), 16 of which I have reviewed (so far!) on this blog. Of course, one of those books was Mark Lewisohn's opus about the Beatles, "All These Years: Tune In" which, at 803 pages, plus notes, I would argue, should probably count as at least 2 books. ;)   
  • Tackle some of the clutter that never seems to go away. ("Some" being the operative word...)  Since losing my job, I have substantially reduced the magazine pile in the corner of the living room, taken a couple of boxes of kitchen paraphernalia and bags of clothes to Goodwill, and have started taking baby steps toward culling some of our book collection (ouch!). I also threw out an embarrassing amount of old makeup and skin care products that had either dried up, looked or smelled "off" or that I knew I would never use (especially now that I am not working & putting on makeup every day), and have postponed buying new skincare products, bath gel, etc., in favour of using some of my vast collection of miniatures, accumulated through years of "gift with purchase" specials. But there is still lots of scope to do much more...!
  • Finally do something with the spare bedroom that was to have been the nursery (get new furniture & linens to replace dh's college apartment castoffs). Still on the to-do list... 
  • Set aside the nephews' scrapbooks for awhile, & start a scrapbook for dh & me (that will hopefully be finished in time for our 25th anniversary in 2010). And maybe (finally) start Katie's, too. Sadly, have not done any scrapbooking since fall 2009.  I have more time now (& still have a TON of supplies to use...!), so I am hoping to carve out some regular time for scrapbooking into my schedule in the new year.
2. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

Lost my job. :p :( 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes, Parents' Neighbours' Daughter gave birth to Princess #2 this fall. :)

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Thankfully (& knocking wood), nobody close. I did attend a couple of funeral home visitations for relatives of dh's cousins and for the (much-older) husband of a friend. 

5. What countries did you visit?

Spent the Victoria Day long weekend in May in the U.S. (Minnesota, specifically), celebrating my uncle & aunt's 50th wedding anniversary with my extended family. It was an expensive mini-vacation (made me feel very cosmopolitan, jetting off for the weekend with a carry-on in tow) -- the airfare was ridiculous -- but I am very glad I went.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

More calm, less drama. :p  :( 

7. What date(s) from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Valentine's Day, when Oldest Nephew proposed to his girlfriend (eeekkk!).

July 22nd, the day I lost my job.

Dec. 1st, the first official day of dh's early retirement (after he lost his job in April 2013).

The day this fall that Princess #2 arrived.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Surviving all the upheaval, both personally & professionally. Not crying in front of my senior VP as she told me I no longer had a job.

9. What was your biggest failure?

It's hard not to feel like I failed in some way by losing my job.  :(   I probably should have looked for another job within the company or even within the department years ago, but I was (mostly) happy with what I was doing (until right near the end, anyway), and I wasn't keen to take on any major new challenges at this point in my career, and hoping to hang on until I retired in another few years. Oh well.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Thankfully, no. A few minor colds & assorted aches & pains, but nothing that a couple of ibuprofen couldn't fix. 

11. What was the best thing you bought?

 New dishes this fall. :)    

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Malala Yousafzai (again). So happy she finally won the Nobel Peace Prize. (Take that, Taliban...)

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

As usual, politicians continue to top my list. Although I don't live in the city of Toronto proper, it was a relief to finally be (more or less) rid of the Ford Brothers after this fall's elections! :p 

Also, while I'd heard rumours about the creepy behaviour of a certain well-known Canadian radio host & interviewer, the scandal that erupted this fall was still quite a shocker.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Beyond the essentials of daily living, and savings, our biggest indulgence is probably reading materials -- books & magazines.

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

My Minnesota trip. :)  So glad to be able to share the occasion with my family. I have missed too many of these over the years.

Oldest Nephew's engagement.

The arrival of Princess #2.

The possibilities of life in retirement, post-work.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?

 "Let it Go" from "Frozen" -- both because it was ubiquitous, but also because it was a bit of a message for me personally.  

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?

(a) happier (b) slightly thinner (c) slightly richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

While I got to do a lot of things this fall & Christmas season that I didn't have time for when I was working, there were still a few things I wanted to do that didn't get crossed off my to-do wish list (e.g., the Christmas market in the Distillery District, the Donny & Marie Christmas show). Maybe next year?

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Last year, I said, "Worrying. It never does much good anyway..." This proved true again this year. I was sooooooo incredibly stressed at work for the first six months of the year. I was trying so hard to "step up my game" as we were all told we had to do (and wound up making some really dumb mistakes, probably as a result of the stress). And I still lost my job anyway.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

In the usual way:  with my family (my parents, sister & her boyfriend), for a slightly longer period this year (because we could...!).  Mostly indoors (because it was damned cold most of the time we were there...!).  Entertained by near-daily visits from the Little Princesses.  ; )  Playing lots of cards & dominos.

21. Did you fall in love in 2014?

Never fell out. ; )

22. What was your favorite TV program?

My favourite continues to be The Big Bang Theory. : )  Of the new(er) shows, dh & I both get a kick out of "Bob's Burgers." Sad to see the end of The Republic of Doyle (series ended), and the rebooted Dallas (cancelled). :(

23. Do you hate anyone now that you did not hate this time last year?

I don't think so. Hate is a pretty strong word. There are certainly some people I think less of than others. 

24. What was the best book you read?

I read a lot of great books this year (& I reviewed all but the most recent of them at least briefly on this blog). The one that really stood out for me, though, hands down, was "The Beatles: All These Years: Tune In" by Mark Lewisohn. I cannot WAIT until the second volume is published!! I've heard possible dates as early as 2016 and as late as 2020 (noooooooo......!!!).  

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

As in the past, I must admit, I don't listen to a lot of new music.

26. What did you want and get?

New dishes and new glasses (although I am still adjusting to them...!).  Early retirement (albeit a lot earlier than I had planned and not by my choice :p ).  Time to more fully enjoy the fall and Christmas seasons.

27. What did you want and not get?

Still waiting on that sunspot vacation. ;) 

28. What was your favourite film of this year? 

We saw 17 movies in 2014 and they were all pretty good.  I think my favourite was probably "Guardians of the Galaxy."  I'm not hugely into comic books or superheroes (although I did think "Captain America 2:  The Winter Soldier" was pretty good), but this one was a whole lot of fun. And I LOVED the 1970s soundtrack (for obvious reasons, cough cough...). ;)

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

I was 53. It was a Sunday, so we went for dinner at our favourite steakhouse on Saturday night. On Sunday afternoon, my actual birthday, we went to see the movie "Inside Llewyn Davis" (as I wrote here).  54 coming up shortly...!

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

I had a hard time thinking of an answer for this one. Not losing my job?  Frankly, I'm not sure that continuing to work would have made my year more satisfying. It might have been nice if they had fired me BEFORE I planned & took my summer vacation (instead of the day after I returned)... a vacation which, by the way, I took at a time that wasn't my first choice, in deference to a colleague who was heading off on maternity leave. Had I known, I could have stayed longer and maybe headed to a big family reunion with my parents. Oh well.   Less stress generally would have helped a lot. Hopefully now that work is not an issue, stress will be less of an issue in 2015.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

In the latter half: yoga pants & T-shirts, lol.  My new uniform!!

32. What kept you sane?

I have to say that while losing your job is not a pleasant experience, the stress I was feeling for the first half of the year was worse -- so while it certainly comes with its own associated stresses, losing my job probably did, ultimately, keep me sane. It gave me more time to take walks, read, spend time with dh, and generally enjoy life again.

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

This was another one I had to think about. I'm still an admirer of Malala, Col. Chris Hadfield and Pope Francis, as cited in last year's meme. Elizabeth Warren in the States is another name that popped into mind.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

The centralization of power and extreme message control in Ottawa these days concerns me. Scientists, for example, are not only having their funding slashed but they are not allowed to tell the truth as they see it. (And if they do, the government ignores their advice anyway.)  When ministers and MPs do speak, it's almost Orwellian to listen to them. Time for an election, I think...!

35. Who did you miss?

As always, my daughter, and my grandparents.

The Princess (and now, her baby sister!) -- only getting to see her twice a year, and occasionally on Skype, sucks. :p

My childhood best friends. Don't get to see enough of them. :(

I miss some of the people I worked with. (Some. Not all, lol.)  I miss being downtown (although I do NOT miss the daily commute, and the 5 a.m. wake-up call that came with it...!)  and the daily interaction with the baristas at the Second Cup and Tim Hortons, the father and son who ran the newsstand and the husband & wife couple who ran the lottery counter. I sometimes wonder if they wonder what happened to me?

I miss the little salon near my office where I had manicures, pedicures and waxing done for the past 20 years. Alas, even if I still worked downtown, it's not there anymore. The owner retired and closed up shop this fall. I went to a local nail shop recommended by a former coworker, and they were pretty good (also reasonably priced), but my feet were just not quite as silky smooth afterwards as my old pedicurist got them.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

(I will have to think about this one.)

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014. 

Keep your resume & list of accomplishments up to date. I hadn't dusted mine off in years, and trying to pull all those details from the recesses of my memory was an experience I would not care to repeat in a hurry. 

And on a related note, never keep anything at your desk at work that you couldn't easily leave behind. I was fortunate that my personal things (framed photos, coffee mugs, stuffed animals, etc.) were packed up & shipped to me at home. And, when I asked about them, they also sent along all of my performance appraisals & benefits files (with insurance receipts, etc.).  Not all companies might have done that -- I really should have kept copies of those kinds of things at home. (It was much easier to finish revising my resume once I had that information on hand!)  Fortunately, I did have copies of some (although not all) of the publications I had worked on at home.

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

"Let it go.... let it go..." ;)

New Year's Eve 2007
New Year's Eve 2008
New Year's resolutions for 2009
New Year's resolutions for bereaved parents
New Year's Eve 2009
New Year's Eve 2010
Year in Review 2011


  1. An excellent summing up, Loribeth. I hope 2015 is filled with love and adventures and great books and movies. And lots of blog writing too, of course.

  2. 2014 has been a very big transition year for you. You've written a lot about what has happened and I've learned a lot, which is helping me a lot now as I'm at a crossroads with my own career path. I hope you get back into scrape booking and that your trip to MN is a lovely one (btw: where exactly are you going?). Wishing you a 2015 that is filled with smooth sailing.

  3. What a wonderful way to sum up your year!

    Regarding the Beatles: Apparently Kanye West and Paul McCartney recorded a duet that was released on NYE. Many of Kanye's fans came out and said that the song was great and that they think it is so cool that Kanye launched this unknown guy's career. Unbelievable! Anyway, I thought of you when I first saw the story.

  4. Kudos to you for adjusting so well to your new normal. I went through a similar upheaval the previous year and man, is it hard.

    I'm with you on this! "More calm, less drama."

  5. 2014 is the year that I found your blog and I'm so glad I did! I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know a bit about you ... You have offered so much insight into many things, including how to cope with unforeseen circumstances so gracefully. I admire your ability to "let it go" even when it is so incredibly hard to do. I raise my glass to 2015 with you and hope it is bump-free and beautiful.

  6. You know what, this is no small thing: "Surviving all the upheaval, both personally & professionally." You did so with grace. It was such a stressful time and you moved through it on your own terms. Well done.

  7. I'm so sorry you lost your job this year. I'm not surprised to see you handling it with grace and wisdom. They were fools to let you go, obviously. Hoping your 2015 is a wonderful year.

  8. Oh gosh. I used to do that meme. I gave it up a few years ago (around the time that we started dealing with IF, actually). But that brought back memories LOL. Sounds like an eventful year...hope things come together for you in 2015.

  9. You are 1/2 Ukrainian! I'm 1/4 Ukrainian. I always get excited when I meet/know other people from Ukrainian heritage. My last name is Ukrainian... that was not that fun growing up.

    Anyway, fabulous review. Very insightful and a great summary of what happened for you last year.

    I agree on more calm and less drama!

  10. @Nicole -- I grew up in a part of Canada where there are lots of Ukrainians... that just meant that more people knew the meaning of my last/maiden name -- got a lot of teasing for that. Oh well. As an old song goes, "It's fun to be Ukrainian." ;)