In no particular order:
1. Rio, my Quaker Parrot
This past spring I lost 30 pounds by following the 17 Day Diet by Dr. Mike Moreno. I have kept off 25 of those pounds and plan to go back on the diet as soon as I re-read the book. Losing the weight made me feel better physically and mentally. I felt better about myself. I want to get back on the diet and stay on it for good this time, finally getting myself down to my goal weight. That's a resolution, albeit a cliche one, for 2012.
4. My iPod Touch
I finally jumped on the iPod bandwagon in May and, man, did I find out what I'd been missing. How did I survive before this thing? I had a Zune before (I know, LAME, but I got it solely because I could get it in pink and at the time they had more memory, plus HELLO, I'm cheap!) and though I never minded the actual player, the software sucked...just like everyone said it did. That's my actual case up there ^, so cute, and I literally have my iPod on me all day, everyday!
5. Pistachio & Marshmallow, my rats
I originally got Pistachio and Marshmallow to share with my sister, and they lived in our living room, but when they moved into my bedroom they sort of became just mine. Pistachio is a brown hooded and Marshmallow is a red-eyed white (albino). They are about 8 months old. They don't come out of their cage, because we have an abundance of cats, but they are quite content in their huge cage with tons of toys and stuff to chew on, I assure you. They're so much fun to watch and they love to be petted and talked to.
6. Vacation to Cape Cod
This was our first vacation since my father passed away in July of 2010, so it was difficult, but we did have a lot of fun, too. We spent the anniversary of his death on the Cape, and I think it was a good way to deal with the darkest of days. I think it was a good learning experience for us in that we are still learning to be a family of three instead of four.
7. This Blog!
Running this blog has been an adventure for me so far. It is my first venture out into the world, so to speak, in many years. Being disabled, I don't have a job to go to everyday. Being Bipolar and Agoraphobic, I don't see many people other than my family and therapist. I don't often get my thoughts, opinions, and interests out into the world. This blog has given me a way to do so. I have attempted to blog in the past, but really only in a personal, journal-y way and have never really stuck with it. I started this blog in September and I don't see myself stopping anytime soon! I don't have a huge readership, but people are coming back and the numbers are growing. Things are looking up. This blog has given me a sense of purpose that I was lacking.
8. My Etsy Shop
A few days after I started this blog, I decided that I would revive my long-dead and unsuccessful half-hearted attempt at an etsy shop. I dug out all of my supplies and old stock, which wasn't all that old in the first place and was all jewelry so it was fine. I re-named my shop. I made myself a banner that matches this blog and I launched it. I had only invested about five dollars in it, so no big deal when nothing happened. I scraped up some money, bought some new supplies and whipped up some more jewelry...tada! Nothing happened. Strangely enough, I wasn't phased. I was enjoying the brainstorming and creating part enough, that I didn't really care that nothing was selling. YET. I found some vintage Wade Whimsies at Savers and threw them in the shop. More jewelry. And I'm working on a TON of stuff. People are actually starting to buy things, and I feel like the more variety I have in the shop, the more people are going to see it and the more people are going to buy it. I'm not looking to get rich, not at all. I just want a creative outlet and a sense that I'm accomplishing something in this world. The shop, like this blog, has given me a sense of purpose and a reason to set goals for myself.
9. The PostSecret App
The PostSecret App has now been shut down forever, but I downloaded it the day it first was available. I used it several times a day. I loved it. I cherished it. Even with its mean replies and its faults, it meant the world to me. I tweeted to Frank (the benevolent genius behind Post Secret) the other day, "As an agoraphobic, the app was in many ways my window to the world. It was greatly cherished and is greatly missed." He favorited my tweet. I cannot express what that appreciation means to me. I posted a couple dozen secrets while the app was operational, and continue to be amazed at how freeing it is to tell your secrets annonymously to a group of strangers from around the world. I had never sent a secret to Frank before the app, but definitely will now.
10. Gaining Control over my Bipolar Disorder
I know that I will never hold complete dominion over my Bipolar Disorder. It's all part of the dirty business that is mental illness. However, I have gained much hard won ground this year and I am proud as hell. I started 2011 extremely depressed, hopeless and terrified and as I rung in the new year of 2012, I was a changed woman. I have meds that are doing their thing, less panic attacks, less anxiety, I have hope for my future, realistic and achievable goals, inspiration, the motivation to act on my inspiration, and less negative/racing/uncontrollable thoughts.
I had a few reality checks in 2011 that really brought my life into perspective. Some were health related. I had 2 cancer scares this year: uterine and colon, both of which turned up negative. When I found out that cancer was a possibility, I had some moments where I sort of wished for it in order to be with my Dad sooner rather than later. I learned my true feelings when they told me I was cancer free and I felt a great sense of relief. I am not ready to leave this world. I have a great deal to accomplish. And after this little trial, I felt a renewed sense of thankfulness for being alive. Some were age related. I turned 31 in 2011, and realized that since I'm not where I'd like to be in life, I need to get working on it because time's a wastin'. Although I've never planned to or wanted to have my own biological children, my biological clock ticks on. I decided a few years ago that I would start the process of adoption or fostering when I was 35, and am coming to terms with the fact that it may not be a good idea for me. I may never be a parent, and that idea takes some getting used to. This age related reality check was also motivation to really put my all into my blog and etsy shop because I want to be able to tell people "what I'm up to" when they ask. I don't want to simply answer that I'm disabled...how boring is that? Some were death related. The one year anniversary of my father's death was this July, and it forced me to look at my own life. For 57 years, my father truly lived his life. I haven't done that. I've let my life pass me by, and I think that one of Dad's final gifts to me was a message to jump back into the stream of life and be a participant, not a bystander. Some reality checks are good and some are bad, but they let us know we're alive. They let us know what we need to keep and what we need to throw away.
So, those were 11 of the best things that came into my life in 2011. Next January, I hope to update you with my 12 best of 2012.