The Hand I Was Dealt

I generally don’t do holiday cards; I find them tedious, unless I can somehow specialize each card, but those take time I usually don’t have; Decembers are really busy! Rather, I take this time to think of my loved ones, hold them in the highest, most beautiful light I can imagine, and send them waves of love. So, if you’re sitting there at some point, minding your own business, and a wave of love hits you out of the blue, it was me, sending you an ether-card.

But the draw-back to not doing cards is that I don’t usually send out a year in review thing. I don’t generally write mine up, but I do two a year: one in July and one in December. Back at my birthday, I was riding pretty high. I had figured out my last personal year (birthday to birthday): the end of 2013 had laid out quite a few personal challenges for me all at once, and the beginning of 2014 laid out the solutions for pretty much all of them. It was really rough going, but I survived. I feel like that was the year of Jumping The Hurdles. So now I’m trying to see where the arbitrary time-span of 2014 has taken me; what is the name of 2014?

2014 opened with me and Honey facing a year of three out-of-town weddings (one of which was our own), my drastically shifting relationship with food (one of my oldest and most favorite relationships), and some fairly severe personality conflicts for me. We survived—and even enjoyed—all of the weddings. My favorite, of course, was our own, even though it didn’t really look anything like the original plan. I showed up, he showed up, and we both said “I do.” Plus, I got an awesome dress I’ve worn twice since. (Thank you, Wolf Pack!)

In terms of personal talents, this has been a year of big emotional challenges – BIG emotional challenges – both in terms of facing down some personality conflicts I really haven’t had to deal with since high school, and in terms of learning how to bake all over again.

I have frequently compared learning how to bake gluten-free to trying to make concrete out of banana leaves, both in terms of practicality and in terms of how easy it is. And through a heated conversation I recently had with Honey, a big part of my frustration with all of this is that at one point, I didn’t need to read a recipe any longer. I could pretty much skim the ingredients, and know what to do. There was a time when the biggest obstacle standing between me and the cinnamon rolls I wanted was just getting my butt off the sofa long enough to make them. But now… ALL of the rules are out the window. I no longer know pre-baked textures or smells, or how long you can stir, or how long to let it rest before baking. All of my expertise and muscle-memory is as useful today as being fluent in DOS (which I still remember, sadly.) I think that’s hard for Honey to wrap his head around, because he doesn’t consider himself an expert in anything. The thing is, I never considered myself an expert baker—far from it! But I could get around pretty comfortably.

Anyway, I think a lot of my baking experience in 2014 has been an exercise in unlearning what I’ve learned. Yoda, where were you when I needed you?! I’m not yet at the relearning part. I think I’m just past the nadir. I’ve had so many flops, and FINALLY figured out that I actually need to read the full recipe fully– no skimming!– before starting—probably a good idea to have the ingredients measured before I start mixing, too—and just start at the beginning. I have had regular and strong successes with boxed mixes, and have graduated to adding stuff to boxed mixes. I even occasionally nail something bread-like. Every day I’m learning and getting better. Eventually, I’ll be back to where I was. I can see it on the horizon now, in a way that I couldn’t in January. It’s coming. There’s hope for me yet. It’s coming.

And then there was the personality conflicts. I cannot go into too much detail on that today, but the short story is that I was getting shoved around by a bully. April brought me to a place where I found enough footing in that particular arena that I was able to start holding my ground. At this point, she pretty much leaves me alone with an occasional ear-flick, which is about the best you can ask for in such a situation. The entire process was fascinating to me, because I spent a lot of time asking “why me,” but it wasn’t until I decided at my core-being that what she was saying and doing was not accurate to who I am, that I was able to stand up to her. Bullying should never, ever happen, but in my experience, the strongest reaction to it is from an internal place, not an external place. Of course, this was all emotional and social bullying; I cannot speak to the physical side.

A lot of it sucked hard. And some of it was spectacular. It was this crazy roller coaster of awesome and horrible all entwined together, and through it all my biggest challenge was learning how to accept, and maybe even enjoy the ride, regardless of what point I was experiencing at that particular moment. At the end of the year, I feel that I am the strongest I have ever been in my life. I know now more than I ever have before, both about how the world works and about how I work. It wasn’t easy, but it was very, very valuable. 2014 was the Year of the Hand I Was Dealt.

Here’s to 2015, which I shall (wishfully) dub the Year of Awesome Chocolate, R’n’R, and Kick-Assery!

Happy New Year, y’all. May you get every one of your wishes, and may you be wise enough to wish for what you really want.