Tuesday 17 December 2019

2019: The unexpected year of YES

Many mornings I leave when it's dark. The nights are usually cold and clear this time of year, and with the world still sleeping it seems like I have the glorious sky with all its brilliant stars all to myself. I love those mornings, driving through the slowly awakening world, sometimes chasing the sunrise, other times following the sinking moon. 

The other morning I left at dawn. There was a thin blanket of snow on the ground, wisps of fog were hanging low in between the mountains, and the full moon was hovering on the horizon, fading with the approaching rise of the sun. I was driving a winding, narrow road, the mountains on one side and the valley on the other. I saw a bald eagle perched high on a tree, surveying his land; I passed mountain sheep scaling the steep mountainside effortlessly; and I watched the sky turn slowly from inky black to soft shades of azure, pink and gold. It was one of those spectacular moments where you are stunned by the magnificence of the world, and where you feel overwhelmingly grateful to be alive. 

Was I going on vacation? On a roadtrip? Somewhere special?
Nope. I was on my way to work.   
2019 has not unfolded like I thought it would. It was a year that I had bookmarked for rest. A year to relax (my word for 2019), to slow down, to do little. I had only the vaguest idea where my job would lead me, I had no ambitions for another book, and after I decided to return home I pictured myself settling into the old routine of working 3 or 4 days at the local hospital, and spending the rest of the time at home, not making any big decisions or changes.
That didn't happen.
Instead, I said yes to 10 unexpected things in 2019 that surprised nobody more than myself:

1. I started to work at a bunch of new hospitals.
I never saw that one coming - in fact, that has been the biggest surprise of the year for me.
I expected after my 1-year adventure to stay put and patiently wait for a job to eventually open up for me at home. I thought that all I wanted was being back to what I knew and loved. I thought I would be okay to settle into the waiting loop, no matter how long it would take.
I was wrong. 

When it became clear that the permanent job I've been waiting for would not be available for me just yet, I wasn't disappointed - I was excited. Because in the meantime, a few opportunities had presented themselves to me, and instead of saying no as I'm prone to do, I simply said yes.
I've been working as a casual at the biggest hospital in our region (and the biggest one I've ever worked at) for the last 2 months, and having overcome my fear and taken on this new challenge feels good. I still work at my beloved local hospital, started to take on shifts at a tiny hospital that's notoriously difficult to staff, and I'm vacation relief for a couple other sites as well. These days I'm a travelling x-ray technologist, and I love it!

2. Change a tire  by myself.
One of the side effects of living alone (even if it's only part-time) is that you have to deal with everything life throws at you on your own. Case in point: the flat tire I had in the summer. All my life I've had a man to deal with that kinda stuff: my dad, a boyfriend or my husband. So you can imagine my dismay when I discovered a flat while I was away from home. I did try to convince Rich to make the 200km round-trip to come and fix it for me, but to my consternation he said no. Can you imagine?! Thanks to Google and a long-ago lesson from my dad I did figure out how to change the tire, and I have to say it's one of the proudest accomplishments of the year for me!

3. Cut my own bangs.
Yup, I'm a rebel and do the very thing every hair stylist has expressly told me not to do: I'm cutting my own bangs. It feels oddly liberating and daring! I've given myself at least 4 trims, and while they are not perfect they are perfectly acceptable. I'm not only saying that perfection is overrated, I am living it!
4. Self-publish my second book.
While my first book was a long time coming (I thought about it for at least half a decade before I started to work on it), the second one almost wrote itself. I self-published it in August of this year, which is another development I didn't see coming. Writing Quit the Hustle helped me heal from the burnout that publishing Let's Pretend This is Normal gave me, and I will be forever grateful to that little book for that.

5. Start wearing jewellery again. (And mascara! Once in a while.)
Sometime during the last three years or so I stopped wearing jewellery. Apart from 3 rings I always wear (wedding band, engagement ring and a silver-and-turquoise ring that Rich brought me from Spain) I rarely put on a necklace or bracelet and didn't wear earrings at all for over 2 years. I don't know why, I just didn't feel like it. But this year I started wearing jewellery again, and it's bringing me so much joy! On top of that I even put on mascara several times a week. WHO AM I?! Turns out, a woman who enjoys once again giving herself a few extra touches in the morning. I feel pretty and confident  without it as well, but some days I just want to put a bit more effort in. Gaining more joy through little things like putting on jewellery is so simple and rewarding!

6. Host a teenager for 2 weeks.
I'm not gonna lie: When my niece asked me if she could come by herself for a couple of weeks in September for a visit, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand I was excited to have my niece, whom I was fond of even though I didn't know her well at the time come for a visit; but on the other hand she was a teenager. A 16-year old teenager whom I had never spent more than a few minutes alone with, and who might have tantrums, feel homesick or hate it at our place. I was nervous but said yes anyway, and the visit succeeded all my expectations. We got along like a house on fire! Our relationship is less auntie and niece and more two girlfriends hanging out. We have a lot in common, we laugh all day long, and our time together was one of the most treasured times of the year for me. I love you, Erbse!
7. Get not one, but two new puppies.
If you would have told me at the beginning of September that we would have 2 new puppies before Christmas I would have laughed in your face. We had no intention to get a new pup, let alone 2. We were happy with our pack, who were all but one young or middle-aged, and healthy.
But sometimes life can change in an instant, and Nina's accident changed everything.
Less than a week after Nina's passing we brought Dixie home, and a couple weeks after that Petey. It wasn't planned, but once again, we said yes! I'm very happy that we did.
Just look at them:
8. Buy myself a new car.
Getting a new car has been just as unexpected as everything else on this list. I knew that I would need one at some point, but I thought that point was still off somewhere in the future. However, with all the traveling to the new hospitals I've been doing, the future was now, and at the end of November we spontaneously bought Ronald Weasley, my foxy redhead. I love him!
9. Do what feels right to me, not what others expect me to do.
The biggest and best surprise of this year? Saying yes to myself. Oh, I've been an adopter of self-love and self-care for years, going to bed when I'm tired, taking time for myself, having bubble baths and glasses of wine and chocolate whenever I want to treat myself. But I've only started this year to make decisions and choices based on what I want to do and not what others expect of me. And even more importantly? I'm learning not to feel guilty about it. It's incredible!

There's a difference between wanting to please people in order to be liked, and being kind but sticking to one's own beliefs. I've learnt that this year.
There is also a difference between finding a compromise, and doing what others want you to do out of fear of confrontation. I don't like confrontation at all, but sometimes it can't be avoided. You have to stand up for yourself, otherwise others (and you) will never respect you. If you can do it in a calm and respectful manner you are doing better than most!
Making yourself miserable just to keep the peace won't serve you, and in the end your resentment will grow so much that it comes to a blow anyway. It's not real peace if one person is dissatisfied or sad or angry.
My simple goal at the end of every day is to be able to look at myself in the mirror and feel good about how I treated myself and others that day.

10. Actually start feeling grown-up at last!
I recently wrote a newsletter about how I finally grew up this year. All the seeds that were planted inside myself in the form of people I look up to, advice I've received, books I've read and things I've learnt started to blossom this year.
The blossoms are still small, still in the early stages with much room to grow, but they are there. I can feel them. When I look inside myself I can see them. And I'm in awe how after years of no apparent growth and progress, they started quietly sprouting when I didn't look.
I like the woman I've become. I love the life that we have created for ourselves. I'm immensely grateful for the relationships that have deepened this year, the new ones that have formed and even for the ones I let go of that were never meant to be.

Being a grown-ass woman is better than I ever expected it to be. I will say yes to her for the rest of my life!
Merry Christmas and happy holidays my friends!

Much love to you all.
xoxo Miriam



  1. Replies
    1. It was! Even more so since it was so unexpected. Happy Holidays to you and your family, Emily!

  2. You had such an incredible year of growth. Happy end of a decade, girlfriend!

    1. Same to you dear friend! I'm excited to see what the new year (and new decade!) will bring to us! Hopefully more growing and aligning and creating. Happy Holidays, Mary!

  3. Yay for cutting your own bangs (and everything else on this list!)!! I started doing that this year, as well. Turns out that it's not that hard! CHOP AWAY!

    1. I still remember when you cut your bangs live on Instagram! It was amazing.
      I mostly do it because I hate the small talk you have to make at the hair dresser every 4 weeks. So exhausting! I'll take imperfect bangs in exchange for not having to talk to strangers haha!


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