Stockholm: Changing of the Guards!

Continuing in my tour of my favorite city on the planet, I wanted to share some photos from the Changing of the Guard that I watched earlier this year! The Changing of the Guard in Stockholm is a tradition that goes back centuries, and still happens today. Every day, in fact, when the Swedish military sends guards to relieve each other's watches of the King's castle. It was cold as all hell, and the crowd was large but I imagine that the summer crowds would be tenfold what they were.  That castle is literally right on the ocean and man, when it's cold out there, IT'S COLD.  Sweden in January is no joke!! But we (Henri and I) toughed it out like true touristy folk. Minus the fanny packs. Sidenote, it's so wonderful that he shares my love of culture and doesn't mind being dragged around by an American to go see the sights and smells and everything wonderful about Sweden.

They presented the flags, marched around the square, played the 'signals' with drums and (trumpet? I don't know horns well, haha) and a speaker gave a little bit of background history on the tradition for the visitors' sake. I loved watching, and I can't wait to go again when it warms up because in the summer months, you can follow the guard as they play music and march to the castle! Check out the Changing of the Guard and if you're in Stockholm, hit me up and we can go be touristy together!


I Forgot I Had Happy Pills.

I thought of making this post, then thought, 'oh what's the point of complaining more than I already do' then I saw this blog entry and it really struck a chord with me.  And I was like, wait a minute..... number one, it's very important to be honest about what it's like dealing with this mental disorder, and number two, this is my fucking blog and I will do whatever I want.  I don't want to mess up the cheerful note on which I left my last entry, but I also feel the need for honesty, as raw and unpleasant as it can be.

Let's backtrack to November-December, some of the most miserable months of my life.  Despite the great progress I made in the year of 2012 as a whole, my suicidal thoughts got so out of control that I had a few close calls.  I guess the better the good, the worse the bad? I don't like the idea of possibly ruining this photo for anyone, or also possibly coming off like a huge drama queen...but again..honesty.  So let's talk about this picture.

These trees are taken from the front window of an apartment.  They were taken two days before this incident and never fail to remind me of it when I see them.  I was staying with a friend in December, in Sweden.  It was before Christmas, and I had my usual pre-Christmas anxiety and feelings of dread and worthlessness and all those great things that happen to people with mental disorders and dysfunctional families at Christmas.  My friend knew about my depression, and even suicide attempts, and was very supportive. 

But my friend also had a job, and was at work, and also happened to live seven stories up in an apartment with a balcony.  I don't know what made this day different, just like I don't know what makes any day different, but I sat on the couch in the morning crying for several hours.  I tried to shake how I felt, I remember watching a few episodes of something pointless that I ended up not even noticing on tv.  I didn't have the energy or willpower to motivate myself down the elevator and onto the subway and into town.  I was a sad, depressed mess, and I decided to jump off the balcony.

What followed was the strangest and most pathetic (debatable) ten minutes of my entire adulthood.  The balcony was surrounded by thick glass doors with no way through except to open them, and I couldn't figure out how to open the damn things.  I was standing out there pulling and pushing, looking at the snowy trees and looooong fall below me and crying so hard I gave myself a nosebleed while I tried to move the doors.  Even in my traumatic state I didn't want to damage the glass.....logic.  But it was a new apartment, after all, and I already felt so worthless I wanted to risk death or at least, a very broken body, so breaking the glass would've made me feel even worse in my last few alive minutes.  I still don't know how to open those doors (and I never asked, actually....I feel better not knowing.)  It was a pathetic and lonely display which ended with me collapsing against the glass and crying and bleeding, then defeatedly going back to the couch and crying until I fell asleep.  

I have been taking sertraline aka Zoloft since May of 2012.  I've talked numerous times about how it's helped me, and changed my life--and I still maintain this, but I've also known that dependency on an SSRI is dangerous in a lot of ways and not something I want for myself long-term.  I had plans to stop taking the pills when springtime came, but today I realized I haven't taken them for over a week now.  While I have experienced some dizziness (a common withdrawal symptom) I feel pretty content and even in my mood, so I made the decision today once I realized I'd stopped taking my medicine, to continue without them.  This was liberating

Reddit has a "suicide watch" subreddit where users can go and post if they need help with suicidal thoughts, and other members can reply to their rants/stories and offer support.  It's kind of like a suicide hotline in text/forum format, and though I've never posted there for help, I decided to go in and do some support volunteering tonight because it's important to me to help others who deal with this mental disorder as well.  I read story after story of people who were in the same mindset as I was that day on the cold glass-encased balcony with my nosebleed and poor problem-solving skills.  I did manage to post a few replies to people, but I ended up getting overwhelmed by everything, and I left to collect myself.

Before I did though, I noticed a website someone had posted.  Unfortunately I can't post that site here because I have long since closed all those windows, but anyway, it highlighted several popular antidepressants and their characteristics.  I was curious and looked for sertraline...and saw something that made me feel like even more of a moron than not being able to open a glass door.  When I was in the doctor's office being prescribed Zoloft, she told me this as well: Zoloft has the potential to increase suicidal thoughts with depressed patients.  Jesus fucking Christ!!!! No WONDER I wanted to cast myself into oblivion every ten minutes.  Once I read that statement on the website I sat there and facepalmed for the rest of the day.  It makes sense now....while I still stand by the fact that Zoloft did give me a new life and the ability to wake up and feel halfway normal, it also really ended up negatively impacting my depression in the end.  It's easy for a doctor or a website to say "oh and if you feel suicidal remember it's just the medicine! And call me!"  Very easy to say.  Not easy for someone who is convinced they need to end their life, to ....well...NOT do that.  You could say depressed people get a little bit of tunnel vision.

Anyway, the point of this rant was two things: one, it's very important for me to get that experience out in the air.  Delving into Reddit's Suicide Watch made me realize that I am holding onto that morning on the balcony and I need to stop internalizing it.  So here it is, blog world, my lowest point of 2012.  And two, I have a medical, proven, documented reason for my darker mindset toward the end of the year.  On the BOTTLE, Zoloft says HEY THIS MAY CAUSE YOU TO WANT TO DIE.   Why did I not pay attention? I'll tell you why, because dammit Jim I'm a writer, not a doctor.

But I found a great Lana Del Rey song tonight that, knowing her, is about a failed relationship, but I really liked the lyrics and thought they fit the mindset of someone with depression/suicidal thoughts.  I put the chorus on the photo, because it is a reminder to me of that moment I pathetically and hilariously sobbed my way indoors  walked away from hurting myself and listening to that poison voice.

Phew. Writing this felt good.  Onward then.


Ten Years Later. (200th post!)

Ten years ago during the end of January, I was sure that I would be hard-pressed to find anyone around me with worse circumstances.  Sitting on some old firewood with sleet falling on my face while I hid from cops, thinking, this can't possibly get any worse.

Here I am ten years later, and I am convinced that I would be hard-pressed to find anyone around me with better circumstances.  Anyone more fortunate and blessed couldn't possibly exist without their head exploding.  My circumstances, as far as I'm concerned, can't get any better.  I think a mixture of hard work, patience, guts, and love got me where I am.  Which by the way IS SWEDEN.

I finally feel like the suffering I endured as a child and teenager wasn't for nothing.  I finally feel ...normalish.

So that smile you see there is completely candid and not forced or fake at all.  That's saying something!  What more could I want?  The family I au-pair for is completely perfect and wonderful.  I have this feeling of unity with them, plus a four year old and a two year old I can cuddle and love on just about any time of day, as well as the princess-y, regal bedroom I always dreamed about having as a girl. I am a short train ride away from my absolute favorite city on earth and all that it has to offer, I have a plethora of friends I never got to see before who are now at my disposal whenever I want, and one of those friends is now my tall dark and handsome European boyfriend!

For this blog, I wanted to just mention how grateful I am for not only my life, but the opportunity I have to actually live it.  Sometimes due to depression I don't even see this miraculous setting and events, so I'm really trying to hang onto these positive feelings and savor them in a way that a Swede savors the sunlight (ha, ha. I am now ok to make jokes about Swedes, right?) but I also wanted to mention my self-esteem journey a little as well, since I've been mostly silent since making my New Year's Resolution to Love Like Myself public. My month has been insanely insightful, so here's a bit of the process I've gone through:

"Faith in Oneself is the Best and Safest Course." --Michaelangelo

1.  Stop Being An Asshole, Inner Voice!!!!! 
This was really an eye-opener, because I had NO IDEA how horrible I treated myself on a minutely basis before I took simple step one.  That was to stop thinking negatively.  I vividly remember a moment after New Year's where I was going to step in the shower, and had to out-loud tell my inner monologue to stop being a dick and calling myself fat and ugly and stupid.  Seriously! All in the span of less than three minutes I had insulted myself to the extent of a moronic internet bully.  It hit me then....I let that bully get out of control. No wonder I was miserable.  Now it's more often than not that I catch that negative voice and tell it to fuck off kindly somewhere.  You'd be amazed how much stopping it helps.

2.  What the Hell Is Your Problem With Me, Me? 
After getting used to telling my inner-bully to stuff it, I felt like I could finally dig deeper.  Why did I hate myself so much? What the hell did I do that was so terrible? I wanted to know, so I thought about it a lot.  People don't just hate for no reason.  Not themselves, or anyone else.  There had to be some motivation.  What I discovered with my poking and prodding to my innermost being (and asshole bully) is that I DON'T hate myself.  That was a huge surprise.  It's more of a defense mechanism; i.e., I don't want people to put me down about my paintings.  So I convince myself that I'm no good at painting.  But I go overboard and say, wow, you fucking suck at this you piece of shit, why do you even bother?  It may have at one point worked to have me avoiding negativity from other people, but it backfired horribly as I became less and less comfortable with my ability to do anything, to make anything, to be friends with anyone, or girlfriend, or co-worker, or ANYTHING.  Honestly, knowing this came as a relief.  I don't have to go through the probably horrifically complex process of un-learning hatred.  I just have to tell that overzealous protector/critic to shut the hell up because she's ruining life.

3. Pretend You're A Friend.  
At some point in my self-esteem research I came upon an amazing quote that suited me perfectly.  Reason being is that I am a fierce, FIERCE friend and protector.  I love my loved ones well, and they hopefully know that I would die for them any day if I needed to.  That I will always be there to punch THEIR bully right in the face.  Anyway, the quote was: "You almost have to step outside yourself and look at you as if you were someone else you really care about and really want to protect. Would you let someone take advantage of that person? Would you let someone use that person you really care about? Or would you speak up for them? If it was someone else you care about, you'd say something. I know you would. Okay, now put yourself back in that body. That person is you. Stand up and tell 'em, Enough!"

4. Find SOMETHING To Like....and Be Encouraged
The timing of this whole thing has been really great; it's not like I chose when to start liking myself based on the stars.  It had gotten to a point where I scared myself with my suicidal desires, when I actually tried to open a window to jump off a balcony.  (Thanks window, for being too complicated for my simple little American brain to figure out.)  But since I came to Sweden I've had this overwhelming choir of support, from friends at home and people here in the country.  I think the thing that means the most is that people I never would've expected have called me things I never thought they would think of me: brave, crazy, free, a badass who does whatever the hell she wants.  They may not know just how profoundly all of those things affected me, because that's all I've ever wanted to be.  Free, brave.  An adventuress.  For all intents and purposes I have succeeded in a way I've never been able to measure before.

And that teensy little ray of hope has made me realize that all it takes is wanting to be someone, wanting to be a certain way.  If you have that want--to be kinder, to be more bold, to be calm or supportive or hilarious or whatever it is--all you have to do is want it and work toward it, and it can happen.  So often it seems like we are who we are and damn anyone who thinks different.  I know I feel like that, anyway.  But I think ourselves can be whatever we want it to be, and that's a good thing.  I want to be someone who is inspiring, and funny, and helpful and yes, a little crazy in all of the best ways possible.  I want to be a loving friend and beneficial to society as a whole, I want to make a difference.  I can do those things, they're not impossible.  They just feel like they are sometimes.  I don't have a novel written out on exactly the kind of person I want to be, but I feel like now for the first time in my life I have a grasp on my potential.  And if I am that person I want to be, then confidence will come naturally.

So, there you have my processes so far.  I am really looking forward to what else lies in store for me.  So share your processes for self esteem with me, all you narcissists.  I need all the help I can get, still.


Finding My Way (To the grocery store)

I've now been three times; once with my employers, and once with their children.  And once alone.  These were taken while I was alone.

I got lost both there and on the way back. (It's just a small residential neighborhood...)

I didn't mind.  What a beautiful place to be lost in.


Life in Sweden: Vasamuseet!

Here it is, my first post detailing parts of life in Sweden! Well in this case it's more of a touristy museum visit, but it totally counts, because duh who doesn't want to go to European museums whenever they get a chance!!! I know you're excited, because I am, so without further ado: Vasa.  

a 1/10th scale model of Vasa with original paint; the real Vasa ship is visible behind the model 

In 1624 Sweden was a country at war with Poland.  It was a kingdom which ran into a lot of economic problems, ship disasters (due to weather, or battles) and had a scrap of a navy comprising of Germans, Dutch, Swedes, Danes...and then there was the king, Gustavus Adolphus.  For most historical intents and purposes he was a successful king.  The Vasa, a ship he ordered built for the Swedish Navy, was meant to be his grandest and most majestic weapon of destruction.  It came up a little short.

The ship left Stockholm's harbor in August, with a crowd of hundreds, maybe thousands of locals gathered on shore to watch the new flagship leave its home port.  No expense was spared when it came to the Vasa, and it was painted in loud, gaudy colors, so it was easy to see even without a looking glass.  But less than 400 feet later, it sank thanks to nothing more than a small gust of wind.  And from 1628 that's where it remained, until a little more than fifty years ago.

Vasamuseet is now the home of the epic warship.  It's a climate-controlled indoor environment that's used to continue to preserve the vessel after it was lifted up, intact, from the waters of the Baltic Sea.  The museum is amazing because it's literally just built for a gigantic wooden ship, and has multiple levels and balconies so you can see the ship itself from different angles.  There are artifacts recovered from the ship as well, including pipes, chests, pots and pans, jewelry, and clothing.  In addition to all of that, there were the remains of some 15 people available to view in the museum.

The crew and contractors were put on trial extensively and questioned by many, but blame couldn't be put on any one group of people for the ship's demise.  It was too topheavy with a shallow keel, and no one felt quite comfortable bringing forth these problems to the king, who was notoriously adamant that someone else was to blame.  In the end, they called it an act of God.  Seems legit. I'm just happy it sank, because otherwise we would have never found such a well-preserved, intact, gorgeous piece of Swedish history.

So if you're in Stockholm for any reason (one of those reasons could be visiting me!!) stop by Vasamuseet and check out the most hilarious ship fail of Sweden's history!!!

PS. As a bonus, just so you don't start taking me too seriously (part of the blame goes to Henri who actually took the photographs) here is the figurehead of the Vasa: a lion.  With a penis.  So here's the lion and his penis.



A Message From My Coach.

I'm sure I've said this before somewhere but if not, just in case, I will reiterate it here.  If you are around children, no matter their age or yours, or your profession--babysitter, nanny, teacher, janitor, aunt, uncle, neighbor--if they are in your life, NEVER underestimate the impact you can have on them.  It doesn't take a lifelong bond to make a mentor and it certainly doesn't take years and years to make an impression.  As someone who has taught for years, it can be easy to forget that, despite the effect adults had on me during my difficult childhood years.

When I was in elementary school we had a P.E. coach named Coach Rollins.  His job was of course physical ed; running, games, playing, energy, blah blah so on and so forth.  He made an impression on me for one reason--he was nice to me.  If you know anything about my dad, you know that nice wasn't really an appropriate word for him.  I didn't have any other adult males in my life (all the teachers were female) but not only did Coach Rollins treat me decently, he even stood up for me.  Several times he pointed out when others were teasing me and berated them for their bullying.  He was always watchful of me, and I felt safe whenever he was around.  I think, by silently analyzing him during gym class, I got my first clue that men didn't have to be cruel or violent.  They could be decent.  But despite our silent and strong bond, Coach Rollins and I never really talked or got to know each other in-depth.  I don't know what he knew of my situation at home, but we never spoke of anything unrelated to class.

He probably never knew just how deeply he affected me.  So, when I found him on Facebook, I naturally jumped at the chance:

I've been wanting to find you on here for years and thank you for being the one single adult during my absurd childhood who cared about me. You have no idea how much your support affected me when I was a kid. Okay, that probably sounds really creepy and this message is probably really creepy too......but my point remains and I'm glad I finally got a chance to say it!!!
This was months ago, and he never responded, so I figured either 1) He didn't check his messages or 2) I came off way too creepy.  But just today I opened my Facebook to read his reply:

Alex...you wont believe it but I just now saw your msg...haha...the affect my love for my students had on you and hopefully others is EXACTLY why I do what I do...I was just telling my new wife Susan what sweet children both you and Ariel were and how brutally candid you both were...I cant pinpoint any examples but I vividly remember that u both were two of the most HONEST kids I have ever taught...sorta like ur first line youve never had trouble saying what you were thinking...haha...I think I relate best to the my students that somehow realize at an early age that I really and truly LOVE them and would do ANYTHING within my power to help them to realize their potential...It seems cliche'ish but I tell everyone of my players if they ever need anything I will ALWAYS be here for them and I mean it with ALL MY HEART!!!!...thanks again for your kind words Alex and the words are just as true for you as much as any child I have ever taught...if you EVER need ANYTHING just let me know ....I LOVE YOU girl....your favorite Coach....Coach Todd Rollins

 Me? Candid? NAH.  But seriously, this email really warmed my heart.  It's important to tell the people who have helped you in your life thank you.  I felt so great knowing that he was aware of my gratitude.  And great knowing that there are people out there who make a profession out of caring, loving, teaching.  That's all teaching is, really: love of knowledge and love of children and all the potential they have to offer.  Coach Rollins has the mindset I hope all people in childcare have.  And he for sure has my gratitude and all my love.    Isn't he great?


To Alex from Sweden.

Dear Alex,

Welcome to 2013.  You had a great year last year, despite some really shitty moments and the horrible time you had on New Years Eve.  That's nice, but bitch you're in Sweden now.  Allow me to show you how life is really lived.  Incidentally on the day I am writing this letter, it's your one month anniversary of arriving.  Congratufuckinglations.

Now, back to the awesome.  Me.  Moose meat and fresh clean water and a government that isn't trying to kill you with toxins and god knows what kind of food additives.  Also, badass amazing public transportation and a culture so rich you might just wet yourself if you dig too deep.  There's also the fact that YOU'RE IN FUCKING SWEDEN DID I MENTION THAT? OH YEAH YOU LIVE HERE.

About that.  You are going to live with the most badass family on the face of the planet, pretty much that whole fantasy family you always wished would come rescue you when you were a kid and didn't want your real shitty family.  Except this family is SWEDISH.  And they are really pretty amazing: a four year old and a two year old who are just about the best kids who ever punched their way out of the womb and into SWEDEN, so you can imagine how great their parents are.  You want more? Okay, great.  How about a super sexy boyfriend you can spend time with in Stockholm on the weekends? Then there's the fact that you can totally hold a conversation in Swedish with a four year old.  Blows your goddamn mind, eh? Also, you've lost 13 pounds this month just from getting your ass outside in the minus 20 centigrade weather, and not eating basketfuls of shit food like you ate in Merica.  How's that?

Then there's the friends you've already made, and the friends you will make, and the friends at home who support you, and the fucking friend who is coming to fucking visit you in the fucking summer!!!!!! In short, to answer your question about "can 2013 really be better than 2012?" FUCK YES IT CAN.

Now, kindly get your ass to sleep.  It is late.

--The Fucking Country of Sverige


Deja-vu and Elephant Training.

That's probably the weirdest blog post title I've made yet.  But trust me, there's a reason for it.  I want to talk about two things, totally unrelated things but things I feel like cathartically writing down and musing over.  The first being the sense of deja-vu I got this weekend from the realization that this whole moving, being an au-pair thing, gives me some of the exact same feelings I got as a foster child.

The routine in foster care went thus: new family, new friends and foster siblings, new home, new school in some cases, new room, blah blah blah.  Once you get used to that, you feel comfortable, happy even.  You love and value your friends, you do everything you can to spend time with them and make your own life as comfortable as possible.  Then one day you hear that you're leaving, and you have to say goodbye to what you've known, and most painfully (for me) your friends.  In foster care, some of my moves were only an hour or so away, but to a teenager without transportation it may as well be like, Africa to Hong Kong.  Especially in the pre-Facebook and pre-Skype days (my god, how old am I?)

I realize of course that this is an entirely different situation.  I appreciate that, and know that first of all I am not just a teenager without transport, that I do have ways of keeping in touch with my friends, that I do know where I am going and the family taking me in are really great people who aren't getting a paycheck out of me or any foster care-esque motives.  In fact, they're the ones paying me.  Now that's a twist I can appreciate.  But of course, the feelings stay with you.  Having them come back now reminds me of just how broken and lost I was as a teenager.  It's really heartbreaking to know that someone so young had to go through such things and that more and more young people are going through them every single day.  This is one of the reasons I want to be a foster parent.  Explaining situations like this to people is fruitless if not a waste of time.  Being in the situation is something unique, something I could share with foster children if I had them.

The second part of what I want to write about is something I read from a self-esteem building website.  I'm ashamed to admit that since making my resolution to not hate myself, I'm a little lost on how people gain self-esteem and yes, I googled it.  Anyway, this is what I came across, and I just have to share:

Elephants in captivity are trained, at an early age, not to roam. One leg of a baby elephant is tied with a rope to a wooden post planted in the ground. The rope confines the baby elephant to an area determined by the length of the rope. Initially the baby elephant tries to break free from the rope, but the rope is too strong. The baby elephant "learns" that it can't break the rope. 
When the elephant grows up and is strong, it could easily break the same rope. But because it "learned" that it couldn't break the rope when it was young, the adult elephant believes that it still can't break the rope, so it doesn't even try.  Humans operate in a similar way. We learned something about ourselves at an early age and still believe it as an adult. Even though it may not be true, we operate as if it is.

 Reading this really struck home with me.  It reminds me that one reason my self confidence might be so low is because of how I was taught as a child.  Or rather, taught how to feel about myself.  There's another quote out there that says "Don't believe everything you think" and I think it definitely applies.  But I don't confine the belief that low self-esteem is just for poverty-stricken abandoned children like myself...we all deal with it, and we all maybe forget that sometimes our own minds can be the meanest bully on the playground.  How to beat up that bully and get on with my life is something I haven't quite grasped, but recognition is maybe the first step.



Happy New Year from the beautiful, cold, dark, and lovely country of Sweden!

(This is the view from the apartment I'm staying in) 

My New Year's was actually perfect, which is nice considering that 2012 kicked off to a really bad start.  But on NYE Henri (aka the Swede from this entry) and I decided that we were too reclusive and old to go out and party.  Parties aren't my thing and I've had bad luck with them, especially recently.  So, we stayed in and watched the Silence of the Lambs, which I had never seen before.  It was AWESOME!!! I brought over princesscake which I am addicted to, and we ate and saw the movie.  

Around 1145pm we got our coats on and walked out to an area by Henri's apartment which overlooks a river and a bridge.  Fireworks were going off like crazy, and there was even a small crowd near us which were setting off their own fireworks.  Someone brought a floating Chinese lantern which pathetically floated right into a light post and fell down, and I was entirely too amused by it.  Instead of champagne, Henri and I had a bottle of red wine and two glasses.  We watched the fireworks, which sounded like World War III happening, until after midnight.  And then went back in to drink and talk with Madi!! (Over Skype of course)  We laughed and joked for hours. It was a really wonderful night.  Unconventional, and relaxed, with a good mix of gingers, Jews, serial killers and the wrong type of alcohol.   

So I've been thinking about what sort of resolutions or whatever you'd like to call them, goals, I have for 2013.  I have never really been the type of person to make a laundry list on New Year's Eve, and for the past four or five years I've given each year a "theme" so to speak, a central area of life to focus on in that year, or contemplate on, or what have you.  And then Madi and I usually give the years rhyming names.  I have no idea how or why we have this tradition, but it didn't take much thinking to realize what area I want to focus on and why.

No More Being Mean in Twenty-Thirteen 

Over this year, I've gotten scarily nihilistic in my views on the world, and I think it's inevitable with age, awareness, and atheism, to go through periods of this if not exist solely in the realm of nihilism and existentialism.  The thing about it is not only am I nihilistic, I'm also really, really hard on myself.  I can't even begin to describe how often I put myself down, or call myself names, or just in general berate my life and everything about it.  I have always been this way but in the past few years I almost feel it's gotten out of control.  With my depression, it's really hard to function as best I can while never believing in myself or giving myself any credit.  I don't know how to be proud anymore, I don't feel any great purpose or helpfulness about my existence.  And I've just realized how hindersome that is...I can't very well go out and do great things while subconsciously always feeling like a failure.

So, despite my crippling cynicism toward myself, this is the year I'm going to learn to appreciate me.  And not be mean, and bully myself.  It is without a doubt one of the most daunting tasks I feel I've ever faced and not something to be taken lightly.  But I think it's important.  Even this morning when I was taking a bath, I was thinking about a few tasks that I have to do and my inner voice was going on about how crazy and stupid I am.  I had to stop myself several times in the span of ten minutes just to prevent those negative thoughts from running wild.  I may not believe in much, I may in fact not believe in anything, but being mean to myself isn't going to make life easier, or more worthwhile.  

There we have it, folks.  A review of my celebrations and my thought process on the year to come.  How about you?