Good riddance 2016...

I know it has become a cliche over this year to yell invectives against 2016, but man, it really sucked in a lot of ways.

A lot of people have already been writing lists of all the horrible things in politics, terrorism, celebrity deaths, etc that have made 2016 just so depressing. There will be a lot of fallout from the politics alone that we'll be dealing with for years to come, but on the upside, it has motived a lot of people (myself included) to get more involved. We have come so far in recent years on many fronts and I'm going to fight like hell to keep us from sliding backwards. There were a lot of entertainers that we lost this year that I was a fan of, but the real kick in the teeth came in the last week of the year with the death of Carrie Fisher. I don't think I can begin to sum up the impact that Princess Leia had on me (starting when I was 5 and the first Star Wars movie came out) and how much I grew to admire Carrie Fisher as an adult. I'm lucky that I haven't had the struggles with addiction and mental illness that she did, but I really loved that she spoke out to de-stigmatize those things. Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Prince, Gene Wilder... so many good ones gone this year. On one hand, I know it's just the way these things go and that sometimes there will be clumps in the data, but DAMN, there were a lot of data points this year.

Even just selfishly thinking about my own life - I had two friends die of cancer, one a co-worker whose job duties ended up falling to me because we weren't able to refill the position. This caused a lot of changes for me at work that I haven't been terribly happy about (although the raise in salary was nice!). I know I'm lucky to have a job at all and to have worked in the same place for so long, but when the percentage of your time spent on the parts you really enjoy shrinks and shrinks... Unfortunately, the first few months of 2017 are going to be *crazy* busy at work, so keeping up with some of the goals I'm setting for 2017 might be extra challenging. There are more hectic times coming up later in the year but many should be enjoyable, including the American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin in June and a solar eclipse in 2017.

Now on to looking at how I fared with my 2016 goals... Well, yeah, not too good on most. I only made it to 26 books of 35 on my Goodreads challenge (although that didn't include a few re-reads and a couple of cookbooks I read, so I probably shouldn't be too hard on myself for that one). I definitely didn't end the year weighing less than at the start, although overall I ended up close to where I started. The one area I did much better was in finances. I don't think I technically ended up with less debt, but I managed to get almost all of my revolving credit card debt on to consolidation loans at much lower interest rates this year, which puts me on a path towards being debt free much sooner than I would have been. That felt really good. I didn't get any farther on my Shakespeare Challenge and I didn't do a whole lot of stitching, although I did build a number of Lego kits and 3-D puzzles, which was a lot of fun. I definitely think I could have done better at stress management, but by the end of the year I had acclimated to the heightened stress levels to some extent. That's probably not actually a good thing in the long run, but at least I managed to keep up with getting a decent night's sleep most of the time, so hopefully that balanced out some of the stress. And blogging here more than once this year - yeah, not so much. :) I'll post the goals for 2017 (because I'm going to make some definite ones this time) in another post shortly.

Well, enough of that - I'm ready to face what 2017 brings. I know it isn't going to be an easy year, but bring it on!

Uuuuuhhh, Happy New Year?

I guess if we still used March 25 as the start of the new year like they did back in Tudor times I would be early. Or if I used the Asian lunar calendar I wouldn't be as late? Oh wait, it's my birthday today, so it's the start of MY new year. Yes, that's what I meant!

While I was sitting in my office waiting to see if the clouds would clear so I could run the telescope tonight, I decided it was time to finally update this blog and check in with last year's goals and lay out the goals for 2016. Of last year's goals, the only one I 100% met was to take a real, honest-to-god vacation. I went to England for two weeks and had a great time! Eventually I'll process the thousands of photos I took and get them posted on Flickr.

Of the goals that I did decently on:

* Watch a 'new to me' movie every week -- not too bad. I skipped the two weeks I was on vacation and a week that I had to travel for work, but other than that, I did really well up to the last two months of the year when everything went totally nuts.

* Read 35 books as my Goodreads Challenge -- I think I finished with 32, so close, but not quite.

* Do six 30-day challenges -- I did 3 really well, and pretty good on a 4th one, but I didn't manage 6.

* Finish 10 video games -- I managed 5. Not great, but at least I did get a few done!

And the ones that I totally missed on:

* Shakespeare's plays... ironically since I spent several days in and around Stratford-upon-Avon, I didn't actually read any plays last year.

* Writing reviews for my Tudor history site - nope. I haven't been reading many Tudor books lately since I think I've been a little burned out on the subject.

* Weight goal - nope, not even close. The stress levels I had in the second half of last year actually caused me to gain weight to the point that I'm almost to the point I was when I started to lose the 15-20 pounds I shed a couple of years ago.

* Finish the year with less debt than I started with -- nope. Partly it was because of the vacation, but a lot was vet bills and car repairs that ended up eating the money that I had planned to use to pay for most of the vacation.

* Stitching and craft projects - I hardly touched any of my stitching stuff last year. Given the stress levels at the end of the year, I probably SHOULD have done more stitching, but I didn't manage it.

Looking back at everything, I can see that I was pretty energetic and optimistic at the beginning of 2015, but I sure didn't finish it that way. The two weeks off at the winter break was good for getting some of my energy back heading into 2016, but it didn't take too long for me to start feeling stressed again. As a result, I decided not to set any firm goals for this year but I do hope to have some general personal improvements in 2016. I'm still hoping to end this year weighing less and having less debt than I started the year with and to read some more Shakespeare, do more stitching, etc. I did set my Goodreads challenge at 35 books again to try achieve the goal that I barely missed in 2015. Better managing my stress this year is going to be one of my top priorities, and I think doing that will be wrapped up with everything else.

Oh, and maybe I'll actually blog a little more than the ONE time I updated this site last year. :)