The 6 Smartest Things I Did in 2011

Now that 2011 is over, I can look back and see that I did some really smart things last year.  Some are big, some are little–but all 6 had (and continue to have) a major impact on my life:

1. Go gluten free. I had  been thinking, wanting, intending to go gluten free for years. And then my doctor told me I really should, and now. But I was terrified by the prospect of what I’d be giving up forever.  Last year I committed to a gluten-free January, and felt so good at the end of the month I did a gluten-free February too. After one very ugly episode involving a wheat-laden cookie on March 1, it was a no-brainer to make this my new lifestyle.

2.  Start a blog. Yes, this one!  I can’t believe what a big impact this little blog has had on my life.  I’m looking forward to sharing more when my Blog Anniversary rolls around in a couple of months!

3. Buy a Happy Light. I love my sunshine, and I dearly miss it during the short winter days.  But since I don’t think I actually have Seasonal Affective Disorder I never investigated light therapy. I’m so glad a friend persuaded me to give one of these little lamps a try–it’s so easy to use and makes my winter so much cheerier.

4. Join the gym. I was in very good shape before my last pregnancy, but my attempts at working out since my baby boy was born had been half-hearted….until my favorite gym moved to a location 5 blocks from my house.  I joined immediately, and my fitness is improving dramatically.  As an added perk, I’m focusing more on eating well and getting enough sleep and it’s doing great things for my all-around health.

5. See a counselor. I’ve had a pesky issue sitting on my mental back-burner for years, but it never occurred to me to do anything about it–until this year, when I finally realized that talking to a professional could be a really good idea.  I only saw my counselor a half-dozen times or so, over the course of a few months, but the payback for me was huge.

6. Get my baby to sleep through the night.  I lean toward gentle, attachment-style parenting, and I’ve never been in the cry-it-out camp.  But last winter my 12-month old went from waking up 2-3 times a night to waking up every 30 minutes, and something had to be done.  I got a copy of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and we started sleep training (which is just a nicer way of saying I put him in his crib and let him cry.  A lot.)  We had two rough days, but after that baby and I were both sleeping again.  And I emerged from my sleep-deprived fog with a lot more empathy for moms who make different parenting choices than I do.

What are the smartest things you did in 2011?

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  1. The smartest thing that I did in 2011 was admit that I didn’t have life all figured out and packaged up with a neat little bow. I came to the realization that I could be downright ugly, that my attitude could be beyond stinky, and that without God, it was impossible to handle life on my own. Getting a job drove me to His Word and gave me a prayer life like I had never experienced before. It was tough and horrible and there were lots and lots of tears, but in the end, the growth that I experienced was TOTALLY worth it. Even if I quit this job tomorrow, I am a better person because of it – scratch that – I am a better person because of the growth that I experienced in God because He held my hand on the worst of days. I can’t imagine life without Him.

  2. Tanya says:

    Surprisingly, one of the best things I did in 2011 was to visit a vineyard. I got the chance to be a vinedresser for a morning, and it really brought new meaning to the verses where God talks about being the vine and we are the branches. It gave me a lot of new insight and perspective.

  3. Rita says:

    I bought a “happy lamp” a week ago after being in denial about having SAD. I can’t believe how much it has benefited me this week. My husband (who doesn’t have SAD) uses it when he gets home from work at 2pm (he is up at 4am) and it gives him energy for the rest of the day. Who knew? It’s been the best $80 I’ve spent in a long time!

  4. What a great list! I also went gluten-free last year, and I am astounded by how much better I feel. I’m working on #6 with our seven-month-old, and getting a little bit more sleep is making a big difference already. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Melanie B says:

    I finally found a spiritual director. I’ve been thinking about it for years and I finally asked my pastor for a recommendation. It has had a subtle but very definite effect.

  6. Jaimie says:

    So happy for and proud of you!!!
    Gluten sensitivity is thankfully not a problem for either one of us (I made homemade bread and I ADD extra gluten to make the bread softer!). However, I have done or can see myself doing pretty much all of those things.

    Let’s see, the smartest things I did in 2011…
    I got married!! It’s a huge blessing for both of us, and I’ve grown in my faith, become more independent and self-motivated, more selfless, more creative, more skilled in homemaking, and I’m learning how to trust God more–all as a result of being married.
    The second best decision I made this year was to start working out, for real. I feel SO much better than I used to and I’m much stronger. My energy waxes and wanes with the amount of sleep I get, but overall I’m definitely more healthy!

  7. I have committed to getting up when my husband gets up to go to work to make sure that he starts his day with fresh, hot coffee and a hot breakfast. He is so gentle with me that I know he would never have asked me to do these things, but I am a stay-at-home mom who can do whatever she wants all day long. How selfish of me to lay in bed and send him out into the world unprepared each morning! I love my husband!

  8. Amy says:

    Oh, a SAD light is something that’s definitely going on my wishlist. I’ve tried to be in denial about it, but I know that the seasons really do affect me quite deeply.

  9. Kirsten says:

    Hi Anne! The link to the happy light is not working. Could you please let me know which one works for you? I moved to Seattle in April and have been a bit overwhelmed with the negative reviews as I have been searching for one. Thanks!

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