The 2016 Survey
I’ve done the same year-end survey every year since (I think) 2001. It’s a good tradition.
1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
Ran a 15K; ran a half-marathon; ran two half-marathons; ran for St. Jude; got a membership to a yoga studio; learned to play poker; attended the Festival of Faith & Writing; had surgery; regularly worked from home; regularly attended a 6 am exercise class; took a certification exam; actually saw whales on a whale-watching tour; rode a San Francisco cable car; saw 20/20 with my own eyes; joined a weekly trivia team. Among other things.
2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My One Word for 2016 was Light. While I didn’t write much about it, I’ve reflected on it all year. I definitely feel lighter in every sense than I did in January. I’ll talk more about it when I share my word for 2017, which I’ve just decided on after weighing two options for several weeks.
3. Did anyone close to you have a child?
Two of my longtime closest friends, Kathy and Myla, had sons, and my SIPster Kelly had her second set of twins!
4. Did anyone close to you die?
5. What countries did you visit?
No new countries, and Kansas was my only new state.
6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked this year?
Balance. A better prayer life. A life partner.
7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
April 4: the night my ex Matt and I decided we were Dating. May 28: ran the Memphis in May half with Bethany, with many of my favorite people waiting for me at the finish. That night Bethany, Alanna, and I went to Overton Square and had a Chad Michael Murray sighting. For these reasons and others, it was the happiest day of my year. June 23: vision surgery. November 8: Election Day.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I achieved a lot this year, but passing the Certified Paralegal exam on the first try after two months of independent study was a Very Big Deal.
9. What was your biggest failure?
I don’t feel like I can call myself a writer these days. I published nothing all year, and my only blog post of significance was Why I Quit Tinder in January. Even worse, I’ve pretty much dropped the private blog I kept up for fifteen years (primarily due to access issues, not lack of interest, but still). In summary, for the first time in my adult life, I am not writing reflectively or even documenting my days anywhere. I didn’t even make it to March with The 5-Minute Journal (I was depressed at the time, and it made me more depressed to write daily goals such as “don’t cry at work”). My reading is also at an all-time low – I’m not even going to hit 50 books this year. This is all unhealthy for me and I’m anxious about whether and how I can bounce back.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing notable, and even my recovery from PRK was as easy as it could have been. I feel really fortunate health-wise.
11. What was your best purchase?
My turquoise 1920s dresser. I wanted an adult chest of drawers for years (I’m still using my childhood dresser), and my friend Christina found an amazing one for me on a resale forum. I also paid off my car and upgraded my four-year-old phone!
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
This will sound terrible, but I’m just going to say it: ME. 2016 did its best to kick our collective ass, but I personally feel like I returned the favor. More than ever before, I believed in my own worth and strength. I took risky action to back up that belief, and consistently succeeded (though it didn’t always look like success). I refused to be mistreated or manipulated. I said no to things. I challenged myself and did things that scared me. I attempted to do all this as wisely and humbly as possible. I am faaar from perfect, but I’m very proud of my growth this year. In response to my hesitance to write this answer, a good friend said, “You carried your own light often, and that is admirable in every way and evidence of courage and healing.” So there, I’m owning it.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Someone with the initials DJT.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Tickets to events – concerts, sporting events, beer fests and classes, supper club, etc. I didn’t travel much, but I certainly did a lot close to home.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Having a boyfriend; my running progress; my brother’s engagement; passing the exam; seeing!
16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
“Cheap Thrills” by Sia. Also anything by Twenty One Pilots.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
Happier; fatter (I Can Run 13.1, but None of My Jeans Fit: The Brenda Wilkerson Story); about the same.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Writing, reading, cooking, beach trips.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Dealing with broken items. Crying.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
I’ll spend it here in Memphis with my parents and brother.
21. Did you fall in love in 2016?
22. What concerts did you attend this year?
Sister Hazel, HAIM, Julien Baker, Young the Giant, Weezer, Weird Al Yankovic (bucket list!), Delta Rae, Lera Lynn, NEEDTOBREATHE with Mat Kearney, Ingrid Michaelson (also bucket list!).
23. What was your favorite TV program?
This Is Us
24. Do you dislike anyone now whom you didn’t dislike this time last year?
My opinions of people are holding pretty steady.
25. What was the best book you read?
The Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer.
26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The cast of Hamilton. ;)
27. What did you want and get?
Hope. Confidence. A real relationship. More men in my life in general. A new phone. A few moments of Perfect Happiness.
28. What did you want and not get?
Career progress. A longer-term relationship. A reliable, functioning vacuum cleaner.
29. What was your favorite film of this year?
I don’t think I saw even five movies in the theater this year, which is really sad. I guess Captain America: Civil War. It was awesome.
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 37. It was a Tuesday, so I went to work, and then my parents took me and Matt to Flight (my favorite restaurant).
31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
I continued to simplify and hone in on my core style (those closest to me would sum it up in one word: cardigans). I’ve let go of having every color of the rainbow in my wardrobe, and eliminated colors I just don’t feel good in. I’ve gotten more casual overall as a result of my office allowing casual attire year-round (though I’m not completely phoning it in). Also, I now own more running and yoga clothes than I ever imagined, yet it never seems to be enough.
33. What kept you sane?
My loved ones and my cat. Also, unexpectedly, St. John’s Wort. I’ll talk more about this in What I Learned in 2016.
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
With great difficulty, I’ll limit it to two: Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton and one of the most brilliant humans alive. Mayim Bialik, actress, neuroscientist, founder of Grok Nation, and all-around incredible person.
35. What political issue stirred you the most?
I am unable to choose just one in a year when the world was an ongoing dumpster fire.
36. Who did you miss?
My siblings and nieces, though they all live closer than they did at this time last year.
37. Who was the best new person you met?
I’ve met a LOT of great new people, but special props to my wonderful small group at church (I knew some of them before, but not well), and my friend Brandi, a new Memphian who loves the Midtown life as much as I do.
38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson
39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Whisper, move the air
Can you hear me? Can you hear me?
Sometimes it’s all I’ve got to spare
Can you hear me? Can you hear me?
Noises closing in from all sides, warning all the ways to die
They say “you’d better give up, you’d better give up”
I say “I’ll never give up, I’ll never give up”
I’ll be an army, no, you’re not gonna stop me getting through
I’ll sing a marching song and stomp through the halls louder than you
I could surrender, but I’d just be pretending
No, I’d rather be dead than live a lie
Burn the white flag!
About Brenda W.Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister's iced tea. View all posts by Brenda W. →
Posted in reflections, year end