My friend Claire posted this questionnaire on her blog before Christmas so I thought I would do the same, Hopefully it’s long enough that it’ll take you a while to read and I’ll get some of the many posts in my head written up… hope your Christmas break has been as wonderful as mine!
And now let the questions begin…
1.What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Got engaged, got married, started taking Danish lessons… that’s good for starters!
2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions and will you make more for next year?
I re-made a resolution from 2008 that I had kept well and enjoyed: writing at least one real letter a week. But I was rubbish at it this year! Maybe I will re-make it again and try and be better because there is nothing lovelier than coming home to find someone has sent you post. I haven’t thought of any other resolutions yet…
3. Did anyone you know give birth?
So many people, and all in the last few months! My long time pen friend Annie had her third child, my cousin Helen had her second, my sister-in-law Pernille had her first son and my first nephew! My friend Anna had a son, Rasmus’ colleague Luc and his wife Celine had a daughter, Mariette at church had a son, Paula at church had a daughter. And then during Christmas week Laura & Stephen had a beautiful baby girl who I am planning on visiting any day now, and Mark & Angela announced the birth of their son just last week. So much joy I could explode!
4. Did anyone you know die?
My Nan, in March. Her death was both incredibly sad and a great relief. Such a strange conflict of emotions. But I missed her at my wedding, especially when I saw her sister-in-law there and realised how much Nan would have enjoyed it.
5. What countries did you visit?
(Not counting the UK since visiting there still feels a bit like going home even though home is Belgium): Denmark, Ireland, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Slovakia, France, Italy, Bangladesh… think that’s it. That includes six that were brand-new-never-been-before countries!
6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
Holiday! Seriously, I know the list of places above will likely cause people to scoff at this answer but a lot of those trips were for work, which while often fun, were not holiday. Belgium is horribly mean the first year you have a working contract so all my holiday this year has been for days “in lieu” and due to an incredibly generous boss.
7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
October 11th. Because it’s engraved inside the ring on my left hand, alongside the name of the person I love most.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I really don’t know. I find it quite hard to talk about my achievements, it seems easier somehow to identify failures. But I’ll try. I am proud of being good at showing hospitality, of making people feel welcome and comfortable. I’m proud of teaching English all year at the asylum centre. I’m proud of how much effort I am putting in to learning Danish. I’m proud of how personal and authentic our wedding felt.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Letting fear of failure stop me from doing a lot of things I really wanted to do.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Not really. I don’t remember anyway. There were a couple of days back in the spring that I was sick and spent about three days sleeping on Rasmus’ couch while he tried to convince me that I would get better so quickly if only I would drink shots of Gammel Dansk…
11. What was the best thing you bought?
I bought a print from etsy (will try and find the seller and add her here) which says “Today I will be happier than a bird with a french fry” and it makes me smile every time I see it.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
So many of the aid and development workers I have had the privilege to meet this year who work long and hard to aid the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, often in hugely challenging conditions.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
I could name a few politicians…
14. Where did most of your money go?
My studio flat until October. The trip to Lebanon – soooo totally worth the money! And then, umm, there was this rather big event in October which wasn’t cheap.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
So many things. I get excited very easily. Most recently Rasmus early morning announcement “Oh, Pernille had the baby” made me wake up faster than has ever been known to happen. And kept me grinning and hopping up and down for the rest of the day…
16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
Pirates’ Gospel by Alela Diane
17. Compared to this time last year, are you: happier or sadder, thinner or fatter, richer or poorer?
Happier – not sure, don’t really care* – probably marginally richer
*not entirely true…
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
20. How will you be spending Christmas? (um, meaning how did I spend Christmas)
With my new husband, my wonderful family, my Grandpa, Uncle Neil, mum’s good food, an open fire, snowy walks up the hill, carols at church, the Scottish highlands as a backdrop… lovely!
21. Did you fall in love in 2009?
24. What was your favourite TV program?
I haven’t figured out how to turn on the TV yet. I’m not kidding. So not much TV. Although a few happy tears have been shed over online episodes of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. And I am not ashamed.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
26. What was the best book you read?
Hum hum hum. I read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver which was very good. And I read The Reader by Bernhard Schlink as well which I really enjoyed. The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne was also very thought-provoking and inspiring. I just finished The Promise of Happiness by Justin Cartwright over Christmas and really liked that.
27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Alela Diane. I love her oh so much.
28. What did you want and get?
A beautiful wedding surrounded by many people I love dearly.
29. What did you want and not get?
A puppy. I really want a puppy. Except I don’t really. But I do. If you know what I mean. All in all it’s probably a good thing we don’t always get what we want…
30. What was your favourite film of this year?
I didn’t really go to the cinema that much this year. Hmm… I saw Slumdog Millionaire on the plane on the way to Bangladesh and LOVED it. (sidenote, I am looking at this sentence and cannot for the life of remember whether the thing you fly in is spelt plane or plain. I think I picked the right one)
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I took the day off, went shopping, went to my favourite café for lunch and read and doodled and wrote a letter to Amy, then got my hair cut, met friends for coffee, ate a kebab, went to the Good Friday worship meeting at church, then went out for drinks at St Gery with a table full of good friends.
I was 25. I wasn’t ready to be 25 yet – I didn’t think I had fully used up my time as a 24 year old – but actually 25 has turned out to be a pretty good age.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Jenni living just about four blocks away from me…
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
“Let’s see, what do I have in my wardrobe that is not too old and worn that I can wear it again, and therefore avoid having to go shopping on Rue Nueve?”
In my dream world I would look like someone who just stepped out of an Anthropologie Catalogue… so basically like my friend Sarah Holt. Or like Fancy. If I could be dressed by her every morning I would be happy.
34. What kept you sane?
Baking. Muffins before work if necessary to keep my emotions balanced.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
No one is springing to mind…
36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Sri Lanka. What a mess of a situation.
37. Whom did you miss?
Also Ellie. And Hannah. You don’t make friends like these every day.
38. Who was the best new person you met?
Brussels is one of those cities where people are always coming and going so there are so many wonderful new people I have met this year.
If I have to choose I would say Anca. She only started working in the office downstairs the week before I got married, but for the last two months I have LOVED getting to know her, being able to pop downstairs when I am craving a few minutes of human distractions, sharing a lot of thoughts and ideas with her. She is warm and sweet and generous and affirming and stronger than she realises.
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” But I’m still learning this one.
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“I come back to the place you are and all my instincts they return…”