I think 2010 was the year that I began to appreciate my freedom. Years ago, I was talking with a friend, and it came up that she was very happy she had kids but sometimes sad that she couldn't just cut loose and go off on a trip, and I was very happy that I had the ability to just cut loose and go off on a trip, but I was sometimes sad that I didn't have kids. Then, we started talking about people who spend all their time lamenting what they do not have instead of appreciating what they do.
This past year, I started to think about more ways to take advantage of the life I have instead of feeling sorry for myself about the things I don't. It's one reason I took more hikes last summer in the area. It's one reason I spent more nights in NYC this past semester on nights before the class I was auditing at NYU. It's a big reason I applied for a year-long sabbatical for next year, and the university announced publicly today that I am one of the winners. I am already planning to apply for fellowships that will allow me to live away from home for various periods of time. Of course, it's not like I can do this only because I do not have kids. I have colleagues in my hallway who have done year-long sabbaticals and lived out of the country with young twins to raise.
I'm just saying that I spent more time this past year asking myself what I can do instead of focusing on what I can't. That means I've felt like I've done more in the past few months, too. I'm not sure I've actually done anymore than I would have, but I am more aware of it. Even my husband says I whine less.
Notice I'm not saying I no longer whine. I just do it less.