LIVED IN EUROPE. (This is the big one!)
Traveled in Europe without having to apply for a visa.
Painted my own walls (in the bedroom and living room).
Joined a running group and worked up to running for 20 minutes straight.
Grew my own herbs.
Had fresh flowers at home every week.
Wore a bathing suit at a park.
Learned how to knit (made a scarf).
Learned how to dance the salsa.
Learned how to bake (my favorite dessert: lemon tart!).
Edited videos for money.
Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. But this year I set goals (something that always works for me when I remember to do it) and achieved many of them. That’s something I will do again this year.
Did anyone close to you give birth?
Susie and Tinus, our dearest friends from Singapore, became the parents of a gorgeous baby boy named Max, the day before we moved to Amsterdam. We were his first visitors at the hospital!
Later in the year, another Max was born—this time to my friend Leslie in Amsterdam.
Did anyone close to you die?
Tito Rolly Cailles, one of our wedding godfathers, succumbed to leukemia.
What countries did you visit?
A steady paycheck. Haha!
What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Taking a leap of faith and ending up with a home and a life that I love. Runner-up: losing 8 pounds in two months.
What was your biggest failure?
Succumbing to inertia for a significant chunk of the year.
Did you suffer illness or injury?
I was hospitalized for severe asthma shortly after our arrival in the Netherlands.
What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
January 10, 2011: the day we arrived in Amsterdam.
What was the best thing you bought?
Hard to choose in a year filled with great furniture purchases. But I have would say it’s a toss-up between Final Cut Pro 7—the only purchase that’s paid for itself!—and my large purple leather satchel from Su-Shi.
Whose behavior merited celebration?
My husband, for sure! From big things (like making the choices that got us where we are this year) to small things (like getting out of bed late at night to adjust the heating), he has done so much to make me feel like the luckiest wife in the world.
What did you get really, really, really excited about? MOVING TO EUROPE!
Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Appalled and depressed are strong words; I wouldn’t use them. But the Philippine government always manages to make me go aaaaargh!
Where did most of your money go?
Fewer things, more experiences: travel and creative classes. I’m very happy about that.
What song will always remind you of 2011?
Turning Tables by Adele: it was playing while we were painting the living room. Firework by Katy Perry was on practically every two minutes on the radio in Portugal and was the soundtrack to many a drive. And Kanye’s All of the Lights.
Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier. Maybe “just as happy” would be more accurate.
ii. thinner or fatter? For the first time… THINNER, thank God!
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer in pocket, richer in experience.
What do you wish you’d done more of? Find work/generate income.
What do you wish you’d done less of? Stay in bed all day.
What was your favorite TV program?
Breaking Bad! Also: Game of Thrones, Fringe, Master Chef Australia, Homeland.
Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I don’t hate anyone. Hating is more toxic for the hater than for the hated.
What was the best book you read? A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin.
What was your greatest musical discovery?
Florence and the Machine (sorry, I know I’m late to the party), Calle 13 (reggaeton a.k.a. Latino hip-hop), Joshua Radin (folk), Wende (amazing Dutch chanteuse specializing in the French chanson).
What did you want and got?
Living in Europe has been a lifelong dream that was fulfilled this year. I also wanted to make girl friends, learn Dutch, take creative classes and travel, travel, travel. Check na check!
In terms of material possessions, I wanted a new lens and a sewing machine. Thanks to my thoughtful hubby who knows me so well and always gives me great gifts, I got both!
What was your favorite film of this year? Midnight in Paris!
What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 30 in Turkey! I woke up at the crack of dawn to go on my first-ever hot air balloon ride over the stunning landscape of Cappadocia.
What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
A real summer with sunshine, blue skies and warm weather.
How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
“Embracing Europe.” I experimented more, and gave more thought to putting together an overall look. I also loved being able to layer out of necessity and not pretense… and to be able to do it without wilting!
What kept you sane? Thank God for the Internet. And new friends.
Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Alexander Skarsgard! Hotness.
What political issue stirred you the most?
The NAIA airport renovation and cancellation of KLM’s direct flights to Manila. Yes, I’m selfish that way.
Who did you miss? My family and choir friends.
Who was the best new person you met?
My new girlfriends, the “ladies who lunch.” I’m so lucky to have found a group of women who are not only genuinely kind, but also smart, creative, easy to be with, and funny.
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011:
This quote by James Frey sums it up quite nicely: “If you care about what other people think, you will always be their prisoner.” I’ve begun to truly grasp that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone.
Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“Today is where your book begins/The rest is still unwritten.” – Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield
The most touching experience you’ve had this year?
Being on the receiving end of the Glee Club’s farewell serenade in Paris. Sniff.
What did you like most about yourself this year?
My creativity. I’ve both gone back to what I love to do and discovered new ways to express myself. My challenge for 2012 will be to focus my efforts and ideas in a way that will create value for myself and others.
What did you hate most about yourself this year?
I put off way too many things.
Was 2011 a good year for you?
The best I’ve had in a while. I like the lifestyle changes that have come about as a result of our big move. And it’s not every year that a dream gets fulfilled. I can’t wait to find out what 2012 has in store!