Julia: 2011 was a year of chaos.  For me, it was also a year that made me realize my life was cluttered – the study was bursting with books we’d never read again; the kitchen was filled with gadgets that had been superceded by something slicker and quicker; the loft was stuffed full of nostalgia – a damaged porcelain doll, old photos of people I don’t remember, aged theatre programmes.  Our home was weighed down by the past.

Slowly, I have been discarding the unnecessary. Papers have been sorted into two piles – file or fling.  Movies are stored on a computer, and the VHSs, CDs and DVDs given new homes.  A local charity has even asked that we stop donating our books as they haven’t the space to store any more.  Even our beautiful grey cockatiel, Joey, who died of old age on Christmas Eve, will not be replaced.

Some friends recently moved house, and have given away most of their furniture, cushions, and knicknacks.  Their new home is a delight of spaciousness and freedom.  

Is that what de-cluttering is all about?  Do we feel free as we let go of material possessions?  I don’t know yet, as I still have so much more to dispose of.  But I can imagine the pleasure of opening a cupboard and knowing exactly what’s inside, checking the fridge and knowing there are no expired items hidden at the back, and thinking with a mind cleared of its cobwebs. 

Hoi Yee: My year can be summed up as back-to-back work of business, our boy and our book.   This means that my company has expanded, our son has grown taller and broader with wild and crazy ideas, and writing our book has created a (very) personal space where my opinions and  thoughts are put on paper and ready to be challenged.  I never expected writing non-fiction could make me so vulnerable.

But there I have it, this year’s challenges and changes have brought me “good problems.” 

These problems have pushed the limits of my personal tolerance for getting the job done, just putting one’s nose to the grindstone and not stopping until the task is finished.  It is the high of running my own show, experiencing the addictive sense of dedication and accomplishment.  When I need to pack ten boxes of files for storage I find myself making labels because I just want to get these boxes out of my office, out of my way! When I filled in as receptionist or book-keeper during those months when we could not find anybody to hire, I took on all their tasks and found myself re-vamping our systems.  I have entered mid-age with a steely sense of focus that keeps my energy high.

Raising my son has become the irrational challenge of predicting a moving target.  He worries me, he thrills me and he never fails to surprise me.  I gush with pride and collapse with fatigue within one waking day.  To all those parents who know what I’m talking about, I love my son!

The book is being written and I’m learning more about life, people and myself.  A great year indeed and I look forward to the New Year of the Dragon . . . Roaaaaaaaaaaaar!