Farewell to 2011 in Photos: Link-up

Christmas is over and a new year is nearing. As much as I love Christmas, I also really love this time of year when the holiday madness is over and the week-between lull starts. The end-of-year lists and retrospectives appear, offering a chance to remember what was and think about what will be before normal life resumes and the daily what-is takes over.

So let’s do some retrospecting, shall we?


Pick a picture (or a couple, if you wish) for each month of the year, post, and link up with me to say farewell to 2011 in photos. (You can focus on the photography or the memories – up to you.)

One winner will be randomly chosen from those who link up to receive a complimentary registration in the Brave Girls Club’s Soul Restoration I class.



This is the only photo I’m including that’s not mine (credit underactive on Flickr) but it’s what best represents January to me. January 2011 is when I started this blog and shortly after that I started using this image in my header. I’ve had 2 other designs since, but this one is still “my” image. It remains my wallpaper on my laptop and I’m still getting gifts inspired by this image. I love it, and it will always represent this blog and what it has come to mean to me.



I took this photo as we were preparing to take off for Toronto from my hometown, which doesn’t get a lot of snow so de-icing is a rare requirement. This picture is not about the snow, though. It’s about the trip, and not because it was memorable but because it wasn’t. In thinking about February I knew I had travelled for work but I couldn’t remember where I’d gone. And even now, I barely remember that trip, except that I forgot to pack underwear. It was the start of my realizing something within me had fundamentally changed over the last couple of years, and not in a good way.


The happenings in March—including this visit to the antenatal assessment unit—were the precursor to what happened next and what my year has become. On the current path of my life this yellow hallway was the start line. It was where I went to see the psychiatrist who put me on the medication that almost killed me (and that, incidentally, also probably saved my life). I will never, ever forget this hallway.


In April I plummeted. Crashed and burned. And this room is where I ended up. No, not a psych ward, but the guest room of a friend’s place. She was out of town and kindly offered me a sanctuary when I badly needed to run and hide. At the beginning of a 4 1/2 month leave from work I spent a few days here, awake late into the nights before finally taking a shrink-prescribed pill that knocked me out completely for at least 12 hours. When I think of the me who spent time in this room I barely recognize her. This grainy picture from my BlackBerry isn’t one I’ve published before, but I took it because I wanted to remember this room. When I look at this picture now all I feel is unending gratitude for that time and space and my friend’s generosity.



By May I had scraped myself up off the floor and was riding a yo-yo. Yearning to be better but mostly bouncing between desperate depression and feeling nothing. I walked. A lot. On the day I took this picture I decided it was time to start looking at what was around me again.



June was the start of the road that let me where I am now, though I didn’t know it at the time. “We could move to Alberta,” my husband said, and shortly after that we went to Calgary for my sister’s graduation. This picture was taken at the Calgary Zoo and I remember enjoying the visit while one question reverberated around my brain: “Am I ever going to feel better?” And yet, at the same time, I started to really see myself again.



In July I had had enough. Enough of being on leave from work, enough of being drugged all the time and enough of feeling like a mental patient. I started to explore going back to work, but my psychiatrist wasn’t so keen. I was annoyed at the time but when I look at this picture I remember that she was right. My husband took Connor out one day so I could have some quiet time alone in the house. It was badly needed, but when he sent me this picture all I could think was that I should be there with them. But at that point early in the month I just couldn’t. When I look at this picture I think about how I missed out on so much time with my son. Not just months, but years.


Group at Sparklecorn at BlogHer '11

By August I had taken a stand. I fired my psychiatrist, weaned myself off the sedating anti-anxiety medication (note: don’t try that at home – much better to have a doctor’s advice and know what you’re getting in to), and scheduled my return to work. But first I went to BlogHer ’11. It was totally amazing – incredible and life-changing.

I got myself back.

(Clockwise: Lizz, Galit, Natalie, me, Jessica, Mad Woman at BlogHer in San Diego)


blue streaked hair

In September I turned the focus back on others and streaked my hair blue in support of suicide prevention (and my friend Cristi, who is tireless in her efforts to raise awareness). In the end, there were many #bluebloggers who did this, including my mother.

first day of preschool

But that’s not all! September was so monumental it deserves two photos. This is my baby on his first day of preschool. I just love this kid.


House for sale sign

In October we did it – after a month of prep work we put our house up for sale so we could move to Calgary. It sold in less than two weeks and we haven’t looked back.


our new house

In November we made a quick trek here, bought a house in one day and moved into it less than a month later. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing, right?. (Smart cookie, that Helen Keller was.)


fun in the snow

And here we are at the end of the year, living in snow and sunshine. Our whole world has shifted and we couldn’t be happier about it.


As I sit here now, late on the evening of Christmas Day, I will admit to looking back at this year with some emotion. I’m aware every day, around every turn and with every breath of crisp winter air, that life is different. That I am different. That I’m not where I thought I would be. But it’s been a while since I really looked back at where I was.

2011 was hard. Gut-wrenching, tear-stained, and really, really hard. But ultimately oh so good. As we finish out this year I’m so, so grateful and unbelievably excited about what 2012 will bring.

What about you?




  1. Wow! You’ve had a huge year!! A lot of growing for you and your family inside and out :)

    What a great idea. I’m going to do this for sure. But I’ll need to submit at the last minute due to a lack of Internet.

    I want to wish you a wonderful new year and a wonderful 2012 full of more growing and adventures. Howie

    • It’s weird – I look at this and it really hits me, even though I’m obviously aware we had a big year.

      Totally looking forward to your version – that will be awesome with the year you’ve had!

  2. What an amazing journey you’ve taken this year, Robin. And I’m so glad I’ve taken part of that with you, through reading your words, watching your vlogs, looking at your pictures.

    May 2012 bring joy, happiness, fulfillment, contentment and purpose.

    (I will link up with you soon!)

  3. What a year! I am so glad it is ending on a high! I love your new house.

  4. Whoops. Apparently I am not good at reading directions…I’m doing a blog post for each month with highlights from every month. Oh well…it’s still therapeutic nonetheless. Love the blue hair Robin!

    • That’s cool too – so glad you’re retrospecting with me!

      I loved the blue hair – too bad it’s so hard to keep it blue.

  5. Beautiful Robin!
    You have had a record year and I’ve been happy to be along for the ride.
    So glad you have ended up where you did xo

  6. I was *so very inspired* reading this post about the year you’ve had. I am on the sidelines here, cheering for you and all that you have been through. I am so relieved to hear you got through it – and it’s so great to read such honesty about post-partum depression from a mom-blogger because I know so many moms go through it but since there’s still a kind of stigma attached to depression in our culture, they’re afraid to share about it.
    Many years ago I fired a shrink too – he had put me on medication it turns out I didn’t need, and I was the 0.0001 percent of the population who is allergic to it – terribly allergic – it was Zoloft. I went mental. Thankfully I had a moment and fired him and got off the stuff after reading a book called Talking Back to Prozac by Peter Breggin – and pretty quickly my old self returned.
    But I know how scary it is.
    Love that you took a photo of “the guest room” – and dyed your hair blue. (-:
    I’m thinking of going to Blogher this year in NY and if you go I’d love to meet you!

    • Oh, horrible. I’m so glad you took charge. (Zoloft is what I’m on. I’m not allergic, but the process of getting on to full strength was downright awful.)

      And thanks for your comments about PPD. It was hard for me to start writing about it but doing that this year was the best thing I’ve ever done.

  7. Reading through some of your linked posts while making my way through your year in photos, I am struck by how totally brave you are. I am struck by your strength and resilience. And I am deeply moved by your honesty. Sharing these qualities with us imparts some onto us. I feel a little stronger, a bit more brave, and ready to open up a bit more because of reading your words. Thank you for that.

  8. Christine @ Quasi Agitato says:

    Good lord that’s one hell of a year! I feel like I’ve taken a similar journey but spread out over NINE years. Well done.

    I love this linky and am going to try to put something meaningful together.

    • Wow, I think nine years would be worse. A lot of mine built up over 3 years, but this year was the worst. Can’t imagine having tough times for as long as you did!

      Would love to see you put something together. I have no doubt it would be beautiful.

  9. This is absolutely beautiful. I hope to find time to do this soon!

  10. Wow. It sounds like your year was pretty much split in half, like my 2010 was. This is a really great retrospective and I’m very tempted to grab some photos and link up with you!

  11. Eric Storch says:

    What a wonderful idea! I am amazed and inspired by what you went through this past year. In fact, I have been reading many wonderful stories like this throughout the blog-o-sphere.

    Just remember, it gets better. It always does.

  12. What an incredible journey this past year has been!

    I hope that this upcoming year brings you joy & happiness!

  13. Robin, all I could say is look at how far you’ve come away from that dark place, my dear! Yours is truly a story of resilience and strength. That just because life throws you down doesn’t mean you can’t get back up and fight. You’ve been an inspiration to so many others, including me. Thank you for that.

    Here’s wishing you peace, joy, and the same resilient spirit in the year to come!

  14. Thank you for taking me on this journey with you. So proud of all the leaps and bounds you overcame. I wish you all the best for the new year!!

    • You’ve had your own moments of brilliant overcoming, even if you don’t want to remember all the crap you had to leap over. 2012 is going to be better for both of us, right?! xo

  15. What a journey 2011 has been for you… sounds like you’ve found the right path. That boy is beautiful!!

  16. ROBIN!!!! This was amazing! I knew about some of this and we in awe of how well you handled your move. You seemed to take everything in stride. I had no idea. You are one g*d damn tough lady!!! How truly amazing you are to make it through that and work so hard to get yourself to this place. I have so much admiration and pride for you. You are an amazingly strong, tough and resilient woman my friend! -Laverne visiting from LoveLinks

  17. This is so amazing. What a journey for you, your husband and Connor. Your lows and highs so clear through the images and their descriptions. I am glad to see the last image of Connor in the snow, his brilliant smile. As strange as it may sound, I may have seen you at Blogher, you look familiar to me…maybe in a moment not as Robin from pre-July but as the more shiny, in control, Robin of August on. I am so happy to see the images from the last 6 months, but the first photos are striking in their quiet communication of how far you have come in one year, and how far we can all come in one year. My favorite photo is the one of Connor at the mini-golf course where you make your decision that you should be there with them, enough is enough. I love this photo and your words. You take your life back. I hope 2012 is magical, and full of love and joy for you all. Happy New Year.

    • Oh, maybe I did see you at BlogHer! That would be cool.

      You’re right about this year, and that day we walked in the snow was just so full of joy. When I looked at December pictures that was the obvious choice. It sums up why it was all worth it and my gratitude for moving on after the hard stuff.

  18. Your photos document an amazing year – into the darkness and out again. Going into the darkness, as any good myth can tell us, is easy. Getting out again is the part that sucks – but when you emerge from that darkness, the knowledge and strength you have gained makes the rest of the journey easier. Congratulations on moving out of the darkness–and on having the strength to share the knowledge that comes from pain. Your posts will, I am sure, help others who may be staring into their versions of the yellow hallway. Happy, happy new year.

  19. You? Are breath taking. Seeing your journey in photos and words left me teary- and inspired. I can only imagine what 2012 will bring! Go. You! xo

    • Galit, if there were such a thing as a professional commenter, you would be top of the heap. You warm my heart. xo

    • Totally reading Galit’s comment AFTER posting mine and I see we have both described you as breath-taking, Robin. I guess that makes it irrefutable now, huh?

      Oh, and green with envy at the BlogHer photo…… I’m’ma Photoshop my head in….

  20. Your year, although clearly painful for you, offers promise to those who read it. Thanks for sharing. Stopping by from Mama Kat’s.

  21. I have to say that it is harder to go back through the year and pick out pictures than I thought it would be.

    Your year was so full….of hard things and good things. When I look at this I just feel so proud of you for the work you have done and the changes you have made and the inspiration you are. You rocked 2011 (even on the hard days).

  22. Chibi Jeebs says:

    I have to say thank you: there’s a lot my brain would have glossed over were it not for going back through the year’s blog posts.

    I tried to link up, but I’m not sure if it worked… You KNOW how much I love Brave Girls – I would LOVE this opportunity! :)

    Happy New Year! <3

  23. Robin, I love the year you have had – the curve of it – exquisite in both its highs and its lows because it has brought you here, now.

    Possibilities abound.

    The hardest years can define us, that is for sure. But if we have grown, taken the lessons (the shitty, shitty, will this never end? lessons) and really grown, then the beauty in that is breath-taking, don’t you think?

    I think you’re breath-taking. I sure do.

    See you next year, my friend. xxx

  24. Robin – what a great idea and what a HUGE year you’ve had. I love how you share your life – with such grace. Happy 2012.

  25. Robin–the way that you described this year, the emotion behind those pictures and your words—- even someone like me who has been witness to your journey (from afar) is touched, and moved, and inspired. So very thankful that our paths crossed this year. Much love to you!!

  26. You’ve had quite a journey. Congratulations. The road to sanity is a difficult one!

  27. Samantha at ShesNotBroken says:

    This is a really neat idea for a blog-hop. It sounds like you likewise had an eventful year–I wish neither of us knew what some of those experiences were like. I’m glad things are also looking up for you.

  28. I linked up this, but I don’t think I commented. Wonderful idea, first of all and 2nd… awesome photos from a year well lived. :)

  29. I love the idea of doing a year in review in pictures. I love pictures so much. You captured your year beautifully, i hope i have as many pics that say so much. still enjoying your blog immensely and took the time today to check out some of your link followers and found a few that I think will be a nice addition. Hopefully I can get around to checking out some more later. have a good new year.


  1. Happy New Year! » The Best of Everything says:

    […] Robin from Farewell Stranger – Farewell to 2011 in Photos […]

  2. It’s the last day of 2011? Already?! « I Can't Brain Today; I Have the Dumb. says:

    […] haven’t taken enough pictures throughout the past year to do a photo retrospective, so you’re not gonna get […]

  3. 2011 Pictorial | Quasi Agitato says:

    […] Robin at Farewell Stranger did a year in review post with pictures. I thought it was a great idea and wanted to do one myself. I found putting one together to be pretty hard. Summing up a month in one picture? Would video be cheating? I suspected so. […]

  4. […] Farewell Stranger’s link-up, here is my year in photographs! WP_SLIDESHOW_IMAGES = { load: […]

  5. […] to 2012, I love the idea of saying goodbye to 2011 with some pictures – a wonderful idea by Robin of Farewell Stranger, with her link up Farewell to 2011 in Pictures. I’m also linking up with Jessica of Four Plus An Angel and Ashley of Porch Swing Mom for […]

  6. […] year at the end of the year I said farewell to 2011 in photos. I invited other bloggers to join me and many did, and I enjoyed the look back at the year in the […]

  7. […] moments, big news stories and all that wrap-up-the-year stuff. So why not do our own? I did this photo retrospective last year and it was a great exercise in looking at just how much had happened in a […]

  8. […] at Farewell Stranger had a wonderful idea. Write a blog capturing the moments from last year by using one photo from […]

our take on Sizegenetics review
Listing all pages