I spent most of the day on the couch yesterday, ringing in the New Year by catching up on blog reading. I love reading the reflections of other bloggers and getting a sense of how they felt their year went. Most were upbeat and cheerful, but for some reason I especially resonated with those like my friend Mary, who wrote a post titled, “When Your ‘Best Of’ List Comes UpEmpty.”
Some years don’t quite meet expectations.
Somehow it just feels right that I’m reflecting on 2014 two days late because that’s how the year felt to me—like I just couldn’t keep up.
Every day left me collapsing into bed feeling like there was something left undone, and most days that feeling was spot on. There was always more to be done.
I’ll be honest, that’s a frustrating place to be, so when I read other bloggers recap their successful 2014s, I kind of cringe. My 2014 feels so inadequate, incomplete, small.
But really, it feels like this only when I compare myself to what other bloggers are doing—writing, speaking, publishing. I know better than to compare, but it’s all so public when its “out there” the way it is in the blogging world. Everyone knows what people want you to know, but they don’t know the thousands of other areas in which we may be struggling . . . or serving . . . and reading the successful recaps of others just makes my green-eyed jealousy monster come out.
2014, for me, was a year of serving behind the scenes, in a way. I didn’t have much time to write on my blog because I was busy in my “real life” in ways I had never been before. And when I think about my year in these terms, it doesn’t feel quite so inadequate, incomplete, or small.
So let me tell you about my year as it was NOT documented on the blog.
This year I . . .
- taught kindergarten Sunday School, which was a blast and a half. Those kids!
- spoke at three women’s retreats. I love doing that!
- taught writing to college students for the umpteenth time. Again, a blast, and yet a humbling learning experience. Always.
- explored Boston and Newport with Caroline. Seriously, I cannot stress how much these mother/daughter trips mean to me.
- took Julia to England and loved every minute of it. Ditto on the above comment.
- attended the Festival of Faith and Writing with Kate, which was an amazing weekend in every way.
- spent two weeks with B in one of our favorite spots right next to a lake. Heavenly.
- hosted a group of college students for Bible study every Tuesday night. They keep us young!
- mentored a college student whom I care about deeply. Challenging, stretching, and rewarding in many ways.
- watched my oldest graduate from college and move into her first apartment. No words can express how proud I am of her.
- served on various committees and boards at church.
Truthfully, this isn’t even the complete list—I just had to stop because it kind of makes my head spin.
Sometime around May, I finally had had it with all the crazy. I desperately needed a change, to simplify some of my life in order to make room for what I really felt like I should be doing.
So I started listing.
I made one list of all of my current commitments and another list of what I really wanted to be doing.
B and I spent a lot of time talking through these lists when we were on vacation this summer, and we came up with some strategies to make some changes. But change of this sort doesn’t come quickly, and I’m still in the middle of untangling some knots in my schedule in order to make space for other priorities.
So what does that mean for 2015? For my blog? For my writing?
It means some changes need to take place. It means that I am working hard to create white space in my life so that I can tend to this blog and so that I can get to work doing the writing that I want to do.
It means that this coming semester is my last semester of teaching for a while. (I know, I said that last year, but this time I really mean it.)
It means that I’m going to try harder to stick to a writing schedule. You should see me around here at least twice a week, maybe three times a week during Downton Abbey season. *wink wink*
It means that I’m going to pursue other writing opportunities as well. I’ve already got a couple of guest posts lined up and am looking for more.
It means a shifting of priorities and commitments that feels a little awkward, but also good and right and necessary.
It means I could use your prayers as you think of me.
So what did happen on the blog this year?
I took a look back to see what my most-viewed posts were and thought I’d share them with you.
Interestingly to me, my top post of the year was a Downton Abbey post that must have gotten passed around a LOT because it got so many more views than any other post this year: Top 5 Lines from Downton Abbey, S4:E5(that’s Season 4: Episode 5 for those of you who can’t decode my title).
Downton fans, take heart. You can be sure that my little fingers will by typing away during the first episode of Season 5 this Sunday and all throughout this season. Can’t wait!
In February of last year I did a little series called “The Spectacular Ordinary,” in which I looked for the small bits of amazing in every day. As I look back over that series, I realize that that was one of my favorite series of the year. I might have to do it again. Anyway, this post about Kate’s car accident seemed to resonate with a lot of people.
I have a lot to say about giving kids space and letting them take risks as appropriate. This series, “Reflecting on Risk,” touched a nerve with several of you.
If you’ve been around here for any amount of time, you know that I love to travel. This post, “Five Reasons I Travel with My Kids,” was very popular last year.
“How to Let Go of Regret,” was a post that landed in my Top 5 this year. It’s a lesson I need to preach to myself over and over again.
In the fall I resurrected my Fabulous Friday Food posts for a while (something I hope to do more of in the new year). My “World’s BestChili” was a favorite post and, according to your feedback, a new favorite chili recipe. Yea!
Finally, one of my most popular posts was also my favorite from the year. It was a heart wrenching post to write because it was personal to me, but, I felt, one that needed to be written. Interestingly, this happened before the grand jury decision and all of the ugliness of Ferguson took place. “The Ugly Truth about ‘Life’s Not Fair.’”
Friends, I cannot thank you enough for sticking with me this past year, especially for reading and commenting. You who read here are important to me, and I look forward to growing together in the year ahead.
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