Despite the lengthy catching up I need to do that has been hanging over me all year, I want to try and dust off the rust accumulating on these fingers and stretch the creative muscles in my brain that, as far as this blog is concerned, have atrophied. Maybe that will change in 2015. It’s one of my hopes, but I’m holding onto that loosely. In the meantime, I’m enjoying a few days of quiet around here, reflecting on the past year. This year particularly will warrant more intentional time for reflection throughout the coming months, but I’m grateful for the slow Christmastide days with an unexpected feverish boy that comes on the heels of an exceptionally full December.
I’m familiar with Emily P. Freeman’s name, but haven’t read much of her work. A couple of her posts caught my eye in the past week, including "20 Things I Learned in 2014”, and I thought I’d join this round as a good way to start looking back at 2014. Here are twenty things I either learned this year or need to keep on learning that this year honed in on <grin>.
1. I officially don’t like coffee. I tried. I really tried this year to see if I could like it. I bought all sorts of flavored coffee and cream to doctor it up, because when it’s brewing, it smells tantalizing to me. But when the flavor actually meets my tastebuds, I purse my lips each time in dissatisfaction. I wanted coffee to taste like my tea, and that’s when I realized I was losing a battle I wasn’t set out to win in the first place. I’ve settled quite comfortably into being a tea drinker, with no cream or sugar, please.
2. Speech therapists are cream of the crop. Ours has been, at least! I have a profound respect for speech and occupational therapists alike. Kensie Jane has made leaps and bounds with her speech this past year, and I am very grateful for Miss Kiki. When we’re in her office, we get to see some OT’s at work, too. They do an incredible job loving on their patients, teaching them, and staying acutely educated of the intricacies of how are bodies are made.
3. Puppies are good for the soul. Well, while puppies are adorable, they also have that newbornish side to them of not sleeping through the night and needing to be potty trained. That’s a fun puppy phase to be done with. But the playfulness, the cuteness, the snuggles, the personality traits that make you laugh, the softness of their silky ears…it’s soothing to one’s soul.
4. Snow cream is super yummy! When in D.C. last February, Kensie Jane and I were snowed in with Mac, Julie and the babies. Julie made me my first snow cream, and it was so good! It’s sad that it will probably be a very long time until I get to have it again.
5. TV wins. I always have lofty goals of reading more books than I do. When push comes to shove, I learned this year more than ever, that when I need to decompress, just give me a show to watch. West Wing is one of my BFF. It’s accompanied me a lot this past year in moments when I simply needed to crash. Hey, but I bought a lot of books I wanted to read, books that many of you recommended. Maybe 2015 is the year!
6. “I used to think the spiritual life was mostly about finding and using our gifts for God’s glory…more and more, I think it is not this, not first, not most. At root, the spiritual life consists in choosing the way of littleness.” Mark Buchanan’s book, The Rest of God, is one of my top five non-fiction books. It was a divinely timed book for me to read, and this particular quote stuck to my bones. In fact, I am carrying it with me into this new year, a year in which smallness is beckoning me. That probably makes no sense, and even I need to hash it out more. But I really crave smallness right now and have made purposeful decisions in 2015 to make half of the year protected and guarded by littleness, stillness.
7. Cheese, glorious cheese. Anyone remember the vintage 80’s “Glorious Cheese” commercial? As a kid, I was pretty particular about the way I ate cheese. It always had to be melted, and most of the time, I couldn’t stand it. Mac was the cheese guy. That boy ate his life’s worth of Cheese Whiz and Easy Cheese. This year, however, I’ve claimed cheese as a go-to comfort food for me. Real cheese, not cheese in a can. Matt says it doesn’t pass up my requests for chocolate. He speaketh truth.
8. “I’m not leavin’ on a jet plane”. This year marked the first year I can remember when I wasn’t jumping at the opportunity to jet-set across the globe. Lots of other reasons went into me needing to say “no” to going to Singapore and Cambodia this fall, but I’m sad to admit that for the first time I simply battled fear in even getting to a place of willingness to go. I’m not a limber world-traveler like I used to be, less courageous. I’m not happy about this change in me.
9. Gila monsters only eat about only 5 times a year. I know lots of random animal facts now thanks to the kids’ most favorite show ever: Wild Kratts.
10. Give me a day by myself. I’m a fairly good conversationalist and always enjoy the opportunity to ask people good questions. More than ever, I realize that I am a very strong introvert, however. There have been a lot of times this year when I needed a full day to recoup. Bless that dark-haired, 6’5” man who cheerfully sends me on my merry way or takes the kids for me to let this homebody replenish.
11. Nothin’ but a hound dog. Some of the people I’ve worked the closest to this past year can accurately and affectionately (thankfully) nickname me “Hound”. It kind of goes with the task master, list-driven side of me. On the healthy side, it makes me dependable and responsible. On the slightly neurotic side of me, it can turn into a tirade of unrest and drivenness, relationships scathed by the fury of to-dos.
Simultaneously cute and sorry looking.
12. I am a leader. I cringe writing this. It seems impertinent and puffed up. I want to delete this and not write it, and yet, I feel like I just need to say it because this year, I have been a leader and it's something in me I didn’t expect to be. Let me remind you about #11; I am a far cry from a perfect leader. And also, hence the need for #6. It’s been exhilarating, scary, amazing and life-changing all in one fell swoop.
13. Family is my safe place. Oh, man, I can’t tell you how thankful I am for my precious ones. There were many a morning and many a night that they sent me to meetings with encouragement and welcomed me back home with warmth and more encouragement. They didn’t always get Miss Sunshine from me if I was feeling stressed or overwhelmed. But they were a steady source of kindness and helpfulness. They are my people, my safe place to land.
14. Colorado is our soul-scape. The mountains of Colorado…that is the place Matt and I crave to go to time and time again. It’s a place of quiet and the kind of magnificence that makes you feel appropriately small. When can we go back, honey?!
15. Limitless limitations. One of the hardest things for me this past year: the constant feeling of bumping up against limitations. I’m not going to be poetic about this one. It felt like a never-ending battle this year. Limitations of time, my abilities, in my patience as a parent. Somewhere in here is a valuable and beautiful lesson of what it means to be human, but it’s something I will be learning for a very long time I think.
16. Would you like a personal shopper? Yes, please! For this wanna-be fashionista (well, that might be overstating it a bit). For this wanna-be hipster momma (well, that just sounds funky). For this gal who just wants to know what to put with what so I don’t look totally crazy walking out the door, Stitch Fix has been a dream come true! A box of clothes picked out according to your personal preferences with pictures of how to accessorize and wear them without me having to spend hours in a store agonizing over what to pick? Matt should be happy to fund this addiction to have a wife without angst!
17. Austin is a cool place to live. Let’s face it. I’ve known this. I’ve known this for 14 years. But it’s so cool of a place to live that this year, 2 different sets of life-long friends have moved here! One set has moved to New Braunfels, but we’ll graft them in as Austinites anyhow. The coolest thing about this is to realize the roots we have in this place. After fourteen years with precious friendships, some now 25+ years in the making, we are truly blessed with history and roots here. And may I just say, Austin is quite a beautiful metropolis.
18. A way to feel less stressed…have a clean house. Momma used to thoroughly clean our home once a week. It would always be on a Monday and we’d eat dinner out every Monday night at Luby’s Cafeteria. Ask me how many times I’ve eaten there since I was 18. It’s come to my attention this past year, a year when the state of our home took a hard hit, that if my home isn’t somewhat clean and things put in their place (an environment of living I am obviously very used to from my childhood, bless my Momma!), that I turn into a crazy, panicked woman. It’s not a pretty sight.
18. Building teams. Unity. Encourage. These, I discovered, are some of my favorite things to be a part of, protect, do.
19. I is a homeschooler. Ain’t I teachin’ my boy good English!? This semester I partnered with Brennan’s teacher and part-time homeschooled. The part-time is key. I’m not gonna say ‘never’ because you know what happens when you say ‘never’ but I don’t think I could ever full-time do it, nor do I want to. It had a jittery start those first 8 weeks, mostly trying to find our rhythm in the midst of other crazy fall happenings. By golly when Brennan got out of school in December, we celebrated our heart out that we made it through our first semester…and that we had some fun with it, too.
20. His name is Matt. We celebrated twelve years of marriage this December. Never has there been a year of marriage that Matt has had more opportunity to extend me grace. It was a full year, a wonderful year, but Matt took on his plate things that a lot of husbands would grow easily tired or resentful of, or not want to do at all. This year was able to happen because of an abundance of God’s grace…much of which was shown through Matt’s helping hands with the kids; his gentleness of spirit and prayers that were able to calm my panicked state; his big smile and gift of laughter which needed to bring down the level of seriousness a notch or ten down; his faithful, patient listening ears that never ceased to take in my endless words; and his steadfast words of encouragement. I could not do what I do without him.
On this second day of January, 2015, I wish you and yours a year filled with true peace, a lot of laughter, and an abundance of grace.