Every single time I go to wake up the baby (who, let’s be real, isn’t really a baby anymore), he looks up at me and says, “Mom? Dad? Sissy? Coco (the dog)?” It’s like he’s taking some kind of toddler inventory of the house. He wants to know who’s here and that everyone’s in their right place.
The end of the year is a good time to take a kind of personal inventory of life. It’s probably been twelve months or so since you made some goals for yourself; maybe you’ve totally rocked them and maybe life got in the way and you haven’t done a single one. Either way, you’re still here, you’re still in your right place. And I’m betting that you’ve learned a lot along the way.
Here are some things I learned this year, in no particular order:
Reading Brings More Joy to Me Than Any Other Form of Entertainment
This year, I watched way less TV than usual, quitting shows that I’ve been a long time fan of (and some were just discontinued…blessing in disguise maybe?). I have to say, I don’t really miss it all that much. And now when I’m watching TV, sometimes I find myself thinking about all the other things I could be doing instead. Reading just makes me happier, calmer, more relaxed. Here‘s a post on my favorite books of the year, in case you missed it.
I LOVE the 18 Month- 2 Year-old Stage SO Much
Watching my boy grow has been such a joy this year. He is silly and smart and loves to play. I love watching his little mouth try to form new words, and it makes me laugh when he’s trying to communicate something but I’m just not getting it. For the time being, all food is “cheese”, unless it’s something sweet and then it’s “pie”. Don’t ask.
It Feels Good to Move
I used to hate working out and then I used to love it, and now I’m somewhere in-between. But, this year I’ve taken more walks (thanks to sweet neighbors who get me moving) and spent more time outside (thanks to the hubby who made our backyard so beautiful). And at the end of the year I got more in gear with a different training program from a friend and I just feel SO MUCH better when I make moving a priority in my day. Now to remember that and keep it up: that’s the challenge.
It Feels Good to Have a For-Real, Grown-up Skin Care Routine
Unfortunately, I learned this lesson late in the year, like within the last month. My awesome sister bought me some skincare stuff from Beauty Counter, and I’m obsessed now. My face feels so amazing and actually glows. I’m not going to sell it, because I would be the worst salesperson in the history of the universe, BUT I love it. And I feel like a real-live grown-up now.
Saying Sorry Is a Powerful Thing
When my daughter and I get into it, which we do because she’s five going on fifteen, sometimes I’m the good mom who can keep it together and calmly explain why my answer is no. Other times, the over-tired, cranky mom comes out and I raise my voice more than I’d like to admit. But in the quiet, when the tears have stopped, some of my most tender parenting moments have come when I say to her, “I’m sorry, I did the wrong thing.” We hug and snuggle, and she says, “It’s okay, Mommy.” In turn, she’s learned to apologize when she makes mistakes, and my philosophy that modeling is everything is even more solidified.
There IS Joy in the Process…AND In the Waiting
This year I finished writing one book, and then started another (it’s mostly finished). And I learned so, so much in the process; about writing, about time management, about myself, about others. I learned that “show-not-tell” is about so much more than just feelings, like I’d taught my students for so long. I learned that some things are better not said, but instead left to the imagination of the reader. I learned that sometimes beloved characters will disappoint you; they’re only human. I learned that I, yes even I, can be patient. And that the waiting brings its own gift; time for listening, reflection, and revision. It’s good that I’m learning this because in the world of publishing, there’s a whole lot of waiting.
It’s Okay to Ask Big Questions and Have Real Conversations
For some reason this year, I’ve found myself asking lots of questions of my faith, exploring issues and deciding where I stand on them. In the past, I’ve felt almost guilty about this, because it’s like I just “don’t believe hard enough”. But, I’ve read some great spiritual memoirs, joined a community of faith that is open to discussion and welcomes questions, and really found out that it is through questioning that our faith grows.
I Can Do Hard Things
I vividly remember sitting at a Top Golf with someone I met through my husband and she was telling me how she’d just published her first novel. And I remember the exact words that came out of my mouth next: “I’d love to write a book, but I’d never be able to do something that hard.” That was almost seven years ago, and that narrative I told myself became true for the next six years. But then something clicked and I remembered that woman’s words to me, which were, “Sure you can, just start and then keep going.” So I did.
Writing has become a constant companion to me. It’s there when I have time, and it’s still there waiting for me when momming duties have required my attention for longer than expected. It’s there to help me process things and to deal with heavy emotions. I’ve formed new relationships with people and deepened existing ones through my writing. I finally understand Ernest Hemingway’s words, “Writing is hard business…but nothing makes you feel better.” To me, writing feels like coming home.
My kids like to watch shows on Amazon Prime, and every once in a while there’s a commercial for a Pete the Cat show. Pete says, “Find out what you’re good at, and do that!” Every time I hear it, I think of writing. So that’s exactly what I’ll be doing for now.
And Last, It’s Always Good to Look Forward, Too
Some things I’m looking forward to in 2019: reading more great books (follow me on Instagram or GoodReads!), investing my time in the people that are most important to me, lessening distractions and outside “noise” coming in at me (haven’t quite figured out the details on that one yet), continuing to ask big questions, learning even more to improve my craft, and maybe, just maybe, writing another book.
Thank you for all the support and encouraging words this year; I’m looking forward to sharing even more in this space. And, I’d love to know what you’re reading in 2019 and your goals for the new year!
2 thoughts on “What I Learned in 2018”
great list of things to learn/reflect on as this year comes to an end. it’s always enjoyable to look back and see how much you have changed and grown as a person during the year
Thank you! ♥️