Here we are, a week and a half into 2019. New years always inspire writers – maybe we need a fresh start given to us, or maybe we are motivated by the turning of the page. Nevertheless, here I am, reflecting a little bit.
One of my favorite writers to follow, Emily P. Freeman, shared a post reflecting on her year that was broken down into two sections: What worked for me in 2018 and what didn’t work for me in 2018. I loved this and thought I’d try it myself.
What Didn’t Work for Me in 2018:
Pizza: You don’t really understand how sad I am. 2018 involved me developing, at least what I believe to be, a dairy intolerance. I can eat a piece of cheese here or there, but most times that I ate pizza or drank heavily dairy-filled coffee beverages (I’m looking at you, Dutch Bros.) I felt like death. You might say, “Okay, so dairy doesn’t make you feel great. But you’re not actually going to stop eating it, right?” To which I would tell you, whatever will make me feel normal again, I will do. I am praying (and you can join me) that God will miraculously change my taste buds and give me cravings for green foods and vegetables and things that are good for me, rather than what I usually want: pizza, ice cream, cheese, pizza, and pizza. I have shed tears more than once at the thought of not eating pizza. But truly, this experience has given me great compassion for people who wrestle with chronic illness or constant pain of any kind. I have been thinking about the purpose of food, to nourish our bodies, and hoping and praying that the Lord will change my mindset (I am infamous for eating like a child with no supervision – think Kevin in Home Alone), and help me figure out once and for all what the heck is wrong with my body. All of this will be greatly helped by my word for 2019, which I will write about next week.
Grasping for control: More than ever before in my life, I realized my great desire to be in control of all things (a dating relationship will do this to you). I learned to stop calling myself crazy and give myself some grace; we are all prone to want to control things, we want to know how things will end up or where we will be at the finish line. But the reality of life is that we just don’t get to know these things. God is all about the process, which is so annoying. And at the end of any process, when we do in fact “arrive” or find out how something might end, we can see that so clearly and be grateful for it. But what doesn’t work is trying to know or control or white-knuckle things into turning out the way we want them to. Or, choosing to run away from anything scary because of fear. Fear is the devil.
No Rhythm in Writing: I blogged less this past year than the several before it, and I don’t necessarily know why that was. But I would say that my amount of writing probably has a direct correlation with the health and vitality of my relationship with the Lord, so that definitely didn’t work for me this past year. Writing has never been about attention or publicity of any kind, it is instead one of the best ways I practice soul care, the most beneficial ways that I take care of myself. So, when I am not doing it, I am typically not in my best head space or not best prepared to care for others. The thing is, we just so easily push things like this to the back burner because caring for ourselves seems selfish or like a waste of time. I wish we all would give each other (but really ourselves) permission to do the things that actually make us better.
What Worked for Me in 2018:
Travel: I wouldn’t classify myself as one of those people who has “wanderlust” or can’t stay in the same place for very long. But I realized this year that I do really enjoy traveling, and more so the memories made with important people in those places. This year I traveled to Mexico, Minneapolis, California, Poland, home to Bend twice, Philadelphia, and Austin. I saw four new US cities that I had been wanting to see and left the country twice. What a dream. More than even the beauty of these new places was the quality time spent with really close friends, meeting new family, and traveling for the first time with my future husband. Pretty spectacular. So far 2019 includes Arizona and Curacao (Honeymoon, baby!) and has several other locations on the wish-list.
Releasing Control: Luckily I realized fairly quickly this year that trying to gain control didn’t work for me. So I practiced releasing control. Skiing became one of my metaphors for this; when we lean into it and just let it happen, it is actually better, easier, and more enjoyable. When I am too focused on trying to protect myself from any kind of harm or fear I actually ruin the experience. So I challenged myself to lean back, to relax, to enjoy the journey and all those stupid clichés. And guess what? I had months of the year that were SO incredibly enjoyable and beautiful. The reality of life is that we just don’t have that much control over it. We cannot control what others will say or do, how people will respond to us, how any day or any circumstance will play out. We experience freedom when we release control to the One who actually created the world and is in charge of its turning.
Embracing Team: I work in a context that involves a lot of teams. I oversee my own RA team as well as being a part of our ResLife staff team and a greater Student Life team. This year I learned what it looks like to really lean on these people and choose to be WITH, in times of stress or sadness or celebration. I have seen the beauty of really depending on people when I need support, as well as learning to be with people in their moments of mourning or celebrating. We are made to do life with each other, never alone. I am such a believer in embracing the teams we are given, whether that is a structured staff or the people we find ourselves surrounded by. If you don’t feel like you have this, I would encourage you to seek it out. The best way to find the community we desire is to create it.
I’m entering 2019 letting myself not be overwhelmed by goal-setting and self-improvement. I sort of just want to continue in what is good, while also being aware of what didn’t help me (RIP Pizza). I’d love to hear what worked and didn’t work for you this past year!