Theme for 2014: Turducken

Happy New Year!

Turducken

We began 2014 with a Turducken dinner at friends’ house, which I think sums up pretty well what I’m expecting as I look ahead to the next 364 days: I think they will be filled with laughter, weird juxtapositions, and experienced/explored/navigated with an assortment of friends.

As one friend described the Turducken process: It’s strange when you look at it, but the results are spectacular!

Our hosts asked us each to share what we were most looking forward to in the new year. An ENTIRELY valid question, for which I had no answer. I was on the far side of the circle, but even with the extra time I couldn’t capture this sense I have that this will be a really good  year. I hijacked someone else’s answer when my turn came–it was true for me too, what she said about looking forward to more gatherings with friends. But it wasn’t THE answer. 

THE answer is something like this: I’m looking forward to more of this happy feeling. To being relaxed about things that would have stressed me out before. To enjoying life in a way I wasn’t just a few months ago. To living into this “peace that transcends all understanding” that the Apostle Paul said God would give us if we have Him our anxieties. I never entirely believed this before, because, well,  Paul was kind of a quirky guy and I’ve always suspected that our idea of a good time differed by a significant magnitude.  But I’ll hand it to him: he’s right about this miraculous peace thing.

On a less esoteric level, I’m looking forward to a big vacation we have coming up, challenging myself with a new project (or maybe two?), and seeing if resolutions work.  I made three this year, and they survived yesterday. I’m calling that a win :)

What are you looking forward to this year?

 

Taking Stock of How We Rocked

images-1I have a bit of a blogging love-fest going on with Amy Gutman these days. I recently “met” her online (we’re meeting in person next month – expect the universe to be GREATLY IMPROVED come mid-September) and discovered her smart writing. This morning, I was looking for something a bit lighter to blog about – we’ve covered some heavy stuff lately, no? – and found this smart idea Amy posted back at the end of 2011, when she refused to close out the year without acknowledging that while it had been a difficult 12 months, she’d still accomplished some big things.  And thus, “Take Stock of How You Rocked” was born.

I ADORE this idea. I think she should make T-shirts. There should be a one-day conference. Bumper stickers. I envision a movement, and a PARADE of red convertibles!

11-1-09 Car Show Pictures 07

My real “new year” happens in September. So I thought: Why not treat today as a New Years Eve of sorts, and list the things we rocked this year? I’ll go first, but you can do it too! Share in the comments if you’re feeling brave (I’d love to read them. I’m so encouraged by other people’s accomplishments – they makes the world seem bigger). Or make a private list. But take ten minutes to acknowledge that no matter what this year looked like, you rocked.

Here’s my list. Since last September I have…

-Created a new edition of my first book (available next week!)

-Designed a new website & blog

-Read 45 books.

-Taught writing as a Visiting Artist at Wheaton

-Loved a 4 year old foster daughter and learned about parenting, trauma, early childhood development, play therapy, and every cartoon on PBS.

-Recovered (mostly – still in progress) after losing her

-Written a first draft of a new memoir, 1/2 a novel, and most of a book on praying for a husband.

-Kept a 17 year old dog alive.

-Gone swimming almost every time I’ve gone to the beach this summer, no matter how FREEZING the water was. 

-Survived the past 12 months without losing my mind, my marriage, or my faith.

In Amy’s post, after she shared her list of things she’d rocked, she acknowledged, “This was an espe­cially inter­est­ing exer­cise for me given my ini­tial assess­ment that this had been a long hard year pri­mar­ily defined by failure.”

Wow, did that hit home.

And yet it’s weird to write this list. It feels like that obnoxious Facebook thing where people pretend their lives are butters summer vacation pre kcomprised solely of vacations, puppies, and endless professional success. And of course the list of things I’ve blown this year & that have broken my heart is twice as long.  But Gutman’s post challenged me not to over-correct, to steer around the trap of only sharing the hard parts, because that’s a mistake, too. (Especially if your sense of humor tends toward self-deprecation.  I once had a woman who met me after reading my books & blogs say,  “You know, you’re not nearly as dumb as I expected!” Probably time to stop setting the expectations bar quite so low :) )

We need balance, even though life is never really balanced. But it is a mix. The new job comes two weeks after the breakup, or an opportunity to try something unexpected lands in our in-box just as we’ve decided to spend the rest of our waking hours watching Bravo TV.  And in the swirl of daily living, we rock lots of things. We just lose sight of them afterwards. But they’re worth mentioning, and reflecting back on.

Today, take stock of what you’ve rocked. Then tell me about it :)

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