last year

This is a story about last year. 2018. The year of New.

I have a page in an old art journal that I labeled just like that: The Year of New. Twelve months ago I sat at the faded yellow kitchen table and held my toes over warm air vent while I wrote down a long list of new things to try.

  • Recipes
  • Camp life
  • Try a new coffee drink
  • A new ethnic food

I set no stipulation on myself to succeed. I am already chronically afraid of failing. Somehow or other, I convinced myself that trying was succeeding. My only real goal was to find one thing to do every month that I’d never tried before.

I had already begun setting new goals for this year when I saw a post on Instagram asking people to share their best goals, memories, and reflections from 2018. Oh, this is easy… I typed “Trying new things!” and smiled as I sent it to her. “Great!” she responded, “What’s something you plan to keep?” I hadn’t thought of that. I knew all the courage last year required had changed me. I knew I’d learned things about myself that I never realized before, but I hadn’t paid attention to what those things were.

I’ve been thinking about it all week since then, and I have an answer. I realized it when I rolled out my yoga mat and began Yoga with Adrienne’s annual 30 Days of Yoga challenge. I did this challenge last year. It wasn’t easy; I was out of shape and my 6 month old had a thing for interrupting me for meals and attention. But when I sat down on the blue mat and started following the video this year, I remembered how good it felt at the end of January 2018 when I finished.

When February began, I had finished one new thing – I finished a fitness challenge. And I’d finished something I needed discipline for. I couldn’t rush through all 30 days of yoga practice; the videos were posted one day at a time. After half-an-hour I was too sore and shaky to keep going even if I could. I’m the classic work-ahead girl. You give me a book to read over a few months and I’ve got it done in a few days. But last January I was forced to pace myself, to accomplish something better by stretching it out.

That yoga challenge changed the rest of my year, really. I began to write more. I didn’t sign up to write a novel in the month of November, though that achievement sounds glorious. But I did sit down almost every day between May and December to write and edit, write and edit. I published blog posts here, submitted essays to competitions and judges, completed a writing webinar, got my work published on other blogs. The long slow discipline of practicing every day was paying off.

My New Year’s goal last year served its purpose; I was challenged to try new things and I had to try them slowly and consistently. That is what I love about 2018.

My goals this year are different. They’re more specific, for starters. But they’re written like torches lit in the dark, pointing me in the direction I know I want to go. So here’s to last year. Here’s to slow steps in the right direction. Here’s to discipline and patience, the much that is accomplished little by little. And here’s to 2019. Happy New Year.

I’d love to hear your goals for this year, or how last year shaped you! Chat with me in the comments!

what can I do to help?

The best way I know how to describe my community is that they are helpers. When people have babies, they bring meals. When somebody’s sick, there are offers to babysit, bring over a stash of chocolate or cup of coffee. When it’s just a long day and the kids are, well, kids, somebody’s ready to listen. They just help.

Last Saturday I stood in the kitchen adding one dash of almond milk after another to a batter that still looked too dry. S finished chopping the strawberries. “Anything else I can do?” W heard her ask and turned towards me too; “Yeah, what can we help with? You look busy.” So the strawberries got mixed into the slightly-less-crumbly batter and the teapot was pulled off the shelf I couldn’t reach and we all settled into the living room to enjoy our Christmas brunch.

I would love to summarize our year with pretty thoughts tied in a bow for your advent admiration, tucked under a perfectly-tapered, not-shedding-needles tree. But, life.

Processed with VSCO with preset

We moved, wholly or partially, four times this year. Some of our things are still tucked in the back of a garage, cringing as passing time lessens the possibility that I will label them “necessities”. I was lucky just to find the Christmas lights. Also, please somebody explain the mystery of perfectly operational, gently packed Christmas lights that mysteriously just die in the year between. But we have two working strands and they wrap halfway around the living room and my point is really just that our year was unsettled.

In May we moved up to Eagle Lake Camp for Grant’s job. In August we moved back, and packed up our home. In September we moved out of our house and into flux, and in October we moved into the cottage. I still don’t know where our large skillet is, but the lights are stretched above the windows and the throw blankets are on every piece of furniture and it’s feeling like home now.

But our friends have been even more comforting than the cheery yellow throw blankets we tuck around our feet on cold evenings. They brought us meals when I was sick this Spring. They shared their coffee when we all moved up to camp this summer. They gave a lot in the give-and-take of monitoring our collective kiddos at the staff housing lodge. They loved us and supported us and when I try to think of this year as a whole, they’re in it one way or another.

So, thank you, friends. Thank you for memories, thank you for friendship. Thank you for putting down roots with us, sharing meals with us, wiping up spilled milk and consoling unhappy babies and drinking a quiet cup of coffee with us. Here’s to next year. Here’s to community. Here’s to crumbly scones and hot coffee.