At first glance, it was difficult for me to sum up this year. We didn't move across the country, we didn't start new jobs. But I don't want to categorize the past year on what we didn't do. We did make new friends, grow in our marriage, develop new healthy habits, and I learned a lot of heart lessons about patience in a season where we are doing our best to "bloom where we are planted." It was a hard year, but a good one. I would never wish aways the difficulties of 2016, because a "happy-go-lucky" existence is devoid of true, honest growth. And growth (closer to Jesus) is the stuff of existence. I categorized my blog posts from this year, mostly as a helpful lesson to myself and a way to honestly reflect on the year. I hope you enjoy rereading as many or as few of them as you like!
Knitting: I wrote a post about my 2016 knits. I kept things pretty "safe," apart from my foray into vest making and garment seaming. I'm proud of that vest! And right at the end of the year, I've snuck in another longtime goal: knit colorwork. I also completed more knitted items, in part due to the collective nature of Knit-A-Longs, and working dayshift (if I'm not sleeping during the day, I have more time to knit). Also, and this is huge, a few of my friends took up knitting! Yay for sharing the wooly love. I wrote a post about knitting in company and the resulting friendships.
Sewing/Needlework: I didn't do as much sewing as I had hoped. However, I did successfully sew multiple zippered flannel pillow covers (zipper installation was a win for me). I also wrote this post about why I make things and I began the slow process of making a set of adorable needlepoint houses.
Work: I'm still working on the same Med/Surg floor at a local hospital. It was my first full year on day-shift (I switched in September 2015). The days(hifts) are nearly always busy, busy, busy, but I love that I don't have to think about when to sleep; I just sleep at night. Also, I started precepting new nurses and I love it.
In the kitchen: I experimented with more Scandinavian baking, which was/is so fun. Apart from that, I felt a little creatively-zapped in the kitchen, to be honest. I stuck to a lot of cooking what I know, primarily from cookbooks I own and a bunch of recipes from Summer Harms' blog. I did publish a few recipes of my own on the blog, including Parsley Egg Salad & Quick-pickled fennel, foolproof oven-baked salmon, easy oven-roasted chicken breast, and grass-fed beef veggie pie (& a grain-free crust). I also wrote about our daily coffee routine (with specifics).
Beauty: I wrote about my personal style and wardrobe basics, my beauty routine, and my moisturizing routine. I ventured into darker nail polish (charcoal) for my feet, anyway. I added a few products from W3ll People to my routine as well. Also, I colored my hair (for the first time ever, ever) with a subtle blonde balayage, and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out.
Favorite music: In concert, I saw The Head and the Heart and The Oh Hellos (both excellent). I listened to a lot of Sufjan Stevens (always), Novo Amor, Tom Rosenthal, NEEDTOBREATHE's Hard Love, Amanda Cook's Brave New World, Hillsong United's Of Dirt and Grace, Matthew Mole's The Home We Built, and a lot of Spotify's "Discovery Weekly" playlists.
Trips: Our spectacular trip to Canada, distilled into three parts: Senses, Places & Things, and What the mountains remind us (if you haven't read those posts, they are some of my favorite of 2016). We visited Ohio for Nicholas' cousin's wedding, and I wrote about the importance of face-to-face time. I visited Minnesota to see my friend, Sarah get married, and I also wrote about the importance of community. I also went on an overnight retreat with sweet women from our church. And we went to his hometown for Christmas. Apart from the specific trips, I wrote a post all about my favorite traveling activities.
Locally, in Austin: Some girlfriends and I had a grown-up sleepover, I made a list of my favorite local Austin coffee shops, I wrote about what Joy is:, our Rainy day plans, and a recipe for late-summer coziness (in the midst of a hot Austin summer)
Finances & practical lessons: I wrote about my most useful reusables, laundry tips and tricks, and my weekend preparation for weekdays (to keep my sanity). Considering and practicing my routines of activity and my routines of rest and comfort. I simply need to get outside regularly for my emotional/mental/spiritual/physical health. And we became debt-free!
Living in light of the seasons: a spring change in the air, summering in Austin, my fall favorites, and decking the halls of our home for Christmas, and I wrote this post about the seasons' effect on the soul
Love & marriage: I finally wrote out our love story (which really was a labor of love, but I'm so so glad I did it). It follows us from the very, very beginning and also up to our engagement and our wedding day. I also wrote about our third anniversary, and life for us in this stage of our marriage. And I wrote about the danger of the idolatry of being the best wife possible (because being his wife is not my entire identity). On Nicholas' birthday, I wrote a love letter to him.
Questions I asked myself:
- "Why don't I maintain and care for my heart the way I do my home?" (House & heart talk)
- "What is my song?" (how praise of Him will always outshine the gloom)
- "When did [I] begin to use such exaggerated language for every little moment?" (Subtlety, forgotten)
Lessons for my stubborn heart:
- "I needed the reminder not to wallow and stomp, even when all I see is injustice and ugliness. I needed the reminder that I can choose joy. To get outside (of myself), I really just needed to go home and have some tea and cookies"
- An answer to the assertion, "I don't have anxiety"
- Choosing to practice contentment in a season where my heart doesn't find it easy
- Learning not to compare "my normal at 26" to everyone else's
- I wrote about practicing reverence as a way to find direction
- Don't give emotion all the power (with practical steps to do this)
- Waking up and noticing more of God's work in my daily life
- Doing hard things is good for me (i.e. a clothing fast)
- Don't binge-eat the appetizers and miss out on the big meal (metaphorically)
- "Digging deep into the place we call "home" allows us to be more generous and that leads others to give God thanksgiving." (a post about belonging in a place)
- "Notice the little growth and expect the big harvests too"
- There's no formula for a perfect day, but "the closest formula for a joyful heart: Knowing & believing God's promises, & believing in Him who promised these things to us"
So there you have it: a very link-heavy post about my 2016. And woven throughout, what do I see? Not disappointment, but frequent examples of God's faithfulness, answers to prayer, refining moments for my heart, and hope for the next year. I see all of that with belief that He will continue to be faithful in the year(s) to come. Happy New Year, friends!