For the last few years*, at the very beginning of the new year, I write a post summarizing the previous. And this year, while many people are writing out their resolutions for the next year, I want to look back and remember all the details of this year, an entire year of my life, one in which I woke up and lived 365 days of it. For me, looking back first, and then forward, prepares my heart to be expectant and hopeful as I face a brand new, not-yet-lived year. So, if you're curious, as usual, I've broken up the "year in review" into categories with links to the original posts.
Knitting: A few days ago, I wrote a post about my 2017 knits. This was a big creative year for me, in that I tackled new things that used to scare me, primarily colorwork. I made a lot of socks, and two really wearable cardigans for me, and I knit a bunch of little hearts. I watched a lot of knitting podcasts, which I think contributed to a steady "knitting mojo" throughout the year. Since for me, camaraderie leads to creativity. There was a lot of gift knitting during the latter half of the year, and also I made good use of some larger quantities of yarn that were in my stash. I wrote about the excess that frequently occurs with creatives in gathering supplies or wanting to own beautiful things, which is something I'm still mulling over, and will come into play for my 2018 making. But all in all, knitting is absolutely something that brings me joy, makes me feel productive and happy and satisfied to make beautiful things from yarn for myself and for those I love.
Sewing: Everything changed this year. I sewed several small, home goods, like a quilted table runner, several zippered pouches (believe me, I know how to install a zipper now ;) a few baby blankets, more flannel pillow cases, and a double-pointed needle case. My two biggest accomplishments were sewing my first quilt and getting over my fear of sewing garments/sewing with knits. I wrote about a Blackwood cardigan I made for myself and sewing advice for beginners. The end of the year didn't involve very much sewing for myself, since I was a bit overcome with gift-knitting and sewing, but I am very excited to do a lot more sewing in the new year. I wrote several "Creativity Checks" or "Progress toward creative goals" posts throughout several months of the year: January, March, May, June, August, October, and November.
Work: Not too much has changed; I still enjoy my job on a Med/Surg floor and I really enjoy precepting new nurses to our unit. Still working 12-hour shifts, on dayshift, with the best coworkers. And while I rarely blog about work, I wrote this post about fruitful comfort after a particularly difficult shift.
In the kitchen: I felt a bit creatively zapped in the kitchen when it came to cooking, but I baked a lot this year. And we watched a lot of The Great British Bake Off, which led to even more baking. Going forward, I want to find some kind of balance between simple/easily prepared meals that are still nutritious. I never regret cooking, but I haven't really felt like it that much this year. I did post a few recipes to the blog, including my favorite smoothie, roasted broccoli (for people who don't love broccoli), turkey, kale, and sweet potato skillet (fast + easy + tasty), a tasty simple sausage and egg breakfast casserole, and my pride and joy of a recipe: almond shortbread drizzle cookies.
Beauty: I wrote about my summer beauty routine (but really, it's my year-round routine). I kept my hair long, and didn't get it trimmed as often as I should. I found that I really love using the invisibobble hair scrunchies. Oh, and I learned to curl my hair with a straightener in January, and haven't done it since (even though I should!)
Favorite music: (most listened to, whether or not it was released in 2017): Branches' White Flag, Reliant K's Air For Free, Manchester Orchestra's The Maze, Jess Ray's Sentimental Creatures, Fleet Foxes' Crack-Up (but all of their other albums too), Bethany Barnard's A Better Word, and then bits and pieces of Sisterbrother, Ed Sheeran, Sleeping At Last, Novo Amor, Kari Jobe, Gregory Alan Isakov, and of course, Sufjan Steven and The Oh Hellos. I saw Punch Brothers in concert, which was wonderful of course. And this is the year that I listened to more Christmas music than any other year, beginning in June. And this is also the first year that I did not grow weary of Christmas music prior to Christmas.
Favorite reads: I started several books this year, but only finished an abysmally small number of them. I did find Present over Perfect to be a game-changer for me, and what prompted me to write an overdue post about living an unembellished life, where I wrote this:
"You can have a truly lovely life without the world there to see it all. When I slow down enough to realize that my unembellished life is actually really wonderful, then thankfulness can root itself in my heart."
Trips: We met my parents and brother in Arkansas in April, where we hiked and drove through the thickest fog, and stayed in a little cabin on a miniature donkey farm. We took a trip to the beach for our 4-year wedding anniversary. We visited Ohio in September for his grandpa's birthday, and I visited my parents in Minnesota a week later.
Locally, in Austin: When I randomly had 6 days off from work and no plans, we had a little staycation.
Visitors: His family came to visit in May, and my father-in-law surprised us by driving himself and their puppies to join us for the week. Our college friends Connor and Jessica came to visit us over the fourth of July, and I wrote a post about our version of low key Austin-in-a-day.
Finances and practical things: I wrote about how we practically keep our home tidy, and how to approach "life in the in-between," or life between big, anticipated transitions that haven't happened yet. We fell in love with L.L.Bean flannel sheets, and bought an air filter for our apartment.
Rest: I wrote a few posts about preparing for a slow December and another one about having grace on myself as I retrain myself to choose slow over filled-to-the-brim. I also wrote a post about not using "busy" as the defining characteristic of my life, and also choosing well what I make myself busy with. And I wrote a post about better resting, or the choice to be intentional in my resting and not viewing days off as entitlements, but rather as opportunities to do things that are good for my body and my heart. And I wrote about practicing recovery activities, even when I'm physically well, and that "sick day activities" can be beneficial at anytime.
Living in light of the seasons: I wrote about little, spring-y things, fall things, and late autumn loves. I wrote about the wonderful result of choosing to slow down in December and how it made me more emotionally available and kept my heart soft in a season where it normally hardens with busyness. When Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast, I wrote about it and Pollyanna's The Glad Game. And I wrote a post about my 27th birthday, about what my life was like in that moment. And I wrote about Christmas preparation and how we celebrated Christmas a bit differently this year.
Love & marriage: We celebrated 4 years of marriage! I wrote him a letter on his twenty-seventh birthday. I wrote about our Tuesday routine of going downtown together, him to a meeting, me to a coffee shop, every week. I wrote a post about how practicing fika on a regular basis is good for our marriage, and out friendship, as husband and wife. We went on a lot of dates to the movie theater to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Logan, Blade Runner 2049, Spider-man: Homecoming, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, and maybe a few others I'm missing (all action, because those are better in theaters), and we watched a lot of The Great British Bake Off together.
Questions I asked myself:
- "Am I actually listening to you, Lord, or am I just hoping you'll give me the answer I want?" in a post about returning to things that make me feel anchored, things that help my heart re-soften, as part of regular maintenance.
- So, practically, what is there to be done? In your waiting or your hurting or your adventuring (wherever you are!) in a post about living a sanctifying, and not necessarily exciting life.
- Maybe [the beauty] was there all along and I'm just now noticing it?" in a post about finding pink in sunsets and how God is never silent.
- When my life looks differently than I expect it to, written via a metaphor with yarn:
Even if I expected this season of life to look differently, I know that He designed for it to look like apartment-dwelling, holding hands in Austin traffic, visiting coffee shops, naps on the couch on days off, noticing fluffy clouds in a blue sky, reading books with a headlamp on because I don't have a lamp on my side of the bed, falling asleep to The Office, getting into the Christmas spirit in June, and most certainly relying on Him more with an open-hands mentality about our future. So be it. Thy will be done.
- My sluggishness and moodiness that coincides with the summer heat. I wrote a letter to myself about sticking it out when I needed some encouragement.
- Beauty grows best where the soil has been disturbed
- The joy that comes from sharing what you love:
So whether the thing you love is knitting or sewing or cooking or carpentry or hiking or biking or tea drinking or coding or rubik's cubes or repairing cars, share it. When someone expresses an interest in what you love, invite them into that sphere. And if they enjoy it, you may be surprised at just how much joy you both feel.
- Finding satisfaction in these cities, these days, these moments.
- Being thankful for full days that are the days of now.
- I wrote about materialism and coveting better versions of things I own and the temptation to convince myself that it's not that I want more, it's that I want quality (when that is still coveting). I wrote about instead finding satisfaction in Jesus (with specific Bible verses)
- Looking for patches of light :
I'm continually delighted and surprised at how my view of God's goodness and His presence are just a shadow of the reality of His goodness and His presence. His greatness will always out-depth our understanding of it. And our joy in Him is infinitely more than any joy found in the world. We see glimpses of the light, His light, and anticipate the day when it's more than just a glimpse
- My sentimental heart, and how I believe God specifically gave it to me, I just need to tend it well. I wrote in that post:
As such, I think the most useful, most God-glorifying Andrea is a sentimental and a practical one—with messy wind-whipped hair, busy in the kitchen baking muffins for Nicholas, knitting a stitch at a time into something wearable and gift-able, ready to give hugs or to pray for a dear friend or a stranger. This is not my behavior all the time, particularly if I live only in the walls of my own head, alone with my sentimentality. But I believe tender purpose and sentiment without selfishness are useful gifts for Kingdom work. So that's where I want to dwell with my sentimentality.
This was the year of waiting, of anticipation that's not yet been fulfilled, of studying sunsets, of drinking coffee and tea, of having more fun with Nicholas than ever before, of learning innumerable lessons about rest and slowing down, of getting through hard heart seasons the only way I can--hand in hand with my Savior. It was a year where I struggled with contentment, but also a year where I trusted that the Lord is good and He has a plan, and He calls me His own. And at the end of 2017, I feel at rest, at peace. Here's to 2018, and the pursuit of communion with Him and discovering beauty in His creation, and cherishing the people we love. I can't wait to see how He moves this year (because He's always moving).