A year in review… this is a long one, folks.
I had hoped for a fresh start with some difficult work issues, but instead of improving it got worse. I was so frustrated and felt defeated. I was officially burned out and it showed in all areas of my life. In the middle of this turmoil, Brad was gone for a week – his quarterly work trip. With all that, we decided a vacation was in order, so we went to San Diego at the end of January through early February. My older brother still lived there at the time and Brad had never been, so it was the perfect place to visit during winter. We walked on windy beaches, explored the zoo and ate delicious food. Plus, we explored my brother’s neighborhood and got in lots of quality time with him.
I traveled to Dallas for the Progressive Youth Ministry Conference. The highlight was meeting Rob Bell – I told him how I listen to his podcasts while I sew. He said that was a first, so I’m pretty sure he will always remember me. 😉 I met some wonderful new friends and got to visit with one of my oldest friends, Sara. I love any chance I have to see her – whether one on one or with her adorable children.
I led my 8th Lenten Retreat with the youth at church. It was beautiful – despite the frustrations from a few months before, everything went smoothly. I felt so connected with the group by the end of the weekend. I left feeling very grateful and relieved. A week later I was back on a plane again, this time headed to Colorado. I Googled “retreat for retreat leaders” and that’s where I went. It wasn’t quite what I had in mind, but it turned out to be just what I needed. Again, I met some amazing women with whom I’m still connected, I learned a great deal about myself, and I left feeling rejuvenated and ready for the next few months at work. (The PYM conference and this retreat were sort of pre-sabbatical events to help me get through a tough season at work.) Finally, I had a mole removed. A few months prior I learned that this mole on my chest was basal cell cancer. Aside from almost fainting while lying down during the procedure (how was I not put under for that?) and an obvious scar, all is well.
My quilting business picked up – it tends to do that in late spring. Parents like to have t-shirt quilts made for graduation gifts, so I worked on several of those throughout the month. Easter – yes, I do love the worship and celebration, but my favorite part is sitting next to my husband while we end worship with the Hallelujah chorus. His voice…ah, I swoon! He was gone again for the quarterly meeting – those sneak up quickly! Since he was out of town, I took a trip down to TN to see my nieces.
After months of training I ran my 10th half-marathon in May! Although I love all the energy of the Indy Mini Marathon, it is a huge race and I think I’ll probably choose smaller races from here on out. However, I did love finishing knowing what a huge accomplishment that was! One of my former youth and her fiancé asked me to officiate their wedding. I’m not ordained, so they had to go to a judge for the official part, but I did officiate their religious ceremony. I had never done that before and was a bit nervous, but it was a really meaningful event with which to take part. We celebrated our one-year anniversary with dinner at Harry & Izzy’s and I got a hammock – not quite paper, but that’s fine with me! I made another quick trip to TN – maybe 36 hours? Family friends of my husband’s family came in town for Memorial Day weekend, so we spent lots of outdoor/cookout time with them during the holiday.
Another Youth Sunday in the books! It’s hard to believe I’ve been at North for over 8 years now – saying goodbye to the seniors gets harder and harder every year. There were lots of open houses and summer activities with the youth. Brad was gone for a week, so I made plans with a friend to see the Dead and Company at Deer Creek – oh, I mean Klipsch. It was so fun to be back in the lawn again – I love live music! At the end of the month, I led a group of 35 youth and adults to Kentucky for our annual mission trip with Appalachia Service Project. This trip was particularly memorable because it was the first time that Brad got to join us. I loved having him with me for the week – he got to see my work in action and built good relationships with my “kids” and volunteers.
We made progress on our deck and built a table to go on it. I continued to spend lots of time working in the flower beds – planting, digging, mulching. I took some time off at the end of the month (and made another trip to TN…) and we went to the Head and the Heart show at the Lawn at White River. There were weekly youth events, like Kings Island and an ice cream social. The month ended with an all day Vacation Bible School (VBS) at Eagle Creek Park with the whole church.
For the first time in a really long time, I worked on my birthday. Since I started at North, I always took off the first two weeks of August. I didn’t do that this year, so I went to work – weird. We had a family birthday meal at our house on our new deck. I love our deck and it was so fun seeing it full of family and good food. For my sisters-in-law and mother-in-law’s birthdays, I got us all tickets to the Dixie Chicks concert. That was so fun! How does the brain retain so many lyrics? I don’t know, but I think I remembered most of the songs! Much of the rest of the month was filled with getting ready for my sabbatical. I had a lot of meetings to fill people in on their duties during my time away. I also led one more retreat the last weekend before I was off. The high school retreat is one of my favorites – it’s more laid back and smaller. I love that time with the youth before their school schedules have gotten too crazy. And then…I was done. My last day was August 31.
Right away we got out of town – we went to Boston with our friends Meg and Nicole for Labor Day weekend. This is when my blog began, so the next three months are well documented! In mid-September I went to New Mexico to Ghost Ranch for a week. I can’t wait to go back there! Gus, hikes, yoga…trying to settle into a new routine. I met with my OB/GYN that month and set up appointments for blood work to figure out why I was having trouble getting pregnant. Before I knew it, my first month of sabbatical was over.
We went to a Michigan State football game at IU – they lost :(. I had coffee and lunch dates with friends and colleagues. Birthday parties for our niece and nephew. And…Brad was gone for his quarterly work trip again. It was at the end of this trip, before he returned home, that I got the results of the blood work. The rest of October was a blur. We did our best to celebrate Brad’s birthday, but neither of us were up for much celebrating.
Lots of sadness and grief and just trying to get through the day. We took a trip to New Orleans to escape and have fun together. More hiking, more yoga, more conversations. I had a lot of anxiety about returning to work. But, I was also surrounded by many good friends and family who supported me – whether I was crying or worrying or laughing or whatever. I’ve got a lot of good people in my life. I also started going to therapy again – a wise decision. We spent Thanksgiving week in Tennessee with my brother, his wife, their four daughters, two dogs, one cat, my other brother, his dog, my mom, my dad and Bob…am I missing anyone?! (I didn’t mention earlier, but in the summer my older brother moved from San Diego to Murfreesboro, TN to buy a house and farm with my younger brother and his wife, so they all live together now.)
I went back to work. Some days were great – I was so glad to be back in a routine. Other days were so hard and I just wanted to stay in bed all day. Sundays were particularly hard, but here I am, on December 31. When I returned to work, I kept telling myself, “just get through December, that’s all you need to do right now.” And, look at me, I did it. I got through December. I am very proud of what I accomplished – through the tears and the grief and the pain and the unknown and the holiday-cheery-everyone-should-be-happy season – I survived.
2016, you were quite a year. This is only my personal review – this doesn’t include what was going on culturally and politically and socially. 2016 wasn’t all bad. In fact, there were many wonderful parts to this year – many small, seemingly insignificant moments that I’m forgetting. However, there were also some really, really hard times to this year – times that aren’t going to disappear when the calendar turns over to 2017. I know that a new year, a new month, won’t fix those hard times. But, if I could get through 2016, then I can certainly make it through 2017 – with joy and hope and love and gratitude for this life I’ve been given.
Happy New Year, friends. Thanks for joining me on this journey…