2017. Another tough one. I have thoughts on my hopes for 2018, but before I move forward, I want to look back and reflect on what this year taught me.
Side note: This took me three hours to put together! Reviewing my calendar, looking through past blog posts, scrolling through pictures… Although I touch on some important points here, this is really just an overview. This post doesn’t touch on the specific challenging moments that 2017 brought to our lives. After working on this, I realize what a hard year it was – obviously I knew that when I started (hence, “another tough one”). But after skimming through my blog posts (I couldn’t read them in full – it’s too much for me to handle emotionally), I see how much grief I had to work through (for a variety of reasons!) and how much more work is ahead of me. Enough with this…onto the review!
I went back to work full time after being on sabbatical the few months prior. It was hard. I remember being stressed most days. I remember not wanting to go to work. I remember telling Brad on multiple occasions that I was going to quit.
After one particularly difficult night at work I decided I was done. But, like all my other empty promises about quitting, I figured this would pass too. However, the next morning at work I resigned. I didn’t talk to Brad about it first. I didn’t consult with my spiritual director or therapist or friend or parent. I had a heart-to-heart with my boss and realized it was time. Even though I think this was the only way it would happen – spur of the moment, straight from my gut – I don’t plan on doing that again! This was really stressful for Brad and I. However, it was the push I needed to find something new and step out of my comfort zone.
This was the beginning of the “lasts” even though I was the only one on the retreat that knew it – my last Lenten retreat with North’s youth. I spent a few days in Tennessee to celebrate Anastasia and Juliet’s third birthday. The emoji poop hats from Uncle Brad were a hit! I started networking regularly – I met with anyone and everyone who might have a connection for me to find a new job. I ran the Washington Township Great North Run 10k and loved being back in my running shoes. At the end of the month and into April, Brad and I took a vacation to Mexico. We planned it as an incentive to make it through winter, through the grief, through the stress. It was just what we needed.
I co-led a women’s retreat with my mom for the first time. I enjoyed the opportunity to work with people I’d never met in a familiar setting doing familiar work. As I was considering what my next steps might be, I spent time working toward going into business as a retreat facilitator.
Brad and I went to Tennessee for a few days at the beginning of the month. Our friend Meg and I had fun seeing the Indigo Girls one night and Dream Girls the next. We celebrated our 2nd anniversary at Harry & Izzy’s – that seems to be a tradition in the making! Toward the end of the month I had two job interviews, which gave me the confidence boost I needed. Job hunting is terrible. At North, we celebrated 25 years of service with Appalachia Service Project. I loved seeing all the former participants come back and reminisce with each other. My OBGYN recommended I have more blood work to make sure the results from last October weren’t abnormal. They weren’t – nothing had changed.
My mom and I went to Tennessee because my brother Aaron got us tickets to see the Indigo Girls, Joan Baez and Mary Chapin Carpenter at the Ryman Theater in Nashville! While there that weekend, I got a job offer and accepted it! I went to Annual Conference to see my mom’s retirement service (along with several other pastors in the conference). Then… Youth Sunday. My last official Sunday at North. It was a powerful morning. I preached and somehow made it through. At the end of the second service I was surrounded by current youth, former youth, volunteers, pastors, parents – I was overwhelmed by the love and support I received. After that I was off a few weeks before the last ASP trip of my time at North. I was so grateful to have Brad there once again. It was a beautiful week of hard work, lots of laughs and a few tears. It was the perfect way to say goodbye.
After another week off, I started my first day at Lake Institute on Faith & Giving on July 10. I had a lot of learning to do that month! However, I also got to truly experience what a “weekend” feels like for the first time in many, many years! I decided to take a break from church for a while. Instead of sitting in sanctuary on Sunday mornings, I walked into a yoga studio – it was just what I needed. At the end of the month, Rosemary came to Indianapolis for a week. We ate lots of ice cream, went to the zoo and laughed a lot. I can’t wait for more summer visits from my Tennessee girls! I’m not sure if it was stress of a new job or the reality of infertility sinking in or what, but my body reacted strongly through lots of GI issues.
I had to go to work on my birthday. Does this mean I’m officially an adult now?! 😉 At my birthday dinner, Meg asked me what I hoped for in this next year. Right away I knew I wanted to travel and get more answers about my body (infertility and GI problems). I went to my first Bhakti breathwork class and realized I still had a lot of emotional energy trapped in my body. I attended a few of these classes over the next few weeks.
I went to my 20th high school reunion. What?! I met with my primary care physician and she helped me find resources to continue my journey of discovery. At the end of the month we took a long weekend and traveled to NYC – the first time for both of us. We ate good food, saw a Broadway show, explored the city via a tour bus and much more. It was another fun getaway for us. While on the way home from NYC, I decided to sign up for the Indy Women’s Half Marathon (just 4 days later). It turned out to be a great run for me and it helped that I ran part of it with my friend Ashley!
I reconnected with the Journey Fellowship by attending a concert at St. Luke’s UMC with Parker Palmer and Carrie Newcomer. The following Monday Brad and I met with a fertility specialist. I was so grateful that she listened to me. She understood that we didn’t want to force something that isn’t meant to be. She helped me understand that I didn’t do anything wrong – that this isn’t my fault. We left knowing what we already knew. I made a trip to Tennessee and brought home a horrible stomach bug! Brad and I saw Fun Home at the Phoenix Theater – despite it being very hot in the theater, it was a good show. At the end of the month, we celebrated Brad’s birthday!
I ran the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon once again. It was great having my mom and brother there this time! Then later that day we celebrated my mom’s retirement with a reception at one of her former churches. It was good to see family and friends. I met with a GI doctor for the first time. Again, I was grateful for the listening ears he offered. We made plans to do some testing before deciding next steps. Brad and I went to Tennessee the weekend before Thanksgiving since we would spend the holiday with the Brocks this year. The morning of Thanksgiving I ran the Drumstick Dash in Broad Ripple before we headed out to Plainfield for the day of delicious food and time with family. I had attended St. Mark’s UMC a couple times this fall since my mom is an associate pastor there. I decided that after Thanksgiving I would begin attending regularly. I was ready. I even signed up to attend a Sunday night Advent study. With both the study and morning worship, I’ve enjoyed showing up just before it starts and leaving when I’m ready. Eventually I’ll get more involved, but for now, this is enough. I ended the month in a whirlwind: I attended 1.5 days of a 3 day work conference in Indianapolis, left that one early to head down to Tennessee for another work conference. I enjoyed meeting many of our partners and putting faces with names.
A new employee was hired at work and that really made a big difference for me – not only for my workload but morale too. I finally felt like things were falling into place with work. Although I was never outwardly stressed, the fact that my GI issues were starting to wane suggested otherwise. With six months into the job, I can say I’m glad for the career change and am excited to see where it will take me. I followed through with the GI doctor’s suggestion and had a colonoscopy. As I suspected, it didn’t show anything. The doctor confirmed what I’ve known for some time – irritable bowel syndrome. I’ve been dealing with it most of my life, but now I’m ready to start managing it in healthy ways. I had a fun Christmas weekend with Festival of Carols on Friday night and Sarah Scarborough McLaughlin on Saturday night – all of the music helped me get into a festive mood! This was just in time because we had full on holiday family non-stop fun from December 23rd until the 30th! First we had three days with the Brocks – cookie bake, Don’s birthday, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Then we had Christmas with my mom, siblings and nieces, Eitljorg trains and Christmas with my dad, Bob, siblings and nieces, a sleep over with all four nieces at our house, and then more games and playing in the snow. I’m tired!
Sprinkled throughout all of this included yoga several times a week, lunches and dinners and coffees with friends, lots of walks with Denali, running, quilting projects for others and for myself, and lots of dinners with Brad. There were lots of tears, but also lots of laughs.
My word for 2017 was gratitude. Each night I would reflect on my day – I had to come up with at least three things from the day for which I was grateful. Usually I had a long list. Even on hard days, I found space for gratitude. Looking back at where I was a year ago…my, how things have changed. I never would have guessed where this year would take me.
Yesterday I read this from Jan Richardson’s book, Circle of Grace:
If you could see
the journey whole,
you might never
might never dare
the first step
that propels you
from the place
you have known
toward the place
you know not.
I’m grateful the light is only lit for the next few steps. That’s all I need – enough light to take another step or two. By the time I make those, more light will appear. I step into the unknown – into 2018 – just as I did into 2017: with a brave heart, with friends and family surrounding me, with the strength to know I can do it.
Thanks for the lessons, 2017. The journey will continue into 2018.