The end of the year always seems like the moment many people are reflecting, remembering, and planning leaving one year for the next. Remembering can be powerful. Looking back informs us, enlightens us, shows us where we didn’t quite make it, and alerts us to the inner strength and resolve we didn’t know we had. As I reflect on this year, I am grateful for many things. It wasn’t the easiest year, and I didn’t do some of the things I thought I’d do, but I still accomplished more than I imagined I would. So, today, I’m staring down memory lane, seeing where my feet have trod, and intentionally preparing for 2018 because there’s so much more living and being to sink into. One thing I already know: 2018 is the year to abide.
Every year for the last 3-4 years I’ve chosen a word to be my guide for the year. I gave up doing resolutions in 2014 and opted for the word intentional. I find that one word helps me focus my energies and actions for the year, and while I don’t get it perfect, I get as close as I can to allowing that word to transform the way I think an “be” as I walk the year. In 2017 my word was “YES”. I also had two other words, but they were secondary, and still just as important in supporting the “yes.” I didn’t go looking for my word. It was more like it found me, stuck with me, and invited me to adventure. My other words were beautification and speak faith. I think when you’re living into your yes, it requires you to speak truth faithfully and to honor the beauty of who are truly are. This is a wonderful thing – to be rooted and grounded in who you’re truly meant to be. I won’t tell you all the details and play-by-play moments of what it meant to live in the yes, but I will tell you 12 things I’ve learned this year. I hope they encourage and inspire you to act in ways that make you more of who you’re meant to be too.
- January – Temporary displacement cannot thwart the dreams beating in your heart, and it’s okay to retreat and rethink so you can relaunch. When you lean in and work with the trials and adversities, you summon an uncommon grace that lifts you up and out of the anxiety and angst. You find peace in the middle of the storm. You find that you can rise from the ashes. You might be pressed but not crushed, struck down but not destroyed, persecuted but not abandoned. God is always showing himself faithful. Maybe in the din of noise you’ll hear God’s whisper: “I’m right here.”
- February – Without breath we die. So inhale. Exhale. Take it slow. Survey the land because it’s maybe not as horrible as you believed. In fact, you unearth hope in the darkest night and find you rise again and again and again (rising is a theme for life). Then, friends, share your stories. Your testimony speaks to the power of God moving in your life behind the scenes, and that causes faith to swell.
- March – The threat of losing people and dreams you love is so unsettling and scary. Real talk, it makes you quickly come to terms with what really matters. It tests your faith in ways you could not imagine. You’ll have to let something go, and it might be painful. Will you press in to God or run away from? I ran as fast as I could into His presence, collapsed, and reached out to friends to support me with their prayers. I may not have had their physical presence, but knowing I was not alone encouraged me. It doesn’t mean I didn’t feel some deep, dark feels because I most certainly did, and I processed them and prayed. But I also came to the place where I chose to believe God would be present where I could not be present. His miracles were present in March, and He held me together. A creative outlet can sometimes help us work through challenging circumstances too.
- April – We choose our creative endeavors and make plans to do or not to do them. We may find we’ll surprise ourselves just by showing up and doing the work – the monotonous drills, workouts, and routines that build our capacity. 100 straight days of creative practice stretched me, and I almost gave up, but once I saw tiny progress, I kept moving forward. I’m so glad I did. We can always make room for creative practice, and we’re worth the investment. We lean into faith and rediscover what we believed.
- May – Why be afraid of the past? There’s nothing back there you need anyway, so forge ahead. Look back only to use what you see to bolster your resolve. Keep showing up and you’ll find your not as scared as you once were, and the things you once believed impossible suddenly become possible.
- June – When you do work you love, it energizes you. When you don’t do work you love, it’s draining. Take a good hard look at what you’re doing, and don’t be afraid to ask yourself the tough questions like: am I avoiding, am I ready, is it time to move? I want to live a life of no regrets, and this means asking the hard questions, facing the fears, and getting gut-level honest about what I really want. Also, there will be times your own art will preach to you. Are you listening to your own soul? Write it. Draw it. Talk about it.
- July – We can open our lives to new chapters knowing the invitation comes because of who we are not because of our associations. Sometimes you learn that your gifts have made room for you in unexpected places. Don’t be afraid to say yes to expanding into more of who you’re meant to be. There is power in the ability to choose no as well. Not every yes is meant for me, and that’s okay. When I exercise my no, I’m keeping my boundaries that allow me to operate from a place of authenticity and truth which lead to my truer YES. I’m okay with that.
- August – Stay rooted and grounded in a world this is shifty. As a person of faith, the Word of God – the bible is my foundation. It teaches me wisdom, grace, and the practicality of living a life of faith. I don’t always get it right, but that doesn’t stop me from continuing to practice. One way I learn verses is to write them and meditate on them. This year I lettered my favorite verses and some I wrote about on my blog with the goal being to remember who and Whose I am. One thing I remember is that we must choose rise no matter what. Rise.
- September – We walk by faith and not by sight no matter what. That’s not always easy, but still, we can depend on God to walk with us through every season.
- October – The hardest part about writing is showing up. Once you show up, open the keyboard, and type then there’s no reason you cannot create your next masterpiece. The challenge of writing for 31 straight days can be daunting, but to develop and sustain the habit reminds me we can do anything we set our minds to. We can slay our excuses so we can be our better selves. I think of writing as a creative practice that influences my personal and professional life in good and positives ways. Don’t be afraid to be your whole self in all you do. Maybe you’ll discover that “it” thing you’ve known was always meant for you.
- November – Gratitude is a beautiful thing. Choosing gratefulness in challenging times is harder but worth it because it invites (gently pushing) us to reframe our circumstance, to look for goodness, and to hold on to hope no matter what. Using a creative practice to explore life helps us see differently too, and so I enjoy participating in Art Everyday month. Part of that process lead me to opportunities to letter items for events, and that was a joy. I also remembered that I had the power to tell my fears to take a back seat and leave me alone – it’s the speak-faith part of my word for this year, and I’m thankful!
- December – Dream again because it is still possible. Finishing is better than beginning, and I am looking forward to finishing many things in 2018. We must choose to believe these dreams are possible and that they can be done. Perhaps what is pulsing in our hearts to do is meant for many or maybe for one. How will we ever know if we don’t try? Let’s all commit to showing up an doing the work. As long as we have breath in our bodies, we must do those things the Divine has birthed in our hearts to do. It matters, and it will make a difference.
Look back to move forward. Don’t stay there long. We learn from the past so we might not repeat our mistakes and continue doing those actions that allowed us to find success. In my year of yes, I learned this, but 2018 is inviting me to abide. So here’s to getting rooted and grounded in truth.
How are you remembering 2017? I’d love to hear your stories.