Last year was a good year. I had a few goals: rest and get healthy. We had just moved back from Philadelphia were we had spent the past five years. Dave was in seminary at Westminster, we helped in leadership at a multi-site church plant in the city—Dave led music at 3 of the sites, we led a community group in our home once a week all five years, we lived communally with another family, I taught part-time at the University of Pennsylvania, we had a very active social life with mostly single friends—how I discovered Quizzo and my love for the tequila shots at Xochit, and oh yeah, we adopted our second child, Benjamin Atticus. Honestly, if the only thing on that list was parenting our first child Ellie Susanna, I would need the rest. But, all the activity over the past five years, in the city AND in the North, left me worn thin. I needed to regroup.
Looking back though, I see that in 2009, I lived a fairly good story from where I started. I had a few simple goals and I was able to achieve much more:
1. I ran a half marathon. In the hopes of avoiding medication, I chose to start exercising more. I ran weekly with a running group, I lost zero pounds, and barely finished after my friend who WALKED the damn thing—Laura Benge does have seriously long legs, though—but, I did it. I accomplished something I never would have thought possible. (Here's proof! I'm in the slideshow...You can join them this year to raise money for New Hope Academy like I did.) And I learned that it is okay that I do not enjoy running. It's a blood-type thing. Ask Micah Puncochar. I so do not get O+ people!
2. I had weekly dates with myself. I learned how to be alone. I realized that, in an attempt to outrun my depression, I used relationships and activity to avoid being alone. Once I started listening to my own thoughts and acknowledged that I let my mood determine my choices, I was able to begin enjoying my own company. ( I must point out the antidepressants and therapy were a huge help with this.)
3. I wrote my first short story. Two trips were the catalyst of my story. The first one was San Francisco, where I helped Dave shoot a friend's wedding. On that trip, I was talking to Dave about getting my Master's. I was looking at a program that would further the education I already had, like something in education, cross-cultural relations or community development. But, Dave, in his all discerning wisdom, told me I should not think about it so pragmatically. He said I should spend time studying something that would light my fire. This sent me into a temporary panic. What lights my fire??! It wasn't long after that that I decided to pursue creative writing.
Then there was Mexico. I spent the last few months working on putting that near-death experience into writing. It is to be my writing sample for my grad school application. I am so proud of myself for writing twenty-five pages, editing it several times, sharing it with my "Editor" Melinda Franklin (I have found this year that if you call something by an official name, you actually take yourself and your art more seriously. Melinda encouraged me to start calling my story "my manuscript". It made it sound so much more valuable. Its such a great trick, you should try it. Like, "Oh, sorry. I can't clean the kitchen right now, I am editing my writing." AKA: "I'm spell checking my facebook post." See how great that works?)
So, before I start making my New Year's Resolutions, I had to look back. 2009 started off low but ended high. Its a great place to start. There's a better view from here.
Photos: Yelapa, Mexico; Leslie Mitchell at our "Writer's Retreat"