I feel so reflective this time of year and in that spirit I reread my 2018 wrap up post, which I close in this way:
"We'll be asleep well before midnight and everyone in our house will be awake before the sun rises for the first time in 2019. It'll be like any day in our house and yet it will feel like 365 new days have been unrolled like a carpet ahead of us. I wonder where it will take us and I'm excited to find out."
Oh my heart! I love this glimpse back one year ago: We didn't know whether or not we wanted to grow our family. Didn't know we'd make that decision in 2019 and that it would bring us a third pregnancy and have us ending 2019 anticipating a baby girl. That is certainly the biggest thing to have happened in 2019 but there were lots of other good things and some challenges too.
Every year Erica and I record a year-end wrap up episode and a new year intention episode in early December which puts me in the mindset of looking back and looking forward. To prep for those episodes I took myself on an early Sunday morning Starbucks date and made a 2019 document just for me. I listed all the good things that happened, what didn't get done, the challenges, what I learned, how my word FLOURISH was part of my year, and a few "bests" like best meal, book, movie, etc. It was so enjoyable! And makes me feel like I've honored and thanked the year that is about to end. Listen to our 2019 wrap up episode if you'd like to hear more of my reflection on 2019 but I'll capture some of it here too. And our 2020 intentions episode will be out on January 1.
Now to look back at my goals for 2019 and check in on my progress. Anything with an "*" is something I accomplished in 2019 that wasn't on my original goals list:
Self/Health & Wellness
12 x monthly health challenges. I loved this year-long challenge. I did fall off the wagon when I got pregnant and morning sickness set in so I skipped August through November. BUT I'm finishing the year strong with my December challenge (eat veggies twice per day). My favorite challenge was no added sugar, the hardest was no caffeine, and I'm proudest of doing 10 pushups every day for a month in January.
Little to no phone use 5 p.m. to bedtime. Overall did well although this is a goal that needs recommitment from time to time. I feel so much better when I spend the evening focused on my family and winding down and reading as opposed to checking my phone. The books How To Break Up With Your Phone and Digital Minimalism really motivated me to spend less time on my phone if you need similar motivation.
Four workouts/week. I was able to do this for a short time but the fourth workout didn't stick. However, I am proud that I kept up my three high intensity workouts/week for a whole year and especially through pregnancy.
*Went to counseling regularly. This was my first full year of going to counseling and I went to nine sessions. I'm so happy I've made this part of my regular self-care. Even though I might not seem like a person who "needs" counseling (no depression or anxiety, happy marriage and relationships) and actually I'm incredibly happy and satisfied with life I still find it beneficial to have time to talk through and process things that are happening. I feel a comfort just knowing that should a challenging season occur (and we're about to have a newborn so it's very possible) I already have something in place that will help me navigate it.
*Returned to morning tea and consuming less caffeine overall. I do still enjoy a cup of coffee on occasion although I try to do decaf.
*Found a good rhythm to my weeks. 2019 was my first full calendar year of not working full time. In the past year I feel like I've found a good routine to my weeks in which I'm getting things done but don't feel like I'm trying to do too much.
One family dinner. Yes! I feel really good about where we are with family dinners. I've found a handful of dinners that please everyone – like tuna melts, burritos, and spaghetti – plus some other meal combinations where the kids and adults are eating different things but it's not too hard to put together. Overall dinner feels less stressful and I'm really pleased about it.
Four dates with Chris each month: I said I wanted two “out” dates and two at-home creative or game night dates. So so. We didn't do creative dates. However, Chris took up woodworking last January so he'll often do some woodworking in the evening but it's not something we do together. I do feel that overall we did a good job prioritizing dates and made time for each other. Plus we were able to take three trips just the two of us this year: Turks and Caicos, Flagstaff, and Philadelphia.
Establish routines for basic chores and cleaning together as a family. Somewhat. We did try to more often include the boys in cleaning when we did it all together as a family. And we try to have them be the ones to tidy up their toys, etc around the house. I also started having the boys put away their own underwear and socks when we do laundry. Recently I had the boys help me clean our two bathrooms and it reminded me that they need to be doing that more often.
More family adventures. Yes. We took a spontaneous trip to show the boys snow for the first time and went on two family camping trips.
*Made the decision to grow our family. Now expecting a baby girl in March! We are so excited and it feels right.
FINISH A BOOK PROPOSAL. Yes and no. I do not have a polished book proposal that's ready to show to an agent. But I also put in a lot of effort to produce the first draft of a proposal that I have. And I've decided to feel proud of that! I'm not sure if I'll continue with the proposal. As more time passes since I've been a full time working mom I don't find myself as drawn to writing about the experience and realistically wouldn't be very excited about spending a year+ actually writing the full book on being a working mom. It also seems unlikely that I'd get a book deal considering that I'm no longer a full time working mom. I feel fine with all of that and still feel that the effort that went into crafting my first draft proposal was worthwhile.
Weekly blog posts. My posting frequency went up and down but I'm happy to be ending the year posting about once per week, sometimes more, and I'm looking forward to continuing to write here in 2020.
Migrate blogs to Wordpress. No - argh! It still feels overwhelming to me to try to do this, and most likely is something that I should invest in hiring someone to help me but it doesn't feel like so much of a priority that I want to spend the money it would likely cost. I'll probably continue on for now. If it's not broke...?
Complete two sewing projects. Ha - NO! Clearly sewing is a very aspirational hobby of mine. I did initially make some progress but then stalled and never picked up the project again. I don't think sewing will be part of my life right now but maybe in the future.
*Produced bonus episodes of The Girl Next Door Podcast. It was really fun to release four bonus episodes throughout the year and surprise listeners.
Finances + House
Return to savings. Sadly no. We did continue to save into retirement and the boys' college savings which are automatic transfers. But we didn't return to the aggressive savings we once practiced. Honestly it's been really hard to do so since I quit my job and our income went down by about one-third. When I was working it was much easier to save because we made significantly more than our living expenses. On Chris's salary we still make more than our living expenses but with the trips and house projects we did this year we didn't have the extra to sock away. Chris and I have talked about it and we actually feel okay with it. This year some big expenses were redoing the front yard, sealing the house against scorpions, going to Turks and Caicos for a wedding, going to Philadelphia, and putting up string lights in the backyard. All of those things feel "worth it" and added value to our lives. We do anticipate some positive financial changes in 2020 that could get us back to savings: Cedric enters kindergarten in August and we'll no longer have childcare payments (for the first time since 2013!) plus Chris will get a raise in the new year. We feel optimistic!
Complete library card catalogue entry table. Nope and I'm a bit annoyed at myself for this one. The hold up for me has been the cost of buying the legs for the table. They need to be really sturdy and I've found some for $300 but then never feel like it's a good time to spend an extra $300. Hmmmm. This is something I want to complete in 2020.
*Front yard makeover. In 2019 we took our front yard from blah to lovely and it continues to bring me joy. I always take a second to look at our yard as we pull away or pull up to the house.
*Had string lights hung in the backyard. I'm so thrilled with how this turned out. I thought we'd be able to host Thanksgiving in the backyard this year so I made a deadline of having string lights hung by Thanksgiving. It turned out to be too chilly and threatening rain to host outside but oh well, we still got string lights! I found a great neighborhood handyman who was able to see my vision and he did excellent work. I love turning on our lights every evening and most mornings and seeing them through the back windows. Plus I think having nice lighting will encourage us to do more with our backyard and spend more time there.
Overall 2019 was a great year for us and we did not face any significant hardships. There were some challenges, however, including:
+ Chris experienced illness and injuries this year: he got the flu in May and was so sick for two solid weeks; in August he severed the large tendon in the bottom of him left foot and was in a boot for over six weeks, and just recently he cut is hand while doing some woodworking and had to get five stitches.
+ Summer dragged on and on and this year. It felt brutal and I did not feel optimistic about it.
+ Simultaneously with the brutal end of summer AND Chris's foot injury I was in the first trimester of my pregnancy and felt so nauseous all day plus was exhausted. It was all together just not an enjoyable time.
+ Some developmentally normal but still emotionally challenging behavior from one of our boys.
A main thought I've been having as the years draws to a close: I'm really happy with where I am and where our family is in terms of how we spend our time. There have been times since quitting my full time job where I've wondered if I'm not doing or producing enough. But then I step back and realize that I'm so much less stressed and more fulfilled than I was when I was working full time. (Not because working full time generally isn't fulfilling but because personally I was ready to move on from that job and give my writing and podcasting more bandwidth and have more time with the boys.) I'm feeling slightly less ambitious lately but that feels like a good thing; soon I'll have a newborn to fill that extra space in my days and weeks. At the same time I continue to feel so much creative energy and fulfillment from the writing and podcasting I'm doing and I'm so thankful for that. I feel centered, calm, optimistic, and excited about a new year ahead. Thank you, 2019!
What did you accomplish and learn in 2019?