Looking Back and Moving Forward

Although you might not have realized it from my blogging habits–or lack thereof–from 2018, last year was a whirlwind. I’m finally in a place emotionally, physically, and mentally where I’m able to return to blogging regularly, but before I start posting reviews again, I wanted to share the highs and lows from 2018 as well as my goals and dreams for this new year.

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Goodbye, 2018!

♥ The biggest, most life-changing thing that happened last year? I had a baby! This is also the main reason for my unannounced blog hiatus for most of 2018. In December we welcomed our second son, Finn, and he is perfect and fully loved by us all.

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However, just like with my first pregnancy, this time I also suffered from depression and anxiety. Both are thieves of joy, as anyone with depression and/or anxiety can tell you. I was prepared for it this time, but that didn’t make it any easier; it just encouraged me that it would end at some point, probably at the end of my pregnancy. So for approximately 9 months I was only able to push through a handful of books, not really fully enjoying them; I forced myself to blog a couple of times; mostly I sat on the couch or cuddled in my bed and watched tv or period dramas (at least the depression didn’t steal binge watching from me). But good news: at the end of it all, I was blessed with a beautiful baby boy and a renewed love for reading (since the delivery I have read 7 books!), so I can officially say that my reading slump is over.

♥ In September, after visiting Oregon for my sister’s wedding and hosting my in-laws at our home in Wilmington, NC, we were hit by the devastating and frustratingly sluggish Hurricane Florence. Our coastal city had already reached our average annual rainfall amount before Florence hit, and then she just sat there for DAYS, flooding our city and my house. We had to be emergency evacuated in a boat by FEMA and the Fire Department. 

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My street the day after the flash flood caused by Hurricane Florence. We are near the end of the street, not pictured here, where the water levels were higher. When we were evacuated, the only part of our mailbox that was above water was the very top of the post.

With 18″ of water infiltrating our house (40″ in the garage), we had to completely gut and repair the first floor. Thank God for our second floor, and for the fact that we were here, even though we had to be evacuated, because we were able to save a lot of our belongings. I also thank God for my husband, who, on top of working overtime at work every week, also spent hours every day gutting, cleaning, organizing and packing up salvaged belongings, pulling up floors, installing drywall, installing new floors, and basically becoming a handy-man overnight so that we could be back in our house before Finn arrived. 

With help from our friends, family, and church communities both here and in France, my husband was able to finish the major repairs necessary for us to move back into our house the week of Thanksgiving. There is still much to do. Between Christmas, having a baby, hosting our family, and having the stomach flu (everyone except Finn, thankfully), we still need to unpack several boxes and install cosmetic aspects of our house, like the baseboards and the new back door. But it’s all part of the process! The important thing is that we have a house that is clean and habitable. 

♥ Between prenatal depression and hurricane-induced anxiety, one significant thing I focused on in 2018 was my mental health. A couple of weeks before Hurricane Florence hit, I started seeing a counselor, who diagnosed me with general anxiety. That was nothing surprising, but having a name for it gave me some power over it. I haven’t been able to go to counseling since Finn was born, but I have noticed that I don’t get anxious as much over things that are beyond my control. When I do get anxious (like I did when me, my husband, my toddler, and my family who was staying with us got the stomach flu the week we brought Finn home from the hospital), I focus on relieving that anxiety in a healthy way. Usually that’s by praying and singing comforting worship songs over my situation.

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Welcome, 2019!

♥ What’s my number one goal for this year? Declutter my life! I’m sure most (nearly) 30-year old moms have this new year’s resolution, but in my case it’s also part of our hurricane recovery process (I promise that’s the last time I include the h-word in this post; I’m tired of hearing it as much as you probably are). As I unpack and organize our belongings, I stop and ask myself, “Is this necessary? Do I love it?” If the answer is no, the item is either donated or trashed. I still have a ways to go before my whole house is decluttered, but every little step is progress and each time I get rid of something it brings me a sense of peace. Plus, it’s nice opening the kitchen cabinet and seeing only the mugs I actually use and enjoy.

♥ This year I’ve decided to read what I want. I didn’t originally plan it this way, but it also goes along with my decluttering resolution. In the past I’ve filled a lot of my time reading books I didn’t love; sometimes they were review books, sometimes they were classics I felt I had to read. I’ve also spent a lot of time reading books that were fluffy, meaningless reads, which is ok sometimes, but this year I’m ready for a change. Maybe it’s part of getting older or having more kids: I’ve realized how little time I have to read and I want to spend that time reading really good books. I also want to focus on reading one, maybe two books at a time, as opposed to the two to three books I normally read at once. I know that most people only read one book at a time, but I’m a restless multitasker when it comes to reading, especially when I’m reading a slower-paced book.

♥ While Finn will be sleeping in our bedroom for the next few months, eventually he and his older brother will be sharing their bedroom, so one of my goals this year is to fix up the nursery. It’s currently a woodland creatures theme, but we plan to modify it a little to give it a Peter Pan/Neverland theme. I’m so excited about this, and I hope my boys enjoy it too! I’ll be sure to share pictures when their lost boys’ hideout is complete.

♥ This year I’m also aspiring to focus on hospitality. After being blessed by the hospitality and generosity of our friends over the past few months, I’ve been encouraged to deepen those qualities in my own life. I’ve noticed how greedy I can be with my time and resources, and I’ve been feeling a desire to change that.

♥ Lastly, and what I anticipate will be the hardest goal to achieve this year: I’d like to finally finish the first draft of my novel. I started writing it over a year and a half ago and I have not been very persistent. It’s a mental struggle, but I hope to overcome it and get my story written down, even if only I ever read it. 

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I’m looking forward to another year of growth! From last year’s experience, I know that being stretched isn’t necessarily a comforting idea, but it does produce stronger character and a clearer perspective in the end.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4

It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will. – Anne of Green Gables

What are your resolutions for this year?

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