Tsh Oxenreider has a great set of intentional questions to reflect on the previous year. I’ve listened to several podcasts where they answer these questions, and I really love them and would like to do them every year from now on! The questions helped me have much better perspective about last year, which is always good.
2017 was tough, but gosh we learned so much. I prefer to think of 2017 as The Year That Buster Was Born, instead of the Year We Moved Twice because he’s the very most important thing that came out of this year, and I don’t want his birth year to be…tainted? Glossed over? Locked in the “no thank you” pile in my brain? I don’t know. But even though it was tough, it was great, full of lots of little amazing moments. Big and little highlights: Buster. Wacey and I (and Buster in utero) were in a Dove commercial. We finally got an AQHA member number, transferred the horses to us, and registered our first baby horse. I can fit into my old pants. Wacey can talk. We paid off the pickup. I learned how to properly roast a chicken. I got a new camera lens and it’s ah-mazing.
What was the single best thing that happened this year?
Buster being born, obviously. He’s such a puddle of joy! I am so grateful that our transition from one to two was pretty much seamless and that labor, birth, and recovery were so much easier this time around, despite (because of? Someone please answer this for me) no epidural. He fits into our family just perfectly. And seriously, he is the happiest darn baby, he makes us laugh all day long!
What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
Moving was hard, of course, but I think the most challenging thing that happened was the realization that we were going to have to move. We were so happy where we were in Colorado, and still can’t believe that we aren’t there anymore, but things change. Having to drive eight hours home and deal with holiday drama really cemented it for me. But, I’m slowly getting over the whys, and the disbelief, and the anger, and have accepted that we are where we are for a reason.
What was an unexpected joy this last year?
In the middle of all of this moving and shuffling around, we’ve started to make friends! (!!!!!!!) This is a big deal for us, because we’re sort of hermits by natures, but add in that ranches are spread out (due to all that ranchin’) and we’re so tickled that in the absolute middle of nowhere there are multiple families with children that it seems like we might get along with pretty well. I mean, you guys, we were invited to a New Year’s party. This has never happened. It was so much fun to ring in the new year not only awake, but with a glass of champagne surrounded by wonderful people. Also, the cattlewomen’s association here is going to be great. I’m helping with a really cool cookbook. I am excited.
What was an unexpected obstacle?
The first ranch selling. That was weird. But you know, it actually worked out for the very best, and so it doesn’t seem so much an obstacle as a hiccup.
Pick three words to describe 2017.
Survival, uncertainty, hope.
Pick three words that your spouse would use to describe your 2017.
Tired and stressed but hilarious.
Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2017.
Stress, excitement, disbelief.
What were the best books you read this year?
The Lilac Girls, The Century Trilogy, Hillbilly Elegy, The Nightingale.
Who were your most valuable relationships with?
This year, I’ve sort of sucked at relationships, but I’m glad that Bert and I have been doing this year together, and it seems like we’ve done a good job of keeping the transitions as smooth as possible for our boys. I love knowing that the Lord chose me to be both his wife and the mother to my children. It’s reaffirming and gives me confidence and hope.
What was your biggest personal change from January to December this past year?
This year has been a year of learning my weaknesses, and I’m starting to see that some things that I thought I was really good at (managing stress, budgeting, taking care of myself) are actually some of my weakest areas. I don’t like to acknowledge weaknesses or being wrong, so seeing the cracks and how I can improve is going to be really, really good I think.
In what ways did you grow emotionally?
I’ve done stressful things before, of course, but going through big changes as a mother—especially as a mother to two very young children—has made me see what I need to function the best, and has also made me see the ways that stress affects my emotions. I am getting better and checking myself when I get cranky with my family, and at re-starting our day if we’ve begun on the wrong foot. I feel older, and a little more known to myself, which is cool.
In what ways did you grow spiritually?
I really, really relied on my devotional and prayer this year, and I’m learning to give over worries to God rather than fussing and stressing and being short with people. I also learned that I can be angry with God, and that’s okay, and I can come out on the other side of that anger feeling wiser, if a little sheepish because, you know, He’s got this.
In what ways did you grow physically?
I’m learning my (post-two-babies) body, and it’s so exciting to know what works for me and makes me feel good, and what doesn’t. I also learned that this body can do hard things, like push out an eight and a half pound baby with no drugs. Go body!
In what ways did you grow in your relationships with others?
Like I said, I sort of sucked at relationships in 2017. Turns out that when I’m stressed I become even more introverted (not the way to go, ps) and so I neglected a lot of relationships last year. But we’re starting the year off strong, having been with friends when the ball dropped, and we had lunch with friends over the weekend (something I’m not sure we’ve ever done, guys!). I’ve also really thought about how I deal with some of the more complicated relationships in my life, and need to make like Elsa and let it gooooooo.
What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
Professionally, I really loved engaging more in the ag community, and am excited to increase that tenfold this year. At home, I enjoy being a mother to my children. This was a hard home year, too, since we had three homes and have lived in a constant state of semi-packed or unpackedness since July, but gosh I enjoy those little boys. I love hearing Wacey talk, and seeing Buster’s personality coming out!
What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
Work-wise, the hardest thing was leaving my job in August. A huge part of my identity is my job, and so I really, really miss it. At home, the hardest part was by far and away was packing and unpacking everything multiple times and being in an unfinished house for months and months. We’re almost all the way unpacked and organized here—all that’s left is a few more organizational purchases and hanging art and curtains, and it feels so good to not have to climb around boxes to get to things.
What was the single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
My phone. By far and away, my phone. Whether it was scrolling aimlessly through social media or spending hours trying to sort out new health insurance and rural package delivery, I sort of hate my phone at the moment.
What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?
I learned several big, equally important things. That I can do hard things, and parent through hard personal seasons, and that everything will, in fact, be okay. I also learned how to try and see what God is doing in our lives even when I’m frustrated with Him. And I learned that when I get stressed, self-care is the first thing that goes out the window. Exercise, sleep, and good eating habits fall by the wayside and I become a hermit and it’s bad.
Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.
We survived—together—and we’re stronger for it.