I’ve been thinking about what I would say this year on my birthday eve. As is my yearly tradition, I wanted to look back on this past year of life and reflect on what I’ve done. This year, though, it doesn’t feel like much. I want to blame some of that on Covid and the general tone of 2020. She was kind of a bummer of a year in a lot of ways.

One of the big milestones for me was that I hit 100 posts on my blog. That was actually something I put onto my bucket list when I drafted that a couple of years ago. I know some of my posts are hits and others are misses, but I do this mostly for me, and if other people get something out of that…well, that’s just a bonus.

I made a few more quilts this past year. That continues to be a source of joy in my life. I just finished two quilts in the last month, and I am quite pleased with them both. If I could make a living quilting, I happily would. As it is, I’m content to give them all away.

We did some traveling. We went with some of our family to the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area in April, and Michael and I took the girls to Florida in July. Both vacations were good and needed. I think travel nourishes the soul and broadens the mind, and it is something we look forward to doing with our little clan.

We made several trips home to Crawfordsville to see family as well. Those trips were difficult to orchestrate during Covid, but we did our best to see loved ones and stay safe at the same time.

Probably the biggest thing that changed this year was my profession. Twice. In October I left my chaplaincy job at Parkview. I briefly took a position with Park Center as a therapist. Both jobs took a heavy toll on my emotional health, though, each one for different reasons. Neither departure was an easy decision, and they were events that Michael and I talked through thoroughly. We decided that if I am going to continue on in my doctoral studies, I need to be in a part time position so I can concentrate on school. With that being said, I’ve been working at a branch of our local library since June 1, and it has been a good move for me. A friend came to the library one day and remarked that I seemed relaxed and in my element, and that is how I feel most of the time.

Speaking of school, I took it easy there as well. I had two semesters where I only took one class instead of two, and that provided some needed respite. I realized when I signed up for my fall classes that I only have three courses left before I start my true dissertation work. I am making progress there as well, as I have made contact with a couple of people at Parkview who are going to guide me through what I need to do in order to do my dissertation research there next year. Small steps, but encouraging ones.

Around the house, we started a painting project this weekend. I have disliked the poop-brown color of our kitchen, half bath, and utility room since we moved in, and I finally decided to address the issue. Tomorrow on my birthday, we will complete the painting process on the kitchen, which is now a lovely color called Handsome Plum. The half bath and utility room will follow at a later date.

What will 43 look like? I’m not really sure. More work at the library. More doctoral classes. More time spent with family. We are hoping for a trip to London next summer, and some friends and I are making tentative plans for a small trip of our own. I’ve learned from this last year that I need to take care of myself, and I’m continuing to examine what that looks like. I think I’m on a good track for now.

So as 42 draws to a close, I’m feeling grateful. I’m grateful for the experiences of the last year, the good and the bad, because they have led to where I am now. I’m grateful for people who have stuck by my side and encouraged me when I needed it. I’m grateful for another year of a good life.

Cheers, 42.

Cue 43.