28 Things

I can’t believe it's that time again. Another year, another birthday. I have to say...28 was a pretty great year. It definitely wasn’t easy and I learned a lot, but it was good. Way better than 27. Every year when I sit down to do my annual birthday post, I always wonder if I’ll be able to come up with enough things, but I always do. It’s crazy that I started this tradition when I turned 23 and it’s continued every year since. It's like my own digital scrapbook over the years.

I always look back on the other years to see what’s changed and realize there are some similar themes that carry through like traveling, friends, family, books and music. I guess those are good indicators that no matter how much older I get those are constants in my life.

So since each year the lists keep getting longer (obviously)...here are 28 things from my 28th year of life.

1. I read 57 books. I decided to keep track of the number of books I read this year and 50 was my goal so I was happy to meet it! A few of my favorites: Learning to Walk in the DarkRoadmap to ReconciliationThe Royal We and The Year of YesMy goal for year 29? 65.

2. I've found the types of exercising I actually like. Kickboxing and yoga are my favorite. You don't have to wear shoes for either - which I love. Kickboxing makes my brain shut off for an hour, yoga calms me down for an hour.

3. I did a lot of traveling and fun things. Jenn and I took a trip out west where we road tripped from San Francisco up to Seattle and we went to NYC (I still can't believe we saw Jimmy Fallon!). I also went to LA, Charlotte and Asheville for the first time, went to a music festival in Missouri and took some trips to Florida and Michigan. Lots of fun times!

4. I had to do a lot of things this year that I wasn't good at it. I wish I could say I handled it all with grace and ease, but not so much. It's hard for me to do things I'm not good at, I usually quit or I just don't do them in the first place. That wasn't an option this year and I can say that it's character building and good for you to do things you're not good at.

5. I attended the hope*writers workshop. It's one of the best decisions I made this year. hope*writers is a writing community I'm a part of and their workshop was the catalyst that helped me decide to...

6. I decided to start my own business. Maybe this should be #1 because it's kinda a big deal, but if I think about it too much I freak out a little because it terrifies me. I'll be starting a Personal Growth Coaching business where I'll offer individual coaching, workshops and retreats with the goal of walking with individuals, groups and organizations toward wholeness. (If you're interested in hearing more sign up for my e-letter here!) I want to help people live into who they were created to be in the healthiest way.

7. I made the decision to shut down my blog Just a Lump of Clay.  I didn't realize how this would impact me until I bought my new domain name for my business. I've been writing under the Just a Lump of Clay name for 11 years. Crazy! I'll still be writing, just over on my new website!

8. Sometimes I eat popcorn for dinner and I'm not sorry about it. Also, homemade popcorn on the stove made with coconut oil and melted butter and honey sprinkled on is the best.

9. Betsy got married! It was so fun to celebrate Betsy and Ryan and spend time with my whole family in Florida.

10. I did Whole 30. I wrote more about my experience here (it has been my most popular blog post!). It was really hard, but I'm glad I did it.

11. I learned how to accept love and help better this year. I've realized how I'm not great at accepting help or I feel a lot of shame if I'm not pouring out to others as much as I feel they're pouring into me. Being a "taker" is not something I do well. Sometimes we need to be poured into and accept that love or help so that we can pour out more later. (Basically self-care 101)

12.  GIFs are my love language. Anything can be made better with a well-placed GIF.

13. I fell in love with the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a personality typing system that has been the most influential tool I've ever used for personal growth. I'm actually taking a course now to become an Enneagram coach and will be integrating that in my business. If you want to know more about the Enneagram and how you can use it in your own personal growth - let's talk!

14. I attended the Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids. Also, another great decision I made this year. Of course, I wrote about my experience, and it was a rollercoaster of emotions.

15. Let me tell you, I have the greatest friends. I could talk all day about how the people I get to do life with. I got closer to an incredible groups of ladies who are deeply authentic and have become like family. I went on Friendcation Part II with Michigan friends reminding me that no matter the distance or time that separates us we can always pick up where we left off. I've had friends come visit from near and far and I've seen relationships go deeper. The people I get to do life with really are the best and they make me better.

16. I learned I need a good balance between traveling and being home. I think I found my sweet spot that if I stay in Nashville for more than six weeks I start getting the itch to go somewhere. On the reverse side, I was only home 4 weekends from September to December and it was rough. I'm too much of a homebody for that.

17. I started using an electronic toothbrush. I HATED it at first. Then I got used to it after about a week and now I'm convinced for the last 28 years my teeth were never really that clean.

18. Podcasts. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE podcasts. A few new ones I started listening to this year: The Road Back to You, Smartest Person in the Room, Code Switch and Off Camera.

19. I still love being an aunt. I maybe love it more than I thought I did last year. With Leah's wedding coming up I'll "officially" add three more kiddos to the list.

20. I learned a lot at my new jobs. I went into my new jobs not sure what I was doing. Luckily I was blessed with two great bosses who were patient through my fumbling and who I've learned a lot from.

21. I started using the Cash app. Do you use this? If you don't, you should. I'm probably many years behind on this one.

22. Music. This year consisted of some incredible live shows - ADELE (!!!!), Johnnyswim and Ingrid Michaelson and David Ryan Harris were some of my favorites. Also, people I've had on repeat/my soundtrack from the year would include: The Avett Brothers, Chance the Rapper, Andra Day, Adele, David Ryan Harris, Ingrid Michaelson and...

23. HAMILTON. I probably definitely am obsessed with all things Hamilton.  For those of you that don't know (in case you live under a rock) Hamilton is a Broadway Musical about Alexander Hamilton's life. It's creative and brilliant. The Hamilton Mix-tape also released this year and I've had that on repeat. I'm actually going to see Hamilton in May and I CANNOT WAIT!

24. As I made this list I realized so many were about food. So I consolidated them: I've started eating oatmeal for breakfast almost every morning. Chicken stir fry and curry are my favorite go-to meals that are easy and delicious. I don't mind mayonnaise as much as I used to. I stopped eating dairy this year and it was another best decision of the year decision.

25. The election happened. The lowest point of the year. Honestly, I still have a hard time articulating the grief and pain that I've felt following it. And it's not because of being a "sore loser", but rather the whole - a misogynist, racist, liar, reality TV star, bully who also throws temper tantrums like a toddler and makes his opinion known over tweets that don't even make sense is about to be the president.

26. Dreams come true. A few years ago I started dreaming about hosting a retreat where people are able to get away from their every day lives and engage in life-giving and reflective activities. Almost two years after I wrote that desire down in my journal, I was leading a retreat for 6 ladies at the same place I wrote that idea down. And now I'm building a whole business around this idea. Surreal.

27. Renewing my library card and buying a Kindle on sale was another good decision. Checking out ebooks to my Kindle from the library has been great and has made me read so much more.

28. There is peace in the hovering. In Spiritual Direction at one point this last year I asked God what is this season of life about? I very clearly saw a picture of me just kinda hovering over life. It wasn't a direct answer, but a very clear feeling that while I may feel uncertain of what's next or what exactly I was doing, it was exactly where I needed to me. I was meant to be still and stay present right where I was, while at the same time hovering over this space knowing that I would set down on the next thing when it was time. 28 was about hovering waiting for what's next and 29 is about settling down and doing the work.

28 was a really good year. I grew a lot and feel like my life became richer and deeper. If I could pick two words to summarize 28 they would be Fun and Growth. The last year really laid the groundwork for what's ahead.

Here's to year #29!