Reflections on 2014

What an interesting year 2014 has turned out to be. One of the craziest and most life-changing years of my entire life and I know it’s only going to get more interesting from here! The year started on a very somber note as Brad’s sister spent several days in a coma on a ventilator. We were unsure of the outcome for a while, but God has a way of using things like that to shake you to your core and remind you what’s really important in life. She has since made a full recovery and has accomplished some of her major life goals as a result. For us, the experience gave us a new perspective and we spent some time taking inventory on our blessings and focused on not taking anything for granted.

The rest of the year was filled with new challenges, new adventures, and new fears of even greater unknowns. I found a prompt on Pinterest about year end reflections and it got me really thinking about my year – accomplishments, failures, seized and missed opportunities, game changers, and plans to shape the year to come. Brad and I spent last night having dinner with new friends in Bloomington. Since we are old, tired, and pregnant we opted to leave before midnight and drive back to Madison, which gave us 2 hours in the car on the way home to talk about our life together and the things we want for our future. I can’t think of any other way I would have rather spent my New Year’s Eve.

Side note: As fate would have it, we got pulled over at 11:51 pm for a broken headlight and expired tags (oops…how embarrassing on our part!). The cop was super nice and we got off with a warning even though we kept asking him really stupid questions! We watched his lights fade out in our rear view mirror as the clock struck midnight. We laughed the rest of the way home about the awesome story we would have for years to come.

Anyway, these are the things we reflected on that I wanted to share in this post – mostly for my sake so I will always remember 2014 and how much it has changed me. But I hope the things I’ve learned along the way can also inspire you in some way. I encourage you to look back at your year in the same way. Be proud of the things you’ve accomplished and learn from the things you didn’t accomplish. That’s the only way we grow. I don’t want to bore you with the details, so here’s the list – my year in review:

10 Highlights (accomplishments, best memories):
1. Finding out we were pregnant.
2. Buying our first house.
3. Moving in, creating a home, finding community, investing in friends that are becoming more like family.
4. Spending a week of rest and rejuvenation in South Carolina.
5. Raising over $20,000 at our annual fundraiser for the Ulster Project.
6. Getting hired as the EcO15 Coordinator.
7. Receiving the “She Knows Where She’s Going” award from Girls Inc.
8. Planning a successful Soup, Stew, Chili & Brew festival.
9. Friendsgiving in Chicago.
10. Watching some of our best friends get married and being a part of their special day.

3 Disappointments (failures, missed opportunities):
1. Brad not having his certification and missing out on a new job opportunity.
2. Not seeing out-of-town friends as often as we would have liked.
3. Not being able to go to Ireland for the second leadership trip.

3 Game Changers (unexpected events that shifted your priorities):
1. Baby.
2. House.
3. New job.

3 Things You Focused On (what you put the most of your time into):
1. House & DIY Projects.
2. Ulster Project.
3. Preparing for Rory.

3 Things You Forgot (what you didn’t get around to doing):
1. Read 12 books (I read 5)
2. Finish P90X (we did the first week)
3. No more consumer debt (stupid Target credit card and my shopaholic tendencies)

Reflection (how does this inform your plans for next year):
As I look back on these things – these events and moments that have made up my year – I can’t believe where we are now. I remember the end of last year, when everything was still in limbo. It felt like we were still somehow waiting for our real lives to begin. But here we are, in 2015, on the cusp of so many changes and major events. As I look forward to the new year, I can only hope we are the adventurers we have always claimed to be. Because it’s about to be a wild ride. If I have learned one thing this year, it’s that things happen as they are meant to happen. It doesn’t matter how many plans you make or how meticulous you think you have been with the details. Life is about celebrating moments as they happen and finding joy in the little things.

So let us toast to 2014. The things we learned and the things that changed us. And let’s embrace the possibilities of 2015. Happy new year, friends!

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