2019: Year in Review

As I begin a new year, I always find it helpful to take a moment and reflect on the last twelve months. The easiest way for me to take inventory is to check instagram, since I’m pretty dedicated to sharing my life there.

2019 was a big year for me. Not in any obvious way. There aren’t any huge awards or accolades to point to—but when I look at myself right now, I know that I did an insane amount of growth in the last year. I began 2019 feeling lost and fairly down on myself. I’m beginning 2020 in an entirely different headspace.

In case you’re interested, here’s a look at the posts that demonstrate how I got here.

January

This was my very first post of 2019. Here’s the backstory: toward the end of 2018, I basically told myself that I was a failure as a writer. I asked myself, and my friends, “How much long can I keep calling myself a writer when I haven’t published a book since 2014?”

I decided the first thing I needed to do was reconnect with the people who’d been with my throughout my writing journey. I wanted to focus on regaining my social media presence. I’d gone quiet in 2018, because I felt like I didn’t have anything to say, and no writing news to share, and I simply wasn’t happy with who I was, so I didn’t want to bring any attention to myself.

So here, in my first post of 2019, I began trying to figure out who I was and what I was doing. Again.

 

February

In February, I got the tattoo I’d wanted for years. There’s a feather tattoo on the inside of my right forearm- and you didn’t know this then, but I’ve been uncomfortable with it from the moment I got it. It was the biggest of my tattoos at that point. I felt like I’d gotten it for the wrong reasons. I wasn’t thrilled with the placement. To me, it represented a time when I let someone talk me into doing something when I knew I should’ve spoken up and said no.

For years, I researched how to have a tattoo removed. Then, in early 2019, it hit me- rather than get rid of the tattoo, I could alter it by adding to it. I met with a tattoo artist and told her what I wanted, and she created the most beautiful tattoo I could’ve imagined. Now, rather than representing a time when I let someone intimidate me, it represents that I can take something I didn’t love about myself and make it beautiful.

 

March

I don’t know if you can see how this all connects yet, but I can. In March, I continued this movement toward facing the things I was afraid or ashamed of by finally opening the word document I’d been avoiding for literal YEARS. I read Between’s sequel, realized a lot of the things I’d told myself about it weren’t true, and broke it down into chapters and scenes so I could “see” the big picture.

For some reason, in my head, Between 2 was an unfinished disaster. It’s unfinished in that it needs some serious editing, but the full story is there. It has some parts I’m incredibly proud of, some scenes that made me cry, and new characters I really hope to introduce to all of you someday.

 

April

As I’ve talked about so many times, my word for 2019 was “Go.” It manifested a lot of things last year, including several instances of literally going places. We took a spring break trip with one of my best friend’s families, and it was exactly what I needed. Here’s another thing you don’t know—I’m an introvert at heart, and for years I’d been a little ashamed of that. I felt like my desire to be alone was a flaw, that I should want to be around people.

In 2019, I decided to stop apologizing for who I am, and all of my friendships got better.

May

In May, a friend randomly tagged me in a call of authors for a local book event. As I mentioned earlier, I had a LOT of negative self talk related to the fact that I hadn’t put out another book since 2014. I hadn’t done a book event since 2015.

Somehow, to me, Between itself had started to represent a failure.

I remembered that I’d said 2019 was my year to “go,” so I went. And it was great. No one cared that Between had come out five years ago. No one cared that it was my only book. I’d created a narrative in my head that simply wasn’t true.

 

June

And here’s where things start to get really exciting really quickly. I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts (My Favorite Murder) when Karen casually mentioned The Artist’s Way. I’d never read it. I looked it up, thought it sounded interesting, and ordered it. If you’ve been around here long, you’ve read all about my love for The Artist’s Way. In case you need a refresher, go here and here. It is absolutely no exaggeration that reading this book changed my life, for so many different reasons.

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I started reading @juliacameronlive’s The Artist’s Way a couple weeks ago, and today I wrote my first Morning Pages. I’d really been looking forward to this exercise until last night, when I started thinking that I wouldn’t be able to do it. The Morning Pages are just 3 pages of stream-of-consciousness writing. There’s no way to do them incorrectly. I can’t even explain to you what it was that I thought I couldn’t do. Get out of my head, maybe? My inner editor is very loud and stubborn and kinda mean. In the first sentence, I stopped and struggled and overthought the word container. CONTAINER, you guys. But after that, I realized I was at the end of my three pages and I’d gotten lost in it. No more overthinking. It feels like it’s working.

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July

This is one of my favorite posts from last year, because it highlights something that was created by several different people in my family. I love the image. I love the message. And the caption introduces the July Write-in, an event I coordinated where a bunch of us spent the day together online writing words and keeping each other accountable. I made a lot of new writer friends, started a new book, and did the thing I love most—connected writers with other writers who were all looking for the same thing.

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My mom painted that painting. My granny made that dish. Ella made that paper tree. My brother made the coaster. Lauren made the mug. My people like to create. And today, I start something new myself. • I am not ready. I want to put it off another day or ten. That’s what I do. I put things off until I feel ready, until I am perfectly prepared, until all conditions are exactly so. At least, that’s what I tell myself. “I can’t start yet because all these things aren’t ready.” • Today on the blog, I try to figure out why my brain works this way. If you don’t feel ready and you need a pep talk, maybe it’ll help. (Link in bio.) Then come back here at 1pm EST to join me for the #JulyWriteIn! Check my stories for updates. We’re as ready as we need to be, guys. Let’s write some books.

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August

August brought along one of my favorite things that happened last year: I was invited to do an episode on the Why Should I? podcast. When I started The Artist’s Way, the Morning Pages practice unlocked a lot of things in my head, and I wrote several “pep talk” blog posts. One of those was Celebrate the Steps, which is still one of my favorite posts and its message is something I regularly reference in conversations with other people. Holly, the podcast’s creator, read my post and wanted me to talk about it on her podcast.

The fact that I got to reach outside my usual audience and spread a message I feel so strongly about made me feel like I was definitely on the right path, doing what I should be doing.

 

September

Still with me? Remember how I said The Artist’s Way changed my life? Here’s another reason why: Amanda Gardner, a writer I’d known online but never actually met, reached out to me because Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way, was doing a workshop at Kripalu, a yoga and health center in Massachusetts.

Again, it was my year to “go,” so I went. Kripalu was an incredible experience, enhanced by the fact that I got to go there with Amanda, who is simply good for my soul in every possible way. The things I saw and did and learned at Kripalu propelled me even further along on this journey of self-growth in 2019, and Amanda was the perfect guide.

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On my last morning at @kripalucenter, I sat at a table overlooking the mountains and did my morning pages. As I finished, I heard women laughing and looked up. • “There is a group of 4 women who just walked out onto the lawn and started dancing their asses off. No music. Just movement and laughter. That’s Kripalu.” • It wasn’t even 8am. I watched them and smiled and thought of how there are so few places where people simply drop everything and dance if they wanna dance, music or not. It was an absolutely perfect thing to witness on my last day there. • Over the next few days I’m going to try and tell you guys how incredible Kripalu was for me. Just know that I’m never going to do it justice with my words, and you all need to find your way there someday. It’s a magical place. In the meantime- go find somewhere to dance.

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October

I turned 40. It’s wonderful. I have always said I felt a noticeable shift in my brain around 33 years old, when I realized that it was okay for me to do things simply because I enjoyed them, without worrying so much about if it would upset anyone else.

I felt another noticeable shift in 2019, my 40th year, and it can be most easily summed up by the following acronym: IDGAF.

Everybody go be 40. 10/10 would recommend.

 

November

2019 = Go, right? November brought another trip, free tickets to Blissdom, a conference for women. Amanda went with me, and we spent three days planning and dreaming and elevating, and that’s aside from all the great info I learned at the conference.

 

December

This might sound a little silly, but I point to Millie as one more thing that made me a better person in 2019. She forced me to be more selfless, because she needed someone to love her and make her feel safe. I honestly think she’s made a difference in everyone in my house. We’re all better humans because of her.

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But seriously, have you EVER seen a sweeter face??

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There you have it. 2020 is going to be an amazing year, because of all the awesome things that happened in 2019. I can’t wait to share it with you.

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