Hello, and happy New Year’s Eve!
I know I say it every year, but I can’t believe how quickly this year has passed. While it has had its ups and downs, I do believe it is ending better than it began. What a great feeling. Right?
Speaking of the end of the year, do you have plans for this evening? We are having some friends over earlier in the evening to share a meal and catch up with, and then we’ll be ringing in the new year together as a family.
Okay, now before I deter too much from the point of this blog post, let’s move away from the end of the year and take some time to look back over 2021 as a whole.
December Reflections 2021
Today is my annual December Reflections post. This is the post where I share some of the results of my autumn work with you by looking back on the past year and taking a quick peek into the year to come.
Now, I’ve shared about the seasonal work I do during autumn before on the blog and in my letters. If you’re interested in knowing more about what I mean when I say “autumn work” or how it works, let me encourage you to read these blog posts (here and here).
Below I’ll be sharing my reflections on 2020 and how I did or didn’t do incorporate my word of the year into my life. I’ll also share what my word will be for 2022. I’m including things I’ve said “yes” and “no” to this past year as well as the soul work I’ve done. And lastly, I’ll share lessons I’ve learned this year as well as some of my future plans — at least those I know of at the moment.
My Word for 2021
My word for this past year was “tend,” and if I’m honest, I think I tended to things pretty well 2021. Not all years do I look back and think that I did okay staying aligned with my word, but this year, I do.
This year, I didn’t take on any extra commitments. I didn’t really read any self-help books, magazines, or blogs. Instead, I tended to the things I already had going on in my life. No improvement, just maintenance. Now, I don’t have a lot of examples of how I did this like I did last year, but I’ll briefly summarize what tending looked like for me.
I kept more evenings open and free during the week so I could choose how to spend them. As always, Dean and I kept plugging away at house and land projects as we continue moving forward towards our goal of making Wild Rose Cottage a cozy, hospitable place to be. I was able to keep up with housework while homeschooling the boys and working online so our home felt less chaotic.
Speaking of school, we wrapped up another year, and all of the boys are doing great. We also chose to flip our school year back around to a traditional schedule so we took a 6-week summer break before “starting” school in the fall, and we’re currently on our 3-week winter break before getting back to our spring semester. I was also able to catch up on some much-needed website and course to-dos.
Lastly, I spent more time doing things with friends this year, and Dean and I went on more dates together as well. Ultimately, my goal of tending to the things we already had going on in our life happened, and for that, I’m grateful. This word really took the pressure off of making 2021 exceptional or even different from previous years past. One last thing I want to mention here is that I was able to stick with the systems I set in place during 2020, which helped me to better “tend” to things this year.
Yes and No
This past year, the biggest thing I said “yes” to was more time with friends.
Dean and I set a goal this year to start having 2-3 couples over to our house every month, and during the summer months, we met that goal. We slowed down a bit during winter, but we still opened our home to others. I also participated in more women’s gatherings at our church as well as getting together with ladies outside of church. I spent time at friend’s homes, and we met up at the lake and other places this year as well.
I think the biggest change here, is being less “protective” of my time, and instead cutting out other things that took up time so I would have it available to say yes when friends asked me to do things. This has not only helped me to foster relationships with real life friends, but it has helped my mental health too.
The biggest thing I said “no” to this past year was improving myself in different says.
No,w this is hard for me because my personality LOVES to achieve things. It’s not that I have to always do better and better or become more successful at things. It’s simply that I like to keep moving forward.
However, this year, I wanted a slow year. I wanted to just exist where I was and be happy here in this space. And so I didn’t read motivational books that would excite me to do or be better. Instead, I read novels and listened to audiobooks for fun. I didn’t take on extra responsibilities. Instead, I maintained the ones already on my plate. I didn’t even take on any big house projects this past year. I simply kept up with what was already done.
2021 was a year to tend to my soul as well. While growth is something that is expected in this area, I wasn’t looking to make leaps and bounds here. I simply wanted to firm up my foundation. Yes, sometimes our faith gets wabbly. I’m not saying mine was, but it was an area I wanted to sure up a bit. I’m not sure if that even makes sense.
While I did a good bit of soul work back in 2020, I feel that 2021 provided some time to reinforce it even more.
This year, I broke from my morning devotions for a time to free up my mornings, and instead, tried to be present with God throughout all parts of my day. I’m not saying that setting aside some of our day is wrong or less spiritual in any way, but I simply wanted to break down that boundary this year and abide with God’s Spirit all day long.
This looked like moments of prayer spread throughout the day or humming a worship song when it came to mind and meditating on its meaning. It was looking up a scripture when it came to mind and thinking about how it could be applied to the situation that triggered that scripture in the first place. It was seeing God in everything around me, recognizing it, and thanking Him for all of it.
Ultimately, my soul work of 2021 was really just being attentive to God and communicating with Him in all parts of my day and life. I mean, God isn’t limited to one location. He isn’t something we just pull out of a box when we need Him. He’s our best friend, our closest companion, our confidant, our protector and provider, our greatest teacher, and so much more.
No, my soul work of 2021 wasn’t anything spectacular, but then again, it kind of was. I mean, these last two years have really taught me that God is wild and free, and He made me to be wild and free too. Perhaps my biggest takeaway from this past year what that my relationship with Him will not look like other people’s relationships with Him. He created me uniquely and separate from everyone else, and my personal relationship with Him will reflect that. What’s right for me, may not be right for others, but as long as He is my center and focus, and I allow Him to lead me, I’m on the right path.
While there were many lessons learned in 2021, I think they all culminate into the following.
- My personal expectiations and lack of flexibility at times are the biggest causes for feelings of guilt and anxiety in my life. This past year has taught me the importance of embracing freedom and grace, which, ultimately, helps me to not put so much pressure on myself.
- Keep your focus on the big picture and keep pregressing toward it, but keep your big picture set in the not-so-distant future. None of us really knows what tomorrow holds, and if I’ve learned anything from the last two years, it’s to make the most of today. Yes, I do believe we need to be prepared for “rainy days,” but I also don’t want to be so focused on what’s to come that I’m missing out on the here and now.
- You can stand up for your convictions and beliefs without shouting them from the rooftop. You can also live your truth without being offensive or putting others down for not agreeing with you.
So, here we are, at the end of 2021, and I don’t know how you feel, but I feel hopeful and excited about 2022. No, it may not be all sunshine and roses, but what year is ever that?
This coming year, I’m hoping to continue with the systems I set in place in 2020 as well as continuing to tend to the things I currently have going on in my life in 2021.
With that said, I’ll also be focusing on my word for 2022, which is “ease.” At this point in my life, I need to keep things easy and simple. That doesn’t mean that I won’t do things that grow me this year, but my plan is to do it in a way that flows and feels right and doable for me wherever I am at the time. This year, I’m also doing something I’ve never done before when it comes to choosing a word to guide me during the year. This year, I’m also incorporating some supporting words alongside my main word for the year.
So in addition to focusing on “ease” this year, I’ll also be keeping the words “release” and “nourish” in mind as well. My goal is to continually remind myself to release the things I can’t control and to nourish my mind, body, and spirit — both of which will help to bring more ease into my life.
Okay, friends. Thank you for being here in 2021 with me. I appreciate you so much. If you have chosen a word for 2022, I’d love it if you’d share it with me in the comment section below.
Love and light,
PS. If you’re curious, and you’d like to have a quick review of the past 8-ish years of Growing Up Herbal and my life, you can find all my “reflection” posts here: 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021.