Monday, January 1, 2018

Cheers to 2018!

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and a great night celebrating the passing of another year. Going along with the year of firsts for 2017, this New Year's was also a first for us...a first for staying in with zero plans. A few of our friends were going to stay with us for the evening, but they had to change plans so JR and I decided (after we looked and saw there were hardly any dinner reservations left) to stay in just the two of us. It was so nice. Definitely a far cry from the NYEs of our 20s (and it's not to say I don't love getting dressed up and going out to ring in the New Year) but it was a very fitting way to end 2017. Staying in with my husband, reflecting on a year that has meant so much for us and our relationship.
I've spent a lot of time over the past few weeks reflecting on this year. While there were definitely some lows (a very difficult low seeing an immediate family member sick for nearly two months, but thankfully, doing well now), all in all, 2017 has been one of my favorite years. It has been a year of major personal and professional growth; a year of many blessings; a year of firsts.

JR and I bought our first home in early December last year so we started 2017 getting settled in a new home. Soon after, we celebrated the best day of 2017 (arguably the best day of my 30 years so far) when we got married on April 15th. We went on a beautiful honeymoon and came home to settle into married life. I have learned so much this year about what it means to be a wife (and I know I have way more to learn). When other's have gotten married, I've heard people ask them "how does it feel?!" and the response has typically been "not much changed!" -- especially if the couple lived together before marriage. And while not much changed logistically after JR and I got married (except my name), I felt a wonderful, tangible shift in our relationship. I think it was subtle nuances that got to me -- when I was putting JR's shirts away one day after our wedding, I said to myself "these are my husband's shirts." That was weird. I have an amazing family, but it is so cool to me that JR and I are each other's family now. We are our own unit. His needs come before any other person's. I felt a strong sense of commitment to him and to our life together, which is I suppose what marriage is all about. There have been rough days, of course, but one of the major accomplishments of 2017 was becoming JR's wife and formally starting our own chapter of the Renbarger family.

I also grew in my confidence and conviction at work. I led some major projects and genuinely feel like I helped impact our business. It's a powerful feeling to take control of a project, see it through, and witness results. I am so proud of myself for my professional accomplishments and growth this year. Something I continue to struggle with, however, is that the professional success at my "real" job sometimes feels like it's at the detriment of this blog. I love blogging. I've accepted that I'm never going to be a blogger with 100,000 followers (or 20,000 for that matter), but that still doesn't stop me from wanting to grow and develop here as well. I am so grateful for you following along, reading this post, liking an Instagram here and there...but I need to find out how to let that be enough in 2018.

I would have loved to have opened the year with a post on my goals for 2018, but honestly, I'm still working on them. JR gave me a wonderful little planner for Christmas (it's called Pace & Pattern) and I've been working through its methodology for reflection and goal setting. I hope to be able to share more soon! And I also hope to gain more clarity this year on how to balance. That seems like such a cliche resolution right? Perhaps because it's such a difficult thing to master. As I'm sitting here typing, I'm struggling between beating myself up for not getting my New Year's post and goals ready on January 1st, with allowing myself to be on my own schedule. It is such a difficult and delicate balance. I want to be more consistent and purposeful; I want to hold myself accountable. But I also want to feel free to let this be whatever it is...whatever I need at the moment. I hope to continue to grow my following and feel like I'm developing my story, but not at the expense of getting myself stressed or worried or anxious about it. Because the only person inflicting those feelings on me is myself. Blogging is a funny little world. A world I'm grateful to be a part of, but one I still am trying to figure out.

That balance, and trying to figure it out, manifests itself in so many parts of my life. How do you be grateful for a smaller group of friends as people grow up and grow apart, while not getting a little upset when you see friends getting together without you? How do you feel so happy and grateful for your own blessings, when you see other people in pain and struggling? How do you push yourself to grow and achieve, while also staying grounded and humble? I hope that I can continue to grow in my understanding of life's balance and when to flex and flow.  

Whew! That felt good to get out there. That took a little bit of a different turn than I was anticipating!

Ok, back on track.

Words really can't express how much this year has meant to me. I recognize it has been difficult for many (politically, economically, personally), and I will continue to do my part to try to make this world a better place for all. But I would not be able to let today pass if I didn't recognize and give thanks and gratitude for all that 2017 brought to me. While I still have so much more to learn, so much room left to grow, I feel like I took some major steps this year in truly knowing and loving who I am. Wife, blogger, marketer, friend, sister, daughter...Abby. I hope that next year, at this same time, my heart is just as full and I can count just as many blessings. I wish the same for all of you.

More to come!

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