• Caroline

2021: When Life Doesn't Go As Planned

There's no way to sugarcoat it: I've been in a year-long funk, creatively.


Today I'm sitting in a coffee shop, looking back over my notebooks and planning out 2022, and I realized something.


In 2020, I completed everything on my list of goals for the year. New skills, new accomplishments. It looked great on paper, and I did enjoy the work. But if I stopped racing long enough to look inward, I was miserable. My depression and anxiety (aggravated by postpartum hormones) were raging, and I was struggling to keep my head up and even have an appetite, find time to sleep, or keep my house clean.


Today I looked at the list of goals I had written for 2021.


I didn't complete a single one. Didn't read the business manual, didn't complete the writing course. Definitely struggled with writer's block.


So yeah, 2021 was one big funk on that front.


But then I stopped. Was it really a waste, though?


I learned more about mental health in 2021 than I have in my entire life. I was immensely more at peace with myself and the world than I was in 2020. I focused on relationships and have been blessed by close friendships, both near and across the country. I learned how to paint rooms and remodel bathrooms and keep houseplants alive. We moved to a new town, we bought our first house, and I made new friends. I watched my boys grow and played outside with them. I got to see the Rocky Mountains. I learned the power of minimalism and that less really is more. Not to mention, I read about three times the books I read in 2020. I also discovered yoga. I fell deeper in love with my husband Daniel. I see now that I grew as a person and a Christian. And I didn't realize any of this until I typed these words.


A failure? Maybe not. It might not look so great on a 10 Year Plan checklist, but I see now that I needed this year.

Maybe 2021 was different than you thought it would be, too. Maybe there were hopes and dreams that didn't happen just yet--or you experienced betrayal, disappointment, and grief. These are all deeply valid parts of our journey here on earth. We cannot let the chatter of our accomplishment-obsessed culture distract us from what matters. Look again. Look at the little things, the growth that's hard to track. The pain that both breaks and strengthens us. The healing power of grace and our God who is with us in all of it.


Do I have exciting plans and ideas for the new year? (Do I need to grow in discipline when it comes to certain things like writing?) Absolutely. Am I learning to hold those goals loosely and not get too wrapped up in hustle? I pray so. Neither 2020 or 2021 were all good or all bad, just different. And I'm thankful for it all.


Ruth Chou Simons summed this up perfectly in a recent podcast interview. She said, "Nothing in the mundane is wasted. Living well is the ultimate source of creating well. We tend to think that the season we're in will last forever or never change. God has the right to give us multiple seasons and callings; to give us opportunities that we could never ask for or expect. It's not just about what you're good at or how much you hustle. Our job is to prepare our hearts and live well so that we're ready for the way He chooses to use us."


Dear reader, as another year of writing on this online platform closes, thank you for being here and reading these words. Thank you for the friendship you extend and the kind words you have spoken to me. I appreciate you more than you know. Let's take on the new year together.

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