I’ve been doing Year End Reflections since 2012. I’m always looking ahead, planning my next adventure and setting goals. So instead of using the last few days of the year to set resolutions for the next one, I take that time to put a big ‘ol bow on the current year by reviewing:
- The big moments/themes of the year
- How priorities have changed
- What I want to remember to celebrate
- What I need to remember to learn from
Then, I can use that info to help refocus and plan for what’s next.
My 2018 Reflections
I ended last year’s reflections by projecting that “2018 will continue the theme of God asking me to use what He has given me for His purposes and not my own. I expect that means far greater things will happen than anything I could’ve dreamed up.”
I’d say that has been pretty accurate. Great things have happened and God has been working, but it has not all been fun or easy. It has been a hard year overall. I am not sad to see it go. So, let’s unpack that a bit, shall we?
[Here’s my template for a Year End Reflection:]
Top 10 Highlights:
1: Baby #2 On The Way! He is due in February but the majority of my pregnancy has been in 2018. We knew we wanted one more but I’ll admit I was a wee bit nervous after the liver transplant. My body has given so much these past few years. I am so thankful that it continues to be strong and provide.
2: Seeing our baby grow into a boy. This little dude makes his presence and thoughts known, now. We have little conversations. Sometimes he plays quietly on his own, “reading” a book, and sometimes his latent ninja genes “HIYA” through the house leaving ruin in his wake. It’s weird/scary/awesome hearing him say and talk about things he has learned but I didn’t explicitly teach him.
3: San Diego Family Vacation. Not doing a family trip in 2017 was one of my 5 disappointments last year. I’m so thankful J’s family organized a big beach house trip. It was freakin’ glorious. Our little J-dub is obsessed with his cousins now, too, which makes my heart happy.
4: Starting a Racial Reconciliation group.
I spent the first half of the year praying God would send someone to do this. Then I realized it was me. We have started by going through the What Lies Between Us study guide by Dr. Lucretia Carter Berry. It’s great to have people to learn with and different perspectives to challenge me.
5: Books Books Books! I have loved reading more this year, specifically minority and female authors. I even got the opportunity to participate in two book launches where I got an advanced copy to read, provide feedback, and help promote it before it hit the stores. The first was Raise Your Voice by Kathy Khang and the second was The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby. Lord willing, I’ll post reviews of each in the coming weeks.
6: Our Teenage Nephew. Honestly, he moved in at the very end of 2017 but this year we petitioned for legal guardianship in the state of Oregon. We also helped him reconnect with his biological family and that has been super meaningful for both of us (see disappointment #5).
7: Big life moments with friends. I went to my friend Erica’s wedding. Heather & Remy came to see our new home. I have enjoyed laughing and crying through the happy and the horrid of pregnancy with 6 other pregnant friends in my community.
8: This INKnBURN Video.
Although this was filmed and edited in 2017, I hit publish on January 1st of 2018. I plan to do more in 2019 because it is FUN!
9: Helping other organ donors. The small bit of blogging I did the past year focused on life after transplant. From those posts I have been contacted by nearly 20 potential liver donors who have found my story helpful in their decision and process. Super encouraging for me and my cousin.
10: A No-Injury, Major Car Wreck. It’s quite a story, but basically my husband and nephew were in our Toyota Tacoma truck driving home when they hit ice, went >through< an electrical pole and rolled down an embankment. I shared more on Instagram. What might have been wasn’t, thanks be to God, and they both walked away with little more than some glass scratches and stiff muscles.
1: Losing my brother-in-law. It hurts. He was young, hadn’t made great choices, and his life was taken from him. I wish so many things had been different.
2: Not all relatives are family. As I’ve become more aware and vocal about how race and adoption have shaped my life and my faith, certain people have not reacted well and exposed their ugly. I’ve made my peace with it. I have no problems removing toxic people from my life. Still.
3: Saying goodbye to my Tacoma. See Highlight #10. Small fries compared to the last two, but I’m just being honest. I really liked that truck! I got it before I got married. Maybe it had become a symbol of my youth and independence and it’s more about letting go of that? I’m going to be that weird old lady who lives in the woods and says things with a far off look in her eye like, “That was a good truck.” Maybe I am her already?
4: “Meh” Choices with Food & Money. I have an entire drawer dedicated to ramen noodle packets and have purchased 2x more books than I could read this year. Family meal compromises are no surprise with a teen who eats 2 things. And I have definitely succumbed to shopping my stress away a few times this year. Understandable? Maybe. Healthy? Nope. Need to reign this in for 2019.
5: Unanswered Questions. I’m specifically talking about filling in the details of my Chinese family history. This last year I reached out to a cousin asking for help. Still waiting to see if anything will come of that.
3 Game Changers
1: Be the Bridge to Racial Unity. I found this organization early on in 2018 and it has changed my life. I was deeply struggling at the end of 2017 with things surrounding race, faith, adoption, etc. The FB group created by Latasha Morrison gave me hope, resources, community, and helped me find the language I needed to process past hurts and learn how to raise my voice (see Highlight #4). I’ve even been able to join a few of their panel discussions and share some of my journey.
2: Our Dream Cabin In the Woods! The biggest surprise of 2018 was seeing this listing and moving in a couple months later. Truly our dream home and lifestyle but the changes are big. We don’t have high-speed internet or cell service. We have a mobile hotspot and a landline. We’re farther from town so I do more bulk shopping and we participate in less things. All worth it, though.
3: Crazy Rich Asians. A movie? Really? Well, no…not just this movie. But all it represents this year; a year that also blessed us with Black Panther, and then the Netflix film To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and Jon Cho starring in Searching. Seeing east asian actors starring in “regular” people roles has done something good for my soul. My inner child is in fan girl mode.
3 Things I Focused On
1: Self-Education. In light of Game Changer #1, learning at the crossroads of faith/race/identity has been a huge focus of 2018. I have devoured books, podcasts, articles, documentaries, found new communities, and have become more vocal about my experiences and convictions. J has been very kind as my search for knowledge and understanding has likely bordered on obsession. That’s how I tackle important things, though. I go all in.
2: Establishing family traditions. This year we had a huge Chinese New Year party. We also added celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival and made mooncakes. I made homemade Zongzi (sticky rice dumplings) all by myself and my little guy devours them. We also did Christmas sugar cookies and used our Christmas gift sacks for the second year. These are things I know will shape our family culture as our kids grow up and I love making these memories together.
3: Solitude. I’m outgoing, but I am still an introvert. I recharge when I can be alone. This is my self-care. This year taught me to advocate for myself better. Sometimes I sneak out on the weekend to walk alone in the woods. Sometimes I stay up late or don’t go right back to bed after my 3 am pregnancy potty and snack routine.
3 Things I Forgot/Let Go
1: The coaching/fitness biz. Same as last year. Family has come first. I’ve had just a few clients this year and done one or two social media campaigns. I really don’t care about growth in this area right now. I do look forward to returning to that again in the future. When the time is right.
2: Being a certain kind of wife/mom. As my family grows and parenting becomes more complex and more demanding, I keep having to let go of unreasonable expectations that I have placed on myself as a wife and a mom. Sometimes I feel bad because I have actually screwed up. Other times I feel bad because I’m actually trying to be someone God didn’t create or call me to be. This year I did more work on recognizing the latter and trying to let that nonsense go.
3: Running. This is the first year in a decade that I have ran in zero races. Whoa. I’m realizing that as I type this and letting that sink in. Weird. I went from running easy because I was still recovery from surgery to letting walks and hikes be enough. For now.
The Big ‘Ol Bow
Just when I thought I had a good sense of self as a thirty-something, 2018 said…”you ain’t learned nothing yet“! God has revealed a lot to me this year and, though it has been painful, I am overwhelmingly thankful for the growth.
So, as 2018 was about learning, perhaps 2019 will bring opportunities to put that learning to good use. Perhaps more work and sweat. More about planting the seeds than seeing the fruits of my efforts, but that’s still good work.
What about you? How do you reflect on the past year? What sticks out to you?