Another year has come and gone, it’s time to hang the new calendar and begin again. It’s January, full of potential and newness and good intentions.
As I get older, I apreciate the rythms of life in a way I never did in my youth. I am a church girl, my early years spent in the kind of church that didn’t use a very formal calendar to guide the lives of it’s people. But in my twenties I discovered more of the church, and I was exposed to the church calendar that guides so many. And now in my forties (did I really just type that) I am understanding more than ever the importance of a calendar that guides our patterns, because it ensures that important things aren’t forgotten or skipped or missed out on. I recognize there are seasons for things, times that come around over and over for us, in order to call us back to important things…some times celebrating and feasting and connecting with people, like Christmas, and some times lamenting and contemplating like the time leading up to Easter, and sometimes even dieting and organizing, and re-focusing…like Janurary. I’m far from ridgid about these things, but January, has become for me a season of annual re-evaluating, dieting, cutting back, goal setting, and organizing. And although resolutions may be forgotten mid-year sometimes, and diets ignored in a few months time, and organized and labeled baskets a mess again by mid-year it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be undertaken again when January rolls around again. And so I, like so many of you, am embracing the new start that January brings.
And since it’s January, I have of course thought about my word for the year. This is a fairly new practise for me, but one that sat well as soon as I heard of it a few years ago. I like the idea of focusing on something for a year. I’ve learned that being intentional is so very important, and I’ve benefited from the sense of grounding and purpose a special guiding word can bring to your year. So because it works for me, I’ve been contemplating a word for this year.
I’ve had my challenges the last few years. A certain sadness and issues from my childhood caught up with me, and took a few years to begin to sort through. A peace that I’ve known since I became a Christian as a teenager, seemed to have left me, and I struggled with feeling so, so lost. After lots of hard work the last few years I’m feeling better. Feeling able again. And while I was reading Sarah Bessey’s new book “Out of Sorts” (that I’d been saving for Christmas break) I was so struck my this paragraph -page 3.
“After the fury, after the rebellion, after the wrestling, after the weighing and sifting and the casting off and putting on, after the contemplation and the wilderness -after the sorting-comes the end of the striving and then comes rest.”
And although I don’t feel finished, or healed, or that I’ve arrived, I do have the feeling of taking a deep breath and the feeling of hope instead of hopelessness. I feel like one chapter is done, and with the turning of those pages that restful sense of peace has returned. And I know there will be more hard chapters, and that this is a journey until the end -that we never arrive or are finished, I also know that all I’ve learned through this hard chapter will always be with me, and help me through challenges in the future. I feel so, so grateful for all that I’ve learned, and become, and I feel “the end of the striving and then comes rest.” I am holding on to this feeling with both hands, and never want to lose it again, no matter what I must sort through in the future.
It’s not the kind of rest that means the work is done. It’s not the end of work, or the sitting on the sofa kind of rest -though that is good too. It’s more like a rest that means I can be busy but peaceful, where busyness was a distraction in the past, or a desperate way to fight off the pain and avoid it. Now I’m feeling at rest more and more, no matter what work I’m doing
I don’t usually share such personal things on the blog, but while I”m opening up, let’s talk about the blog. I’m feeling better and better about it. Part of my questioning these last few years has been whether or not I can really make a go of this place….and I am now beginning to feel I really can. I’m resting in the sense that this is where I belong right now, and that is a wonderful feeling. In the past I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty quick learner, but on this one….I think I’ve taken the long road. And I think I’m ok with that. I’ve compared myself and come up short so many times in the past, but I’m realizing now that it’s ok to be a small fish…a small but happy fish…a growing little fish. I heard a quote and shared it here (where I got personal a while ago) “don’t apologize for being in the middle of your story”. So I won’t apologize, I’m in the middle…but moving forward.
I did a few things differently this year on the blog. I tried to figure what I had to do to have a better blog. The first issue was my photography. I’d already taken a few photography courses that really didn’t help. And I was getting to that place where I was thinking maybe I just can’t get this thing. I had a good camera, but just couldn’t seem to understand how to use it well. I also felt like I’d invested money in trying to learn that didn’t help, and felt reluctant to spend more money.
The single biggest change in my blog this past year has been the photography, and that’s because I took ShootFlyShoot.com ’s on-line course and finally began to learn how to shoot in manual. If you’re a blogger struggling with this, I can’t recommend this course highly enough. I still have tons to learn, but this course really changed everything for me.
The second major thing I did was take the Elite Blogger Academy course in the spring. It was a funny thing really, a local blogger that I knew of and liked asked about the course in a Facebook group I’m a part of, and she mentioned that the course had a money back guarantee. I was a day late to register, but felt in my gut that I should try. I was still able to take the course and it started right away. It’s a twelve week course and at the beginning I tried so hard to keep up, thinking all along that if my traffic “didn’t significantly increase” just like Ruth says it will that I would need to have done every assignment so I could get my money back…in fact she offers you double the money if you do all the work and it doesn’t help. Nothing to lose. I still haven’t managed to finish the course…it’s a ton of information and some really hard assignments, but I haven’t given up. I have though seen a real increase. My traffic leading up to Christmas was 4 times better than in the spring when I started the course 7 months ago, that’s a 300% increase. Better traffic has led to more sponsored post opportunities for me, and they have been such good fit’s for the blog that they’ve helped increase traffic, and become work I’m really proud off.
I still have a long way to go. Little blogs that double or triple or quadruable their traffic are still little blogs. But, I feel energized and full of ideas, and hopeful, and grateful. Grateful for the courses, grateful for some paid work, and grateful for the help of other bloggers along the way -like Shannon and Lucy. I’m ready to work hard this year and see where this thing goes next. It will be a year of rest…not a lack of work, but work coming from a place of peace.
This year’s word is rest. “After all the striving…then comes rest.” Let it come.
What’s your word this year?
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