When I asked Wendy what word she would use, she said “unexpected.” It was certainly a year of surprises and growth. Twelve months ago, our whole future seemed up in the air. We didn’t know where we would be living, if I would still have my job, and if I was going to continue in school. That’s a lot of big stuff not to know.
It was an adventurous and exciting (and stressful) year as we figured all of that out. And, despite all the bumps along the way, it’s ended up being truly wonderful. We couldn’t have ended up better situated in all those areas we were stressed about. Wendy said it best today in our church meeting when she shared that she no longer believes in luck. Now she believes in blessings.
If I had to reduce the full year into one word, it would probably be “stretched.” I took on a lot more responsibility at work as life carried on and as we transitioned to buy our home, move, transfer the kids, etc., etc., etc. And, more than ever before, I travelled. I’ve never had my capacity so strained before, and it was a tremendous opportunity to grow and strengthen.
One of the things we did well this year was working on travel together and finding ways to share the burden of it. As much as we can, Wendy and I make all my travel plans together. We also set up certain thresholds that we don’t cross regarding the number of nights away per week or the number of weeks with travel per month. For example, I don’t travel one out of every four weeks. I don’t miss certain events for the kids. And I don’t drop long-standing personal plans when the non-urgent work needs to shift. We held firm to all of that that despite a lot of pressure this year. And it was well worth it.
Looking back on the year in full, I can hardly remember any of the specific work situations that demanded my attention and that tempted me to break my travel rules. For example, the end-of-year work party in Sacramento had a change in dates that conflicted with my plans to take Wendy to see Postmodern Jukebox perform live that night in Boise. We’d had the tickets for months, plus it would be a very rare kind of outing for us. In previous years, I would have ditched the plans and flown out for the work get-together. But in 2015, we did a better job keeping our priorities straight. And look how happy Wendy looks!
In April, I sent Wendy a mundane picture through my airplane window and sent it to her just as a non-verbal notice that I’d landed safely in Seattle despite the bad weather conditions.
After that shot, I started sending pictures to Wendy on lots of my flights. I fiddled around with the simple editing features that the iPhone had built in, and produced some amateurish and clumsy edits that—if nothing else—helped pass the time during flights.
Lots of these were boring or overdone. But I really love some of them. And it’s been a fun thing for me and Wendy to share when I fly.
Some of my favorites include:
Tonight at dinner, we’ll participate in our annual family ritual of opening up last year’s goals and notes to ourselves. Then we’ll make new goals and write new notes to our future selves—notes we’ll open one year from now.
I don’t know much about what this year holds. I’m sure it will continue to stretch and surprise me. I will no doubt have some share of setback, disappointment, and failure. But I know it will be my best year yet.
And if I have to describe it in one word, I'm sure it will be: