RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: December 2016

Lessons from 2016

Around the end of the year, people generally start thinking about how they want to improve their lives in the upcoming year. As a fan of self improvement, I’ve always sort of enjoyed this process. Which isn’t to say that I’ve always done a good job keeping New Years’ resolutions. But I think whether or not you reach your goals, making them can be valuable.

However, this year I’ve struggled with coming up with 2017 resolutions. To be honest, 2016 has left me sort of exhausted. It’s been a rough year for a number of reasons. It’s also been a busy year for me. I finished my MA, moved to a new state, started a PhD program, taught three different classes, continued my freelance editing business, and wrote or revised seven drafts of different novels.

So I’ve decided my goal for 2017 is actually to slow down a little, smell roses and whatnot. I want to spend less time worrying about things I haven’t done yet and more time appreciating all the good things in my life.

With that in mind, I’m going to end 2016 by reflecting on a few things I’ve learned through this crazy, roller coaster year.

  • It’s never too soon to start being one of the heroes you grew up reading about.
  • We all need to spend more time listening to people who are different from us.
  • You are a good looking human being. If anybody tries to tell you otherwise, that person is a stupid head.
  • Sometimes people will give you conflicting advice, and you just need to do the best you can.img_20161003_1750554
  • If somebody is trying to convince you that something you love is stupid, you should probably just throw glitter in their face and waltz into the sunset because you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
  • “I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now.” -Edna Mode, The Incredibles
  • Don’t date anyone who treats you like a side quest. You are a main quest.
  • It doesn’t matter how nice you are. Sometimes people will still be mean to you.
  • Always make sure you have a solid foundation. Especially if you are a Christmas tree.img_2484-2
  • Attacking problems with kindness and positivity is great, but certain problems just need to be kicked in the shins.
  • It’s good to laugh, and it’s good not to take yourself too seriously.
  • There really is a Taylor Swift song for every occasion.
  • You don’t need to be perfect to be worthwhile, and neither do the things you create.
  • The family that wears fake mustaches together stays together.mustache
  • Do the thing you are terrified of. But wear protective gear while doing it.
  • Spend a little time every day encouraging other people.
  • Your emotions are valid and important.
  • You should dance, even if you’re bad at it (and I am really, really, really bad at it).
  • “Just think, while you’ve been getting down and out about the liars and the dirty, dirty cheats of the world, you could have been getting down to THIS. SICK. BEAT.” -Taylor Swift, Shake it Off
  • If you’re stuck, maybe you just need to kick through a door.
  • You can fix just about anything with duct tape. Including the door you just kicked through. And if you use colorful duct tape, it will be extra fabulous. img_20160620_1936149
  • It’s good to know your limitations, but sometimes you should ignore them anyway.
  • “Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!” -Ms. Frizzle, The Magic School Bus
  • The days when you realize things are worse than you thought they were are also the days where you realize that you’re stronger than you thought you were.
  • You’re doing better than you think you are, so keep it up!
  • It’s gonna be okay.

Real Gifts

Last year for Christmas, my dad and his siblings all pitched in to get my grandparents a new television. We waited until the very end of the present opening frenzy to give it to them, so all eyes were on my grandma as she broke down in tears.

I remember one of my aunts saying, “Mom, why are you crying? Don’t cry over a tv!”

She did not stop crying. She said, “I can’t help it. We’re just so blessed!”

My grandma is right (she pretty much always is). We’re an incredibly blessed family.


We all live comfortable lives, and that’s something to be thankful for. But things like new television sets are only the very surface level of what we have to be thankful for.

As my grandma is crying over a tv, I’m looking around the room. I have probably twenty odd cousins there and aunts and uncles and siblings and parents. They’re some of the goofiest people I know (as illustrated by the above attempt at getting a cute picture of grandkids in Christmas pjs). The televisions and things are nice, but these guys are the real gift.


Looking back, I can’t say I remember too many of the presents I got for Christmas as a child. There was a doll house, a giant teddy bear. A set of play food. And a basketball hoop that I think was maybe more for my dad than for me (though this was before my complete lack of athletic potential had been fully realized).

What I do remember is spending time with family and friends. I remember dipping Christmas chocolates, decorating cookies, and building really ugly gingerbread houses. I remember caroling at nursing homes and going around to see the lights. I remember sledding and building snowmen. I remember cutting out snowflakes and decorating the house.

I no longer play with any of the toys I received as a child (except the doll house because that thing is sick). The presents were nice, but they were temporary.

But the loved ones and the Christmas memories I’ve made with them are still part of my life.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Christmas is a time of year for family and friends, because they’re a real gift.  And if, like me, you believe in Christ, it’s a time for drawing closer to Him, for He is another real gift. Regardless of whether you believe in Christ, this is a good time of year for developing Christ-like attributes of love, service, forgiveness, and charity.

I hope as you’re shopping for and wrapping the presents this year, you think about the real gifts you’ll be giving to others this year—your time, your attention, and your love.

Thank you all for giving me the gift of your friendship and love, however long I’ve known you. Merry Christmas!