It’s been a crazy year, but a good one, and with Advent now here already I thought a quick round-up of my highlights for 2018 was in order.
We had our youngest start kindy this year. The first few days were slightly traumatic for him and me and it’s still a bitter-sweet reality for his parents that there are no really little ones around, but he loves school and this morning he did a drawing for his teacher and wrote her a Christmas card thanking her for a good year.
In February there was a mother-daughter camp with daughter #2 who went into high school this year. Much more recently we found out we’re going to be an uncle, aunty, and cousins to my sister and brother-in-law’s first baby due early February – Yay!
We found a new babysitter/helper to help out most afternoons after school and she is awesome. She’s finished up uni now and gone back home interstate and we already miss her, plus our ironing pile is growing…
The children have all thrived in school, in friendships, and in their various sports and activities. And our 14-year-old is preparing for her first overseas trip, a service camp/pilgrimage, in January.
During winter we spent a weekend with my mum and sister and brother-in-law in Katoomba to celebrate her birthday and the kids (and me) saw snow for the very first time.
I joined a faith discussion group which began in Lent and ran until August, I really enjoyed the people and the content and it was a real highlight of the year but St Ives, where it was held, is a bit of a drive away and I often arrived late and was too tired to add much to the discussion. Sometimes I hadn’t read the required material beforehand either. I need to think about whether I want to commit to it again next year, maybe it was adjusting to fulltime work that made it a bit tricky this time.
I did my annual weekend retreat in November – it was MUCH needed! I arrived to it late and exhausted (yes, there’s a theme here), and left it maybe a bit like Elijah after his spell under the furze bush – fed and strengthened for the next leg of the journey.
I also re-read a couple of times the Rule of St Albert, which is the foundational document for the Carmelite order, it was the subject of the retreat, which is why I chose to go to that one actually. I am inspired by Carmelite spirituality under the reform of Sts Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, and at the same time know I am a ridiculously poor example of someone inspired by the Teresian Carmelites.
At the start of the year I was working on a casual basis at The Catholic Weekly newspaper for the Archdiocese of Sydney. A full-time position came up for a journalist which I applied for and got, thus ending my freelance writing career which had been growing slowly but steadily for the last few years. It was a pretty easy choice – I loved freelancing and it did offer much more flexibility but I knew I would be jealous of whoever got that CW gig.
And if I didn’t get that job, I would have ramped up the freelance work anyway so it wasn’t a choice about doing more or less paid work – just what kind of work I was going to be doing. Jumping suddenly to fulltime has been a massive adjustment for everyone in our family. It’s been hard and meant no time or mental energy to work on any pet projects like this blog or any book ideas or much else at all really, but it’s also been very good for many reasons – definitely on the balance a highlight of the year.
I have an auto-immune disease which has actually been under the best control this year than for ages, which is awesome and I’m looking forward to seeing my doctor this month and telling him the good news.
But I’ve been more tired than I would like. And I’m not 100% sure what to do about that. I get reasonable sleep, eat well, take my medications and vitamins (most of the time), try to get some exercise in throughout the week etc. I don’t think there’s much else to do but accept that I’m nudging the mid-40s, not mid-20s, and there’s only so much that can be done in a day or a week, or even a year. I guess it’s a good opportunity to focus on what’s more important, and forget or delay the rest with a clear conscience. That’s easier said than done of course.
I started reading War and Peace by the Russian novelist Tolstoy this year – because my daughter borrowed it from her school library and wanted us to read it together so I could help with any bits she didn’t understand. I couldn’t keep up with her, she finished it a couple of weeks ago and I’m still less than 200 pages in – it’s massive!
That’s pretty much everything, I’m sorry I can’t come up with a super creative blog post for my first one back in a long time. I have written some stories I was pretty happy with though for The Catholic Weekly so will post a round up of those next time.
If you’re one of the people who has written to me through this blog during the year, thank you, it’s been really nice to be missed by someone. I’m very lucky to have such kind and thoughtful readers!