I love the contemplation a new year resolution brings. I am a big believer in pausing to look back, but am also a dreamer, so change and new chapters bring fresh breath and a spring to my step. I’ve enjoyed reading about what 2019 has been for so many of you and what you are holding onto for the big 2020.
2019- The season of collaboration
While I didn’t start out my 2019 year with an intentional written down new year resolution that said, “This year I am going to collaborate with others”, I did feel a deep-seated pull to find and engage in community. I wanted to be a part of what my people were doing and I wanted them to be a part of what I was doing too. Sometimes, the best kind of new year resolution isn’t discovered or fully known at the beginning of the year, but is rather a journey with a tiny seed at the beginning. There is room for so much more we have yet to discover. Take your resolution, find fertile ground (community) and watch what God will do with it.
Looking back at fertile ground
The only reason Can’t Steal My Joy made it to shelves was because of the amazing people who saw the vision and propelled me forward. Since the book has come out, I’ve been able to participate in several amazing podcasts, collaborative giveaways, hosted a focus group of Can’t Steal My Joy readers, and dreamed about what’s next with highly gifted and creative people.
As I was contemplating the blessings of my journey intersecting with so many other incredible journeys, I thought to myself—this is the BIG idea! And I have known this all along, yet somehow keep re-learning it. Life is about doing it together. A new year resolution will quickly become dry, overwhelming, lonely–an impassible trail if we go it alone.
Some might say, “2019 has been a heck of a year. Here’s to putting it behind me—2020 here I come!” I don’t naturally fall into cynicism (mmm… okay, maybe I kinda do at times), but I would venture to predict we will say the exact same thing next New Year. Because somehow along the way we manage to fall off the goal train, plot twists happen, we lose someone, our jobs aren’t fulfilling, the dreams we set out to achieve turned out to be harder than we thought and we question if any of it is worth it or even possible.
Goals and dreams are good. And I have a few myself. I’d love to get back into shape (ugh… I hate being cliché, but there it is). I want to start a podcast of my own. I’d like to begin writing another book. I also want to prioritize space to unplug and be present with my family. I am expecting failure and strides to be made, but the secret ingredient for a fulfilling 2020 won’t be my determination or skills.
The secret ingredient to a fulfilling year will be my people.
In 2019, there wasn’t much we didn’t do. Okay, we didn’t go skydiving or snorkeling with the dolphins (I’m game anytime!), but:
We built a house and moved in (also put our own yard in… woot woot for my handy hubby)!
I joined an official writing group and made friends with people who actually get my writing brain, my fears, doubts and my dreams.
Ely became the first human ever (to our knowledge… that’s a big claim, so *disclaimer*!) to get the type of port replacement surgery and administration of the enzyme medication he needs to fight Batten. #trailblazer
Ely is also now 6 and ½ years old. Older than Titus was when he passed. What a bizarre, sad and celebratory milestone all at once.
We made it through the puppy stage with our doodle and turned around and added another puppy to the family. (What. Were. We. Thinking.)
I started a new job in a new field.
Danny began his second season at NNU and his X-Country team made it to Nationals. NATIONALS!
I traveled around the area speaking at different women’s events, towing my friends Terrified and Humbled along with me, amazed each and every time that God showed up through lil’ ole me.
My baby sis added another incredible little boy to our family, my nephew Jeremiah James. (allll the heart eyes!)
Each one of these took community.
The tradesmen and contractors followed our simple plans to create a safe, open space for Ely to grow up in. Our friends and family hauled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of rock and sod. We dug trenches and laid pipe side by side with our village, to create our backyard.
A neurosurgeon, brand new to us, came up with a hair-brained idea. One that we all cocked our heads to one side at him when he spoke it out loud. But when it sunk into our noggins we realized, this guy—a man who has been around the block and in the business for a long time—is on to something. So we jumped into another unknown journey to find out if we can indeed make Ely’s life even better. Skilled hands went to work, carefully removing damaged hardware from Ely’s brain and replaced it with an entirely new system, because of collaboration.
Ely is alive longer than his brother was because of years and years of researchers, doctors and other parents pouring themselves into dedicated work to find a treatment or a cure. The search continues and we are thankful for this legacy.
The other puppy? Well, we couldn’t have done another round of puppy training without the help of our trusty goldendoodle demonstrating “the way of the Bowman household”. I’m telling ya—we raised our doodle-boy right, folks, and he was a good influence. For the most part. (Don’t look at the toilet paper roll in the bathroom… it’ll likely have a giant chomp out of it.) Also, Grandma and Grandpa Eddie were a huge respite for us! Yep, respite from the pups.
And how do I even begin with the book? As I said earlier, if it wasn’t for a community of creatives coming together to make this project a reality, it would still be sitting incomplete in a Word Doc on my laptop. The editing, proofreading, beta reading, designing, marketing, sharing, buying, gifting, blogging, encouraging. Goodness…. What amazing people I have had the honor of partnering with. And the encouragement from my husband was invaluable as I carved out so much time this past year to write, re-write, re-write, re-write—you get the idea.
My new job is nothing but collaboration and team work as we advocate for kids who have been abused and neglected. It’s a beautiful, infuriating work that takes dedication and investment from the community right here around us. (Little plug: Go check it out here!)
These were all amazing things accomplished because we linked arms together and marched forward, appreciating and highlighting each other’s skills and talents because we each highlight a piece of our Maker.
When my new year resolution falls through and I fall off the goal train
But also? There were the missed opportunities and incomplete goals. There were days of anxiety and depression, weight gain and health issues. Canceled plans (so many) because our reality just didn’t work with those plans. Our weeks were marked by long infusions days. A screaming boy panicked in traffic on the way home from one appointment after another. There were anniversaries of death, birthdays we didn’t get to celebrate, holidays that felt dark when it seemed the rest of the world glowed with celebration. And in these places were also our people.
Like a fellow mom who dropped food off in our fridge while we were away at infusion. Or my sweet friend who shows up nearly every infusion, most of the time with a latte in hand.
My friends who understand grief, living it themselves, allowed me safe space to be ugly about it.
Ely’s grandparents and aunts and uncles prioritized time to support us and fill us back up when we needed it. They are also some of Ely’s favorites. What a treat to live near family!
Our church family and Ely’s school team have come alongside Ely, celebrating the beauty of who God made him to be.
Just as our people filled us up, so we had opportunity to do the same for them. Because that’s the secret ingredient here—Doing life together.
This year, whether you love to set a new year resolution or you wouldn’t near it with a 20-foot pole, do at least this: Resolve to Do Life WITH People. You’ll look back at all the turbulence, plot twists, mishaps and disappointments of 2020 and you’ll have the eyes to see goodness, redemption, grace and joy as we experience and live out God With Us through our communities.
Thanks for listening,
PS. Are you looking for a speaker for your next gathering, moms group or women’s retreat? If so, I’d love to chat with you! For more information head over here. Or you can email me at [email protected]