It’s time to wrap up 2015! Well, actually the year wraps up on its own, without our permission, but I do like to officially say goodbye in my own way. My husband and I do this on New Year’s Day when we read our gratitude notes from the previous year. It gives us a way to remember the positive things from the past year and move on to the next one.
I also wrap things up here on the blog. I’ve been doing this for a few years now. Here are some of my previous wrap ups.
The Creative Life
Being an entrepreneur isn’t always easy. It’s a constant struggle to bring new clients and make money, at least that’s been the case for me. But my business turned ten years old in 2015 and that really made me proud. When I started out I was writing books and doing freelancing but my art was used mainly for my book covers. Now, my art is just another element of my business, and I branched out last year and really reinvested in things like new techniques and new ways to sell art. I did a couple craft shows, which is never easy for this introverted girl but something that helped me get up close and personal with the people interested in my art.
I launched a new line of Christian art greeting cards and had some beautiful silk scarves made with my artwork on it. I hope to have a few more things like this created in 2016, too.
“2015? I have no idea what it will bring. I could say it would be fun to have not to so much change and turmoil in our lives but I know things just don’t work that way. So I’ll say this, I’d like to stay the course, build on all that my husband and I have worked for. I’d like to create art that reaches people’s souls…”
That’s still my hope and dream. I’m just happy I’ve been able to live this creative life, which started from a practical need. I had gotten sick and couldn’t keep up the hours and energy that went in to my marketing job. I was able to make a shift, from corporate creative girl to creative entrepreneur. What a blessing that was! God was so good to me. Just the ability to continue working kept me sane and helped my family. We rely on my income, and that pressure has kept me on my toes with the business aspects of my work. Running my own business means I still work a lot of long hours but it’s a different energy, a different approach. I can work a ton when I feel great and go easy when I don’t. My word for the next year is trust, and when I think about it, I’ve had to trust God since the beginning with this job. I need to trust that I’ll find the clients and make the money I need. I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but I think it is helpful to acknowledge the blessings in this. It’s difficult to step back and let God define your success. But I know that we have gotten by even in times when we haven’t made a lot, and that is God taking care of us every step of the way.
Poetry and Art
As I reflect back on last year I see lots of poetry and art, both creating it and sharing it. So often, these two creative pursuits are related for me. The poetry allows the visuals for me and vice versa. I’ve been sharing favorite poems from my previous poetry books, and sometimes I’m able to illustrate these in a new way with my art.
I was blessed to be able to have a small but dedicated space to create my art. Last year we made up a studio for me and I’ve been trying to keep it organized ever since. (Mixed media art requires a lot of stuff.)
I released my seventh poetry book, Angel Toughness. I divided the book up into three sections: Blessed Embrace, Renewed Boundaries, and Beautiful Life, and these are themes for my life this year as well. I see it as we live in this world that doesn’t always feel so safe or times when sadness reminds us of how human we really are. I see it as I make changes in my business and personal lives, letting things go and moving on from certain things and relationships and how that opens up other opportunities for growth and change and gratitude.
Furniture Makeovers and Nesting
We moved last year and that was a huge blessing for us. What a wonderful change and one that we actively appreciate each day. I’ve been doing all I can to make this place a home for us. Home is a feeling and not a place, but I think the place you live in should reflect your personality and dreams. For us, that means making it our own. We buy cheap furniture (or sometimes we find it!) and make it over. We make small but creative changes to our pieces that show little snippets of our personality. I added some slipcovers to ugly (but still in great shape) couches. We found the cutest table at a thrift store that we painted red and made small but important additions, like adding picture walls, changing out the knobs on pieces, and taking old pieces and making them completely new again.
This I Believe
I could never anticipate how popular my “This I Believe” essay would become. This year they contacted me about recording my essay, and it was a cool and weird experience. Weird because reading that essay made me see just how far removed from “that space” I am now. It is still a part of my past, but as the famous quote goes, it’s a foreign country and they do things differently there.
And this recording process was cool for so many reasons, not the least of which was that the week my podcast aired Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. were also on the front page of the site with me. That still makes me giggle.
I have of an unwritten goal to release a book every other month of some type, so I was happy last year I actually did it. Besides Angel Toughness, I released a couple nonfiction books last year, too. I finally got around to writing the friendship book I’ve always wanted to write: 100 Simple Ways to Have More Friends. I like the bite-sized suggestions I’ve included of how to meet new people and keep the great friendships you already have. I loved going on my virtual tour and promoting this book, and I’m proud of the follow up companion piece I released, 5 Weeks to Form a New Friendship. It was a thrill to team with other authors and see how many kind souls I know who helped get the word out about that book. I also released an ebook about Emotional Affairs that has continued to do well.
I released another book I’ve been wanting to do forever, which was about how to make money as a blogger. And perhaps my favorite book, which started from my love of making glass sculptures, was finally released, too. My glass sculpture book has remained popular, in part because I think this is becoming such an easy and cool hobby for people. And I still make them! (We moved so I have more space again.) I made a cool cobalt one last year with a solar light, a teal one (in which I included some glass marbles), and some glass flowers (a new design for me) that helped spruce up our yard.
I have a history of starting too many blogs. LOL! What I mean is that I have created several sites and completely overwhelmed my schedule. This year I only started one eCommerce site: Tudorville, a reflection of my love of all things Tudor related. I also redid Eiffel Trifle and my dating blog so that they too would be eCommerce focused.
And the biggest change was simply just letting a few of them go. I sold Kitschy Cuisine, Her Geek Life, and Working Writers last year. I’d had Working Writers for about eight years! I had welcomed regular columnists on that site and sold it someone who will treat it well and take care of everyone. I had almost sold that site a few times and then in the end couldn’t let it go, but last year I finally did and I’m very much at peace with that decision.
And let’s talk about Putting on the New!
My beloved Christian living site grew in 2015, and now has about 30 writers. I am still so humbled and amazed by the beautiful ladies who write for that site.
These women share their lives and stories and have helped me grow in my faith. I know they have helped countless others. We don’t always know how our words encourage people, especially on a blog like that, but I can see that the site has grown and I hear very positive things from people about this blog. It is my prayer that the messages these ladies write will find the right people, the ones who God wants to reach. Putting on the New has been a surprising blessing and one I am very grateful for.
A Balanced Life
My husband and I stand at the counter and hold hands and pray each day before our dinner. I love this practice. I pray most mornings when I first get into my office, and the way I try and start each time is with thanks for the new day. I like to do this before I start in on praying for things or asking questions. Just to acknowledge the gift of a new day has really changed my life.
All of this is to say that when I look back on 2015 I see a focused effort on balance. Life can feel like a crazy roller coaster sometimes, and coming back to my center, to God and my faith, has helped me grow and settle in. My husband and I are great about saying “I love you,” and being mindfully grateful for our relationship. Years and years ago I started cultivating a gratitude practice that began with the smallest of things. I still do this. I pull over on the side of the road to just gaze at sunsets, I remember that doing laundry or just cooking for someone (even my dog!) is a blessing, and I appreciate Sabbath time and all it means.
Be a Blessing
This year I started a new category called “Be a Blessing,” which gives small ideas about making the world a little more of a positive place. These are varied, and I will continue doing them this year. I shared my thoughts on staying strong against fear, a big issue we all face in this world of ours today. I also talked about a simple act of kindness someone did for me that seemed so small but changed my day around. And my favorite: spreading some light into the social media world. These types of things are easy to incorporate into our already busy lives and allow us to feel more connected to one another.
I never really know what to say when it comes to looking forward. Each day is a gift and you kind of have to go along with whatever comes next. I’m holding on to my word, trust, and all that it means. I am thankful for my husband and our marriage and for my relationship with God. I am grateful for living this creative entrepreneurial life and for the life lessons that have helped me grow. I have plenty of wishes and desires, but I know in the end it’s whatever God wants for my life that is really important, so I pray that I’m able to always hear His voice above all others.