What I Learned in 2017


This is a linkup with Emily Freeman that I’ve done for several years!

[ICYMI: The 2017 Survey // The 2017 Soundtrack // Best Books 2017 // Best Beauty 2017]


I am employable. When you’ve had the same job since you were 21, and it took a while to find that one, and you’ve been passed over for promotions multiple times, it’s easy to feel like no one else would ever want to hire you (hello scarcity!). But in 2017, I had multiple proofs that that was not true (hello abundance!). In my few weeks at my new job, I have felt consistently empowered, validated, and capable. I’m in a completely new field and haven’t done anything major yet, but so far, my knowledge and experience translates. Every connection I make feels amazing. I’ve had a career impostor monkey on my back my entire adult life, and I cannot express how freeing it is to be rid of it.

Feliway works! Rufus is affectionate and likes people, but he also has a little bit of a biting problem. Over the first half of the year, he got more and more aggressive until my arms and legs were so cut up I was afraid people were getting concerned about me. It was also affecting our relationship, as you might imagine. In desperation I shelled out for this pheromone plug-in and he calmed down almost immediately. Now I can tell by his behavior when it’s time for a replacement. BTW, I have a few theories about why he bites, one of them being the dog next door.

Sometimes you have to choose growth and health over convenience. I gave up a short drive, a weekly at-home day, midday exercise, a co-pay health plan, abundant PTO, work I could do in my sleep, and a lot of flexibility to take this new job. I had a well-ironed-out (if also burned out) life, and now I barely know which end is up. I grieve the loss of those things here and there, but IT WAS WORTH IT. Every day I’m away from the old chaos, my mind is a little clearer and I feel a little more centered. I chose adventure in an environment where I can become my best self, and that’s what’s important. Everything else will work itself out over time. Repeat to self daily.

♥ On a related note, it takes a long time to recover from burnout. An excessively long time. By my estimation, I’ve been actively burned out for at least a year and probably longer. I’ve been professionally advised that it could take a year from this point to get up to “full strength.” So I’m in a constant battle not to give up on myself in those moments when I don’t know why I can’t handle life.

I need to take more steps. My parents got me a Garmin Vivosmart HR for Christmas, and the last few days have been eye-opening. It started me at 7500 steps a day. On my first day, I got 2600. I have a lot of work to do.

Lake Michigan looks like an ocean but smells like a lake, and that is very confusing.

Editing a book is enjoyable but harder than I thought. I forgot to add this to my list of “things I’ve never done before,” but I edited my sister’s best friend’s novel. I figured I’d just read it and make some comments. I didn’t realize how many cylinders in my brain would be firing. I was analyzing grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, plot, scene structure, character development, etc. etc. etc. But the work felt really natural and satisfying to me, and Erin was pleased. So if you need someone to take a pass at your book, I’m available, but I’ll be charging accordingly. ;)

Like pregnancies (so I’ve been told), no two half-marathon trainings are alike. Preparing for my first half in May 2016 was joyful and empowering. The second was tougher. The third, this month, was a straight-up slog. I’m not sure if I peaked at the beginning of my running career or what. I’m registered for a ramp-up race series that starts next month, so we’ll see how that goes.

Do not have your checking account and savings account at two different banks. Just don’t.

It’s okay to pursue joy now, because tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. I know I’m not alone in the sense that America as we’ve known it is dancing closer to a precipice. Since last fall I have been gradually robbed of my faith that “it can’t happen here” (fill in the blank with whatever “it” is to you). I’m not rending my garments or doomsday prepping or anything, but I am very aware that our society already looks different than it did a year ago, and despite the best efforts of good people, it might continue to get worse. Anything could happen, slowly, or in one fell swoop. So I’m really appreciating my current bounty and privileges, and enjoying what makes me happy without feeling weird guilt about it.

A total solar eclipse is worth going out of your way for. Taylor and I drove to Nashville to see the eclipse with my sister and her family. Memphis was getting 90-something percent totality and I honestly didn’t think it would be that different, but it seemed worthwhile to go under the circumstances. Well, the difference between a 99% and 100% eclipse is EVERYTHING. I will never forget the sudden darkness in my peripheral vision, feeling the air get cool around me, and the 360-degree sunset. Experiencing that changed me on some sort of cellular level. The next total solar eclipse in North America is in April 2024, and if it’s at all possible for you to get into the path, I cannot recommend it enough. I plan to be there!


What did you learn this year?

About Brenda W.

Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister's iced tea. View all posts by Brenda W. →
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