Have you ever noticed that Christians (creative ones in particular) aren’t very good at celebrating accomplishments? Making to-do lists, sure. Crossing things off the list, sure. Maybe even mentioning something to a close friend over coffee, as long as you’re careful to enumerate all the ways the accomplishment is imperfect in the process.
But celebrating accomplishments? We’d rather move on to the next item on our to-do list than throw a party.
Perhaps it’s because celebrating our achievements sounds too much like pride. Maybe it’s because many of us creatives are introverts and break out into hives whenever forced to attend a party or talk about ourselves. Whatever the reason, I’m determined to learn to celebrate my accomplishments – or rather, what I’ve been able to accomplish through God’s work in my life.
My word of the year for 2017 is JOY. And there are a lot of reasons I chose “joy.” One reason is that I have many reasons to be joyful, chief among them my upcoming wedding in three months. But another reason is that Scripture tells me joy is my strength that gets me through hard circumstances, and I’m facing plenty of those too.
I wrote last week about finding courage for the year ahead, and I think one of the ways we do that is celebrate what we’ve managed to accomplish with God’s help in the past. So, without further ado and in no particular order, here’s what I’m celebrating from 2016.
1. I moved back to my home country and civilian life without going crazy.
Okay. I know you’re laughing and it sounds weird, but the struggle is real. This year was my first year living back in my hometown after living in England and traveling the world for almost three years (check out the “Explore” category of posts for stories about my adventures). And let me tell you, reverse culture shock is no joke.
2. I traveled to Mexico City to film a documentary video on sex work and trafficked women.
Yes. I really did. And it was really, really intense. Definitely no walk in the park. But it was all worth it, because I just found out recently that the organization was able to rescue the main sex worker girl (Jasmine) that we interviewed. #freedom
Running a start-up creative business is waaaaayy harder than I thought it’d be, even with so much help and advice from some amazing friends in the industry. It has involved forms and bank accounts and numbers and spending two hours on the phone with the IRS over my Christmas holiday. But, it’s also been totally worth it, and I’m so thankful to get to make my living doing what I love (and helping authors in the process)!
4. I did a complete content edit on four full-length book manuscripts since launching my business in August.
One for Crosshair Press. Two from another well-known publishing house. And one for a private individual. Plus, I’m excited to be lining up new clients for my editing schedule in 2017 (there are still spots open, so contact me if you’re looking for an editor).
5. I taught a workshop as a faculty member at a writer’s conference.
Yikes! I mean, talking in front of real live people. About writing. About writing and editing fiction. I mean, how scary and awesome and amazing is that! Not only that, I got my expenses covered and I got paid for it. And, turns out, despite being an introvert I actually really loved it. #adultgoals
6. I did a Final Friday showing of my photography at Reverie, a local coffee shop.
In my home city, the last Friday of the month they do an arts walk with exhibitions at different galleries and coffee shops. In September I got to showcase several of my travel landscape photography canvases and even sold a couple pieces! Exciting!
7. I started taking an adult ballet class!
Yes, I’m serious. I’d never taken a dance class in my life. Never played on a sports team in my life, unless you count t-ball. I’d only had informal East Coast swing dance lessons from my fiance. But my fiance is a principal semi-professional dancer with Ballet Wichita, not to mention doing several other forms of dance as well, so he talked me into trying out a ballet class.
I’d always wanted to learn dance, but didn’t have the opportunity as a kid and figured it was too late to start. Moral of the story: you’re never too old and it’s never too late to learn something new! Don’t get me wrong. It’s been tough. I’ve had sore muscles in places I didn’t know existed, and been so frustrated I cried every week after class my first month (just ask my oh-so-patient fiance). But I stuck with it. I did it. And now I’m a little over three months in and starting to pick it up, starting to tone up, and really, really proud of myself for not quitting.
8. I exercised at least twice every week this past year.
Even if it was just 20 minutes of yoga stretches. That may not sound like much (and some weeks, it was more like 3-4 days), but for a competitive-adverse, exercise-allergic bookworm like me, it represents a lot of hours exercising when I could have been working. Or reading a book. Or browsing Pinterest. You get my drift. I didn’t lose the weight I was hoping (probably less ice cream and more consistent cardio will be necessary for that) but it still represents a big accomplishment for me, considering I don’t really have an athletic bone in my body.
9. I blogged consistently every week since the beginning of September.
Again, may not sound like much, but blogging consistently is the bane of my existence and it was a big goal for me after launching my business. I love blogging, but I have a tendency to get caught up in other things and forget about it until two days after I was supposed to post. Whoops! But I got better organized and more disciplined, so I was able to write my posts ahead of time, and am still going strong!
10. I got engaged! Like, to be married! (Say what?!)
Though I really have to give God (and my awesome fiance) credit for this development, I do consider snagging such a thoughtful, funny, godly and hard-working guy my greatest achievement, if it could be classified as such. I was saving this one, trying not to be that person always gushing about their significant other. But I couldn’t resist. He’s just so handsome. 😉
So, there you go! Those are a few things I’m celebrating accomplishing in 2016. What about you? Share in the comments below and stay tuned for my 2017 goals!