Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 : A Year in Review

This morning when I checked my email there was a message from a long time reader friend of mine. She read back when I was going through a really hard time and was happy to find me again and see where things are with me today. I love getting messages like that. It makes me feel like I'm a part of something bigger - a community of people who really care about other people. Her email really touched me and reminded me of my many blessings. 

When I sat down to write about 2012 and what it meant to me, I realized that it truly was a year of blessings. This year was more than I ever could have imagined or anticipated. It was hard and challenged me in every possible way but it was beautiful and wonderful and I am a better person because of it. As a refresher, below are my goals for 2012 and the results.
* Create every day. I didn't create every single day but I sure did create a lot. I had the privilege of designing for Sweet Stamp Shop and guest designing for Pretty Little Studio. I collected ideas from Pinterest and made tons of baby items for Benjamin. I took photos nearly every day.

* Fall in love. I had the pleasure of falling in love twice this year and every day since! ;) Last November God brought me Benjamin who helped me in so many ways during my "year of healing". We've grown so much in the last year, both individually and together. He is my best friend and I am so thankful for him in my life. Then exactly one year later we were blessed with our unexpected miracle, Baby Ben. God is so good.
* Be charitable. In 2011 I donated more than 30 boxes of things in a big purge before moving to Atlanta. I left most everything else stored in my sister's garage, taking only what fit in my car. Over this last year I accumulated quite a bit so when it was time to come back in August I had more purging to do. It always feels good to donate those things you don't need or don't fit, etc. to others. I plan on doing more of the same this year before we fully move to Atlanta. We'll be apartment living which doesn't lend itself to much storage and I don't want to bring more than we need. I talked about it a few posts back but my family also made a decision to forgo gift giving in exchange for volunteering together as a family this Christmas. It was a very rewarding experience and I look forward to more of these opportunities in the future.

* Travel somewhere new. In May my bestie flew out to Atlanta for my 12 week OB appointment and then the two of us went on a road trip for the week. We went to Washington D.C. and on the way back visited Virginia Beach and the Outer banks in North Carolina. All places I had never been before. It was such a fun adventure and so beautiful. I'm really glad we were able to make the trip and that I wasn't sick on it since I had been for most of the previous weeks!
* Eat better + exercise. In February I started a weight-loss plan of eating healthy and exercising to lose some extra weight that had crept on before my birthday in March. I lost 10 pounds during that. In the beginning of April I found out I was pregnant and for several months after that I was very sick. I didn't have the energy to exercise other than walking and could hardly keep any food down. In the first trimester I actually lost weight. In the last trimester I completely lost sight of this goal. It's definitely one I need to re-address in the new year!

* Lose 30 lbs. First I lost 10 pounds. While pregnant I first lost 5 more pounds then gained 28. Since baby I've lost 20 of those pounds. If you add all the lost pounds then we can say I succeeded in this goal. Ha! But actually I'm still 29 lbs. above where I want to be and am at my best. I have some work to do!
* Continue paying debt. Unfortunately, between buying a new car in March, the pregnancy medical bills incurred, and not working since August, this goal went out the window almost immediately after the year began.

* Trust myself. God really worked in my heart this year. I learned a lot about trust and love for both myself and others. I struggled with feelings and emotion and there was a lot of confusion. God saw me through all of it and taught me to lean on Him and to trust myself.

* Be financially responsible. See above (re: paying debt).

* Read 20+ books. Ha! Every year I set a goal of how many books I'd like to read, usually between 20-30. I'm realizing now that if reading even makes it onto my lists moving forward I'll need to reevaluate what's realistic for a mama with a baby! This year I only read a handful of books and they were all of the parenting genre. :)

* Get website functioning again. I've learned from previous experience that if you like your domain you need to make sure it's automatically renewed. After having lovejoleen.com for years it was swooped up on and taken a couple years back. I've been sitting on lovejoleenphotography.com for a while now. I decided that for the time being it would be best to connect it to my blog here. I'm not sure if Love, Joleen Photography has a future for me. It's something I'm thinking about a lot. That's not to say that I would ever give up on professional photography completely but I need to either commit to making it a successful business or decide to move forward with something different. I'm also thinking about re-branding in general. I'm not sure this is a fitting name for my blog anymore with the direction it's heading. Lots to think about! Very exciting! :)