Whenever a blog post feels a little heavy and I never know how to start it, I always begin by writing a line like this about how I’m just not sure where to start, hoping that the words will come to me. How (in the world!) do I sum you up, 2017? You want to talk about a year of ups and downs and highs and lows and disappointments and thrills. What a heck of a year you’ve been.
What stands out right off the bat is this: I learned a tremendous amount about simplifying and prioritizing. I read an article this summer that talked about how if you constantly need “self care” (a major buzz phrase right now), you need to figure out a way to eliminate or better handle the things you constantly need a break from. Gosh, that made so much sense to me. So I evaluated the things that I continually felt like needing a break from and tried to do just that – either eliminate it from our schedule or handle it better.
Some of the very best moments of this year happened while we were traveling. Sweet, sweet memories. Though we’re far proximity-wise from most of the people we love, we still were able to run around the country as much as we could and foster those relationships. I’m sharing more at the bottom of this post about our travels; We had loads of fun!
Jamie spent over five total months away between his trainings and deployment and worked nearly 14 hour days for the entire year as the proud commander of his company. Between the time spent solo parenting and way overcommitting myself to a slew of volunteer and leadership opportunities, I frequently found myself overextended, tired, and anxious. This circles back around to everything I learned about myself; I used to love being involved in a zillion things and staying busy, but I’ve finally realized that the things that fill me up and bring me true joy are a little different now. Sometimes when you’re feeling low, you are forced to step back and evaluate what must change. I learned that this year, and I am feeling quite hopeful as I carry those lessons into 2018. Look at little ‘ole me maturing. 😉
2017 is thankfully ending on a high. We are grateful (so, so grateful) for our health and for the year of transition and changes that we’re heading into. A humbling, full year of being stretched to our limits has left Jamie and I feeling stronger and more like a team than ever, and we are ready to tackle all of the unknown hand-in-hand together. Past March 23rd, we have no idea what our lives look like. No idea. But we’ll have each other and are extremely excited about the adventure.
Thank you for keeping up with us this year and reading my blog. I don’t think I have to convince anyone of how much I love creating content for this space, and I’m excited to keep on keepin’ on with Whimsical September in 2018!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your families!
xoxox – Erica
Top 10 Most Viewed Blog Posts of 2017
My Personal Top 10 Favorite Posts of 2017 (in no particular order)
DeSpains on the Go | Where We Traveled in 2017
We went on a semi-spontaneous family vacation to Disney World, which I’ll always remember as four of the best days of my life. It was the sweetest, most perfect trip, and I cannot wait to go back!
In May we finally made our way three hours north to Omaha. We reconnected with incredible relatives I’d never met and spent Memorial Day running around the Omaha Zoo.
I spent a weekend in Destin, Florida celebrating my best friend’s bachelorette weekend.
Our entire family flew to Georgia to spend two days with two of my closest friends and then another two days in Savannah for a wedding that Jamie was in. Awesome four days that made the hectic travel totally worth it.
We went on a two-week trip to visit our families in Texas and Alabama, driving over 2500 miles. We made stops in Dallas, Waco, Austin, Fredericksburg, Little Rock, Memphis, Madison (AL), and St. Louis. Considering we spent so much time in the car with a 3 year old and 15 month old, we had a great trip. We listened to a ton of podcasts, saw a huge chunk of people we love, and enjoyed the two week break from reality.
In August we flew down to Birmingham for a quick weekend to celebrate my friends’ Brittany and David’s wedding!
In September, I spent a couple days in Wichita attending the Kansas Corn Tour.
A few days later, I hopped a plane to Utah and spent a day exploring Salt Lake City on my own. It was stinkin’ awesome. The next three days were spent in Heber City at the Enlighten Retreat. It was a powerful, clarifying experience I’ll remember forever.
Later that month, the girls and I drove to Alabama to spend 12 days with my family. As a family, we planned for that trip to be our last “out of town” adventure until we pack up our house and move in March of 2018.
As for Jamie, he spent three months serving in Poland. He was able to go on an extensive tour of Auschwitz and do a re-enlistment ceremony for one of his soldiers in Prague. He spent a day in Germany, and even got to venture away one Saturday to explore a new city in Poland with our brother-in-law, Josh.
Is there a certain post this year that stands out to you that caused you to make a new recipe, travel somewhere new, or do something different with your kids? I’d love to hear, just for fun. 🙂