She wrote it as an announcement; a praise of thanksgiving. (Truth is, I probably would’ve done the exact same myself. A hard pill to swallow.)

Burning, my eyes read the caption beneath her perfect photograph: “2016: I got married, we bought our first house, remodeled, moved into our new home, launched my online boutique, and announced WE’RE PREGNANT!!! What a year it’s been. <3”

Feelings of inadequacy crept in, filling my heart like a hose in the kiddie pool. Envy and self-doubt flooded my soul and I couldn’t suppress the lump in my throat. I began drowning in these yucky thoughts and emotions of jealously. What’s happening to me, God? I don’t struggle with jealously. I’m happy for others. I’ve always been genuinely happy for others. My life is great! Who am I anymore?

I suppose nobody’s really exempt from the comparison trap. I’ve been trying to be more conscious of what I share and why I share it. Normally it’s the time of year when I share lesson’s I’ve learned in these last 12 months or my goals for the year to come, but I feel like that’s so unnecessary. Again, a resounding theme for me this advent season: #ImpressingIsExhuasting that’s why I’m done.

Reflecting, I’m super humbled as I look back on this year.

Without further ado, here are 19 things I did or didn’t do. I hope they encourage and maybe make you laugh a little, too.

19 things I did – or didn’t do – in 2016

  1. I didn’t get a book deal.
  2. Totally justified guacamole as my serving of veggies, a lot.
  3. Didn’t conceive or adopt or foster a child.
  4. Let go; of clothes, a job, shame, and a few people I once called friend.
  5. Whenever I was at a crossroads between a chain restaurant or hole in the wall, I always chose the latter.
  6. Read a lot of books, but rarely stepped out of my comfort genre.
  7. Didn’t respect my husband nearly as much as I should have.
  8. Ate more Chips Ahoy cookies than doughnuts. *gasp*
  9. Moved out of the small town I’ve lived in my whole life.
  10. Laughed – instead of cried – when people were mean online. (And all God’s people said Amen.)
  11. Didn’t get invited to several reunion parties with old high school friends.
  12. Spent a lot more time in the kitchen with a few wins and a lot of frozen pizzas.
  13. Attended interactive social justice talks about people who are homeless.
  14. Tried wearing eyeliner on the bottom lids, for like 4 months then I snapped out of it.
  15. Didn’t get nominated or win any awards.
  16. Changed my hair color numerous times because: impulse.
  17. Learned secrets I wish I could erase from my memory.
  18. Watched more TV than I’d like to confess.
  19. Confronted someone by calling them up, not out.

Phew. 2016 holds a lot of great memories, but was also a tough year for the whole world. In the words of another writer whose heart I adore, “And while God never asked us to give an answer of all of the pain, he did ask us to be prepared to share the hope that we carry.” -Rachel Kincaid.

What did you do (or not) this year? What are you most looking forward to in 2017? Share in the comments below!

// Manda

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13 comments

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beautiful blog post! <3 I had to share your post on Facebook too!
16 things I did or didn't do this year:
1. I didn't land a dream job, get engaged, or buy a house, but my year carried a hell of a lot of worth.
2. I became a gym rat and met some pretty amazing people because of it.
3. Ate all the carbs because carbs. Bread baskets are my jam.
4. I didn't love people as well as I could have.
5. Deleted social media off of my phone and have felt so much more of life.
6. I didn't find a home church.
7. Moved to a state that I was determined to hate and actually fell in love with it.
8. I allowed myself to be more authentic. My spirit is fiercer and my emotions more raw because of it.
9. Went to Harry Potter World with my family. Enough said.
10. I loved and I lost, and learned tough but necessary lessons because of it.
11. Drank a moscow mule for the first time. Now it's my go to adult beverage. Game changer.
12. I didn't move out of my parents house, I moved back in. Loving every single second of it.
13. I didn't jump higher than 3 feet, but I did have a ton of fun riding.
14. I screamed at and doubted God and learned that's all part of the relationship.
15. I barely cooked a meal. Thanks Mom!
16. I learned some beautiful things from the most unexpected people.

Reply

Aw, thank you 2x 😉

Your 16 items are so raw and awesome. I especially love #’s 3, 5, 8, 11 (SAME!) — Thanks for sharing! XO

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Here’s a small one you can add to the “did” list: gained a loyal reader in me. Such a fan of your work and touched by every single one of your posts.

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That is so sweet & totally made my day! Hope we meet in person sometime. 🙂

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One thing I did this year was “Gave in to the fact that I am now a MOM, but realized that I could still be Amy too:)” It was a hard lesson to learn:)
I love reading your blog:) I so enjoy seeing you and Eric so happy. He’s a great man!

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Oh, I love that! You’re such a good mommy, Amy 🙂 Thanks for the sweet words, I agree he isn’t too shabby 😉

Reply

Oh what a beautiful post. I love Real. And this was it. Oh how i too understand a year full of joy and pain. Ever so thankful for Jesus’s grace. Blessings!

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Thanks for stopping by, Amylee! I love Real, too. 🙂

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Manda, your post is both refreshing and real. I love your courage and vulnerability. (At 53, I’ve finally learned that where the freedom really is!) I hope your 2017 brings you more peace and fills your heart with more love and true joy.

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Better to have learned by age 53 than to go all through life without experiencing the joy and freedom that a REAL life brings, right? 🙂 I’m proud of you, Susan! Thank you for reading as always and for the well wishes. I hope 2017 brings a lot more love and encouragement. The world sure could use a strong dose of it.

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I got so frustrated with people on Facebook posting their perfect Christmas tree and their perfectly clean homes, so I went online and found a picture of a room with a HUGE tree in a beautifully, perfectly appointed British castle and posted that as my own home. Most of my friends got the joke and laughed along with me. But I found it hilarious that several people were so impressed with what I had done with my decorating skills and really thought that I, on a retired teachers salary, could afford to even visit one of these British homes. But you are right : # Impressing is Exhausting and I am also done with that !
In 2016 I didn’t get my garage or the back bedroom or any of my closets cleaned out. I did get to spend yet another year with my 89 year old mother who lives with me now. I didn’t lose the 50 pounds but I did go on two wonderful vacations in our travel trailer with my boyfriend. I didn’t get the windows washed or the carpets replaced or any of the millions of other things I need to do to my house , but I had dinner with friends, great mini reunions with relatives, and traced my family ancestry. I consider the year a success.

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Corie- I LOVE IT. Good for you, darling! Nothing to prove 🙂 that’s the best way to live I’m realizing. (Hugs your way.)

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My top 15
1. Set necessary boundaries with people (with some repercussions😖)
2. Embraced the crazy, that is my life right now 🎉😜
3. Realized that any forward motion toward God counts
4. Didn’t read near what I wanted
5. Didn’t exercise nearly enough
6. Didn’t cherish my kiddos like I should (see #2)
7. Took steps toward my goals, am presenting at the IAEYC conference in April
8. Attended the global leadership summit at GCC
9. Lost and found my wedding ring
10. Lost and found the 30lbs😕
11. Found comfort in Grace and Authenticity
12. Realized my husband spoils me😍 and I like it
13. Nothing is as important as being present & engaged with my family (no phone/ computer chores etc
14. Friends are important but you can’t please everyone… so please God first
15. Doing a million things “ok” is not as good as doing a couple things really well.

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