Here’s the thing. While I like being strong, I don’t think I’ve ever walked into a day (or month, or year) and said, “You know what? I’d like this year to make me a stronger person.” Better? Yes. Better is easy. Better is 2015, where I was in a groove, and checked more projects off my list than ever before in a way that felt easy. I came out of that year feeling like things couldn’t help but go my way.
But stronger? You don’t get stronger without going through some Very Hard Shit. And nobody asks for that. Nobody looks at a day (or month, or year) and says, “Okay. Today I’m ready for everything to fall apart.” Right?
For me, 2018 was a year of getting stronger.
2018 was a year of difficult decisions. Of being brutally honest with myself. Of pushing my physical limits. Of occasionally being weak (and selfish) and swiftly paying the price for both of those things. Of watching the narratives I’ve been telling myself about different parts of my life slowly fall apart, or blow up in a spectacular fashion, or morph into something else entirely.
2018 was a year of big adventures. Of new experiences. Of making connections with people in ways a person who chooses to live isolated on a farm in the middle of nowhere doesn’t usually make connections with people. Of taking on new, big things (I’m looking at you career change, solo hikes, lake house.)
2018 was a year of remembering what it’s like to go at it alone. Of remembering that sometimes you have to. Of knowing that even when your life is full of incredible people, even when they’d do anything to help, sometimes you just have to sit with your own shit and figure it out.
But the hardest part about 2018 was that the times in between all of those other things–the difficult things, the big things, the new things– that time was just… meh.
You guys, I’m good in a crisis. I can dig deep and handle some Very Hard Shit. And lord knows when things are going well, I can love the hell out of my life with the best of them. But, meh? That feeling of being once-removed from the things in your life you’ve always loved? Or hated?
Can I just say? Fuck. That.
If there’s something that’s nagging at me about 2018 it’s that I feel like just I went through the motions on the farm more than anything else this year.
I mean, I upgraded the chicken run…
And I finished the climbing wall…
Which, by the way, was just straight-up fucking fun. I love everything about that build, and all of the subsequent Barn bouldering nights that have happened with my climbing friends because of it.
Also did a lot of reorganizing, and built a legit gym inside the house…
And I did the work of living on a farm. I tended the orchard…
(Got no peaches for my efforts this year though.)
I upgraded the pergola (¾ of the way, at least)…
I finally have a working bathroom upstairs in my house…
I spent time with the animals…
Miss that little dude every day.
But, also, when I look back on 2018, I didn’t feel quite as connected to the farm and the work as I have in previous years. And I think sometimes that’s part of what happens when you’re focusing on not only the Very Hard Shit, but also processing said shit, learning from it, and, you know, getting stronger.
And, listen, even if it’s better for me in the long run–the learning, and growing, and getting stronger– I do not now, nor will I ever, love the things that it requires me to give up in the moment. The hard sucks, but I’m good at hard. The part that makes you feel disconnected though… it’s unsettling. (And maybe not healthy? But to be fair, it’s the only way I know how to do it.)
And maybe that’s the last and biggest lesson 2018 was going to teach me. That it doesn’t have to be comfortable, or feel good, or look like progress to help you get to a better place in the long run. (I mean, you know the first rule of DIY: It Always Gets Worse Before It Gets Better… I’ve been learning that one over an over again for decades.)
Every year can’t be the year can’t be the best year yet. Sometimes it will get worse before it gets better. And some years will test you, tear you down a little, and let you put something even stronger in it’s place… building a better foundation for the next awesome thing you’re going to do. I don’t know if that’s what 2018 was for me, but it feels like it might have been.
So, this is kind of post-script to everything I’ve said about 2018. I used to sit down and bang out posts for this website in a day or two, but in the last year or so the things you read here have often been in various stages of drafting and re-writing for a month (or more) until they become cohesive. I have no idea why that is… I’d like to think it’s the sign of a better, more mature, writer. But let’s be honest, my grammar is still horrible and I say “fuck” twice as much as I used to, because I’m older and don’t give a shit. I think I might just be getting slower with age.
Anyway, my point is that I drafted this post in early December… before I went on a tear building cabinets and making what felt like some pretty significant progress on the kitchen (and the laundry room and mudroom) right at the end of the year.
So that was kind of a surprise ending to 2018, even for me. Which was a pretty awesome end to a pretty weird year. I’ll take it, and I’m damn excited for what will happen in 2019.