2018: The Year of Getting Stronger

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…


My mom and I continued to tame the fringes of the garden


I spent time with the animals…


Especially Bubs…


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.

16 Responses

  1. I support you. You gave me the confidence to take on some huge projects in my old house, and the further confidence to buy an 1800s house in need of lots of work in exchange. , too, saw the year pass without being able to check much off of the to-do list, but I’m hoping this is a better year. You make me less stressed out, and I hope the knowledge that you improve strangers’ lives helps you a little bit in return. Best of luck in your DIYing, writing, and whatever else you need in the new year!

    1. You know, I’ve been doing this “writing on the internet” thing for so long that you would think I wouldn’t forget how important it is for all of us to hear and share authentic stories, but I do. Thanks for the reminder! If sharing a little bit of my story has helped shape yours in a positive way, that’s a really awesome thing to hear. Here’s to all of us checking more shit off our lists this year!

  2. Here here Kit, never let the bastards get you down. You are a legend, and your feats of strength are many (and you use profanity so poetically to boot!).

    1. Ha. Thank you. If I’m using profanity poetically, then I’m definitely doing something right!

  3. This really resonates with me. I feel this way 90% of the time. Like I’m watching my life through a screen door. There, but not there. I started making some changes that I hope will help. Here’s to a great year!!

  4. Hi Kit,
    Thank-you so much for this post. Have taken on a new job this year and made some other changes and woah, did not expect it to be so hard. Knew it was going to be hard but this is a new level. When you talk about feeling disconnected to the things you care about it, so true. Even a rose garden I have been busy cultivating I have let go. Goals that I was passionate about I am second guessing. But after reading this I am reminded that it is a season, I will be stronger for it. Again thank-you.

    1. Right? Our energy is a finite resource and sometimes you do have to double-down on things (like a new job) and it’s amazing how that can impact everything else. But you’re right… everything is a season.

  5. Hi Kit – Been reading and enjoying your blog for years, and this post definitely speaks to me. For me, 2018 was a year of letting go of a lot of things that I’ve been planning for my entire adult life. It can be very hard to look back on nearly 20 years and all the things you thought you were steadily working towards, only to realize that they’re either never going to happen, or that you’ve somehow outgrown them. I’ve had to question whether I’m still the same person at nearly 40 as I was at 20 (almost entirely not), and it can be humbling and scary to admit to yourself that your future might look very different than once expected. I’ve been attempting to flip this “Shit, now what?” mentality into motivation and excitement for new beginnings, but it’s a process. Reading your stories helps me immensely…thank you for your honesty and your ability to see the humor in life. And really, I think what you consider a “meh” year still involves more hard work and accomplishments than most people manage! 🙂

    1. You know, I don’t feel like people talk enough about how hard it is when the narrative of your life changes (even if that change is for the better.) It’s not just that change in the moment is tough (that’s a given) it’s reconciling the fact that the story of your life is sometimes different than you thought it was, or was going to be. Even if it’s just the very natural process of outgrowing shit. If you’re a podcast person, I loved this episode of the Dirtbag Diaries about the difference between a being in a groove vs being in a rut, which is also kind of how I feel about having a strong story you’ve been telling yourself about your life. Sometimes it motivates, and sometimes it keeps you where you’re at, instead of letting you evolve.

  6. Love this reflection! Keep fighting the good fight. Every step is not forward, nor every moment sunshine an rainbows. But it’s a life & world worth fighting for! ❤️

  7. I had to go back and read the post that I must have missed where you discussed losing Bubs. I am so sorry. I had a dog that I lost to cancer in 2016 and he had been with me through a divorce and living alone for many years. It is just something hard to explain to anyone that it was so much more than just losing a dog. It was truly losing a companion. So I understand and I am so very sorry.

    The past couple of years have been hard for a multitude of different reasons and I try to look for any positives. I think you have nailed it. There is no question that I am stronger because of it. I hope 2019 is kinder to us both.

  8. Thank you for sharing. This is a really brave post. I share a lot of these feelings and boy do I get going through the motions – that’s my language for doing things but maybe not feeling that same energy. Here’s to 2019. I hope to be more by your side!

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