As I sit at the end of another year (my 27th year end – yikes!), I’m not only evaluating myself on how I met the resolutions and goals I made at the beginning of this year, but reflecting on all of the things that have changed over the days, weeks, and months of 2015. Let me tell you, it’s been full and nonstop and intense, and a lot of that hasn’t been covered on the blog or social media at all.
At the beginning of this year, I had a picture in my mind of how it was going to go. I always have a picture of how things are going to go – it’s part of the whole writerly imagination thing – but somehow it doesn’t ever turn out that way, which is totally fine.
As most of you remember, and as I was reminded by someone who found my blog by searching “Lydia Thomas Seattle” this week, I was going to move to Seattle this year.
At the end of January, somebody found me at my place of employment. I didn’t know this person, but this person knew who I was, and proceeded to tell me about a situation that, as far as I was concerned, had nothing to do with me. I had limited knowledge of the situation already, through a series of dreams I’d had, but this person filled in the blanks. It was a sucky situation, and it continued for many months with this person finding me many more times to discuss things, but God was trying to get my attention.
Instead of talking about what was really going on, though, I told you about Bethel (an important theme this year, for sure) and my Christian Friend(s) in the Closet, and fed you Confessions, Baptist Snippets, and Favorite Writing Quotes.
For the first time in February, I ended up owing taxes. I usually donate my refund, and some people have come to expect that support. It wasn’t there this year. It sucked having to explain to people that I just didn’t have it to give, and it seemed like even more people than usual were asking, especially given my new position as a marketing manager at Booktrope Publishing. People who couldn’t have told me what was going on in my life were asking for my money. I’ve never felt less loved in my entire life.
In March, I went to the doctor for the first time in six years. My parents actually forced me to go because one evening my mom noticed excessive hair loss (actually, her exact words were, “Lydia, are you going bald?!” which, you know, was pleasant). My dad showed up the next day with an insurance card and the phone number of his doctor, telling me to get my thyroid checked before I got booted from his insurance. (I was about to be 26). Anyway, I went to the doctor to have blood drawn and we made an appointment to discuss the results, and was told they wouldn’t contact me before that unless there was something that concerned them. Well, they contacted me. When I went back to my doctor in March, she said, “Lydia, are you diabetic?” To which I responded, “You tell me.”
But, I really didn’t want to talk about all of that. Not about how long I’d been feeling bad and had complained about feeling bad before I just shut up and lived with it, or about how my doctor told me I couldn’t have anything that enjoyed (forget dessert, we’re talking bread…and cheese), or about how my parents got on me for going to the doctor wrong. (Apparently, if I had gone in for a well check up, the insurance wouldn’t have charged me for something I couldn’t afford, which I might have known if I’d been to the doctor more than once in my adult life. In my own defense, my dad told me to tell them I wanted my thyroid checked.) No, during March, I mostly talked about books and reading.
April was lonely. It was lonely because I wanted to talk about it – all of it – but I didn’t want to talk about it online, and by and large, that’s how my community has been done the past few years … online. I was hearing so much from my parents about how preventable the whole situation (health and insurance) was, I really didn’t need to hear any more well-meaning tips and lectures. I needed a hug and someone to listen to my side of things over a cup of (black, haha) coffee.
On the other hand, I hold back. With a few notable exceptions, this is how I have lived my life. After all, if I have to make transitions, why not make them as easy on myself as possible? Except living life this way doesn’t actually make things easier at all. It’s made it much, much harder, and I’m realizing it much, much too late.
In May, I started making some changes, starting with church. Don’t get me wrong, I had been attending a great church throughout 2014 and into 2015, but that’s all I was really doing. I hadn’t really connected with anyone and so much of that had to do with a beyond hectic and unpredictable work schedule, and the rest of it had to do with the aforementioned why bother relationship ethic I’d developed. It wasn’t me at all, but at that point, I kind of figured most people there had given up on me, so I started over at another church, which was neither my best nor my worst idea.
I didn’t talk about this either, at least, not literally, because the Lord knows I am a recovering church hopper, and if there’s something the Church doesn’t like, it’s a hopper. I started writing posts with more substance, though, and got back to anecdotes. I also wrote my most popular post this year – about the Duggar’s – in May. (Well, I say it was about the Duggar’s. Really, it was about justice.)
At the end of June, there was an intervention staged in my honor by my Dad concerning me not taking very good care of myself. This has been the nature of every lecture and intervention that I can remember. And it’s hard to explain the why to my dad, because the fact that I sometimes get depressed and have more difficulty functioning is not something that has ever registered with him, since I gather depression is not supposed to be a Christian reality. His thought was that I was doing too much between three jobs, and that I had very little to show for the work I was putting in, especially in the newest one I’d acquired. (It was royalties-based). Add to that, I couldn’t afford to really take care of myself and the health issues that had cropped up for me. (Seriously, is the Affordable Care Act affordable for anybody?) So, even though I loved my authors and their books, I decided to step down in most of my marketing projects to do things like eat and sleep. (I stepped down from the rest of my projects soon after).
I really didn’t want to talk about that, so I spent most of the month talking about reading and writing.
A big shift happened for me in July. I decided, not for the first time this year, that I was going to live my life, after a sermon on money (of all things) at church. Money is always my biggest reason to not do anything, and I made up my mind it wasn’t going to be that way anymore. There were things I wanted to do and see, and I was going to do and see them. I started with an impromptu road trip that same day, and two weeks later I headed to Oklahoma City on a trip that literally changed my life’s direction, when I realized God was saying, “Yeah, it’s not time” about Seattle, yet again. For whatever reason, I was more open to hearing it at that point.
Since moving, I’ve been readjusting to a more traditional church atmosphere, which given my background, really shouldn’t be difficult, but it’s not without it’s challenges. I’m also trying to connect better with people, not just at church, but at work as well, and looking for new social opportunities with people my age. I’ve been trying to feel out my community, especially my apartment complex, for ministry opportunities. I’m learning about sensitivity and identity. I’m learning that I don’t have to be just one thing, but I don’t have to be all the things, either. I’m learning about patience. And moderation. And compassion for local and global issues. And empowerment.
Most of all, between reading this blog and my journals over the past year, and noting the discrepancies between the two, I’m learning I don’t want to be a brand either. I don’t want to just pick certain parts of myself to share (like, “Reading, Writing, and Matters of Faith”), and completely leave out others (like science and history and my completely dorky side or anything else I might develop an interest in). I want to be able to talk about the stuff that’s impacting me. Instead, the first thing I’m asking before posting is, “Does it fit my brand?” And now all it feels like I am online is a brand.
Naturally, I have plans to change that, because this isn’t working for me – this writing a post at the end of the year to let you know what actually happened in my year. This blog should be actual, not blow by blow by any means, but realistic about what I’m going through.
And that’s going to be my starting point for 2016…