I have a personal holiday tradition that I began spontaneously a few years ago. On one of the nights between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I sit up late in our living room, basking in the glow of scented candles, shimmering Christmas tree lights, a blaze in the fireplace, and the music of the Chieftains or one of our other Celtic CD’s. I imagine myself in a cozy, wintery cottage in the Irish countryside (a place I’ve never actually visited) in a distant century. I linger for an hour or so, mesmerized by the magical sights, sounds, and smells. Blissful.
My family, no doubt, thinks I’m wacky, but they give me my space.
This year, I held my private ceremony on Christmas night. We had enjoyed a full day of celebration and laughter. My husband and I had successfully accomplished all we’d busily prepared for these last weeks. (Too busily, actually. To my chagrin, I can never seem to achieve “doing less and reducing stress” this time of year, as much as I wholeheartedly endorse the idea.)
The cousins had left, and our three children were peacefully dawdling in their rooms. My husband was relaxing in bed with his crossword puzzle.
I took my moment…rearranged some candles in the living room, put CD’s on shuffle, and seated myself in a comfy chair next to our Christmas tree. I was only a few minutes into my reverie when I felt an unexpected surge of emotion. Giving way to it, I was suddenly sobbing. My heart felt like one of those crepe paper gift balls, but instead of spilling out magic fish, plastic charms, and other cheap trinkets I was unraveling layers of joy, grief, fear, relief, and everything else in between, emotional highs and lows that had over the past year been wrapped up into one.
That was when it hit me… 2014 has been an unusually intense year of growth, both personally and professionally. Here are a few of the highlights:
I am now a veteran blogger
2014 was my fifth year of blogging. My site was visited more than 4.6 million times in 2014. Compare that with 265,000 visits back in 2011 (which was at least 4 times as many visits as my first year of blogging, 2010, but my records are too faulty back then to know exactly). My articles are being translated into five languages.
Most popular posts of 2014:
Most popular posts since 2010:
(There’s a good possibility I’ll be including the word “reasons” in the titles of all my future posts. For obvious reasons.)
I have books
I published my first book in May, the second in September. Both are comprehensive collections of my articles and have succeeded far beyond my expectations. Neither would have been remotely possible without my editor husband’s enthusiasm, commitment, and diligence, as well as cover designer Sara Prince’s immense talent and generosity. Thanks to Alejandra Hayes, a Spanish translation of Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting will be available in 2015.
Classes and consultations
This is where I find my bliss. I hold the parents and children I’ve worked with very close to my heart. You have no idea how much I learn from and are inspired by you.
Is it possible for an introvert to love public speaking? Probably not. But thanks to the brilliant coach I met a few years ago, Michael Cooke, I’ve been able to rewrite a story I’d been telling myself my whole life: that I’m incapable of speaking in front of more than half a dozen people. Michael’s encouragement has given me the freedom and confidence to speak in front of hundreds, and even to feel like myself when I’m doing it. This is not a sales pitch. I want others know that it is possible to completely change your story.
I’m crazy about my family
This was the year we saw our second child off to college. Our oldest will be graduating this coming spring. I couldn’t imagine a more apt description of “bittersweet” than the feelings we’re left with when our children take these major steps forward. Family time has become increasingly precious, which is why I’ve been taking more breaks from online stuff than usual. It’s also the reason that for the first year since our oldest (now 22) was born, I didn’t send out holiday cards. (Ouch. Really feeling the pain of that one right now, but something had to go.) Which reminds me…
I would love to be the kind of person who has no regrets. I’m not. I regret that. I also regret that I can longer fool myself into believing I can respond to more than a fraction of the emails and messages I receive. And yet, your questions and comments are all very important to me. I guess what I’m feeling are growing pains.
There’s a book I’ve been wanting to write that I believe will be extremely helpful to parents, and I’m hoping 2015 will be the year I finally make the time to dig in and get going. The idea behind the book reflects my entire focus for the upcoming year: Help. As I see it, my mission is to help make parents’ and children’s lives easier, more interesting and enjoyable, and, ultimately, successful. I feel blessed to have found a role in life that I am completely comfortable with and feel fully equipped for. If you’ve ever read my blog’s “About Me,” you’ll know that wasn’t always the case.
And that reminds me… I forgot to mention what I felt when I got to the center of my unraveling crepe paper ball: deep, rich, high-as-the-heavens, mad-crazy gratitude.
So, thank you all. Thank you for your support and encouragement. Your uplifting messages always seem to appear at the perfect time. A special year-end gratitude shout-out to my courageous friend Lisa Sunbury and all the parents and professionals who have allowed me to share their inspiring stories.
Peace and Joy to you all this New Year!
(HUGE thanks to Ken, Maritza and Penny for the thumbnail photo of me hard at work. Penny, there are no words to describe the magic of your spontaneous hugs.)