A few months ago, I summarized my summer as one that was very anxious. Now I’m wondering how to best summarize my entire year. If I had to describe it in a single word, I’m not sure what it would be.
For me, although there are many positive highlights and things to be grateful for, 2017 has been one of my most difficult and stressful years ever.
This year brought a lot of potential changes for the better, but they were very stressful transitions and situations. And they all happened about the same time, which compounded their effect:
- My family moved to a new house and different lifestyle (city to country, big to small, two bathrooms to one bathroom, etc). It required me to do new levels of do-it-yourself work (remodeling entire bathrooms) that I’d never done before and felt incapable of. I also felt great pressure to get it all done in a short time.
- I started a new job position with more and new responsibilities that were challenging and trying and pushed me to my mental limits.
- My family joined a new church that was different and challenging and we ended up going back to our former church.
- I took my first major karate test that literally pushed me to my physical limits in order to test my spirit. Then among other circumstances, I ended up quitting karate.
All these took a real toll on me. Just the move to a new house was more taxing than I anticipated. I felt deeply drained. All this happened while trying to parent my 5 sons, and one of them was a 2-year old! That’s hard enough by itself. I was hit in all aspects of life: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, intellectual.
So yes, 2017 was hard. Despair was tempting. Hope was hiding. Despondency was circling. Faith was floundering. Depression was sneaking. Anxiety was attacking. Panic was pushing.
But there have been glimpses of light from the lighthouse during the storms this year. A lot of people showed me a lot of love this year. And grace. There’s been power in prayer from others. Emotional support has not been lacking.
There’s also been some huge positive or unique highlights this year:
- My family was on TV! Basically, we had some crazy encounters with venomous snakes. The first one swam up our toilet…it kind of went viral on Facebook, and then it spread through the news. This led to my wife and I being interviewed for an episode in a new mini-series on Animal Planet, which aired in November. You can watch it online to get most of that story.
- No more changing diapers! After 11 years of diapers, wipes, and potty accidents through 5 sons, my last child is now potty trained!!!
- I turned 40!!
- No more mortgage! My wife and I for the first time are literally 100% debt free! No car payments, no house mortgage, no house rent or payments, no consumer debt. We were blessed being able to buy a house, land, and 2 nicer cars this year all with cash! It can be done!
- My parents moved and now live only 6 minutes from our house!
- I started this blog!
My biggest take-away from this year, I think, is the great empathy I now have for people who suffer or struggle with anxiety or similar and related mental or emotional challenges. I’ve learned a lot from others’ experiences as well as my own. And I’m still learning. I might blog more about that, but we’ll see.
I’m hoping 2018 will be much better than 2017.