As 2012 comes to an end, I’m prompted to reflect on the past year. What happened? What moments defined the year? What have I learned and how have I changed? As I reflect, I gain a sense of gratitude for how blessed my family and I are. But reflection also helps me to look ahead to the next year and decide how I can live deliberately and intentionally to make the most of my life. Here are a few things I’ve been reflecting on.
This is the first full year Olive and I have had our blog timandolive.com. We’ve been grateful for all the positive response we’ve received from our writing, with over 80,000 pageviews and 24,000 unique visitors from 149 countries spending 1,600+ hours reading our blog this year.
Our blog is an expression of who we are, and one way Olive and I feel that we can live out our callings in life. Through our writing and thinking, we hope to help others live thoughtful, hopeful, and meaningful lives – not as teachers or guides, but as companions on the journey. We appreciate the comments and emails of our readers, and learn much from their thoughts, questions, and experiences.
Here are our Top 10 (most read) Blog Posts from 2012:
1. Dear Extroverts, (An Honest Letter from an Introvert)
2. When a Friend Passes Away (A Tribute to Kevin Huang)
3. Dear Hypothetically Gay Child
4. How to Know You’ve Found the Right Person to Marry
5. How to Get Married (My 5-Step Plan in Finding a Wife)
6. Why I Refused a Diamond Ring
7. Stop Trying to Cheer Up Your Wife
8. How to Find a Mature Man
9. So You’re Annoyed at Your Spouse. It’s Your Fault, Not Theirs.
10. My Wife is Mad at me and I Don’t Know Why
Top Guest Post: What I Learned: About Marriage From Rubbermaid Storage Boxes by Amelia Rana (you can also read our other 5 guest posts from our “What I Learned” guest post series)
Writing a Book
For many years we have dreamed of writing a book. Olive and I have learn and grown so much from reading many books over the years, we hoped that someday we could help others by writing a book. That day came earlier than expected. On October 25th this year, we self-published our first book, Fight With Me: How We Learned to be Married. The book is about our first few years of marriage: the joys, challenges, lessons learned, and how we tried to make the most of this unique time. Since it’s release, the book has been downloaded by over 1000 people. It’s available on our blog or on Amazon.
We’ve been working hard writing our next book, which is about our first year of parenting. Since Allie was born, many people have asked us, “What does it feel like to be a new parent?” This question is challenging to answer because being a new parent feels like bliss and joy, yet despair and fear at the same time. It feels like a honour and yet a burden. There are so many emotions and feelings that we’ve experienced, and this is what we are writing about in this book. We hope to have it finished by the end of February.
In terms of writing, we’ve also had the privilege of being guest bloggers for Converge Magazine, The Good Men Project, She Loves Magazine, Hello VanCity, Dad’s Round Table, Daddy Blogger, and Salt + Light. I also had my first article published in a print magazine, titled “Why You’re Looking for the Wrong Person to Marry“.
Our daughter Alena (we call her Allie) just turned one earlier this month. This past year feels like a whirlwind, which is why I’m so glad that Olive has recapped the year in her monthly letters to Allie. We’ve watched Allie learned how to lift her head, roll over, babble, crawl, say her first word, stand up, understand what we’re saying, and just this week start taking her first steps. Allie continues to grow and change and we scramble to keep up with her. We love being parents, but we’re also very tired.
New Home, New Job, and Courage
This year we sold our apartment and bought a house in the suburbs (together with my sister and brother-in-law). It was an exercise in faith, as we ended up moving into our new place before our apartment sold (read the full story). We are starting to feel settled in, but it takes time.
As if moving weren’t enough, we also changed jobs. Olive and I both resigned from working with Power to Change (which we have worked with for 7 and 5 years respectively), so we could work full-time writing and blogging. This was a difficult and exciting move that took much courage and faith. We’re not sure how it will turn out, but continue to move forward.
This was the year that my grandpa Yee-Noon Chan and my friend Kevin passed away. I miss them both.
Like we predicted, my parents and Olive’s parents visited us more often this year (they are madly in love with their first grandchild). This was also the year that Olive (finally) joined Facebook, after years of leeching off my account.
I’ve started reading a book called “Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown, and in it she writes about living with courage and how courage is not the absence of fear, but action in the face of fear. As I read this I thought about my year and wondered if I had lived courageously. The two things that jumped out that required the much courage was quitting my job to be a full-time writer, and sharing my story of depression publicly. There is a certain amount of satisfaction I feel for being able to live with courage (at least on two occasions this year), because it means that my fears are not defining me.
With 2013 around the corner, we wish for you much courage to take action in the midst of fear and to live life daring greatly.
photo credit: @notnixon