2016: What Did (and Didn’t) Work for Me


Addie Zierman, one of my favorite bloggers, wrote this post on what did and didn’t work for her in the past year. Since I don’t make (read: keep) New Years’ resolutions, I was inspired to do the same.

What didn’t work

1. No dishwasher

The power of dishes over our lives is just ridiculous. Never again. Nobody feels like scrubbing at dishes after every meal, and then remembering to put them up once they’re dry, only to refill the dish drainer with newly washed dishes. I’d say around a third of our marital spats involve who didn’t wash the dishes — and that’s a conservative estimate. Plus, do handwashed dishes actually get clean? It feels so unsanitary to scrub your plate with the grime from the other plate still on it. Needless to say, a dishwasher is the number one priority for our next living space.

2. Being a stay-at-home wife

Because we moved around a lot over the summer, I wasn’t able to secure a temporary summer job before starting my teaching job. I spent the summer home alone, in a new place, with nobody to see and nothing to do. I was miserable. I am split evenly down the middle of introvert and extrovert, so being away from people and a routine left me unmotivated to start any creative projects or even keep up with those dratted dishes.

This summer, I’m getting a job — hopefully a part-time job that allows me people time in the morning, creative introvert time in the afternoon, and Netflix-and-chill in the evening.

3. Avoiding counseling

I kept putting it off. Things didn’t get better. I need it.

What did work

1. Staying hydrated

This little hack made a huge difference in my life. A while ago, I discovered that I am more prone to anxiety, depression, and mood swings when dehydrated. This year, I made it a priority to drink the daily recommended water intake. I fill up a Cool Gear cup and keep it with me at all times. It’s hard to refill during a busy school day, and I rarely drink the recommended amount every day, but its impact on my energy and mood is noticeable. Plus, it’s the only “resolution” I actually stuck with this year, so, yay!

2. Creative outlets

I participated in two plays this fall, got cast in a third this winter, tried National Novel Writing Month, and visit the library once or twice a week. I didn’t realize how much I missed — and needed — storytelling in my life. Drama, reading and writing fiction, and music has made up a huge part of my life ever since I was young, so dabbling in those things again brings back the purpose and imagination of my carefree days. I’ve found that writing fiction, in particular, helps me pry off the perfectionist tendencies that keep me down. It’s also been more helpful, truthful, and healing to work out my existential angst in stories rather than essays. (By the way, I recently got into Goodreads and challenged myself to read 50 books this year. Join me?)

3. Teaching

I love teaching. I really do. I hate when the kids don’t listen and the Play Dough goes everywhere for the third time that day and the internet goes out right when you need it to teach this next lesson and you have to drag that one kid to the principal’s office because he choked somebody again and then threw himself on the floor and refused to move, but I love it. The hard days are really hard, but the good days are phenomenal. I’ve fallen in love with all of my kids (okay, except two — working on that) and am amazed at the progress they’ve made.

It’s the only job I’ve had that gives me purpose, uses and stretches my natural gifts, and makes me into a better person. Whatever jobs I end up doing will have to involve teaching kids in some capacity.

4. Giving myself spiritual space

As you probably guessed, I am completely burnt out with spirituality right now. I got to the point where nothing made sense anymore, and instead of fighting through it, I found peace in saying “I don’t know” and taking a break. Church, prayer, Bible reading…I stopped forcing myself to do them, because the only motivating factor I can muster is guilt and fear.

I still read and listen to primarily Christian voices — Addie Zierman, Phil Vischer, Sarah Bessey, Peter Enns, my local priest, my husband, the Orthodox liturgy, my conversations with thoughtful Christian friends, my dear commenters here. I like this place, as an observer, as someone taking things in, seeing how they play out, falling in love with the mystery and the story of redemption as an outsider, rather than frantically hammering out theology in order to protect myself from hellfire.

5. Boundaries

This year, I discovered that abuse of all kinds is more rampant in my little world than I thought. And so, this year, I had to set boundaries…cutting out manipulative voices, calling out abuse, taking stands, letting certain people go.

And oh, goodness, is it hard to do that, to be open to critique while closed to attack, all while being kind and humble. No doubt you’ve seen me get snippy with a few frustrating readers here and morph into the “tone police,” and I apologize for every time I’ve been ungracious. But as bad as I am at it and as hard as it is, I’ve found it far healthier to set boundaries and know my limits, both online and offline.

Here’s to a new year! I’m hoping for rest, healing, and creativity in this upcoming year. (A baby and a book deal wouldn’t be too shabby, either.)

What things did or didn’t work for you this past year?

6 thoughts on “2016: What Did (and Didn’t) Work for Me

  1. Jasmine Ruigrok

    For me, friendship could’ve been worked on last year, something I’m hoping to be more intentional about this year. Sleep definitely didn’t work, so I’m trying to get to bed at decent hours this year (emphasis on trying).

    Things that did work, I got into handlettering and am hoping to build more of my business on that. Exercise got slightly better, and I finished reading the whole Bible for the first time in my life even if it did take me over two years.

    As for spirituality, I’m not a fan of the Message, but I do think it nails this Scripture, and you made me think of it:

    “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
    Matthew 11:28‭-‬30 MSG


    • Bailey Steger

      I am with you there in friendship and sleep!!! Also, you amaze me — acquiring a new skill and improving in exercise? I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say that of myself!

      Ugh. I love Jesus. I feel that he gets it, when I hear that verse in whatever translation. Thanks, friend. And thanks for not saying anything cliche or trying to fix it or give advice. That actually means a lot to me right now. :)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hannah B.

    Goodness, yes. Spiritual space. As I’ve gone through/AM GOING THROUGH such a dramatic change in theology and really how I see and interpret the entire Word of God, every time I open the Bible it’s time for battle. It’s hard, sweaty, emotional war. I need lots of time to regroup and heal in between.
    As for prayer, I guess I’m not doing much “formal prayer.” I’m comforting myself with constant reminders that He is right here, not “up there.” Present, caring, helping. And sometimes I talk to Him that way, but it’s very different from, “Dear Lord, […] Amen.”
    I don’t even want to talk about my feelings on church right now. 😥

    All that to say, CAN RELATE.


    • Bailey Steger

      Oh, you’re brave. I haven’t read the Bible for months (well, except for teaching Bible to kinders). I actually love the Bible. There’s nothing wrong with the Bible. But it’s associated with too much negativity and confusion that I can’t really approach it in any way except as a textbook or literature. :(


      • Hannah B.

        Yeah, too much “Biblical” theology muddying the waters, huh?

        All but Galatians. After leaving my cultic church, I read Galatians (in one sitting, as a letter) and it was like I had discovered a forgotten book of the Bible and it has been a fresh wind in my face ever since. I love Galatians.

        “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free; stand firm, then! And do not let yourself be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.”



      • Bailey Steger

        I love that. Honestly, anytime I read entire books at a time, they seemed completely new to me. There’s something to be said for just sitting down and READING the Bible, book by book.


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