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Reflections on 2018

I love reflecting on the past twelve months every year at this time. 2018 has in some ways been one of the most challenging years of my life, and in some ways one of the best. If I were to describe the year in a word it would be HEAVY. Most of my time was spent navigating heavy relationships, reading heavy books, thinking about heavy topics and feeling emotionally, physically and spiritually heavy. Perhaps my word for 2019 should be LIGHT.

I answered some of the same questions as in last year’s post as a way to collect my thoughts and experiences of 2018.

What were the best things that happened this past year?

  • In the spring, I took a leap and took a writing and publishing class from a successful literary agent, and then had a private coaching session a few months later from that agent. These steps helped me map some clear goals for my writing and take tangible steps to achieving those goals.
  • I saw Hamilton three times when the touring group was in Houston!
  • My writing was published in some major outlets, including Scary Mommy and HuffPost, and I got paid for some pieces for the first time ever! I also continue to enjoy writing and editing for Houston Moms Blog.
  • I appeared on a podcast and a live radio show.
  • I attended the Evolving Faith conference in Montreat, NC with my mom and sister in law.
  • Grayson got a genetic diagnosis 6 years after having blood drawn for testing.
  • Both my little kids are now potty trained!

What was the most challenging thing that happened?

Navigating relationships that have altered tremendously due to my shifting/deconstructing faith and my writing about these things.

What was an unexpected joy this past year?

Connecting with my four siblings and their spouses in real, authentic ways despite none of us living in the same city. And in March, my newest nephew was born (unexpectedly early) and so graciously made the trip across the ocean from Australia so I could meet him.

What was an unexpected obstacle?

Not entirely unexpected, but I am terribly bad at keeping school stuff straight. There are certain days when spirit shirts are to be worn, snacks and lunches to be packed every day (ughhh), forms to be signed, and the elementary school is determined to bankrupt me one $15 check at a time. Most days, my kids are lucky to get out the door with brushed hair and shoes, and if I remember their water bottles, bonus points for mom!

What were the best books you read this year?

I read 35 books this year. This was the first time I actually tracked my reading, and that helped motivate me to read a lot more than in years past. I also discovered I love reading by audiobook, and was able to finish more books as I was in the car or doing housework. My top 2 favorites in each category from the year were:

Fiction: (I only read 3 fiction books this year)- Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult were my top 2. I liked them both, although A Spark of Light wasn’t my favorite Jodi Picoult novel.

Memoir: I’ve found this to be my current favorite genre, and I read so many good ones! My top 2 are Educated by Tara Westover and I’m Just Happy to Be Here by Janelle Hanchett.

Non-Fiction: This was hard to choose, but the two books that made the biggest impact on me are I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown and Love Undocumented by Sarah Quezada.

In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?

I discovered the Enneagram at the start of the year, which has greatly helped me understand myself and my motivations for doing what I do. I am a 3, motivated by success and recognition. I struggle with showing true emotional responses, and this year, have suffered greatly by anxiety and a bit of depression.

In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?

I wrote about this for the masses HERE

In what way(s) did you grow physically?

I’ve gained a bit of weight this year, and my hair is a lot grayer, and I’m trying to figure out how I truly feel about these things. I’m less than a year from turning 40, and am trying to embrace the inevitable parts of getting older rather than negatively obsess over them.

What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?

The best part of writing for me is seeing my pieces resonate with so many people, and getting feedback on my work (hello, Enneagram 3). The best part of my “work” at home is watching my kids develop their interests and individual expressions of creativity.

What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?

The most challenging part of writing so publicly is managing the consequences of my writing on personal relationships. The most challenging part of my “work” at home is managing my frustrations with the kids’ behavior (just stooooopppp fighting).

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?

Social media. Obviously.

What was the best way you used your time this past year?

Reading and writing.

What was biggest thing you learned this past year?

The lightbulb lesson I learned this year is what people think about me is none of my business. This has been especially challenging given my Enneagram number, but it’s also really freeing.

What is a quote that describes this past year for you?

I can’t imagine that the God of the universe is limited to our ideas of God. In a way, I need a God who is bigger and more nimble and mysterious than what I could understand and contrive. Otherwise it can feel like I am worshipping nothing more than my own ability to understand the Divine. – Nadia Bolz Weber, Pastrix

Happy New Year!

10 Comments

  1. fern on December 31, 2018 at 11:22 am

    So good to hear from you, your new insights, the year in review. Your thoughts trigger new thoughts for me. Meanwhile, Blessed New Year!

  2. imsirota1965 on December 31, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of us. I will continue to enjoy reading your posts as we head into 2019!

  3. Clarissa on December 31, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    This is a good exercise. If I’m honest, I probably won’t go as in depth with this as you have, but it is good to look back and see where I’ve been this year. Many of your answers resonate with me. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Jacqueline C. Smith on December 31, 2018 at 9:04 pm

    Although we differ in age, I am 80. I enjoy reading about your life’s ups and downs. We all have days we can’t seem to get it together. I know with God’s grace, I will get through this one step at a time. The age thing nags at me at my weakest. Hopefully in 2019 those days will be not showing up so often!

  5. Judy on January 1, 2019 at 12:02 am

    I enjoy your post. Just a thought: I’m 67 and my hair is what I refer to as platinum blonde now. I’ll never have to color it! LOL! Enjoy you age whatever age it is. Many of my best memories have happened since I turned 40!

  6. Yesenia on January 1, 2019 at 4:25 am

    I’m so grateful to have found your blog. I live I Houston and it’s incredibly comforting to know that someone so near is going through what I’m going through. Deconstructing and (attempting) reconstructing has been such a lonely experience for me. I have so much fear of never finding deep friendships within this new worldview of mine and exhaustion over all of the emotional and spiritual work involved in figuring out this new life. Thank you for being so brave and putting this out there.

  7. Evelyn Spikes on January 2, 2019 at 4:46 am

    When your blog title popped up in my inbox, I was temporarily confused. Who is Elizabeth Baker and why am I getting her blog post? Well, it didn’t take me long to figure it out: it was your Huff Post pieces that led me to follow you. I thank you for sharing your life the way you have; I wouldn’t have it in me. I’m looking forward to your blog posts…and your writings elsewhere. I just turned 76, but I think I’m “in your lane.”

  8. Ken Tryon on January 6, 2019 at 12:02 am

    I found your blog by way of your HuffPost article, which my sister shared on Facebook. I grew up in the Reformed tradition, and have never felt completely comfortable with the Evangelical label (even if I did go to a solidly Evangelical college). However, since the election of Donald Trump, I’ve felt the Evangelical movement (at least white Evangelicals) have deserted me. How could the movement that birthed William Wilberforce so completely embrace a Trump? This is the end of a long, misbegotten quest for power and the havoc it has wreaked on our collective faith and conscience.

    Thankfully, my home congregation is in the minority which still sees Trump and Trumpism as anathema, but I doubt I will feel at home in another Evangelical church ever again. I have been through the pain, like yours, of losing and leaving my spiritual home, and it pains me to see others going through it. Rest assured, however, that you will come out the other side with a freer, more honest faith, and that God will be faithful to lead you through.

  9. Patrick Steele on January 9, 2019 at 2:55 am

    Good email. Embrace the 40’s, they are awesome.
    I love the finishing quote.

  10. James G on January 21, 2019 at 9:51 pm

    Elizabeth-Thank you for sharing your sobering but needed testimony. Continue to seek/follow after the “Gospel”that Christ taught (which was the Kingdom message) and not the Gospel of Jesus Christ (religion). As I continue to grow spiritually, I am always reminded of the fact that it was religious leaders (of the day) who crucified Christ. I prefer to call myself a Kingdom citizen nowadays. Religion has made the term Christianity a hypocrisy. There are still credible teachers out there. Don’t give up. Seek and Know the truth to be free. I recommend http://www.transformation.tc
    We are studying Insurgency. Matthew 6:33

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