It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Life has been, well, for lack of a better word, happening these past few months since I last wrote here.

I’m tired, and I’m rusty, but I’m trying to fall back into rhythm with my own written voice, and so here I am. As a way to get back into the swing of blogging, I’m going to steal an idea from the blog of my dear friend Laura, and do a reflection on 2012 in the form of 20 Questions. I hope she will forgive me for my laziness 😉

1. What was the single best thing that happened this year?
Grad school, without a doubt. I have grown from a small sapling into a sturdy oak here, and being able to look back on that change happening in such a short period of time is nothing short of a miracle.

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
This was a year full of challenges, but I don’t think any of them were so hard to endure as my work schedule this past summer. Juggling two jobs that were both emotionally and physically demanding on their own left me constantly drained and miserable. I lost my love for life, and had no energy to do anything but crawl into bed when I got home. I have so much respect for the people who have to push themselves to work a job schedule like this every day, because the only thing that got me through those few months was the knowledge that I was quitting in August.

3. What was an unexpected joy this year?
Being there to watch two of my closest friends get engaged in Washington D.C.

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
This shouldn’t have been unexpected, but surviving on my AmeriCorps budget was extremely challenging. It gave me keen insight into how poverty in America works, but I am very glad that that experience is behind me.

5. Pick three words to describe 2012.
Perseverance, blossom, passion.

6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2012 – without asking.

AmeriCorps, grad school 😉

7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2012 – again, without asking.
Challenging, dream-filled

8. What were the best books you read this year?
Ohhh… I read so many brilliant ones. One of my favorite parts of this year was my ability to read so many new books. My favorite “fun” books this year were The Perks of Being a Wallflower, World War Z, The Poisonwood BibleThe Night Circus, and The Dovekeepers. My favorite “serious” books were A People’s History of the United States, Scripting the Black Masculine Body, and Killing the Black Body.

9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
In addition to books, this was also the year where I really saw my relationships with others blossom. I’ve tried hard to reach out more to the people I love, instead of taking them for granted, and I’ve felt it this past year. Other than Chad, my grandma (our relationship has become so precious to me over the past few months), and my cohort (who have been my steady rocks in the storm of grad school- but not the kind of rock that dashes you to pieces (; ), I can’t pick any individuals by name, because you’ve all been so special to me. And I know that sounds like an excuse to get out of hurting people’s feelings, but I really mean it. I actually did make a list here, but I had to delete it, because it just ended up being a list of all of my closest friends, which kind of felt like it defeated the purpose of the question.

10. What was your biggest personal challenge from January to December of this past year?
Coping with where I was in life, and learning to be content even in the darkest places. Also, on a much less elegant note, putting up with the idiotic drivel that inundated Facebook during election season without going postal.

11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
I came to terms with my depression, and got the help I needed to come out of a very bad place emotionally. I also embraced my inner nerd with full enthusiasm (thank you Tumblr!), and I am happier and more self-confident because of it. I feel so full, and so alive, and I cannot wait to keep this up.

12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?
I think one of the healthiest things for me to do spiritually was to cut off my ties with some very poisonous schools of thought about God. Taking power away from the people and thoughts that have scarred me in the past, and letting myself grow spiritually in a healthy environment, has been one of the most revolutionary things I’ve ever done to myself. I am so sad I haven’t done this sooner.

I also really was able to meld my love for Christ and my love for social justice, and become much more passionate about both of them. I cannot wait to read Sarah Bessey’s Jesus Feminist, as I’m pretty sure it’s going to talk about just such a union, but in a much more beautiful way than I could ever put into words. She’s the best.

13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?
Other than my weight? Haha, I have taken baby steps towards a healthier lifestyle. I cook from scratch more, I try and buy as much organic food as I can, I’ve tried to substitute fruits and veggies for less healthy snacks, and I’ve started doing a lot more yoga.

14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
I think I already answered this question, but in a nutshell, I feel so much closer to people in my life now than I did at the start of 2012. I don’t know if they feel the same way; maybe this was just a shift in my own perceptions. Still, this has been a great change for me.

15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
Working with my students in AmeriCorps was the best work experience I’ve ever had. They were joys to be around, and I loved getting to work every day because I knew I’d come home that night with a new story to tell Chad about their precociousness. Other than that, the time that a student in class asked me if I was a professor was pretty exciting.

I love to cook, so finding new recipes and testing them out on Chad would definitely be the best part of my housework.

16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
At work- everything about being a summer camp counselor. There was a learning curve that I was not at all prepared for, given my angelic students in AmeriCorps, and I only started to get the hang of my job at the end of the summer.

At home- Laundry. I’m convinced that the need to do laundry was an invention of Satan.

17. What was the single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
The Internet- 110%. Specifically Tumblr and Facebook.

18. What was the best way you used your time this year?
Reading, writing, and investing in my relationships.

19. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?
That I am good at grad school, and a PhD is in my future. That was the big question- and answer- of the whole year.

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2012 for you.
Money and possessions pale in importance to relationships and experiences.