The lessons of 2011

2011, it’s been an interesting trip `round the sun with you. Before you turn into something that’s so last year, I thought I’d review some lessons I learned while I was in your classroom during the last 365 days:


(1) Shoulder surgery IS as bad as they say. Everyone kept warning me that last winter’s rotator cuff repair was going to hurt, be awful, be a ridiculously long recovery, yada yada yada. I’ve survived reconstructive knee surgery, and lived through a six-month rehab in a two-story house with 3 young kids in its wake. I couldn’t imagine shoulder surgery could be worse than that super-fun experience. Let me put it this way: It really wasn’t a whole lot better than knee surgery. And the bummer is that I still live with some residual shoulder pain a year later.


(2) Watching a couple of episodes of the cable TV program ‘Hoarders’ will cause me to start throwing away random things around the house, just to make sure. 


(3) It is possible to learn to like a new musical genre. After my 30-day country-music listenin’ experiment (gotta drop the g’s offa mah words if I’m gonna go country), no one was more surprised than me to discover that it stuck. Yes, there are some reeeeeally dumb country songs like Red Solo Cup and Camouflage. But there are also amazing songs like God Gave Me You. This song became an anthem for my husband and I, and it took me about 60 listens before I could get through the whole three minutes of music without crying. Take that, Lady Gaga.


(4) Some of the best intellectual fellowship might just happen in the context of online relationships. Yes, I know these relationships are not the same as face-time friendships. But the relationships I’ve formed with other writers and with some other wonderful, engaged thinkers have stretched, challenged and nurtured my heart, soul and mind in some pretty cool ways.


(5) High heels are for other, less-klutzy women. I am officially done wearing them. Though Stacey and Clinton insist that heels elongate the legline, that effect is negated if one’s sprained ankle is the size of the adult Wilbur, the pig in Charlotte’s Web.


(6) It is really is darkest before the dawn. I know this because I am awake between 3:00-5:00 a.m. one or two nights a week.


(7) Food tastes better if you have to buy it with using a combination of gestures, pointing and misunderstood English. I was in Jerusalem on my own for a week last spring before my husband joined me there. Every other day or so, I shopped for my food (and then a few meals for the two of us) at Mehane Yehuda. The sense of accomplishment I felt made those dates, almonds, apricots and pita taste like a gourmet meal. Then again, it was a gourmet meal.


(8) God reads all the words I write. My writing life the last few years has been populated with some big projects that have seemed to go nowhere. Exhibit A from last year: a couple of work-for-hire book assignments that are currently floating in the ether somewhere over Antarctica. I know this stuff goes with the free-lancer territory, but it is discouraging to think that! may never become print or Kindle. But Someone is reading my work, and for that, I’m grateful.

May each one of you have a 2012 full of learning, surprises (country music!), relational restoration, spiritual renewal and the kind of transformation that comes from this kind of love. Happy New Year!

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