Best of 2012

I’ve stolen and modified these prompt questions from Ann Voskamp as a 2012 recap.

The best recipe you couldn’t not make again?

Ají de gallina. I love Peruvian food, and spending time in Peru this summer just reinforced that. This is one of those foods that I could eat anytime. Note: I substituted dried serrano peppers for the ají and it seemed to work fine. I also cooked a pound of chicken breasts with a quart of broth in the crock pot, and then used that liquid. I needed about twice as many saltines as they said to. But ohhh so delicious! It freezes well too, and can be served on any grain or potatoes, which mixes it up a bit.
The best book you couldn’t put down?

The Postmistress. Super thought-provoking and beautifully written.

The book that was most influential?

The Gifts of Imperfection. As I’ve said before, Brown has been a huge influence. She talks about her “2007 breakdown/Spiritual Awakening,”and that summarizes 2012 for me. I’m not usually one to dig self-help books, but hey, the woman even says “I hope we’ve all developed a good bullshit meter for self-help books.” And she has good ideas to boot. I credit this book as key to my recovery this year (and I have recovered! YAAY!) and to re-framing it an “awakening” instead of a meltdown or a failure.
The best song that you just couldn’t get out of your head? Make a Difference

Rachel Kurtz sang at our synod assembly a couple years ago, and it was really cool to see her performing at the National Youth Gathering. The teens really seemed to get into this song, and it’s one that’s been both catchy and inspirational for me.

The song that summarizes your year? Below the Waves 

Well, and Make a Difference too, but that’s above.

I’ve been a Carrie Newcomer fan since I first heard her as an undergrad. This song explains clinical depression in a way that is both hopeful but also, at least from my experience, acutely accurate.

When I emailed Carrie to tell her how meaningful this song was for me, she said “It is difficult that in our culture there is only one word for two different animals. There is the “blues” which we call being depressed and this names our regular up and down swings. Then there is major depression. But we use the same word. It is hard for those who have experienced major or clinical depression to explain something that we haven’t given a word in our language. So I wrote the song, hoping to give the nameless a name, and the wordless an image.”

It’s made me more comfortable admitting that I struggle with clinical depression–but there is hope and healing. In some ways, it’s made me a more sensitive and perceptive person; it’s made me more of an advocate for mental health care. So, as miserable as this disease is, there have been good things that have come out of it.

The tool/gizmo/idea that worked best?

Cold press coffee maker. So delicious.

The risk that returned best?

I took a leave of absence from my job for a semester. Financially and personally, this was terrifying. But I learned a ton and couldn’t be more thankful for this time.

The best link of 2012?

moreloveletters.com Super excited about being part of this project

The best laugh?

This video cracked me up again and again.

The best thing you didn’t want to do — but you did anyway?

Put myself through a year of bi-weekly therapy. Emotionally exhausting and tons of hard work, but it’s made a huge difference.  My therapist has been one of my biggest advocates and supporters. Local friends, should you ever need someone, let me know and I can give you a wholehearted recommendation.

What was the best habit?

I know this is far from earth shattering, but I’ve found that if I work out and have some solitude and prayer time, I’m much more productive and emotionally/physically/personally ready to dig into a day. I’ve realized that I need to take care of myself and set careful boundaries, and can’t take responsibility for the actions of others.
The best holiday?

Do birthdays count as holidays? I celebrated my birthday this year with a good friend by having a picnic at a park. Super chill, but it was kid-friendly and allowed us to be with a lot of people we love.

The best gift?

This is uber cheesy, so warning you now. My boyfriend INSISTED on having a therapy session so he could know how to best support me. I fought him tooth and nail, but he wouldn’t back down. He also promised to take me out to ice cream if I was “good for the doctor.” One of our youth was working that night, so he plotted a loving prank on him that we executed before leaving. C knew this would cheer me up after a particularly vulnerable session.
The best sacrifice?

I gave up a good chunk of time and sometimes money to take several retreats, all of which were life-giving. In January, I went to the “Urban Immersion” retreat with middle schoolers to teach them the realities of poverty; in July, I went to New Orleans with high schoolers to a gathering of 10,000 other students to worship, learn, and serve; in August, I went to Peru with another youth group for a cultural exchange; in September to a solitude retreat, and in October to a group spiritual direction weekend. Again, HUGE time sacrifice, but all of these were meaningful and life-giving.

So… what was the Best of Everything 2012? Comment or blog as you wish 🙂

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