In the beginning of 1979, I made 9 (NINE!) New Year’s resolutions. Here is what I listed in my journal on January 2, 1979:
1. Pray and read the Bible regularly
2. Go on a sensible diet
3. Exercise regularly
4. Keep a diary
5. Keep my house neater
6. Try not to be selfish
7. Put necessary things before school
8. Be more satisfied with myself
9. Ask the Lord daily to to help me do these things
I wrote this in my first year of teaching an Amish school when I was 21 years old. These are certainly great things to strive for, but I had not yet learned that New Year’s resolutions don’t work for me. And that when I broke them, I then had an excuse to feel badly about myself.
Quite a few years ago, I gave myself a lot more slack and began to write down what I hope will happen in the coming year. I do this in conjunction with reflecting on the experiences and expressing the gratitude I feel for the blessings in my life in the year that just passed. I find this much more expansive… sometimes the things I am grateful for have nothing to do with what I hoped for (or made resolutions for) in the year before. For life is full of surprises.
The year 2012 brought me several surprises. I could never have imagined a year ago that David and I would have Anna living with us. There are many rewards of having in our midst someone who is so kind, gifted, accommodating, and hard-working. However, having someone new living in our midst also has its challenges, especially because Anna does not have her own mode of transportation and is dependent on David and me to get her places.
I have been surprised by the size of the audiences at many of my talks this year. I have delivered more than 120 book talks so far with a collective audience of almost 7,500 people. Three of these talks had more than 200 people in attendance (Hershey Library in Pennsylvania had 209; Jackson County Library in Minnesota had 224; and Guthrie Memorial Library in Hanover, Pennsylvania had 230).
I also have one disappointing surprise of 2012. I thought for sure that by now I’d have my second memoir placed with an agent and a publisher. I know from the reaction of my audiences that many are eagerly awaiting the publication of this book. I also have what they call a solid “author platform” with my website and blog and with the rapport I’ve cultivated among libraries and other hosts of my speaking engagements. So I don’t know why someone in the publishing world has not decided to take the chance that this book will do well in the market.
My big goal in the coming months is to finish writing my second book and work towards publication. My plan is to publish the book myself, though if an offer came along that I could not refuse, I would definitely go with an established publisher. I would rather be the author and not the publisher, but if becoming the publisher is necessary to get the book into print, then I will do exactly that.
I am so grateful for the response to my first memoir Why I Left the Amish. It is always so gratifying when people come forward and tell me how they’ve related to the book because of their own experiences. This has come from people of all walks of life… academics, former Amish, people who have emerged from insular and/or restrictive religious cultures, those who endured abuse in their childhood, women who grew up dominated by males, and others who have read all the Amish books they could get their hands on and “didn’t have any idea that these things happen in the Amish.” Many have pointed out that there are universal themes in the book, such as a coming-of-age story and the overcoming of adversity. It is these exchanges of human stories that have given me reason to believe that my story was worth telling.
I am also very grateful for all of you who continue to read my blog and make comments. Without you, my blog would have died long ago. I hope in the coming year I will get a chance to roam the blogosphere and read more of what many of you write.
What about you? Did you have any surprises in 2012? What are you grateful for that happened in the last year? What do you hope will happen in 2013?
I wish you all good health, good cheer, abundance, and a life filled with meaning in the coming year. I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes.