2017 in Review
End of the Year Reflection
I finally had a chance to sit down and take some quiet time to reflect on 2017. I know this past year was a dark, horrible one for so many people and they just can’t wait to move on. My story is completely different. My year was a story of redemption, peace, and finding JOY amidst a lot of chaos. So before I press in to 2018, I need to say a sincere THANK YOU to 2017 for allowing me to believe in new beginnings again and share with you what worked for me. May this give you HOPE for this next year in whatever troubles or trials you may currently find yourself in.
The year started out with a blog post about FEAR. My word for the year was FEARLESS. I had been trapped for too long in unhealthy cycles and I wanted to be free of endless fear. Fear of rejection, fear of being wrong, fear of failure, fear of regret, fear of others (I suffer from severe anxiety so this is always a tough one for me!).
I wrote down in my journal the 3 areas in my life that were a complete mess and asked for God to do his thing, to just take over. I wrote “I have tried to do these things on my own and I continue to fail. Please give me strength to keep going. Please make old things new. Please breath fresh life and new hope into these areas. I am at a loss and I don’t know how to redeem them.” So I dove headfirst into fearlessly attacking my health, my marriage, and my business.
Let me skip to the end so I don’t bore you.
HE DID!!! He transformed every single one of them. Refreshed. Renewed. Redeemed.
And even more so than I could ever imagine.
So if you want to know what worked for me, read on. If you want to stop here, that’s OK, too, but let me at least leave you with this. God knows what you are struggling with and he wants to help you and he has a plan. “For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to give you HOPE and a future.”
For those of you still reading…here are the details of what transformed for me in 2017.
#1 – MY HEALTH:
I have always been a runner. I have competed in triathlons, marathons, and every local race you can imagine. But at some point, I had stopped putting myself first. I had stopped making the time. I put my family, my business, even time with friends over time for myself. My weight had gotten out of control and I was tired ALL THE TIME.
Three things finally changed this for me:
1). The book, Made To Crave by Lysa TerKeurst
2). A membership to Applewood Orange Theory Fitness
3) A handy little app in my phone called My Fitness Pal.
There were no magic pills. There was no starvation diet. I did this the old fashioned, slow, and healthy way by working out 4x a week, choosing healthy foods, and counting calories. By the end of 2017, I had lost 28 lbs, was sleeping better, and had less anxiety.
The book was a kick starter. It was the cheerleader I needed to get started. Lysa writes like an old friend so she can say truth without hurting you. I devoured her book instead of popcorn at night. It reminded me of my “why,”not to pretend I’m 17 again or even have the body of my 20s. I want to laugh. I want to run. I want to chase my kids and tickle my husband. She brings it back to biblical truths that restrictions aren’t bad; they actually can bring out the best in you.
Joining Orange Theory was the next step and a life saver for me! What made it work for me was that you book your workout just like you’d schedule a meeting. You go into their app, pick a workout time, and it synchs with your calendar. I get a reminder “OTF Workout in one hour” on my phone and no excuse not to go. The workouts change daily, so I was never bored. And they last exactly one hour, so it didn’t take up my whole day. They host free workshops on food prep and eating right, and even hosted a weight loss challenge. I tried it for free, then never stopped going.
The My Fitness Pal app tracked everything I put in my body, from simple things like apples & PB to full meals at dinner. At first, it was a tad grueling because I wasn’t used to measuring and weighing my food. But within a month, I had food prep down. It was actually refreshing to go into my fridge and grab a pre-prepped meal, knowing that I was getting the nutrition I needed.
The app also keeps track of the items you use most frequently, so the more you use the app the easier it gets to manage. My favorite feature on the app is when at night, I knew I could still consume a few more calories, I could look up what I needed vs eating what I felt like. It completely helped the evening snacking. Example: It tells you if you are short on carbs or fats or protein, so I’d know if I should grab a rice cake or an apple with PB or a piece of chicken. It has been almost a year since I started at OTF and I not only have energy, but I sleep better and am overall more positive.
I want to encourage you right now, that if you have health goals for 2018, write them down. Take ONE step. It will take time, but it is worth it. YOU are worth it. You can do it!
#2 – MY MARRIAGE:
First, let me say, my husband is my best friend. Not in the annoying “I can’t do anything without him” way, but in the “I plan to kick his a$$ in cribbage” kind of a way. We are simple people that like simple things: watching football, going to our kids sporting events, playing cards. So I don’t expect flowers and jewelry and “stuff” that my friends get because that’s not how we roll. I like back rubs and talking about the Seahawks draft picks and poker nights.
But my husband travels for his job. A lot. At some point in 2017, the time away had slowly taken it’s toll. By the time we’d come together again, we were super awkward around each other and not only unsure how to communicate, we were totally unable to find a middle ground to start the process. I just could NOT let my walls back down to let him back in.
Insert bible study here.
We somehow agreed to read the book Sacred Marriage after a friend, who is also a shrink, recommended it to us. At first, I was totally put off. How am I going to get him to read this?? How are we going to talk about some of this?? The dude that wrote this book is ANCIENT and his views about women don’t match mine! Also, my husband does NOT read. I mean, maybe Sports Illustrated but that’s it. But God knew what we needed and helped me find the words to bring it up.
This book was a LIFE CHANGER for us. I’d read at home; he’d read it on the road. It became something we could discuss when we were together again. It actually created conversations for us that were meaningful. I was able to look at my husband’s trips from HIS perspective – not as a chance to get away from us and eat fancy dinners and hang out with cool people – but of sleeping alone and missing home cooked meals and not helping the kids with homework. The book helped me have empathy and grace for him while he was gone so that when he was home, I could be fully present. It helped create in me a heart of Thanksgiving. If your marriage is struggling, I highly recommend this book!
A year later and I feel like I am dating my husband again. I miss him when he’s gone. He doesn’t call out of duty, he calls to hear my voice. I don’t prepare meals out of duty, I prepare them out of love. It really has changed my entire perspective on serving my husband and he has become more aware of my fears so that he knows how to encourage me. It’s been an amazing win-win for us both.
If you have found yourself in a relationship that feels broken, there is HOPE. All things can be redeemed. Don’t give up! Don’t lose heart! Take one step to get moving in the right direction. Write down you dreams of where you want to be and do one thing to move you closer to them.
#3 – MY BUSINESS:
First, I chose this to be the “year of education” for me. Fearlessly, I decided to pursue the growth of my business and attack it with a quest for knowledge. I went to every conference I could get my hands on, from Holli True’s “Evoke Workshop” in Oregon (which, by the way, was the best thing EVER…you can see my review here when I finally get around to posting it), to Senior Style Guide’s PUSH Conference in Indiana and then Seniorologie’s Conference 12 Workshop in Denver.
You have to understand how absolutely TERRIFYING all of this was for me – a total Tomboy of an introvert who would MUCH rather be sitting on a couch by myself reading next to my boys than sitting in a room full of women I don’t know. I am really good one on one, but put me in a room full of people, especially girls, and I am a total weirdo. But I put myself out there because it’s what I thought I needed to do as a business owner.
I started using some “must have” tricks of the trade – like 17 hats, for instance. This is a client management tool that tracks client information, creates branded emails, and allows for client invoicing online. It enables me to have forms on my website and keep track of client communication so I always know where I am in the sales process. This was a big win for me!
I also learned how to properly curate a feed, how to correctly create FB content, how to actively blog and engage my readers. Through the year, I figured out how to use automated systems and batch editing and email lists. I joined The Twelfth Year business mentorship and stocked my business with forms and magazines and ALL THE THINGS I was told would take my business to the “next level”. I hired an assistant and got help with posting and blogging and…
And after all the noise, do you know what I’ve REALLY learned?
I like me.
I like my business.
I don’t have to run my business like other people.
My business doesn’t make sense to the typical entrepreneur because I am not the typical entrepreneur. I am a Christian creative, so my goals are never my own. My main motive has always been to spread hope and encouragement through the medium that I create with – photography. There is nothing wrong with getting published and making tons of money and flying your teams to Paris to shoot them under the Eiffel tower. That’s cool for those people!
It’s just not me. I don’t want to be flying the world with my Brand Ambassadors. I want to go to their cheer competitions and their choir concerts and take them to coffee. I want to create a space where relationships are built. Where we can play with little kids at the Denver Dream Center. I want to carve out time when we can all volunteer at the Food Bank of the Rockies. I want to live as an example and share my life and my time with them.
So if you have a little side hustle and want to make it something more, I encourage you to yes…automate your systems. Check out 17 hats and MailChimp. But don’t forget to look at who YOU are first. How does your personality effect where your business will go? What is you true purpose of your business? Once you have that clear path, you will know the direction you want to take.
So 2018. I’m coming for you! I have sat still and soaked it in, reflected on 2017 and prayed for clarity in 2018. I’ve got goals written and a clear direction laid out.
So stay tuned for what I’ll be focusing on for next year! Because no matter what this year was like for you, there is always HOPE for the future.
All Images Copyright of Leighellen Landskov Photography