“Another year over, and a new one just begun.” – John Lennon
It is very likely that we all know this song. We hear it every year around this time. At Christmas, I find myself feeling a little like it is “Groundhog Day”. You know, that feeling like “we were JUST here- how can another year already be over?!?”
As I reflect on the past year, it is overwhelming to itemize a list of all that happened in 2017. This year has been one of the worst, and equally best years of my life. People often tell engaged couples that the first year of marriage is one of the hardest years you will ever have together. How encouraging, right? The first year wasn’t an easy one, that Cam and I will very openly admit. But this year marked our thirteenth year of marriage, and by far, it has proved to be the most difficult to date.
Before the start of a new year, some choose to set a word as their goal for the upcoming year. I hadn’t officially done that for 2017, but looking back now, I can say than 2017’s word was hard. Sometimes it was hard in a great, growing and stretching way. Other times, it was hard in a debilitating, “where can we even go from here?” kind of way.
2017 brought our family the excitement of moving to Rwanda. Unfortunately, it also brought disappointment (to severely underplay it) shortly thereafter that it could not progress as we’d hoped. Travelling to Ottawa for a solution, only to not get one. We found ourselves confused, not knowing our next step. Having what we thought was a clear path, and then being told we could likely never follow it. Spending a large part of our year in “limbo”, dreading the question that people always seemed to want to know- “So, what’s next?” Dreading it as we had no clue of the answer ourselves. We gave up our jobs, our home, our possessions, said our tearful goodbyes, upset our life as we knew it- and then had to start again. Aside from our own emotional pain, we shared in others’- those we love struggling with infertility. One of my best friends was diagnosed with a stage 4 brain tumour. Cam fell on ice last week, and may require knee surgery. We have never cried so much, or EVER been so confused as much as we have this year.
It would be so easy to stop there. To focus on everything negative that happened this year, and forget anything resembling positivity. But that is one of the things I’ve learned this year, and had to work on- taking a beat. Taking time to breathe, pausing in thankfulness, even amidst the looming chaos, to look for the good. I can’t say this is always my first reaction, but I am working on it!
When we stopped to look for them, there were a LOT of positives this year! This summer, Cam had the opportunity to only work part-time while I was home with our three kids. We had the freedom to plan adventurous day trips around Saskatchewan and even around our own city. We held our kids a little tighter. Took more opportunities to be photographed together. Cam and I went to a marriage retreat in Georgia, to allow our aching hearts time to be encouraged and nourished. We watched our oldest son decide to be baptized. Our family took a trip to Calgary to get away for a week. Our schedules have never been so open to drop everything and spend time with people. Had I been in Rwanda, I wouldn’t be here to hold my friend’s hand as she starts her cancer treatment- that is something I won’t ever, ever take for granted. Our family is at the point where we could go in ANY direction, with very little limiting us or holding us back!
In preparation to move, we closed down our business. Stopped taking clients and weddings. De-commisioned our website. Packed all of our samples away. This summer, when we were ready to dive back into photography, you- our AMAZING clients- welcomed us back with open arms! You welcomed us into your families. Invited us into your relationships to capture your engagements and upcoming weddings. You shared your lives with us, and allowed us to share ours with you. To each of you, Cam and I want to say the most heartfelt thank you. We are so incredibly blessed to work with the most amazing clients in not just Regina, but all over Saskatchewan- probably the world! We really love photography, but we love the opportunity to serve you even more!
Cam and I close out 2017 as different people than we started it. Our hearts (and bodies) do feel a little worse for wear, but we have grown so much. We have learned so much about God, each other, our kids, ourselves, and just how tough we really are. How far we can bend without breaking. There have been a LOT of tears, but conversely, we have laughed until our sides hurt. I have a growing desire deep in my soul to live every day with intention, because we don’t know what tomorrow could bring. To not “put off to tomorrow what could be done today”. Not only in a work sense, but more importantly, in a relational sense. Telling people how much they mean to me, and why I appreciate them. How much I love them. The value they have added to my life.
For Christmas this year, I asked for (and Cam got me!) a Cultivate What Matters yearly intentional goal planner. I have never been one who uses a planner, but after coming out of 2017, I want to put some intentionality into my upcoming year. Plus, it is so colourful and crazy organized that it makes my type-A heart skip a few beats! I have been hard at work looking through the challenges of the last year, and dreaming ahead to what’s next. I do not assume that with the simple turn of a calendar that 2018 will be the best year yet. This year will bring it’s own set of challenges, but this year, I am planning ahead. I’m planning to cultivate the areas of my life that need some tender loving care, and to grow joy out of the dirt.
Cam and I want to thank you for your support in 2017. From supporting us personally through this year, to trusting our small business with capturing your precious memories. We are so thankful that we were able to spend time with you, and look forward to capturing your memories in 2018!!
Courtney & Cam